How PhonePe aced the contactless customer service game with AI chatbots

In an fireside chat during Freshworks’ RE:SOLVE summit, startup leaders deep-dive into how COVID-19 led many businesses to bolster their contactless customer service strategies with AI and how customer support is growing from being a just a cost to a growth lever

Given the pandemic-tinted business landscape, entrepreneurs can no longer sideline artificial intelligence as it can help them fortify user experience and scale despite staffing or budget constraints, said Freshworks, Chief Customer Officer, Pradeep Rathinam during a fireside chat at the Freshworks’ RE:SOLVE summit.

Stressing on why entrepreneurs should rope in AI-powered chatbots, he said that as customer-centric businesses are likely to see an explosion in the volume of customer queries, they should see AI as a part of their digital transformation journey.

Pradeep was joined by PhonePe’s Head of Customer Experience Strategy Marcus Terry, who spoke about how AI was integral in elevating service speed and quality.

Talking about PhonePe's 'Customer bot', Marcus said that the tool is powered by Freshworks and the latter has played a critical role in implementing the organization's strategy of 'digital first, but not digital only'.

"Around 85 percent of our support queries are addressed via the portal, which means that the frontend for them is the customer bot. Plus, the chatbot can interact in more than eight languages," said Marcus, while adding that the team is very crisp in their messaging to save time and resolve faster.

Pandemic push for customer service

Pradeep said that while the pandemic has impacted customer experience and the way businesses are run, it has also put the spotlight on customer service professionals as they are the first point of contact in the age of contactless operations.

He noted that while remote work settings added to the problems faced by customer service professionals, it also accelerated digital transformations across sectors.

Agreeing with him, PhonePe's Marcus Terry said that customers were no longer looking for rewards like cashbacks and offers in order to make the shift to digital. "Instead, they are now looking for the most secure and fastest way of making payments."

Why it pays to understand the customer

Delving into Freshworks' experience of operating during a global pandemic, Pradeep said that one of the lessons that the team learnt was the importance of understanding customers' contact rates and their reasons for contacting you.

"We are telling businesses to start strategically, identify their customer support volume and then classify contact rates. Once businesses compare costs in pre-AI deflection and post-deflection periods, they will notice how customer support is growing from being cost centres to efficiency centres," he explained.

Sharing his thoughts , Marcus said the three factors that have enabled PhonePe to retain its customers were a good customer satisfaction rate, speed of transactions and an easy-to-use interface.

The future belongs to predictive support, AI-based solutions

The panellists noted that the two trends that are likely to shape customer service in the future were AI-based solutions and predictive support.

Explaining his optimism about predictive support, Marcus said, "We understand why customers reach out to us, but the question is can we reach out to them before time? The information can help us bring in AI workflows to resolve their queries more efficiently. We want to get better at predictive support, rather than reactive support."

Pradeep said that Freshworks is pushing its customers to follow PhonePe's example of roping in world-class AI systems."We are pushing them to explore how they can solve problems with an AI-based system that could ensure a deflection rate of up to 85 percent."

He added that features like in-app messaging, customer support for multiple channels and an omnichannel suite of products have the potential to transform customer interactions in the near future.

The fireside chat was a part of Freshworks’ RE:SOLVE, a summit for digital-first CX featuring 10 leading global brands, powerful discussion and insightful workshops on how businesses can unlock growth with technology-driven customer experience strategies.


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