First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?
Thank you for asking; we’re doing great. We acted quickly as soon as we saw the first effects of COVID-19 creeping in, putting in place preventive measures & encouraging all of our staff to work remotely. While the tools we use may change and how we collaborate may vary, our vision and goal remain the same. Over the last year and a half, we’ve managed to build a series of processes for effective remote collaboration internally. This has helped us in mitigating complex issues and face new challenges easily.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?
I am Mitul Makadia, the Founder & CEO of Maruti Techlabs and WotNot. I worked as a Senior Technical Manager with a product engineering company for about five years after graduation. In 2009, I put down the roots of Maruti Techlabs with a single project for a US-based client. Our story begins with one. It started with a small assignment with a trusting client. I’m really happy to share that we still work for that client to date.
Maruti Techlabs is a product development company, and we guide SMBs and Enterprises on the digital transformation journey. Right from materializing ideas through rapid application development to improving processes via RPA and AI to streamlining customer support via chatbots, we do it all. Our mission is to help our clients build future-proof and intuitive digital products while guiding them with the best processes & practices that will allow them to undergo a successful digital transformation and scale sustainably.
Having built products for our clients across 16 industries over the past decade, we have also built and continue to scale two products of our own - One of them is WotNot – an all-in-one chat marketing tool that helps businesses build a pipeline of qualified leads, drive more revenue, and retain customers, without increasing headcount. We help you talk to your current and future customers today at scale.
One of our long-term clients approached us with a problem that almost every business struggles with. Their limited customer support staff was inundated with daily calls, which led to extended wait times and increased business expenses. Poor customer experience was leading to a below-par brand image and a significant loss to the business. So, we built a chatbot for them to address this worrying issue.
Looking at the exceptional results they got, we decided to build an easy-to-use chatbot and live chat platform that would replicate the positive results for other companies across verticals. Hence WotNot was born. Since then, WotNot has been helping businesses cut costs and improve their customers’ experience.
How does your company innovate?
Today, we are surrounded by innovation. The concept of innovation is catching on just as quickly as the firms that embrace it, from exciting new technology to innovative startup business models. However, not all businesses are willing to promote innovation within their walls. Changing workplace processes and procedures necessitates adaptability and resilience, and, sadly, many individuals are fearful of or resistant to change.
Here are few ways through which we try to keep innovating:
- To make innovation possible, at least the processes and culture need to be “innovation-friendly.” We try our best to make that possible.
- We reward experimentation & even failure. Beyond just giving our employees time to experiment, we also try to reward innovative habits.
- Along with encouraging our team to experiment, we encourage them to do their research as well.
- The leadership in our company tries to be progressive leaders. Leading by example is the best approach to inspire creativity in your organization. Leaders should be role models for workplace passion, a positive perspective, clear direction and vision, and, of course, the ability to embrace change.
How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Except for the fact that we were now working remotely & the initial transitional challenges around that, the coronavirus pandemic has brought in different challenges for our clients in healthcare and logistics especially. As the world grappled with a pandemic, another crucial problem needed attention – the crisis of misinformation, rumors, and myths regarding the Coronavirus.
The fight against misinformation became just as crucial as chaos ensued. To address this issue for our client, we designed a WhatsApp chatbot to provide authentic information at the users’ fingertips. The WhatsApp chatbot addressed the fight against misinformation and raised awareness by making reliable and verified information accessible to the general public.
Parallelly, we worked with Kolkata Metro to build and deploy a chatbot that could issue tickets/passes in a contactless manner to more than 11.5 million users who wanted to take the subway to go from point A to point B. This further solidifies that conversational AI can solve major problems when the right use cases are selected and implemented at scale.
Across 2020 and 2021, we have seen a rise in businesses looking to automate sales and customer support extensively and reach their audience where they were. This meant deploying bots and live chat on Messenger, WhatsApp, and websites.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
- We all learned, unlearned, and relearned quite a lot over the last 18 months.
- Recognizing that remote work is now a reality
- Businesses that already have a work-from-home policy are doing well. However, it took a pandemic for many people to realize the advantages of a work-from-home approach.
- As a result of the Coronavirus, an increasing number of people are working from home. They are making every effort to adapt to a new style of working. As a result, many employers have found themselves in uncharted territory.
- Employees’ safety is a top priority.
- Employers throughout the world now agree that health and safety are essential concerns to address.
- Recognize the importance of digital transformation
- Several organizations have been slow in becoming a part of the digital world. The COVID-19 epidemic hastened the use of digital technologies in businesses. It has risen to the top of the priority list for staying relevant.
- Having trust in the employees
- Employers have created new work cultures as people feel unprepared for the same. They’ve learned that trust may help them get through difficult times. It all boils down to establishing a transparent working atmosphere.
- Dividing Authority
- Employers increasingly believe that employees should be proactive and make judgments while dealing with difficulties. They should not always rely on their superiors for guidance. It necessitates employers’ prompt and clear communication.
- Recognizing The Value of Collaborative Efforts
- During this crisis, the best workplace leaders have realized the value of teamwork. They now require the assistance of all of their employees, regardless of how strong they were in making decisions on their own. They anticipate their team’s complete commitment to achieving common goals.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
The latest crop of business technology tools can help you run your business more efficiently. The goal is to work smarter, not harder—so that we can focus on the work we do best. When it comes to running a business, having the right tool for the job can make a big difference. For technology businesses to scale, prioritizing & optimizing teamwork is essential.
Small business software & tools can conquer everyday tasks from tracking employee productivity & performance to people & money management to streamlining communication & collaboration. We, as a company, follow Agile Methodology. Teams working on different client projects daily Scrum meetings that provide structure, discipline, and a framework for Agile development.
A couple of our clients have a multitude of teams working on different features of their product. We conduct scrum of the scrum to ensure coordination and integration of output from every team involved and mitigate any potential issues before they arise. The whole project comprises a series of Sprints where each Sprint is of 2 weeks. For technology businesses to scale, prioritizing & optimizing teamwork is essential. We use a myriad of tools internally at Maruti Techlabs and WotNot -
- Communication – Slack
- Meetings – Zoom
- Project Management – JIRA, Trello, Asana
- Customer Engagement – WotNot
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
As of today, whether you’re in the services business or have a SaaS product – it isn’t easy to differentiate yourself purely on features or engagement models since they’re easily replicable. We don’t spend too much time assessing and worrying about our competition. The true differentiator has always been our consistency, being true to our words, and delivering an exceptional customer experience.
Everything else will fall into place if we focus on doing the best job for our clients, partners, employees, and contractors. Of course, we keep track of industry as a whole & what factors are affecting the change. To stay in the game, I’d say that you strive to provide the best business solutions out there & you will succeed.
Your final thoughts
Invest and focus on building people and leaders. The same people and leaders will build the business. Your team is your biggest strength.