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Driven by Consumer Obsession

Winning and retaining a customer is getting increasingly complicated in today’s world. Customer for Life, organised by ET and Freshworks, was an attempt to learn more about the new-age customer and how to give her a ‘wow’ moment



Consumer obsession is becoming a necessity. Even with legacy companies such as PepsiCo. The company’s creation of the Pepsi swag anthem to reach out to the digital audience – primarily the youth – speaks volumes about the change in its marketing strategy. Was it diffi cult? “Not really. We spotted a trend and understood that to be more relevant, we need to tap that. And the success only reaffirmed our confidence in our strategy,” said Tarun Bhagat. But how do you predict consumer behaviour? With data and technology.  It’s all about how well you experiment with the data. “AI and ML are big enablers and we should not lose out on that,” said Vijay Shankar, adding that a few years ago, it would have been inconceivable to think of WhatsApp as a support channel. Today, a media company in the Middle-East uses Freshworks on WhatsApp to do three million conversations with its customers a month. AI can also help one know if an employee wants to leave or stay in an organisation. “We have a very strong index called the sentiment analysis index, which clones the conversation of a supervisor with an employee, and does predictive analysis,” says Siddharth Das. The bot is cloned to speak to the employee and ask certain rule-based or open-ended questions. It converts the sentence into a positive one depending upon the participation level of the employee, and predicts the chances of the employee remaining with or leaving the organisation. “Technology has been the backbone of our success, too. Even though we started online, today 60 per cent of our sales comes from non-metros,” said Neha Kant. She credits the penetration of the internet as a major driver of sales for startups like hers. What is the learning you impart to your customers? “Educating them about the right size – even the cup size.” In all the talk about customer, where does his happiness lie? How do you ensure that? The key is relevance. And, one of the biggest enablers of relevance is data, said Bhagat. “What has changed in the last 10 years is data, which helps one to be sharper and more relevant to your consumer.” As long as you have a money-for-value proposition, relevance and accessibility, customer obsession comes naturally.


Ten years ago, everyone had a phone but it wasn’t a smartphone; people used to carry the big DSLRs to click good pictures; there was iPod and there was Garmin GPS (not in India). Then, iPhone happened and revolutioned the entire industry. Why did this happen? It wasn’t that the consumer was asking for it. Steve Jobs realised that why isn’t anyone making things simpler, and solving a business challenge? What if there was an iPhone moment in business software where you had everything connected, one system was collecting all the data and giving you one ‘wow’ experience? Freshworks tries to do exactly that. We believe that customer obsession should begin when you are trying to identify what your customer wants; that isn’t easy. So, we need to bring in the omni-channel experience. Earlier, if a customer had an issue, he used to dial the hotline number and wait. Today, customers tweet about the problem, send an email to the company – which possibly reaches a different team. Surprisingly, many companies still have marketing teams managing their social media data, putting it in a silo. That should change. We need a funnelling experience that sifts through all the omni-channels through which the customer talks to you and digests that data instead of sending it to a silo. If the customer support rep has all the past consumer data, he will be able to serve him better.



Today, a brand is defined by the experience it provides to its customer. For example, there’s a lot of buzz around EVs today. Even the government is supporting it in a big way. How do you create an awareness regarding them – what is the battery type, will it stop on the way, where can it be charged, etc? The customer needs to know. Companies like ours are working closely with end consumers and we feel there needs to be an inclusive set-up to bring two-wheelers, four-wheelers, commercial vehicles and public transport under one umbrella. Taking off onebus from the road means saving 1,000 tonnes of CO2 and 350,000 litres of diesel – a huge save on our import bill. But at the end, what is the customer looking for? Comfort, safety and affordability. So, how do you build a perspective? The end consumer should understand what we are really using today – the journey from the oil wheel to the car wheel. But even if we begin using EVs and continue to use oil for, say, power generation, we are only solving one part of the problem. We need to have an innovative mindset like Israel. Innovations in agriculture have led to a produce of 1,500 kg of tomatoes on a given land, as against 150 kg in the US and 50 kg in India.


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