Helpchat has finally accepted what audiences really want – easy access to services and utilities, using minimal taps. Despite all tech gurus arguing over the importance of chatbots, AI, or having an actual assistant human sitting behind the chat to sort your work, what seems to work best with customers is a simply click and utilize on the comfort of your own choosing. Following this, Helpchat also reportedly fired all of its chat team (which according to unconfirmed reports includes 150 individuals, given three month’s worth of pay in advance). The move is completely opposite of the general start-up trends not just in India but globally. Chat bots, despite being agonizingly incomprehensible and having their own share of problems seem to spark interest of a lot of businesses, including Facebook.
Helpchat which claims to be India’s highest rated personal assistant app follows its second share of firing with this round after firing 112 employees last October. Previously, Helpchat had stopped all marketing efforts in order to focus on the product itself. On his personal website, CEO of the company Ankur Singla said that,
“It is supposed to be tough, the toughest of all was the decision regarding our chat operations team. We have taken the decision to let go of most of our chat colleagues. We looked at the retention cohorts or uninstall cohorts for all our chat users but they were always much worse than others. No matter which way we looked at it, it made sense for us to take this decision.”
He stated that businesses that last aren’t built on chat based models. Additionally, he stated,
“Finally somewhere in Sept 2015 it became obvious that the problem was chat (there were lots of learning along the way but this one was the biggest). The number of taps required to get anything done was just way too many, no matter what you do. People often confuse the debate with bots, AI etc. but does it really make sense to chat to get a cab when you can simply tap once and book (no matter what you think, our user data was very obvious on this. The answer is no.)”
Personally, I dislike chatbots and A.I. programs on websites because of of their annoyingly unintelligent design structure. Chatbots were made to simplify tasks and provide real time 24/7 support to users, but because of their limited understanding of real problems of users, they end up delaying the process of performing a simple task yourself. For example, booking a cab would make much more sense if you directly open the Uber/Ola app and book one yourself, rather than wait an agonizing chat with a bot explain you need a ride. Bots end up asking obvious questions repeatedly, delaying the process and making you wonder why you didn’t you do the job yourself. That’s the same problem I have with intermediary “help” apps too. Any normal smartphone user wouldn’t struggle too much to figure out how to use subsidiary apps, or perform a quick 5 second search on Google to figure out which competitor offers a better experience to perform a certain task. Why on Earth will you use a third party app that then re-directs you to the same task? I like the ability to have complete control over which competitor I chose and keep only those apps installed in my smartphone. For example, when I want to order a pizza, I know for a fact that I want a certain outlet’s pizza, so I don’t need to scroll through a third party app to show me different options.
Whether this move will prove helpful for Helpchat or not, will be determined by users over time. However, as users get progressively more aware of the infinite options of apps there are they are more likely to use them directly rather than using a third party app that may trick them to using a certain competitor’s platform depriving you of the best economical option. Do you use middle men apps that “help”? Let us know in the comments on our official Facebook page Entrepreneur India