Learn more about:
- Implement intuitive software: The software should be easy to use and intuitive, allowing agents to respond quickly and efficiently. This can be the difference between hitting or missing KPIs.
- Embrace channel diversity: Different customers prefer different channels of communication. Offering a variety of channels and allowing customers to choose their preferred ones can enhance the customer experience
- Adopt an a la carte approach to channels: Not all companies want to use all available channels. Allowing them to select the channels they want to use can provide a more tailored and effective service.
- Integrate sales and support functions: Early integration of a sales component into the chat product can be beneficial, as sales and support functions are increasingly being unified.
- Collaborate with marketing and sales teams: Regularly communicate with these teams and share insights from customer feedback and personal experiences to ensure the voice of the customer is heard and acted upon.
Summary of the session
The webinar featured Colin, a seasoned customer happiness and advocacy professional. He shared his experience with Freshchat, highlighting its ease of use, intuitive nature, and the importance of channel diversity. Colin emphasized the early integration of a sales component into Freshchat, setting it apart from competitors. He also discussed the value of engaging with peers in the technology space, attending conferences, and subscribing to software newsletters to stay updated on CX trends.
Colin shared his insights from the recent Customer Contact Week in the US, noting technology trends towards knowledge management, agent assist, incentives, recognition, and agent gamification. When asked about the longevity of Freshchat, Colin pointed out its native chatbot functionality, which eliminates the need for third-party vendors, thus reducing costs and administrative hassles. He also mentioned the trend towards efficiency and multi-use platforms, and how Freshchat’s all-in-one solution offers simplicity and scalability. He concluded by emphasizing Freshchat’s ease of use and quick time to value, contributing to its longevity in the market.
Disclaimer- Please be aware that the content below is computer-generated, so kindly disregard any potential errors or shortcomings.
Awesome. So oh, once again, I think I muted you as well. I think they should work fine now. Perfect. Awesome.
So I think, to begin with, it would be great. you know, if you could just give us an introduction about your journey leading up to Freshworks, to everyone else in the audience. Colin has been in customer happiness and advocacy for over 16 years now, but now it’s officially a title. So I’m very excited to learn. What is the journey leading up to it?
Yeah, Mutthu. Thank you very much. Great to be here. Yes, I’ve been in the customer experience world for about 16 years now.
I spent most of that time, having customer experience at various companies and, managing customer support teams, and have pretty much run the gamut. I manage very, very small teams with just a handful of people, and I manage teams that have about 350 people across multiple locations globally. Obviously, I’m based in the United States, but, so you have pretty wide experience there. Actually a former customer of Freshworks. So back in the day, about 6 years ago, I headed customer experience for a prepared meal service here in the United States Cold Freshly. And, we used our core Freshdesk product here to power our email customer service, which back then was two-thirds of our incoming contacts. So it was the dominant means of engaging with customers.
So that was really great. I had experience with the product there and used it for a few years. Yeah, I recently crossed over to the software space. So I kind of use my experience as an industry practitioner, and help to represent the voice of the customer internally here at Freshworks. And they also engage with our own customers strategically to advise them on their customer experience strategies.
So I’m kind of like a roving in-house consultant for our customers to help them build up their own contact centers and really help with anything under the operational umbrella for customer support. It’s definitely been a fun ride and I kind of backed up into the whole customer support world. Like a lot of people, I started my career focused more on the think-tank space and I ended up crossing over into customer support by, default, basically. I got a job at this company called Tika Network, which is actually one of our customers here at Freshworks now, coincidentally enough. But it’s a company in the event ticketing space.
So they have a marketplace in which people sell sports concert theater event tickets and their CEO at the time was looking for someone who had come in and kind of evaluated their customer service infrastructure with fresh eyes. So he wanted someone who wasn’t too jaded, and so I ended up getting this interesting job. I was almost like a gas fly, in the customer service space. So he picked me because he liked some of my communication skills and was also involved in theater on the side.
So we like the artistic background. So I was a bit of an outside-the-box choice because I didn’t, at that point, have a background in the customer service world. But, he took a chance on me, and I jumped into the space. And I did a lot of research to understand best practices and what was working and wasn’t working throughout different verticals and industries and customer support.
So I kind of learned my trade that way, and then I got buy-in to build a team under me, and that’s how I kind of went down the whole path where I started to lead the customer support team. So it’s definitely been an interesting and fun ride and excited to be here at Freshworks where I can have more of an impact on the software side of things with what CX leaders had in my head knowing what matters to customer support leaders as they try to grow and scale their organizations?
