Ecommerce Boss Fires 90% Of Staff, Gleefully Hands Work to Lina A Chatbot
An Indian startup is under fire for sacking 90 percent of its customer support team in favour of AI and being heartless about it on social media.
CEO of Dukaan Suumit Shah points to a huge drop in the technical response time from one minute, 44 seconds to instantaneous for vindicating the sackings and turning the work over to a chatbot named Lina.
Dukaan is a Bangalore-based startup that offers a global ecommerce platform.
“We had to layoff 90 percent of our support team because of this AI chatbot,” he posted on Twitter. “Tough? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely.”
“Time to first response went from 1m 44s to INSTANT! Resolution time went from 2h 13m to 3m 12s Customer support costs reduced by ~85 percent.”
In his posts, Shah points to the influence of a “kid” named Ojasvi Yadav who made the move to AI possible. Yadav’s pinned post is an award from Amazon for the best B2B startup leveraging AI. “Super proud to receive it in real life,” he wrote.
Shah posted: “I have @ojasvi_yadav, this kid is ahead of the pack when it comes to AI/ML, and also leading the AI/ML efforts at Dukaan”. He said he initially was sceptical about the move “as a cat at a dog show”.
“My understanding of AI is equivalent to my understanding of ACID properties of a database,” Shah posted this week.
“Given the state of economy, startups are prioritizing ‘profitability’ over striving to become ‘unicorns’, and so are we. It’s less magical, sure, but at least it pays the bills!”
He later posted: “~200 live chats and ~1400 support tickets have been marked as ‘resolved’ by Lina. I literally started feeling like Edward Morra from the movie ‘Limitless’ is running the entire customer support of Dukaan by himself, seriously!”
However, Shah has received a backlash from his actions and posts. “The guy who laid off people over Zoom did a much better job than whatever this is. We’ve lost all empathy, have we?,” said one comment in reply.
“Question is what did you do to reallocate those 90 percent employees. Is sole purpose of company to earn profit for shareholder, without considering the employee transition”, said another. “The most heartless tweet I’ve ever seen,” said another.
Analysts have been equivocal about AI replacing humans in customer focussed roles, saying it might reduce the workforce, but that humans will continue to have a role with AI taking on more mundane activities and repetitive tasks.
Actions like those of Dukaan’s Suumit Shah who has no reluctance to move to AI, sack staff and express excitement suggests this could be an optimistic projection even in the near future.