Every company says that 'customer is king' and yet everyday millions of customers around, dial into customer care help lines to register their complaints.
Ankur Singla came up with his business idea, after he had a bad experience dealing with the customer care department of a leading telecom company. He then launched Akosha. It is an online forum for customer complaints started in 2010. Today, Aoksha helps people in getting their consumer complaints resolved quickly.
Gaurav Gupta, beneficiary, Akosha bought an annual child vaccination plan from a reputed medical insurance company, which promised him vaccinations per year. He soon realised the plan gave him only a 20 percent discount and not what was promised. After failing to get a response from the insurance company’s customer care executives, Gaurav approached Akosha and within two weeks his complaint was resolved.
Gupta says, "This wouldn't have been possible without professionals approaching them. As an individual, if I would have approached them, it would have not made such an impact rather than a professional company like Akosha. So, there was more pressure on the medical insurance company to solve the problem. Also, approaching them myself would have been tedious for me as I am a working professional."
Company’s call center, where everyday hundreds of dissatisfied customers call in, is the nerve centre of 28-year-old Ankur Singla’s Akosha. Akosha allows you to login for free, file your complaints. After that, it follows up for you until the issue is resolved. With more than 75,000 complaints already filed on the forum Ankur claimed Akosha received close to 20,000 complaints a month. He started the venture with personal savings of Rs 10 lakh. Ankur also raised Rs 5 lakh from seed capital fund Morpheus, a seed accelerator fund in 2011. Based on a premium model, Akosha charges Rs 499 per complaint. It is now looking at setting up a subscription-based revenue model by the next quarter.
Singla says, "We are able to convince the brand to take the complaints and have somebody in the team to look at it. Secondly, we follow up on a regular basis. A lot of times a complaint might take a few days to get resolved. Each time the consumer has to go through that pain, he has 10 other things and the negativity remains. We do it professionally. We do it for a living in a way. We are much better. Since the follow-up is much better, the chances of complaint resolution are also a lot higher."
Singla further says,"We also give the brand a lot of data and analytics on how they are performing as far as complaint resolution is concerned vis-à-vis other brand in their category. So, for example, the senior management is very interested to know where do they stand on handling these unhappy customers vis-à-vis they are competitors. I think that is again something which drives the overall process of us being able to follow-up regularly and get resolution as well."
Working with a 150 brands currently, Ankur claims his success rate for customer electronics and e-commerce is the highest with 70 percent, telecom at 50 percent, insurance at 20 percent and the real estate sector being the lowest at 5 percent. Ankur has also recently launched Spark, a crowd sourced petitioning platform a month ago. It gives customers a platform to suggest ideas to brands on their policies and services. Once a suggestion reaches a threshold of votes, Akosha takes it up with the brands. Ankur believes that the power of Spark lies in turning noise into a message from consumers to brands.
Singla says, "We launched Spark about a month back. We have seen a very solid response to the platform. It is a platform that connects crowd sourced ideas from the people who submit that they are unhappy with this X brands, X policy. We feel this is something that they will resonate with a lot of other consumers of the brand as well. This is something the higher management should change. We have seen a very awesome response where already 45 people have submitted Spark and over a 1,000 people have already voted on these Sparks. I think this is something which is very integral for us, to be able to get the brands and the consumer both happy."
With plans to expand his team of 50, Ankur hopes to open more offices in Delhi by 2013. Making the right moves, he wants to reach out to tier-II and tier-III cities and grow his complaint base to two lakh complaints a month.