Today’s customers expect more from service teams in every business. Even in micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), there’s a greater demand for empathetic and quality service. Customers don’t want to be treated as a case number, but as a person.They expect agents to be trusted advisors who can anticipate their needs, and provide proactive solutions.
The rewards for meeting these expectations can be significant. Ninety-four percent of customers say that a positive service experience makes them more likely to purchase again, while 82% have recommended companies for excellent service.
But can an MSME offer the same quality and level of service as a larger enterprise with more resources and spending power? aha’s story certainly indicates that this is possible.
aha is one of India’s fastest-growing over-the-top (OTT) platforms with more than 20 million downloads. Owned by Arha Media & Broadcasting Pvt. Ltd, the streaming service offers localised Telugu and Tamil content for audiences around the world.
When it comes to service, aha constantly strives to raise the bar on customer experiences. Despite having just 50 agents that manage over 5,000 queries per day, the company continues to deliver swift and high-quality service with the help of Salesforce.
We recently sat down with Dilip Chandra - VP - Product & Analytics, Arha Media, to discuss aha’s tips for service success. Here’s what we learned from him:
At the heart of exceptional service is a customer-first mindset that focuses on understanding each customer’s unique needs, personalising engagement, and delivering seamless experiences across touchpoints.
aha has been customer-first since day one.
“Our service teams and technologies are all heavily focused on the customer,” said Chandra. “If the customer isn’t happy, the brand can’t progress.”
Growing economic uncertainty and cost pressures present MSME service teams with a conundrum: how to meet higher customer expectations at scale and speed with limited resources and agents? For aha, the answer lies in technology and automation.
“In a post-pandemic world, technology isn’t just essential – it’s the need of the hour, especially for companies like ours that are growing very quickly,” said Chandra.
Today, aha has 10 million monthly active users. Providing service at that scale requires agents to be highly efficient and productive.
“Automation is at the heart of it,” said Chandra. “You can’t have a handful of agents managing lakhs of queries manually. That’s where technologies like Salesforce help. Service Cloud, in particular, has enabled us to automate a number of processes, and scale with ease.”
This was evident when the company migrated to aha 2.0. Within two weeks of the launch, almost two lakh customer queries came in. Despite these volumes, a small team of 50 agents was able to process all queries effectively and on time.
As customers embrace a digital way of life, their communication preferences are evolving. They now turn to an average of nine different channels to interact with companies.
“A few years ago, we were using only chat and emails for customer support,” recalls Chandra. “But today, our customers are reaching out to us at a scale we could have never imagined and through a variety of channels, including WhatsApp, phone calls, and SMSs.”
The challenge for service teams is to deliver a fluid and connected experience across these channels. So, even though a customer raises a query on social media, then reaches out to the call centre, and then continues the conversation over WhatsApp – they shouldn’t ever feel like they have to repeat themselves. Every interaction should pick up seamlessly from where the previous one left off without a drop in service quality.
aha has aced these omnichannel experiences. Data from across touchpoints is stitched together into a unified customer view that helps agents deliver consistent service.
“All our service channels culminate in a single destination – Service Cloud – so that the customer can easily reach out to us with their concerns,” said Chandra.
Seventy-three percent of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations. But that’s hard to do when customer data is scattered across silos. How do you respond to customers with empathy when you don’t know who they are, or how they’ve engaged with your business in the past? How do you personalise service interactions if you have to search through multiple folders just to understand the customer’s order status?
aha’s solution is to integrate all its customer data into a single, 360-degree customer view. So, agents can personalise service to each customer’s unique needs.
“From the time a customer comes onto our platform, to the time they unsubscribe, the entire customer journey is mapped in a single system,” said Chandra.
This cohesive customer view doesn’t just benefit service agents - it also helps marketers, sales reps, partners, and executives deliver better customer experiences.
“One of our goals is to reduce customer churn,” explains Chandra. “Being able to connect the dots across the customer journey gives us a brilliant opportunity to build more nuanced customer retention strategies.”
aha’s story is a prime example of how MSMEs can shine at customer service even with lean budgets and resources. Great service translates into happy, loyal customers. And in a world where customer experience matters just as much as products, service can be your biggest differentiator.