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A User Tries Decoding The Math Behind Haptik

In May we discovered a blog post written by a Haptik User which took us by surprise, a pleasant surprise. We thought it was only apt if we shared some of the love he shared with us. So here is re-blogging his piece that was first posted on: www.kanu.in/blog :)
Note: This post is a little old and contains information that might be slightly incorrect to this day. But considering this was written first-hand by Chinmay, we decided not to edit anything he had to say :)

What’s Haptik?

Haptik describes itself thus:
An all-in-one utility app you can message 200+ companies in real-time from 7 AM to 12 AM across categories like shopping, travel, telecom, automobiles to get not only customer support but also coupons, offers, important information and a lot more.

Here’s the stuff I asked Haptik to do:

  • Complain to Airtel on my behalf till I got the 4G speeds they promise (success)
  • Find out what places in Bangalore had live music that day (my network conked before I got the reply)
  • What Huawei phones have an open FM radio API (fail, but in their defense this is really hard to find)

I think Haptik is solving/ can solve local search and customer relationship management (CRM) in a really cool way. I think they can scale like mad and have planned to scale like mad.

Back of the Envelope Math

  • I counted 61 experts on their site (possible errors: all of them weren’t listed, my grep command was wrong)
  • They seem to work in shifts of 8.5 hours- which means 30 are online at any working time of the app.
  • The ‘average response time’ for me was between two to five minutes.
  • This means there are between 360 to 900 customer conversations Haptik handles in one hour. This is an oversimiplification that might nevertheless be accurate.
  • In a day, Haptik has 6,120 to 15,300 conversations.
  • Let’s assume that a customer has only one conversation with Haptik in a day. Rounding off, Haptik serves between 6k to 15k customers a day, employing 60 experts. That’s some number under 10% of their app install base.
  • Customers served/expert/day -> (100, 250). It looks like a decent number in terms of things done per working day (a.k.a, services).

Justdial for Smartphones?

These numbers might well be identical to those of a company like Justdial. Haptik is exciting not as a potential Justdial competitor, but as as an idea that can really scale.

    • A. Mobile + Social
      Haptik is on your phone, so it knows who your friends are. As Ben Evans perenially points out, “All (mobile) apps can access the address book, giving them a ready-made social graph, and the photo library, reducing the hassle of uploading to different sites, and push notifications, removing the hassle of checking lots of different sites.”. This is the local search bit.
    • B. The message is the medium
      You can piggyback literally anything on a message. It’s really smart that Haptik started off by addressing a huge pain point- shitty customer service. If your net speed is bad, we all know how to sort it out- complaining ‘x’ times and then calling and shouting at the hapless customer service person. I got Haptik to do this for me and saved myself a ton of angst. This is the CRM bit.
      In the future, could Haptik open up its messaging service to others (i.e, not Haptik employees)? Thanks to messaging, feedback is near immediate- a bad service can be pulled before it does much damage. In any case, it’s probably too soon to be talking about this model.
    • C. Experts
      What a great concept! The employee servicing you is not an anonymous, incompetent, humanoid entity. While calling Justdial, the only thing on your mind is to finish the call quickly while the guy tries to find out if you want more things, or if you can share your email ID. Haptik doesn’t need to do any of that because of point A. More importantly, with Haptik I felt obliged to treat the Expert as a person (I always greet them before I ask a question). I even remember the names of some of them (thank you, Miloni and Chitra, for drafting all those complaints to Airtel).
      I presume many of the Experts are actually interested in the area of their expertise. Will they get to play prominent roles as Haptik grows? Will they accumulate the secrets of how to deal with Airtel, or the hooks to the hippest joints in Bangalore? Will they work with the coders and the product managers to deposit their knowledge?

These points taken together, Haptik has a tantalizing potential to improve with automation- without the customer perceiving the automation. As everything is textual, there is no middle step between storing ‘expertise’ and projecting it, as with a voice call. Justdial makes you wait while they SMS the answer. Haptik is seamless. – The (100,250) range is the metric that will define scale; it can rise without affecting more important things like a great user experience.

The Human Touch

This seems to be a conscious philosophy- there’s empathy in every interface. The emails I get from Haptik come from the CEO and not a dismissive ID like no-reply@haptik.co or offers@haptik.co.

What really did it for me was the t-shirt they gave to mark their one year anniversary. In college and in my professional life, I have been part of campaigns that called for designing and giving away t-shirts. The final product always showed our clingy desperation to promote the campaign, through the shirt. The shirt compromised comfort and desirability for the campaign’s costs and the campaign’s convenience. The most important thing on the shirt was the campaign logo, and the rest of it was just an effort to tick some boxes designed by a committee.
This is what Haptik’s shirt looked like:

It doesn’t even have the company name. It fits me perfectly, and I’m actually inclined to believe it was not an accident.