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Meet Shelly, Shell's Siri-like bot to answer queries on vehicle lubricants

Shell is adopting artificial intelligence, data analytics for customised solutions; India is the first market for this platform

Jyoti Mukul  |  New Delhi 

Mansi Madan Tripathy, Managing Director, Shell India Lubricants
Mansi Madan Tripathy, Managing Director, Shell India Lubricants

What Apple's voice-based user interface, Siri, can do for an iPhone or iPad, oil major Shell's can do for a vehicle or machine.

tells customers all they want to know about using The bot is one of the ways the global lubricant leader is dealing with its customers, especially in the business-to-business (B2B) segment. The idea is to work out the total cost of ownership for customers.

Earlier this year, Shell developed an (AI) platform, LubeChat, for the B2B industrial sector. India is the first market for this AI-enabled platform; China will be the next.

"We have globally started to see the total strength we give to our customers. We have launched our master grand strategy, where we sit together and based on it, we give to our customers the total cost of ownership," Mansi Madan Tripathy, managing director, Shell India Lubricants, told Business Standard in an interview.

Tripathy said if any product or process was utilising 10 units of energy and if a Shell product reduced friction, the customer could see 10-15 per cent less cost.

Another important component of the company's new strategy is to address maintenance and unplanned downtime. "This cost is extremely high. If a machine is well maintained, then we feel we can reduce this downtime. Typically, the cost of lubricant is three to four per cent of running any operations, but with this, we are able to say that we can save 25-30 per cent of operational cost," she said.

Shell India developed another chatbot, (proof of concept), in Q4 of FY17 using the Facebook messenger platform for automotive customers. Its focus is on product knowledge, identifying matching lubes for vehicles, and online purchase. Through higher user engagement, there would be more brand engagement.

Meet Shelly, Shell's Siri-like bot to answer queries on vehicle lubricants
Shell developed an (AI) platform, LubeChat, for the B2B industrial sector. India is the first market for this AI-enabled platform; China will be the next.

Tripathy said Shell was working closely with commercial fleet customers in building sensor-driven data consolidation to improve operational efficiency and safety management for trucks. It has already partnered with five fleet owners who have 300-500 trucks.

The company also has an analytics platform where it is building a data warehouse, integrating ERP data sets and automating through machine-learning technology to drive diagnostic and predictive analytics. Visualisation and customised dashboard can be viewed in real time by employees to make more informed business decisions.

Tripathy said they were working with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to meet the emission standards. Shell has a tie-up with Tata for Shell Rimula, which the company claims gives 6-10 per cent fuel saving.

Shell has a 12 per cent share in the global market. It is the biggest player in this segment in the US, the largest market worldwide. In China, which is the second-largest market, it is the strongest international company with close to 10 per cent market share. India is the third-largest market for Shell, where it has close to a five per cent share.

In India, the industry segment for has largely been stagnant at less than one per cent growth. Within the industry, demand from agriculture and construction is increasing, while that from mining and power is declining. In the case of commercial vehicles, there is a decline because new trucks are more efficient. In bikes, the lubricant demand is growing at five-six per cent, while it's less than 1.8 per cent for cars. However, overall, at 2.3 per cent, India is one of the fastest growing markets in the world.

Bot must-haves

* A catchy moniker: The dilemma is whether to give a chat bot human like names (Siri, Alexa) to make customers feel like they are speaking to another person, or should the company go for impersonal names. The choice could make or break a customer’s engagement with the company but each has its benefits

* Get it right the first time: According to research by Nielsen Global, 73% of consumers say they wouldn’t use a brand’s chatbot a second time if something went seriously wrong with their first interaction

* Manage expectations: Customers want flexible, helpful assistants; chatbots with limited functionality will disappoint. Many try to manage expectations by giving the consumer cues, such as using a cartoon representation of the bot rather than a picture of a person

* Incorporate human-like features: Many platforms let a brand owner create a bot that speaks like another human being. could use this feature to let the brand get a personal voice

* Keep in touch: Bots must be used to keep the brand talking 24/7 and must always have a human 
back-up, someone they can escalate the problem to

* Know the customer: Use data to let the bot be sensitive to customer’s shopping needs. Consumers must feel comfortable, not harassed by the interaction
Source: Perspectives on Retail Technology:

The effect of digital on retail, May 2017, Nielsen Global

First Published: Thu, November 16 2017. 22:00 IST