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10 things to learn from the Chillr app promotion

Recently, the Chillr app team conducted promotional events in the IT park where I work. Chillr is basically an app that lets you send money from your bank account to anyone in your phonebook even without having to know their account number. While some of the stuff they did were good but some were downright not acceptable. Read on to find out the good and bad

The Good

1.       Incentivize users

First time around, there was a booth set up near the food court with volunteers handing out pamphlets and hoardings trying to grab user’s attention. A lot of people including myself walked away without batting an eyelid mostly because we see a stall for a new app almost every week. The second time the Chillr team set up stalls, they had loads of chocolates stacked up and were handing them out to people who tried the app. Now instead of volunteers chasing down people with pamphlets, a lot of people gathered around the stall to enquire about the app. Though most people were interested in the chocolates but still word spread around and people started calling their friends to visit the stall.

2.       Go beyond app installs

When a stranger offers you a candy he expects you to do something for him. The catch here was people not only had to install the app but also perform a transaction on it to get a Cadbury Silk. This is a very smart move given the fact that an average smartphone user has several apps lying dormant in his phone and not even remembering when he installed them. Besides setting up the app for the first time requires considerable time and effort and having help does make the process a bit better.

 The Bad

3.       Setting up is a pain

As I mentioned earlier setting up the app for use the first time around is a real pain. It involves accessing netbanking site of the bank and generating the MMID and MPIN, waiting for the SMS to receive the PIN and then modify it in the Chillr app. Promoting an app that promises a seamless cash transfer experience but having a convoluted signup process is a letdown. I understand that security measures are vital when it comes to banking applications, perhaps it would be better if the user were guided through the steps one at a time when the app is opened for the first time. I was able to jump through all the hoops only because of the help from the volunteers at the stall. For a person trying to check out the app on his own, this process might be a dampener.

4.       Privacy

While the volunteers were quite helpful, I feel they were over-stepping their limits. For instance, I did not know how to generate MMID and MPIN and asked a volunteer for help. Once I logged into my bank’s netbanking site, he started navigating around on the website to open the respective window. While I appreciate help, I do not like anybody else looking at my account details. Though not on purpose but still I feel volunteers would just keep their hands off my phone!

5.       Better onboarding process

The main reason to take assistance from volunteers is because the pamphlets and the displays do not explain the steps to follow  easily. Given the fact that Chillr app currently only supports HDFC bank, I see no reason to not list the steps to follow with screenshots. This would also ease my concerns about other people peeping into my bank details.

6.       Crowd control

The presence of chocolates attracted a lot of crowd and though the Chillr guys tried their best to manage the crowd but there was a lot of chaos. I hope next time they plan it better the next time.

7.       Better app experience

The iOS app is definitely not going to win any design awards but I hope it would be more intuitive, especially while logging in for the first time. I have not tried the Android app yet but from a distance it looked better than the iOS counterpart.

8.       No WiFi near the signup area

The stall was set up in the basement and the mobile coverage was not good. Given the fact that users need to access internet to use the download and use the app and also to login to netbanking, I wish there was a WiFi hotspot. Some people had trouble accessing internet. And my poor friend had no signal at all. So he had to go out to receive the SMS pin and then come back in a couple of times.

The Ugly

9.       Compromising user’s security

After making a transaction on the app, the helpdesk folks were not convinced by looking at the transaction history but they wanted more information. They were collecting the customer id and the registered phone number used for netbanking before handing out the chocolates. This really pissed me off. This information is supposed to be confidential and sensitive. I wouldn’t feel comfortable disclosing this in private let alone in front of 50 other people peering at my phone and over-hearing the conversation. A chocolate is not worth my sense of security. Each transaction has a unique transaction id, why not just collect that? Given the fact that HDFC bank is endorsing this app, I hope they issue strict guidelines regarding collecting customer information to Chillr team. Also what would happen if people started sharing bogus customer id and phone numbers to protect their privacy? There is no way of checking it given the rush at the stall. Wouldn’t that defeat the whole point of collecting snooping customer information?

10.   Why Free Lunch

While I do understand and appreciate the benefits of using Chillr but I keep wondering why I am being offered this service for free. All companies need to make money somehow to sustain themselves, so what is Chillr’s business model? I could not find much information from their website about this. Being a startup, customer acquisition takes priority over monetization but as a customer I believe I have the right to know how my data will be used. Will the personal details collected from me shared with marketers?

My takeaway from this whole episode is that companies should not take their customers for granted. While some people may throw caution to the winds and share confidential information without realising the significance of their act, it is also the moral duty of the company to respect the privacy of the users. I hope other startups would find a thing or two useful to learn from this episode.



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  1. sridhar,

    i just loved this post! this is so awesome the way you’ve broken each point down and given your candid feedback! my gosh – pls feel free and do some reviews for trhs! this is so helpful!

    full points for the good, the bad, the ugly.

    quick q – in an IT park – shouldn’t free wifi be freely available?


  2. ps: sridhar, you must go through our showcase! section and give folks feedback. you are really good at it!

    (and i think we should soon start a review section!!)

