Bolbhav Chatbot (Gramhal)

Summary

Gramhal is a tech nonprofit on a mission to empower farmers with data to increase farm profitability. In the October of 2021, Gramhal launched Bolbhav - an AI based WhatsApp bot and in a course of 8 months, it touched a phenomenal number of 1 lakh users from just one state of Madhya Pradesh. Now the bot is steadily expanding across India. 

I had the opportunity to lead some of the key flows of the bot, set up a visual design system, and conduct an ambitious impact study with 1000 Bolbhav users. 

In this case study I will present my work on one of the bot flows which served as political tool for farmers to voice their opinions in public.

Key aspects

UI / UX
Visual Design System
Impact Research

Role

Community Engagement Lead.

Collaborative efforts

Gramhal team (Research and Feedback)
Akash (Interface Development)

Timeline

February - May 2022

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Background

Farmers simply enter their search query from the options given and find information in a few clicks. Check out the video below to understand how the bot works.

In this case study I will present my work on one of the bot flows which served as political tool for farmers to voice their opinions in public.

Stakeholders

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Farmers

Use Bolbhav as an information tool to learn about the latest market rates to make selling decisions.

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Mandi Staff

After the auction process, mandi staff share the minimum, maximum, and modal prices with Bolbhav team so farmers can access latest mandi rates. 

*Under the APMC Act, the states can establish agricultural markets, popularly known as mandis. The sale of agricultural commodities can occur only in the mandis through auction.

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Bolbhav Community Engagement Team

Study all the user feedback data  and bring in insights for product and service improvement.

Problem Statement

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Screenshot from Bolbhav's user feedback channel.

Bolbhav bot has a user feedback channel (Sujaav de option) integrated in it for continuous data collection on user's questions, concerns, and suggestions.

This channel with positive as well as critical feedback kept Gramhal team motivated to continuously work and improve our services. 

Among the daily user comments, 30% were grievances users wanted to convey to the mandi officials.

Mandi staff were unaware of how many farmers followed their rates or how many had questions for them.

Thus, a system had to be established to communicate farmer's grievances to the mandi.

Solution

A user feedback channel, called the mandi review system, was established for the mandi staff. Our goal was that this channel would serve as a motivator for the mandi staff to keep updating daily rates on the Bolbhav platform and remain accountable to their audience.

There were two components to this

1. A Whatsapp bot based interface for farmers to offer their suggestions, reviews, grievances, and ask questions.

One observation of the Bolbhav team was that the rural audience hesitated to comment on public platforms based on the web but found it easier to express and give reviews and feedback using whatsapp because they are familiar with it and find it extremely easy to use. Hence, we tapped into this behaviour for user's input.


2.  A web page based interface for mandi staff to view all these comments, take required actions from these requests, and engage with the users. This web based page was designed such that users on or off Bolbhav bot could go and add reviews for the mandi and use this as a space to directly engage with their favourite mandis.

A screen recording of how the mandi review system works.

Design Process

Secondary Research

 Studying different interfaces of similar review systems is helpful in understanding examples of good design languages that already exist.

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Drafts

Different experiences and interfaces of the flow were explored before creating a figma prototype for beta testing. 

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Beta Testing with Users

We designed the mandi review system for the users with the users.

Before sending the wireframes for development and spending lots of rupees, we wanted to validate the concept. We conducted a small usability test with some farmers who were part of the beta community that my teammate Jyotsnika had helped establish. This meeting gave us really strong validation for the need of such a system and some ideas to improve the design.

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From left to right and top to bottom
- Farmers participating in the beta testing - Kamal ji, Thakurji, Vishwakarmaji.
Gramhal team - Achint , Jyotsnika, Nabilah, and Karishma

Kamalji and Thakurji were given the links to the prototype and on their turn given a use case to explore. We involved Vishwakarmaji as observer to both use cases giving us insights to how a farmer would interpret the process. 

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Beta testing with actual users was the most fulfilling part of the design journey because not only did I get insights on design improvements but also a chance to validate or negate my assumptions as a designer.

Sharing two key insights from this beta test study that I successfully incorporated in my final drafts:

1. 
On webpage side interface - Like button is a good feature - Thakurji’s first thought on looking at the webpage was that it is great to have the like button so that others can see and like what he posted and support his thoughts. 

2. On whatsapp side interface - Since users did not have previous experience with testing on figma it took them some time to understand how to use the demo and do the given tasks. After they got comfortable, I noticed that both Thakurji and Kamalji didn’t really read so much text. From the data of user feedback channel we know that emoji are a great way using which farmers share their appreciation or criticism of Bolbhav, thus we must keep text to minimal and add emojis wherever possible. 

If you would like to read more insights from this process - click on this to open the pdf.

Final Draft

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The presentation of how the interface and experience would appear in the bot and the web page was made to look as close to actual as possible so that the tech team at Gramhal could implement it easily.

Impact

This project was one of the last three design and research projects I had concluded at Gramhal before July of 2022.

The team recently shared how this review system was also useful in product led growth strategy. When they shared this tool with the heads of the mandis (mandi sachivs) at a divisional meeting, the sachivs were impressed as they could see the large following of farmers on their page and connect with them. This added a top down push from them to their staff and helped Gramhal team in receiving daily rate updates. 

I am proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute my design and research skills into designing products, services, and experiences which have a positive social impact.


 

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