The VP and Global Head of Marketing shares his insights on leveraging gen-ai, future expansion, and key brand engagement strategies.
Customer conversational AI platforms have become instrumental in shaping digital brand strategies, offering effective problem-solving techniques. Established in 2011, Exotel has emerged as one such platform, functioning as a customer and business-centric virtual telecom operator.
In a conversation with afaqs!, Udit Agarwal, VP and global head of marketing, Exotel, says that Exotel enables enterprises with unified custom conversations across the customer journey whether it is marketing, sales, support, or service. “When you book a cab, the driver does not call from their number, but from a different number making sure that the numbers on both sides are private and secure and then there shouldn't be any misuse after that transaction is over. Exotel provides that complete experience out there,” he says.
“In today’s world, we all have less time in hand. We are more comfortable chatting and in case you do not want to hold down to that idea for a long time, we deflect it into certain more modern means of communication like WhatsApp or CS for that matter. We also have an underlying layer of generative AI which powers everything.”
With the surge in customer expectations, instant gratification, and hyperresponsiveness, personalised communication connects customers with empathy. Agarwal is of the view that there is a need to feel special among people. Talking about the key elements brands should focus on to develop an effective engagement approach with consumers, he notes, “If we can create a safer environment for brands that it can offer to its customers, I think that would be a great way to effectively engage with customers that becomes a cornerstone.”
Digital natives have grown a lot and become a very mature industry vertical in itself in the last decade where you have platforms including Zomato, Flipkart, Amazon, retail, transportation, and logistics.
“The communication channels are also increasing. A decade ago, we were communicating only on WhatsApp and Facebook. Today, we are connected on platforms such as Instagram, ShareChat, Snapchat, and others. We are also living in a world of spam. Therefore, I believe in being relevant and creating a more positive conversation with the customers. The channel that they prefer will not only reduce spam rates and costs but also increase stickiness and engagement with customer writing. These are the places where brands should focus to develop an effective communication strategy,” he explains.
Artificial intelligence has become integral across various sectors, with each field harnessing its capabilities for brand building and marketing. Certain industries, however, witness exceptional prowess in AI applications. As noted by Agarwal, while Exotel's services span major B2C verticals, it particularly adds significant value in the BFSI sector.
“We are targeting large enterprises in the space of BFSI and digital natives. Digital natives have grown a lot and become a very mature industry vertical in itself in the last decade where you have platforms including Zomato, Flipkart, Amazon, retail, transportation, and logistics. So, we powered all these verticals where there is a large consumer base to be addressed,” he states.
This year, Exotel revealed its revamped brand identity featuring a fresh logo and a new tagline, like a friend. This strategic move aims to represent the brand's commitment to offering end-to-end solutions for building connected customer conversations.
I think gen-AI is disrupting the whole way businesses will interact with customers, and customers are also expecting to be treated in a more human way.
Agarwal elucidates, “Generating meaningful conversation and customer stickiness has been the core idea of our new brand. We are seeing a lot of applications across different journeys in enterprises where one talks about sales automation, marketing journeys, customer service, support, and collections. We create relevant information and provide meaningful conversations between customers and enterprises.”
Speaking about Exotel’s integration of generative AI technologies for its communication solutions, Agarwal asserts, “I think gen-AI is disrupting the whole way businesses will interact with customers, and customers are also expecting to be treated in a more human way. There are multiple streams of conversation and in each conversation, there is some level of context. It is a level of information that one has left behind so that the individual’s persona can be created in a better way where today all these channels are doing their jobs perfectly. But they are silos.”
He mentions that Exotel tries to break those silos aggregating the context from all these conversations and enabling the truly unified relevant conversation between an enterprise and a customer.
Agarwal says, “We are helping over 7000 customers in 62+ countries, and only Exotel today, unifies multiple conversations. We are also able to bring the power of generative and conversational AI which is a chatbot and syndicating that power across as one unified power.”
2024 will be the year of AI and how it can have more meaningful conversations with people, removing dependence on people.
Discussing the developments in 2023 till date, Agarwal remarked that while there was a slight global downturn in overall purchasing and enterprise mind sentiment, it did not significantly impede the company's progress. “I think we are on a good trajectory. We are seeing a lot of positive momentum from our large customers today. There's a good buyer buoyancy in India as well. This financial year will be very good for us as we are seeing good growth month on month,” he adds.
Concerning future expansion, Agarwal states that he is excited about the brand’s forward-looking product map.
“In the last couple of months, we have been talking to customers and trying to engage with them and understand how we can continuously create better meaningful conversations. There are a lot of AI-led technologies we are building today to make sure these conversations become more sticky and meaningful in helping organisations to understand and build out agentless contact centres for example, driverless cars, and others. Therefore, in my opinion, 2024 will be the year of AI and how it can have more meaningful conversations with people, removing dependence on people,” he remarks.