Facts about Hindi
Hindi is a widely spoken language, ranking as the fourth most common first language in the world behind Mandarin, Spanish, and English. With over 577.8 million speakers, it is the official language in India's Hindi Belt region, which encompasses parts of northern, central, eastern, and western India. Additionally, it is one of the official languages of the Indian government, alongside English.
Interestingly, Nepal has the second largest population of Hindi speakers with approximately 8 million people speaking it, despite it being a native language to only 80,000 Nepalese. This can be attributed to the similarities in culture between the two countries and the popularity of Indian television content in Nepal. However, Hindi is not officially recognized as a language in Nepal.
In terms of written language, Hindi is read from left to right, similar to English. However, it can be easier to read as words are written as they are pronounced. The tenses in Hindi and English are also similar, but Hindi speakers tend to overuse the present continuous tense instead of using other tenses like present simple, due to a lack of correspondence in meanings.
Another difference between Hindi and English is the absence of articles 'the' and 'a' and the sentence structure, where verbs are placed at the end of the sentence. Like French, Hindi also assigns gender to nouns, and verbs and adjectives change accordingly.
Customer service in Hindi (in India)
India boasts relatively high English proficiency compared to other developing nations, however, there is a significant variation in proficiency levels among regions and demographic groups. English proficiency tends to be lower in rural areas and among individuals with less education. Thus, it is crucial to also learn local languages and dialects to effectively communicate with the majority of the population.
Despite English being one of the official languages in India, it is not widely spoken as a first language by the majority of the population. As a result, the EF English Proficiency Index ranks India at 52 out of 111 countries. This poses a challenge for businesses looking to reach the Indian market, as research shows that offerings presented in English only reach 10% of the population. The remaining 90% may not even attempt to understand what is being offered or may assume it is not tailored to them. To truly tap into the potential of the Indian market, businesses must consider adapting their communications to be more inclusive and relevant to the local population.
Key customer service trends in India
- Rising dissatisfaction among customers
The Qualtrics 2022 Global Consumer Trends report reveals that an overwhelming 96% of Indians surveyed are dissatisfied with their customer experiences in 2021. This trend cuts across sectors and regions, impacting companies of all sizes and industries.
The financial difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to this growing dissatisfaction. For example, 79% of the 15,000 airline passengers surveyed by LocalCircles for a recent Bloomberg report claim that Indian carriers are compromising on passenger comfort and cutting corners as a result of the pandemic.
The backlash against companies with poor customer service has been so severe that the Reserve Bank of India has set up a six-member committee to review and evaluate the efficacy, adequacy, and quality of customer service in entities regulated by it, identify gaps and suggest measures to improve the services.
The shift to online shopping during the COVID-19 outbreak has also highlighted the lack of digital support from companies. Even e-commerce has its own set of issues, including payment process glitches, inadequate information on order status, and difficulties with returns and refunds. To overcome these challenges, many businesses have attempted to automate their customer services through the incorporation of chatbots on their website or using voice bots to answer customer concerns immediately and effectively.
- The need for Hinglish
The widespread use of English and Hindi in India has given rise to a unique hybrid language known as Hinglish. This new form of communication has become increasingly popular among urban centres and younger generations in India. While there are approximately 125 million English speakers in India, it is estimated that there are now around 350 million speakers of Hinglish. Studies have even suggested that more Indians may be fluent in Hinglish than in English.
This shift is largely due to the convenience of Hinglish for those growing up in a multilingual environment where both English and Hindi are official languages. Users find it more natural and easy to type Hindi queries in Latin script, as opposed to the traditional Devanagari script used in Hindi.
Additionally, a survey by Haptik found that the lack of support for Hinglish was a major contributor to bot breaks, impacting the performance of automated customer service and hindering efforts to improve the customer experience.
- Multilingual support
India is a highly multilingual country, with over 120 languages spoken as mother tongues. While many customers may understand Hindi or English, the Constitution of India recognizes 22 official or "scheduled" languages. This diversity is reflected in the country's geography, as state boundaries were drawn along language lines, resulting in regions that are linguistically diverse.
For Indian companies, this means the importance of providing multilingual support cannot be overstated. Not only does it help in communicating with customers in a language they understand, but it also allows businesses to connect with customers on a deeper level by catering to their cultural and linguistic identity. It is necessary for your businesses to seriously consider multilingual customer service solutions, like multilingual chatbots at Algomo.