Definitely. I don’t think anyone can build better products than people who, like, kind of felt the pain of not having it or using it. Like, if you have used some version of it, that’s not great. I think it already always feeds back into it because you’re like, I’ve been there. I’ve used it.
I know how awful it can be, like, please do listen to what I have to say because I think, in a lot of ways when we sell software that aspect is missing. So what do you think for you personally has been the biggest, however, like, quotes which when it comes to actually being on the other side versus someone who’s, like, building the product himself or, like, you know, assisting in building the product.
Yeah. I think one of the things that, you were just kind of talking about it. So I think one of the things is really, a mindset shift because it definitely is different when you’re ensconced in the product world and the software space in terms of what you may value versus what customers value. And, so that speaks very well to how you really need the vibrant voice of the customer programs in place in organizations, especially when it comes to software organizations.
And, that’s one of the things I’ve done at Freshworks. So I mentioned that I’ve helped to represent the voice of the customer myself. So I’ve kind of added in my 2 cents here, there, and everywhere, but I’ve also run different things like focus groups that we have with our customers, and we have some strategic advisory councils. So we’re trying to do a lot more on the voice of the customer space and trying to do a lot more with our online community as well, as a de facto voice of the customer. I think that’s really important because you definitely have a mindset shift.
So, like, one example where that’s very prominent is, in the software side of things, it can be very easy to get enamored by things that appear to be, you know, very futuristic and impressive which has its place. But a lot of times, if you’re a customer support leader, you’re living in the everyday home drawn of operations. So, you know, you’re living in the world of KPIs and you’re living in the world of workforce management, and you’re living in the world of very, very practical problems. and, sometimes what resonates the most with customer support leaders is solutions to those practical problems.
So we consider and talk with all this exciting stuff coming down the pike in terms of more transitions into the customer support world using video and audio and, you know, fancy advances using chatbots. But at the end of the day, a lot of the excitement and interest can be generated by what appear to be very, very small tweaks and tugs and changes to a product that have real tangible benefits that a customer support leader can automatically recognize, and another good illustration of this is when we had our Annual Conference last year of Freshworks. So about a year ago, we had our refresh conference, in Las Vegas in the US. And, we had this great hackathon every year. We have a bunch of teams internally get together and try to solve very specific problems that our customers have, and we’ve got some great innovations and great apps that have come out of that.
I remember seeing some of those apps showcased in our refresh conference last year, And, I was just sitting there in the audience observing everything, but you could viscerally feel the level of excitement increase exponentially from customers in the audience when they saw these new apps that have been developed. Again, many of these were in small areas, that aren’t like big product initiatives. but the level of excitement that was generated, speaks to the fact that sometimes these small things really mean a lot because product leaders find very tangibly how they can operationalize those apps, and they have a very clear value behind them. It’s harder to understand the value of, you know, AI-powered chatbots because there are a lot of different ways you can go with that.
If you can tell me, Oh, X Y, or Z app streamlines a process, and I can take a minute off of every ticket I’m solving. I can immediately understand the value behind that, and that’s the operational world where customer support leaders live. So I think that’s one of the biggest things that, software companies have to do, and I think we do a pretty good job of it, as well, when it comes to understanding the mindset of customers and what matters to customers.
Understood? In fact, just for the audience, I wanted to quickly, like, you know, both of us wanted to give some context before we dive into the chat itself because, obviously, I think it would make it even better. To meet the biggest takeaway, from at least the last thing that you said was you know, it’s always functional for, like, regardless of how pretty and how great, like, exciting things might look at the end of the day. If you can solve something in a smart way, even if it is a small thing, that’s what people truly like and care about.
Right? And I’m glad I’m so excited that, like, you know, at least I find the, you know, tendency shifting and the software itself. I’m sure you have as well. where instead of trying to just find one silver bullet that does everything. Companies are focusing on, like, more micro problems now, right, because that is where the pain has really felt.
I wanted to ask you, like, so I started working back in 2013. And at that time, I don’t recall customer experience, by itself being, like, very big. Right? At that time, support was used interchangeably with customer happiness and delight and, like, so on and so forth, but not so much customer experience. How have you seen customer experience evolve and change, in the last few years, especially in, like, within an organization?
Yeah. I think there are a lot of interesting things there. And you’re right. I think, well, one of the things just kind of stepping back is defining the term customer experience because it’s kind of used in different instances.
