Siddharth Sharma of Verloop.io tells us about providing an operating system for customer support through automation.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Siddharth Sharma: As best as we can – while there are a few hardships, it is nothing compared to the millions that the pandemic has negatively impacted.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Verloop.io.
Siddharth Sharma: Engineer-turned-marketer, I have dabbled in various marketing places for more than 13 years. From a career perspective, I have had a nonlinear career. I started as a database administrator, moved to pre-sales, and then moved on to marketing. I have always believed that attitude outweighs skills – and if you are presented with a challenge that you feel scared about, you should take it head-on. Gaurav (our CEO) and I spoke last year amid the pandemic. Gaurav’s laser focus vision on providing an Operating System for Customer Support through automation was something that stood out for me. Given the product and the team, I was jumping with joy when I was offered to lead the Marketing initiatives.
How does Verloop.io innovate?
Siddharth Sharma: Our organization is built on innovation. As our product offers conversational AI, our Machine Learning team is continuously looking for ways to enhance our product’s accuracy and increase coverage. Internally, we aim to deploy automation across our engineering team wherever there are obstacles that prevent engineers from doing their work at an efficient level. From a management perspective, we have bought in various tools that help us track analytics across the board (Product, Engineering, Marketing, SDR, Sales, and Customer Success). On an individual level, we provide a learning budget for our employees to learn any new technology or skill that they believe can accomplish them better.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Siddharth Sharma: 2020 was a turbulent year for the world and businesses in particular. With Verloop.io’s Conversational AI, consumer-facing brands could provide exceptional customer service while not overspending on operational expenses. Companies in UAE are always at the forefront of technology; with these headwinds, we saw our revenue 3x in 2020. We are expecting to grow double in 2021 from what we grew in 2020.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Siddharth Sharma: Yes, we had to make some difficult decisions in terms of operations and team alignment. We have learned that we have to super-agile even on our business plans and product development. For e.g., We might need to shelve a short-term goal to ensure we meet a long-term goal.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Siddharth Sharma: We use various tools across our organization. One specific tool that we have implemented org-wide is the OKR – this ensures everyone understands how their function is adding value to the organization and helping the organization move forward. From a management perspective, with the pandemic-induced WFH, we have tried to ensure that each team member has access to all the information across the board. We hold company-wide townhalls twice a month. Each functional head can hold daily and weekly meetings where communication flow happens top-down and bottoms up.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Siddharth Sharma: Conversational AI is a crowded space. In terms of who we consider competition, IBM Watson, MessageBird, YellowMessenger, Haptik do come into our discussions. We are super focused on building Conversational AI products in the customer support space – it is an underserved market, and we believe we are game-changers.
Your final thoughts?
Siddharth Sharma: The pandemic created a huge demand in conversational AI space, As the demand for automation from enterprises shot up due to Covid-19. Millions of customer queries were resolved, which helped brands to get closer to their end customer and win trust in a difficult period.
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