Vernacular.ai is an AI-First SaaS business, which is enhancing customer experience and engagement through intelligent voice AI/automation platform. It delivers two unique products namely VIVA and VASR. Harshal Y Desai from Elets News Network interacts with Sourabh Gupta, Co-Founder, and CEO, Vernacular.ai and understands more about the organisation and its offerings.
Please apprise us of Vernacular.ai? What does the company do?
We are a four-year-old organisation. We are primarily a voice engine and we believe that voice is the future of how humans will engage with digital interfaces. It is significantly more so from the perspective of India and South East Asia where millions of people are coming online and do not understand English. When these people are engaging with interfaces, they need a solution that is intuitive, easy and comfortable for them – and it can only be done through voice – not text, as the written format of local languages would be a more complex affair, causing inconvenience and delay.
So, we built a platform – an AI-based voice platform – whose suite of speech and language solutions enables enterprises to convert audio to text by applying powerful neural network models in an easy-to-use API. By just listening to a person, it can figure out his or her age, gender, accent, dialects and other analytics. And by using all this information, we create value for both the enterprises and end customers.
The first area that we identified where our products can really be a boon is customer contact centres. As we all know, we can get a cab in five minutes but it is not that easy to be redirected to a call centre agent as quickly. There have been tremendous changes in industries across various verticals; however, unfortunately, call centres remained the same so far. This is one area where we want to bring a suite of products and automate redundant things that humans do in call centres so that they can focus on more complex, value-driven organizational goals requiring human intelligence.
Call centres, from business perspectives, be it for banks, insurance companies, NBFCs and other financial institutions, employ thousands of people in their offices. In a typical private bank, the number of employees can go up to four to five thousand to just handle in-bound support. They might have another set of thousands of employees for other supports and functions. This is the most painful and boring part of running any business. Banks and other institutions are spending huge amounts on the call centres, but if the customer finds the IVR frustrating and has to wait a lot to connect to the agent, there is no point in investing that amount.
This is when Vernacular.ai comes into the picture. We have built Intelligent Voice Bots which can help companies provide superior customer experiences and engagement, while reducing the wait time significantly.
Thus, whenever you call any bank, the bot will pick up your call and assist you; and in case the bot is not able to assist you, post evaluating the nature of the query, it will transfer the call to a human agent, giving them a download of the issue, making it easier to address and resolve customer requirements.
Our solutions are here to increase resolution rates, enhance customer experience and reduce overall cost of customer care operations for the organisation.
Time and again we have observed that customers rate our products much higher than the average conversation with an agent. Especially in the times of Covid-19, when the wait time has gone up to 30 to 40 minutes while connecting to a bank or any other institution – our products have been treated very well by the end users
Enterprises want exclusive technologies that can address their unique challenges. We have developed these two proprietary softwares – which are able to help BFSI and clients across various sectors – in their call centre operations.
Please brief us on your second product: VASR.
VASR is a speech recognition engine that is useful for handling complex queries which should be – otherwise – handled by human agents. Furthermore, with the help of this product, we can listen to the conversation between a human agent and the customer, and then provide analytics to the organisation on whether the customer agent is performing well and which customer agent is following the script. VASR helps us understand the areas which need to be improved upon. It analyses the calls and gives feedback to clients.
Any enterprise, which has more than a hundred call centre agents, is a potential customer for us and we can deliver up to 50 to 60% cost reduction to them.
How affordable is your software and how quickly can it be deployed?
We believe in a value-based pricing model. We first analyse customers’ operations and understand how we can reduce the cost for them. We scrutinize the areas which are forcing banks to invest huge amounts and then we present a revised model where we suggest a good return on investment layout. Typically, we ensure return on investment for our clients in about 6 to 9 months. A couple of weeks are more than enough for us to go live with our deployments.
Do you offer customised solutions to your clients?
We have a core platform and we customise this platform depending on the requirements from the banks or any other financial institution we are serving. We are a SaaS company and we keep launching new features almost every month and every quarter. These updates are available to our customers.
Currently, we are supporting over 16 languages and scores of other dialects. For example, Hindi is not just one language for us, but we cover 12 other different dialects of Hindi. So, we have about 160+ dialects at this moment. Besides, we have also incorporated some South Asian languages like Bahasa in our software and also three versions of English including US, UK and Australia.
Do you collaborate with other technology companies in India to strengthen your business and improve upon your services?
We are very bullish about building businesses together. We already have a good number of partners in the country which include the big four consulting firms and the likes of Cisco and we work very closely with them – both on the technical side and on the business side. Whenever we implement VIVA for our clients, it is integrated with telephony of the customer. We have good relationships with all the telephony companies in the country. All these companies are becoming a partner in this journey.
We are also exploring partnerships with some of the Business Process Outsourcing organisations to further streamline the overall operations. We must mention that 25% to 30% of our revenue is coming from such partnerships.
While serving your clients, do you get access to a huge database of the customers? How do you ensure its security?
Building systems and processes that ensure complete data security is our primary objective. Data privacy and data sharing are the major concerns and we ensure complete security while deploying our products and technologies. We have systems in place which mask crucial data. Vernacular.ai has taken a stand that we shall never use customers’ PIA data.
How big is your team? Have you started operating in other countries as well?
We have just 60 members. We had about 20-member-team at the starting of this year, and now we have increased by three times to about 60 employees who joined us in the past six months. We have not yet started operating in other countries, but we are exploring the partnerships abroad. We hope to raise 15% to 20% of our total revenue in the next couple of years.