Helpchat Pivots From Chat; Let Go Off The Entire Chat Team

Helpchat  recently removed its chat feature from the app, which raised many questions. Ankur Singla, Founder and CEO of Helpchat has finally put his case to rest and why he decided to pivot the company from a chat based model to a personal assistant one.

After extensive debate internally, we took the call to phase out chat from our app and create the same level of experience using automation and simple user interfaces. The rest of the app remains the same – but it is simplified, fast and without any delays. [Ankur Singla, Founder]

He added that after launching the chat based model in September 2015, the problem that the team faced was that after trying it, the customers were not returning and even building better dashboards did not help.

Understanding The Problem

Finally somewhere in Sept 2015 it became obvious that the problem was chat (there were lots of learning along the way but this one was the biggest). The number of taps required to get anything done was just way too many, no matter what you do. People often confuse the debate with bots, AI etc. but does it really make sense to chat to get a cab when you can simply tap once and book (no matter what you think, our user data was very obvious on this. The answer is no.)

He also says that mobile businesses does not get built on chat based models.

After launching the redesigned app in January 2016, the number of transactions have drastically increased and more than 20 API integrations are live while the company is expecting another 15-20 APIs will be live in the next 3 months.

After launching recharge, bill payments, cabs, deals, news, journey cards, Ankur says that the company will launching much more in the next three months.

Helpchat has let go off the entire chat team (with 3 months severance package).

While it is supposed to be tough, the toughest of all was the decision regarding our chat operations team. We have taken the decision to let go of most of our chat colleagues. We looked at the retention cohorts or uninstall cohorts for all our chat users but they were always much worse than others (for reasons explained above). No matter which way we looked at it, it made sense for us to take this decision.

6 Replies

  1. “does it really make sense to chat to get a cab when you can simply tap once and book”
    Okay so it took them many months and few crores of spending to understand this!

  2. Pure chat is not scalable and is of limited use. I think they should some inspiration from how google has now launched its chat app, Allo. With smart embedded and interactive (app in app, anyone?) rich content in app, chat would have been much more exciting.

    I think they should go by usecase by use case, crack them and then decide the interface. How can you start with an interface and then force fit use cases into it?

    • Scalability was always going to be the biggest problem for their business model, if you have very narrow or no revenue streams.

  3. I believe chat feature was good and there was no need to remove it. Most of the people installed Helpchat just because they can get information about cashbacks / best offer. now you are like any other app which is recommending things/services to purchase.

  4. Finally. Used to wonder why would someone chat on mobile phone and waste time, the most inconvenient thing to do, while search engines are moving to voice search to ease out typing on mobile phones. Another learning for VC’s, everything that’s different is not necessarily make money. So going ahead HelpChat with no chat feature will be just like any other classified site trying to recommend services and generate revenue. Awaiting the third name of the venture, off course helpchat name will not survive.