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Startup AptEdge uses AI and NLP to Streamline Customer Care

In our latest startup conversation, I sat down with two executives of AptEdge, a firm using natural language processing to improve customer service. Aakrit Prasad is the CEO and Co-Founder of AptEdge, and industry veteran Bobby Napiltonia, serves as an advisor to AptEdge, an executive with experience from Twilio and Salesforce. 

What follows is a Q&A format from the conversation and summarizes the guests’ answers. Note these answers may not always be verbatim responses, rather they often summarize the key points shared by the guests. The context of the conversation was preserved.

Q. Aakrit, why did you start the company and what problem are you solving today?

Aakrit Prasad: I’ve worked with various renowned software companies in my 20-year career, focusing on product R&D and supporting customer service teams. One significant challenge I observed was dealing with customer escalations, predominantly rooted in what I term the ‘knowledge problem.’ The increasing trend of customers escalating issues when they can’t access answers promptly drove us to develop a technology that assists customer service teams in obtaining knowledge swiftly.

Q. Bobby, can you elaborate on your role and how you became involved with AptEdge?

Bobby Napiltonia: I regard myself as a ‘chief helper’ to AptEdge. Having been in the tech industry since the green screen days, my excitement about the company stemmed from my belief that we are on the brink of one of the most significant shifts in the industry. While my past roles focused on changes such as APIs, clouds, and platforms, I see AptEdge’s mission as transformative – not just altering the industry’s landscape but revolutionizing the way people work.

Q. Let’s dive deeper into AptEdge’s offerings. Could you tell us more about AnswerGPT, which I believe is your flagship product?

Aakrit Prasad: AnswerGPT was conceptualized to streamline the knowledge access process for customer service teams. By interlinking diverse knowledge bases, we aim to equip these teams with instant and accurate responses to customer queries. The central idea is to minimize the need for representatives to search through multiple sources and to deliver answers as swiftly as possible.

Q. Considering the wide array of content and tech tools available, how does AptEdge present its product offering to customers as it relates to other useful tools?

Aakrit Prasad: Today’s modern customer service representative juggles various platforms ranging from support systems like Salesforce, Zendesk, ServiceNow, to knowledge repositories, bug tracking systems, and even collaboration tools like Slack or Teams. Our goal is to merge this fragmented knowledge landscape to empower every support representative with the most insightful and relevant information, essentially making every representative the best-informed in the company.

Q. Bobby, when did you join Aakrit in establishing AptEdge, and how has ChatGPT impacted your journey?

Bobby Napiltonia: I boarded this journey about two years ago. While we were progressing steadily, ChatGPT unveiled groundbreaking delivery mechanisms. The present times define what I’d term the “answer economy.” Users seek instant, trustworthy information and solutions. Our aim is to expediently furnish reliable internal company information to customers. Companies today face two choices – adapt to evolving times or risk obsolescence. It’s a matter of joining the journey or facing a ‘Blockbuster’ fate.

Q. With AI technologies gaining traction and influencing business decisions, how has it impacted your company’s trajectory?

Aakrit Prasad: The advancements in AI validated and magnified our initial mission – to rapidly equip customer service teams with accurate information. Knowledge expansion is exponential, and this surge, combined with fragmented information sources and growing customer impatience, amplifies the necessity for our technology. Our aim is to offer a transformative customer experience, effectively bridging the feedback loop for their specific use-cases.

Q. AptEdge showcases several customer logos on its website. Why do companies choose your product, and where does AptEdge stand concerning product-market fit?

Bobby Napiltonia: At AptEdge, we believe in founder-market fit over product-market fit. Our experience stems from walking in our customer’s shoes, understanding their challenges intimately, and then devising solutions. In terms of budget constraints, we envision technology adoption as a crucial strategy over the conventional method of hiring more personnel. Our current clientele, including early tech adopters like Cisco, demonstrates our strategy’s efficacy. We’re witnessing substantial interest in sectors like manufacturing, where the emphasis is on technology adoption over traditional solutions.

Q. How does AptEdge integrate various platforms like Salesforce, Zendesk, and Slack to assist customer service representatives.

AptEdge Response: 

Evolution of Support Services: Modern customer service reps juggle multiple platforms to find the right answers for customer queries. The company’s goal is to consolidate this knowledge, making every rep the most knowledgeable.

AI’s Impact on Business Strategy: After the introduction of ChatGPT, the approach towards customer service changed, emphasizing an “answer economy.” Instead of waiting for extensive reports, solutions are immediately available, and businesses focus on providing trustworthy information to serve their customers better.

Productivity and Efficiency: With AI’s advancements, businesses want their teams to do more without increasing their workforce. This change results in more efficiency and contributes to the company’s gross margin, thereby benefiting the business in the long run.

Q. How do you balance the desire for automation while at the same time maintaining that human touch? 

AptEdge Response: 

AnswerGPT, focuses on understanding the context of customer interactions and offers personalized responses. This approach allows for a mix of automated yet tailored solutions, maintaining a balance between efficiency and personalization.

Q. What metrics matter to customers and how do you quantify the impact of your offering? 

AptEdge Response: 

Companies are keen on understanding the real impact of AI-driven solutions. Metrics such as customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores and net promoter scores (NPS) are crucial. One testimony highlighted a 100% CSAT score achieved through AI, emphasizing the value AI brings to customer service.

Q: I recently read the leaked Google memo where Google admitted that even it had no moats…but neither does OpenAI. Venture capitalist Jerry Chen cites the importance of traditional moats such as time to market, brand, and customer relationships. How do you think about moats in this new age? What do you think has changed and what remains the same?

AptEdge Response: 

One aspect that makes our product unique is our focus on workflow automation capabilities. This allows our system to become smarter over time by clustering common support problems and then initiating repeatable action workflows. Our data moat is built on understanding the relationships between various knowledge systems, customer inquiries and service issues. This lets our system continuously improve in its efficiency and effectiveness for a domain-specific company based on the answers provided by the reps using AptEdge daily.

Bobby Napiltonia: I think about strengths and moats in this industry like AppExchange, which we built at Salesforce. It’s important to note that mechanisms like GPT or the cloud are merely delivery mechanisms. The real moat will be built on the ability to deliver accurate answers instantly. The future is about delivering prompt answers to today’s knowledge so as to forecast business growth for tomorrow. Aspects like time to value, installation speed, and customer satisfaction scores will define the success of a moat in the industry. Aiming for a 100% CSAT score is the kind of challenge we should be looking at.

Q: Are you currently in the process of raising money for your company?

Aakrit Prasad: We recently closed a significant round of funding after receiving unsolicited interest. Currently, we are not actively fundraising, and our focus is on execution, securing new logos, and serving our customers. We have been achieving our quarterly goals consistently. Although we might consider fundraising in the future, for now, we are on track and growing.

Q: Any last words or thoughts you’d like to share?

Aakrit Prasad: We have observed a pattern similar to what happened in the world of automation and manufacturing. There, automation tools paved the way for enhanced efficiency. We believe that generative AI is replicating this pattern in the customer service domain, enabling individuals to work more effectively and ensuring better customer experiences. Our aim is to keep sharing content that reflects the potential and value of this technology in the current market.

Q: Where can folks get more information about your products and services?

Aakrit Prasad: You can visit aptedge.io for detailed insights. We are consistently updating our content, including blog posts, social media updates, video testimonials, and more. We aim to educate the industry on the value of generative technologies and their practical applications. Generative AI is enabling every individual in a company to become 5-10 times more efficient, leading to enhanced customer experiences. We will be sharing more content to reflect our enthusiasm in this space and the potential it holds.

Watch the full interview:

Image: Rahul

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