  3. Thanks a lot for the feedback Asha. Based on my experience most IT parks do not have WiFi access in food courts/break-out areas. It is usually available only within the office premises. 

  4. Yes sure 🙂

  5. wow. had no idea…!

    i’m gonna ping vivek of qlicket! 

  6. Hi Sridhar Rajendran,
               First of all, really appreciate the effort you took to share this feedback & to structure your thoughts well. Apart from Bangalore, we do similar activities in Pune & Kolkata, and this post will go a long way in helping us out make the activation campaigns a much better experience for our valuable customers. I’ll give my reply point by point.

    1) We really believe in the value proposition of our product and how disruptive it could be going forward. But it is important to get the attention of someone busy in their own routine to check out what we offer in the first place. Everyone loves chocolates. For every activated user, we thought what better way to celebrate the ‘Shubh Aarambh’.

    2) Download numbers are just vanity metrics, everyone knows this. We are not trying to fool our investors / end-customers by flashing fancy download figures. But someone who has done the first transaction, will for sure appreciate how much better it is to transact via Chillr and hopefully continue to use Chillr forever.

    3) Can’t agree more. A lot of this is mandatory as per RBI. Most of it is in the partner banks control. We are working on it continuously. In Feb when we launched, it used to take 48 hours to complete what you took probably 10 minutes to complete now because of systemic limitations. Be rest assured that the on-boarding process will be become simpler with every release (fortnightly) but of course without compromising on security. It is a one time pain and it is definitely better than a fraud transaction happening later.

    4) Point taken. Shouldn’t have happened. We will ensure that this doesn’t happen again. In fact the message has already been passed on to the team that is driving the efforts on the ground.

    5) We call it the ‘walk through’. Again something we are continuously A/B testing with users and tracking conversions. We will crack this soon. And it is not just for one bank, for any number of banks in the future that we partner with, we will have good handholding provided for end users.

    6) As an entrepreneur, I think it is a good problem to have. Will definitely solve this. This obviously happened as the turnout was (much) better than initially expected. 

    7) I’m on iOS too but unfortunately Android app is way ahead! 🙁 Not for long though. In 7-10 days time, you will see a totally overhauled iOS app. In fact we were on Ruby Motion earlier and somewhere down the lane we decided to go native. Essentially had to build the app from ground app and hence the delay. Soon all 3 platforms will move into a fortnightly release approach. BTW, do check out the Android version, it is a LOT cooler! 🙂

    8) We had taken along 4G dongles knowing the need for wi-fi in the space but unfortunately there was a major network issue in the basement. Once allotted a space for the activity, this was something which we could do nothing about. But next time, we will ensure that we do a mock-run before the actual event days.

    9) We track the combination of transaction ID & mobile number before handing out a goodie. That’s the only metric we need to track. And trust me, we were checking them using an interface and in spite of the mad rush, we had over 98% success rate. Customer ID, the bigger problem you have mentioned, was being collected specifically on request by the bank. We understand the concern and we have passed on the same to the bank & I’m sure together we will figure out a way to avoid this step from the next event onwards. 

    10) So we are not intending to be the zero-revenue-with-billion-dollar-valuation startup! 😉 We make revenues from UTILITY payments (recharges, bill payments etc) and more importantly in the near future from payments to Businesses. Think of Chillr as an M-POS. And what if Chillr is the easiest way pay both Online & Offline. But naturally these charges are to be levied from the respective MERCHANT and not from the end-customer. We are soon releasing a ‘Chillr for Business’ app targeted only at offline merchants to receive payments instantly with ease. Hope this explains.

    For any other specific queries or something that I’ve possibly missed out, please feel free to reach out at

    Sony Joy

  7. sony – welcome to therodinhoods!!

    this is classic trhs – where someone posts a review and the founder becomes a member almost immediately after we share it over social to respond in the most gracious way! this is so awesome!

    sony – pls feel free to feature chillr in our showcase! section 🙂

    good luck with the promotions!

    ps: i love the idea of tying up with cadbury’s – makes total sense 🙂

  8. Hi Sony,

    I am glad you came across this post and addressed the concerns. Thank you 🙂 

    In fact I was trying hard to find your email id to forward this to you, but then decided to post it here. I am awed by the power of Rodinhoods platform and social media!

  9. hi asha!
    thanks so much for the shout out! 🙂

    hi sridhar!
    we help with better WiFi access for a host of different scenarios. we actually did something for momoe at sunday soul sante in Bangalore and for dineout up in Delhi … both focused on promotional aspects (e.g., driving downloads, doing table bookings, etc.)

    you can learn more about Qlicket through some of our postings on Rodinhoods and via our website: the new qlicket.comwharton india economic forum startup competition & qlicket website

    let us know if we can ever be of help. and yea, btw, the rodinhoods community is fantastic! really great group of people.

  10. sridhar – i wrecked the bottom of your post 🙂

    i really liked the way you saw something and took out the time to share it with everyone else to learn from. 

    many of us see things, but just don’t get down to writing it for others.

  11. The Wifi not being around was a bad miss

    Its like asking people to take a test drive without petrol in the showroom car 🙁

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