Startup Circle: How is changing the customer care industry through conversational AI?

Laxitha Mundhra
New Update
Startup Circle: How is changing the customer care industry through conversational AI?

Contact centres continue to be a key touchpoint for customer communication and engagement in the digital economy, and their capabilities have evolved significantly in the last few years. Automation and improved personalization have given contact centre employees the much-needed confidence to resolve customer queries efficiently. Similarly,, a Conversational AI company, is empowering businesses to build customer-centric Conversational AI on multiple channels, with products and solutions for omnichannel automation and analytics. counts Bayer, P&G, HDFC Bank, Bajaj Allianz, DRDO, Government of Karnataka, amongst others as its clientele.


To power its next growth journey, gnani.AI decided to move to Oracle’s second-generation cloud infrastructure for extreme performance, advanced security and lower costs. Ananth Nagaraj, Co-founder & CTO,, with CiOL discusses its product offerings and its future.

How did come into being? What’s your USP?

Since our inception in 2016, we are working towards our vision of helping India’s large, diverse population consume and access information in the language of their choice and comfort, via speech recognition and natural language programming (NLP) based technologies. Our goal is to continue to help people communicate better and homogenize access to information and technology, and thereby simplify their lives.


We are probably the only start-up in the Conversational AI space to have our own in-house Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) engines for multiple languages (12+ Indian languages). We provide domain-specific speech models for every industry, which is why we are the preferred AI vendor of choice for customers across various domains. Our ASR is highly customizable as per industry requirements. It processes and transcribes the audio and text files, derives meaning from specific terminologies uttered, and generates a response to address a myriad of queries. In short, with the ability to pick up nuances like gender, dialect, pronunciation, accent, and pace, our speech recognition products help users communicate and get answers in their language.

Why is data critical for your organization?

Data is the backbone of AI-based products that we build. AI-products self-learn and improve with the insights derived from data. It is essential to have quality data to train AI models to assist customers in their day-to-day activities. In case there is some anomaly with data, these AI-models will not give out the right information, resulting in product hitches. One can only build avant-garde AI products if there is a lot of data with acceptable quality, to support the business problem that’s being addressed.


How are conversational AI solutions bringing in a change in the BFSI industry?

AI is transforming the BFSI industry in every aspect. Conversational AI products are designed to offer cost savings for contact centre operations, enhance security, support customers 24x7 and drive maximum engagement with personalized recommendations and services. For example, banking chatbots support customers in accomplishing simple tasks such as checking account balance, pay bills, open a new account, and manage delinquency. When it comes to the insurance sector, conversational AI bots can remind customers about their insurance premiums collect and process insurance claims, and complete underwriting and verification in a short time. They are designed to educate and inform customers about insurance renewals and compare policies with minimal agent intervention.

How are your customers improving their business with your products?


A top loan provider sought an AI-based end-to-end solution to automate the Collections process due to the substantial costs involved in loan recovery and payments across a large product portfolio. To achieve scalability while ensuring a human-like customer experience, the customer wanted to go with Voice Bots. To help them scale and automate, we implemented ASR and NLP powered Conversational AI-based Virtual Assistant solutions that freed up agents’ time and boosted their productivity. Within six weeks from the deployment date, the custom-built Voice Bots scaled linearly from 10,000 calls per day to 1 million in multiple languages with an 80% drop in the collections costs. There was a significant reduction in payment delinquency rate with 43% collections achieved in just 6 months, with the help of persistent calling via voice bots.

Tell us about your strategic partnership with Oracle and the business benefits you’ve gained.

From a technology standpoint, Oracle Could Infrastructure (OCI) has helped us in scaling our Conversational AI through highly flexible GPU-enabled infrastructure. It has also helped scale the GPU inferencing workload. More importantly, Oracle’s secure and robust cloud platform has helped us cut down the time taken to train ASR models by 35-40%, which enables us to serve our customers better and faster. From a pricing perspective, OCI’s transparent rate card and flexibility have helped us optimize IT and cloud spends. And last but not the least, as part of the Oracle for Startups program, from a market reach perspective, we are excited to leverage Oracle's audience to reach the right people to delve into technical components and look to address the requirements of potential customers jointly.


What are your growth priorities for 2021? Where do you see opportunities for faster growth?

We are going to see the democratization of conversational AI in 2021 and beyond. What we have seen is that organizations that have survived the tough times during the pandemic have had AI embedded in every aspect of their business. With overwhelming customer complaints and queries looming across every contact centre globally, there has been a significant focus on increasing automation and usage of AI-based technologies in customer service than before. And we want to leverage our strong AI-capabilities, including our AI experts' proficiency, and help businesses achieve superior customer experience in an omnichannel setup.

Aside from customer support automation, aided by a rising need for contactless technologies, we see voice biometrics becoming the catalyst of security and authentication mediums. Beyond BFSI, we are seeing demand from Healthcare, HR, and Telecom sectors, amongst others, as more and more organizations look to leverage voice biometrics to strengthen security and curb advanced threats.


Give us a peek into your innovation and growth roadmap.

Innovation is hardwired into our DNA, and we are always trying to innovate in everything we do and solve. After carving a niche in the Indian market, we are on track with our expansion plans spanning the US and APAC markets and looking to increase our healthcare, pharma, automotive, and telecom clientele. And as we expand to other markets, we want to leverage voice as the bridge to connect with various technologies and platforms. We are working hard to make voice the future of human interface with machines. We are funded by Samsung Ventures, which substantiates our competency in the conversational AI space.

Already, we have a strong start here in India, as we are currently working with leading BFSI, FMCG organizations to improve customer experience, strengthen security and help them stay ahead of the competition using conversational AI and AI-based solutions. We also intend to broaden our language capabilities and include international languages such as Spanish for Speech in our ASR and TTS engines.

As more businesses become AI-centric, we believe the strategic collaborations will help us enhance business functions and boost overall business growth.

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