Providing excellent customer care is a top priority for any business in the service industry. Three NUS students have therefore founded Geboto — a chatbot solutions provider — to help these businesses step up their customer engagement game.
Geboto is the brainchild of recent NUS graduates Joel Foo from NUS Statistics and Johnervan Lee from NUS Mechanical Engineering, as well as undergraduate Chia Wei Kang from NUS Computer Science. The idea was conceived during Joel and Johnervan’s stint at the NUS Overseas College Israel.
“With the rise of artificial intelligence, we foresee future business-customer communication to involve little or no human intervention. There is huge potential in using chatbots to create a more personalised and engaging experience for customers,” explained Johnervan.
The duo then roped in Wei Kang, who has expertise in software engineering, to co-develop a chatbot aimed at offering an integrated platform for boutique hotels to better connect with their customers digitally.
Geboto’s chatbot platform can be customised to the needs of different businesses beyond hotels and is integrated with social media platforms so that customers do not need to download any separate application. The team also designed a button centric interface where users can be directed to their queries mostly by clicks to minimise language barriers between customers and the bot, an important feature for businesses that serve international clients, such as airlines and travel agencies.
Their technology is currently being adopted by COO Boutique Hostel, a vibrant backpackers’ haven. Integrated with the hostel’s property management system, the chatbot is capable of responding to booking queries with the most updated room availability and pricing amongst other general queries.
“Geboto helps to handle 50 to 60 per cent of the mundane customer queries we receive on a daily basis. This has freed up my staff, allowing them to focus on improving their service level on-site in their day-to-day operations,” said the owner of COO Boutique Hostel. He said that the hostel is also seeing more direct bookings through its own digital platforms, reducing reliance on third-party hotel booking agencies.
The team considers their diverse background key to their start-up. “Our varied education background and internship experience enable us to each contribute to different aspects of the business,” said Wei Kang. “Joel’s knowledge in machine learning is critical in building the analytics backbone of Geboto, while my expertise in software engineering requires Johnervan’s experience in user validation in order to build the chatbot from scratch.”
Geboto was awarded a $10,000 Venture Ideation Award by NUS Enterprise to further develop their innovation. The team has plans to expand into the food and beverage (F&B) industry which they believe would reap the most benefits from adopting chatbots. “We see greater longevity in terms of customer engagement for the F&B industry given that eateries typically have more regular patrons. The large amount of market research data collected via the chatbot can also help F&B businesses make data-driven improvements to their marketing efforts and chatbot to improve the end-to-end customer experience and engagement — from before, during, to after their visit,” said Joel.
Joel and Johnervan graduated in July this year and are currently working full-time on their start-up. Wei Kang will join the duo when he graduates in December.