New Helpshift CEO – A Snap Analysis from Down Under

New Helpshift CEO – A Snap Analysis from Down Under

The News On September 7, 2017 Helpshift announced the appointment of a new CEO in a blog post. Salesforce veteran Linda Crawford, with a tenure in the CRM arena that stretches back to 1996, took over the role, being the successor of co-founder Abinash Tripathy. Before, she held various positions at Salesforce, Rivermine, and Siebel. Most recently she held the position of a Chief Customer Officer at Optimizely. This track record certainly qualifies her to have a go at growing an interesting company to the next level. Helpshift itself is the company that created the mobile in app support market back in 2011 and, so far, has a keen focus on this area under the leadership of Abinash. Investors include Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, and Salesforce. Both, Microsoft and Salesforce, have been lead investors of the Series B financing round in June 2016. The Bigger Picture The customer service center market is extremely crowded and contested. Helpshift itself has a strong product and a good customer base, originating from the gaming industry but also running the customer service technology behind Microsoft Outlook Mobile. The company is targeting bigger accounts and is already amongst the ranks of Salesforce partners, having a deep integration. However, the overall market is turning into a platform play, which will be dominated by two or three business platforms for bigger companies, and maybe a handful more that cover SMBs. The platform companies are also providing strong business applications, including customer service, even in-app service. And then there are companies that build multi channel customer service solutions on these platforms, too. Are they as good as Helpshift?...
Customer Service in a World of Ambient Computing – The Service Center View

Customer Service in a World of Ambient Computing – The Service Center View

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about customer service in a world of ambient computing. This article looked at customer service from a customer’s point of view. In it I described how I see customer service getting humanized again by leveraging the advances in AI technologies like Natural Language Processing, speech-to-text- and text-to-speech generation along with intent determination. Leveraging these technologies customer service will turn into a conversation and it won’t matter anymore whether service is delivered by a bot or by a human. For the customer it will all appear to be the same. Instead of FAQs or web searches, bots will be the first line of support and escalate a problem to humans if they cannot solve it on their own. The obvious question is whether there will be an impact on the customer service center? And it probably does. Call centers, and with it the service agents as well as their managers, already now are under intense pressure to deliver, and to deliver more efficiently. With the increasing use of call deflection technologies like FAQs and communities there is a trend for the incidents facing the agents becoming more challenging. For example Helpshift states that already with its technology it is able to deflect about 90% of all incidents, which are solved via the native in-app FAQ that is delivered by the them. This statement basically says that the support staff is basically relieved of dealing with simple matters but has the chance to take up the more challenging ones. Still, in a world of ambient computing any given app can have hundreds of...
Freshworks acquires Zarget – A Snap Analysis from Down Under

Freshworks acquires Zarget – A Snap Analysis from Down Under

The News Freshworks on 29/08/2017 announced that it acquired Zarget, a conversion rate optimization software startup. With this being the ninth acquisition in about two years Freshworks is continuing to augment its development by adding missing functionality from outside while adding talent to the teams. Zarget’s software is helping marketers measuring and understanding how users interact with their websites, which is important information when it comes to assessing reasons for users not becoming customers. For Freshworks this acquisition also marks a first step to close the functional gap that marketing still is for them. With Freshworks founder and CEO Girish Mathrubootham having been an angel investor into Zarget this is also a natural choice. An interesting piece of information comes as a quote by Girish: “ At Freshworks, our ambition is to emerge as the de facto cloud-based business software platform for businesses of all sizes”. The Bigger Picture There are a couple of interesting facets to this acquisition. Freshworks, by virtue of its rebranding from Freshdesk, has made a bold statement that they are not striving to cover customer service only. This, of course, was clear earlier when looking at their range of products and solutions but this naming implies an ambition. I have commented on this this earlier. While they are still concentrating on the wider CRM area with bot acquisitions, a recent release of Freshteam, a CRM for recruiters, there is a tendency to divert into different areas. This time it is about starting to close a fundamental gap in Freshworks’ CRM offerings: So far there has virtually been no marketing functionality. Looking specifically at marketing...
Ambient Computing and the Future of Mobile Apps

Ambient Computing and the Future of Mobile Apps

A short while ago Craig Rentzke from Helpshift pointed me to a particular episode of CXOTalk, featuring Kevin Henrikson of Microsoft and professor Anindya Ghose from NYU. Henrikson is responsible for Microsoft’s Outlook for Mobile, a personal information manager (PIM) app, whereas prof. Ghose comes more from a B2C angle, with B2C being more concerned with convenience. This interesting episode deals with the future of mobile computing and given that, apparently about how mobile apps will (have to) look like and what it is that vendors should do and what they should not do with the apps. The Now Naturally, the discussion immediately zeroed in on two topics the purpose of the app and data The purpose of the app mainly determines two things, which are first the way that users are presented with information and are engaging with the app and second the data that gets collected and used in order to (positively) influence the user experience while considering their privacy. The data that gets collected needs to be used to provide the users with timely and relevant information, which does not only benefit the vendor but also, and chiefly, the user. That the data collection ‘behaviors’ of especially B2C apps are not hitting that objective is probably the industry’s worst kept secret. The apps collect more than necessary and use it for a very wide range of purposes, mostly wider than the users are aware of. They basically strip the user of their personal data. This realization was also what led a friend of mine and me found Epikonic, with the clear intention of giving users a...
Customer Service in a World of Ambient Computing – The Service Center View

Customer Service in a World of Ambient Computing – The Service Center View

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about customer service in a world of ambient computing. This article looked at customer service from a customer’s point of view. In it I described how I see customer service getting humanized again by leveraging the advances in AI technologies like Natural Language Processing, speech-to-text- and text-to-speech generation along with intent determination. Leveraging these technologies customer service will turn into a conversation and it won’t matter anymore whether service is delivered by a bot or by a human. For the customer it will all appear to be the same. Instead of FAQs or web searches, bots will be the first line of support and escalate a problem to humans if they cannot solve it on their own. The obvious question is whether there will be an impact on the customer service center? And it probably does. Call centers, and with it the service agents as well as their managers, already now are under intense pressure to deliver, and to deliver more efficiently. With the increasing use of call deflection technologies like FAQs and communities there is a trend for the incidents facing the agents becoming more challenging. For example Helpshift states that already with its technology it is able to deflect about 90% of all incidents, which are solved via the native in-app FAQ that is delivered by the them. This statement basically says that the support staff is basically relieved of dealing with simple matters but has the chance to take up the more challenging ones. Still, in a world of ambient computing any given app can have hundreds of...