Logistics

IRCTC’s chat-bot chugs successfully on a better revenue track

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on January 11, 2019 Published on January 11, 2019

CoRover, a two-year-old start-up running the chat-bot services on the IRCTC website, is turning the conventional company-client relationship by not only providing it free, but actually paying the railway PSU to offer its services.

It has reasons to do so. Being part of the India’s largest railways booking platform that books 7-8 lakh tickets per day has helped the start-up rake in more advertising revenue than its Founder and CEO Ankush Sabharwal expected initially.

CoRover has acquired rights to place advertisements in the chatbox “AskDisha” that pops up on the IRCTC website and the space right below the box. This advertising space has been booked by the start-up in all e-devices used to book online tickets.

“To provide the chat-bot service, the start-up had made a minimum commitment of a certain amount to pay IRCTC, on which it already earned multi-folds, (and) will pay a part of earnings with IRCTC,” Sabharwal said.

He claims there have already been 10,000 queries to advertise with ChatBot (AskDISHA) which include players such as Amazon, RedBus, ICICI, Google.

“Unlike in other platforms, say Facebook, there is no possibility of changing the content in AskDisha where users can’t post their comments, so advertisers are assured of brand safety,” he added. Brand safety basically means protecting advertisers against inappropriate content. For instance, in social media, there could be car advertisements appearing next to a discussion on accident-and it is publicly visible to all.

On top, all IRCTC users can pay online, which means advertisers can target online paying users, apart from getting to know them better.

In case of AskDisha, the chat-bot enables consumers to ask questions, give feedbacks and ideas to IRCTC. It had started with around 250 responses three months ago (October 2018) and has been adding 10-30 questions to its bank everyday based on the new questions asked by IRCTC users. Today, CoRover has over 1,000 responses for various queries. Also, AskDisha handles 10,000 questions concurrently, and 1.6 lakh questions a day.

Most of these concern refunds, cancellation of partial tickets, login to website and Tatkal booking. When Disha doesn’t have answers, it redirects questions to the right place in IRCTC, and ensures that the response is added to its ever-growing question bank. After a text-based offering, the start-up wants to make Disha voice-enabled and multilingual.

After IRCTC, CoRover has bagged Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation as client. PwC, Gartner, Kochi Metro Rail Corporation are in different stages of talk to be the start-up’s client. Also, Amazon is giving CoRover more credits to pay for using its cloud —Amazon Web Service.

Published on January 11, 2019

A letter from the Editor


Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Sincerely,

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.