To effectively target customers across India, businesses must also consider catering to regional and demographic differences. This means not only providing support in multiple languages but also differentiating marketing content and communication channels. With a large market opportunity and a huge population, differentiating business strategies in India is likely to be worthwhile.
Overview of automated customer service in India
The advancements in chatbot technology in India are being propelled by the support of major chatbot builders, such as Google's Dialogflow and IBM's Watson, for the Hindi language. Furthermore, there is a growing interest in the field of Natural Language Processing (NLP) in India, as evidenced by the increasing availability of training opportunities and programs. This highlights the importance of Hindi in the technological landscape and the potential for further developments in this area.
The Indian chatbot industry is still in its early stages, yet it is already a $3.1 billion market. Industry analysts predict that in the coming years, the market will evolve to a point where interactive and intuitive AI will become the bare standard for customer service across various sectors. Some experts estimate that the chatbot market is only 10% penetrated, suggesting a highly fragmented market with huge opportunities and potential to realize.
India is following the trend in the Asia-Pacific region and is likely to witness an increasing need for chatbots due to the growing retail and e-commerce businesses in emerging economies like India. India's technology infrastructure is also rapidly growing, providing further support to the growth of the chatbot market. According to an industry report by Mordor Intelligence, India is among the countries with the highest growth rate in the chatbot market from 2022 to 2027.
Main application sectors
The banking industry is one of the most common areas where chatbots are used to enhance the customer experience in India. All categories of banks, including public sector banks and private banks, are making use of artificial technologies and have deployed AI-based chatbots and virtual assistants in recent years. Between 2017 and 2019, a total of 12 banks implemented chatbot services that are available 24/7.
One of the most representative examples is EVA by HDFC Bank, India's leading private sector bank. EVA is India's first and largest Artificial Intelligence-powered banking chatbot. By 2019, EVA had already answered more than 5 million queries from around a million customers with more than 85% accuracy. It has been configured to handle queries on more than 7,500 FAQs, along with information on the bank's products and services. Additionally, login to internet banking is not needed to ask questions to EVA, making the services highly accessible and convenient.
Apart from retail banking, financial services like insurance are also exploring chatbots to better manage customer services since customer queries in these business areas tend to be predictable and repetitive. In 2017, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Co. Ltd. launched its chatbot called 'Boing' to address customer queries in motor and health insurance. The platform also allows customers to register claims, get e-copies of policies, check the policy status and claim status, and locate a branch, hospital or workshop. As insurance penetration increases in India, this will be the most user-friendly way of serving customers.
Haptik is an Indian enterprise conversational AI platform that has developed a variety of chatbots for different industries. Some of its most well-known cases include developing a life insurance chatbot that helps users choose appropriate life insurance plans based on a 60-second quiz, a voice bot for one of the largest food chains in the world, and chatbots for state governments as well as a WhatsApp chatbot for the Government of India. Over the years, in addition to expanding the reach of global languages, Haptik has upgraded its system to be able to interact in five Indian languages - Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil and Bengali, indicating its strong focus on Indian businesses as well.
AmplifyReach is an Indian technology company that supports 12 languages for chatbots and live chat software. However, the companies they cooperate with are mainly focused on Indian-based businesses, such as Reliance General Insurance, one of the leading general insurance companies in India and Green Salute, a car wash company in India. With a wide range of customers, AmplifyReach has greater expertise in insurance, banking, travel and adtech which are the top chatbot areas in India.
Reverie Language Technologies is India's leading language technology company providing text, voice and video localization solutions. It has helped governments and businesses reach 650 million non-English speaking Internet users in India. It supports an unparalleled scale of all 22 official Indian languages, supporting data, content, chatbot, voice bot localization and so on. It also has one of the broadest coverage of industries. Except for some of the more common industries for chatbot applications, it has also developed specialized expertise in helping companies in the gaming, eLearning and automotive industry.
India is a culturally diverse country with various languages, traditions, and cultures. Setting up businesses in India requires a sensitive approach to reach customers in different regions with specific consumption habits and behaviours. Multilingual support, such as products by Algomo, is crucial for customer service in India. Having a comprehensive coverage of dialects in India will give your business an edge in the market.