Communication Leap
Akhilesh Negi
September 20, 2021

The lifecycle of a product is a journey consisting of understanding novel challenges, the contribution from lots of people towards a solution, and rolling out updates to constantly improve the product and aid the end-user.

Over the course of around one and a half years building Glific– a two-way communication platform for NGOs, it has been an exciting journey so far, and with its latest version released on 6 September 2.2 it has helped over 25 NGOs in exchanging over 2.7 million messages and reaching out to around 69K beneficiaries. Over this period of time, we have added features to help enhance their programs to reach beneficiaries more effectively through WhatsApp.

NGOs thrive on effective programs and constantly work to make their programs easier to access and understand in order to keep their beneficiaries engaged but with the global pandemic of Covid19  NGOs faced two major challenges:

  • Effective Channel for communication
  • Managing concurrent conversations at scale

Keeping the above challenges in mind, We started working on an open-source project named Glific in March 2020 which uses Whatsapp as a channel to communicate between  NGOs and their beneficiaries because of the wide reach of Whatsapp in the Global South.

And with Glific, we envision handling conversations at scale through automation helping NGOs to manage concurrent conversations with ease.  To automate conversation we integrated Flow-editor which allows NGOs to create step by step flow of conversation in the form of flows. These flows can be interconnected allowing NGOs to break down their large programs into small flows. 

Initially, we started Glific with the ability to handle conversations at scale through sending automated text messages and manual intervention wherever required.

Thus a sample flow to send activity based on the user’s response would look like

Rich media content support: with the ability to exchange messages, next we added support for sending and receiving messages with rich media content which greatly helped our partner NGOs like TAP to carry out their programs more effectively in the education sector by sending educational content via images, videos, audios or documents.

Thus, the conversations started looking a bit healthier.

Added support webhook and location:  As Reap Benefit, another partner NGO adopted Glific as a chatbot solution for a Covid related chatbot to help multiple NGOs use their volunteer base to link covid affected families who are looking for help to resources and hospitals in the locality, we added support for a location to capture coordinate of a beneficiary and webhook to integrate any other third-party app and send and receive data to/from Glific.

Easier capturing response: As flows are created to capture responses based on the user’s response. Sometimes users may send invalid responses and may break out of the flow which can happen in case of typo as well. To prevent that with the release of 2.0, we added support for interactive messages where users receive the option as buttons and the response of their choice can be selected with a mere click.

Voice to text translation chatbot: As one of our partner NGOs, DigitalGreen’s programs focus on engagement with farmers, where sending media-rich content and the ability to capture responses with a mere click are exceptional features for user engagement yet speech-based conversations have several potential benefits especially for farmers

For DigitalGreen, we added support for voice-text translation to enable farmers to respond with a voice note which is then decoded by Navanatech, and the decoded response is used as an input from the user.

With features like sending automated text replies,  sending rich-media content, capturing location, support for webhook, interactive messages and voice-text translation has helped to bridge the communication gap and it has been a communication leap in the social sector especially during a global pandemic. As we continue building Glific, we constantly work on new features to help NGOs with last-mile deliveries of their programs and love to hear back from the community to help them run their programs more effectively and efficiently.