So you have the broad definition of customer experience, which is the understanding that there is a customer journey, even before customers interact with you as a company. So it could even start when they just hear rumors about you and they go online and they look at some online review sites up through surfing your website and making a purchase, up through making another purchase, and then another purchase and another purchase. So you have that customer experience, which is the a to z, of the customer journey and understanding that, in order to have a great experience for customers, you have to appreciate how wide that experience is and make sure that all those different touch points your customers have a consistent level of excellence because a lot of organizations fail at that where they have very siloed experiences that don’t really blend together. So there’s that definition of customer experience, and then there’s using the term customer experience or CX as a proxy term for customer support, which has become more and more frequent, and we even use it internally. So, at Freshworks here, you know, we have different products in a wide product suite.
So we have our CX-related products, which are like our ticketing system, Freshdesk, our telephony system, and our chat system, And then we have CRM platforms like Freshsales and Freshmarketer to engage with prospects and leads. And then we have Freshservice, which is an IT ticket management system, and also you can use it for other internal teams, HR, finance, legal, etc. So we have all these different products. I mean, even when we talk about our CX suite of products, we’re really talking about support. And I think the fact that CX has become a synonym for customer support, says a lot about the changing nature of customer support.
Where it used to be, that customer support was basically a call center. And, literally, it was a call center where the vast majority of contacts were through phones. And then, of course, you have email being added to the fray. But still, you kind of stereotype that as a team of people who are very reactive and they’re focused on solving momentary problems and you think of a world where the KPI is very efficiency-focused. So it’s all about kind of getting the customer off the phone or getting the email out of your queue so you can move on to the next customer and you know, customer support is a contact or a cost center, excuse me, and so it’s basically where money flies out of the corporate coffers, and it’s all about trying to reduce the money and reduce customer contacts and get through those contacts as quickly as possible.
And then you start to see a shift, and I would say and that was about 10 years ago where people more and more appreciated that customer support is a differentiator, and it almost sounds kind of jaded to say that now because it said so much. But that’s still a relatively recent phenomenon. I think it’s fair to say. And you saw it with the rise of so much competition on the internet and the rise of startups and companies that were kind of new and trying to find how can we differentiate ourselves from larger companies. And one of the ways that they did that was pioneering better customer support.
So I think a lot of the advances in customer support come from the startup world. And that’s also a world where you started to see the idea of a customer support leader being a customer experience leader. That’s where I first encountered the use of the term CX in a customer support context because prior to my working at the startup company Freshly, which is the Prepared Mills company I talked about where I’d used a fresh debt in the past. I had been in that more traditional call center atmosphere where everything was customer support and customer care. And then, yeah, I became the head of CX, and in that particular role, there’s a broader vision of what customer support teams are supposed to do. So it’s moving away from the world where it’s reactive and it’s momentary, and it’s, all about efficiency into a world where customer support teams are increasingly empowered really to do more to help the customer.
So it’s not just about solving momentary problems and getting those emails out of the queue and so forth, but it’s about how can you proactively deliver a better service experience to customers. So there’s a greater concern about quality and customer contacts and a lot more emphasis on how you can monetize quality. And there’s an emphasis on, customer support teams being more proactive. So find ways you can engage customers proactively. you can see this through, like, proactive chat on a website as an example or proactively informing customers about order-related problems to try to get ahead of those challenges.
And you see it in a world where customer support teams are taking over more responsibility in social media. So rather than social media responsiveness being handled by a silo team over here in marketing, more and more you see customer support teams handling that or customer support teams running online reputation management and being the ones responding to reviews online, or customer support teams getting involved in the sales process. So now that you have things like proactive chat where you can engage with customers while they’re chatting on your website, now that can be handled by customer support people. So people who used to be just post-purchase are now engaging with customers and able to help customers walk through the purchase process. So the the modern support team is really a modern customer experience team where the scope of those teams is vastly greater.
And it’s requiring a kind of a change in the types of people who are, customer support leaders to people who are, thinking on a broader level. Also, people who are more creative because a lot of the emerging technologies and AI for example chatbots and agent assist technologies are all kind of focused on the customer engagement world. So if you wanna be successful in that space, rather than being that stereotypical call center leader who’s always focused on efficiency, and has a hard-coated phone system, you have to really be on the cutting edge of technology and you have to experiment with chatbots and you have to experiment with robotic process automation, and you have to always be on the cutting edge with, like, new conversational engagement, moving your contacts into live chat and SMS and WhatsApp. So it’s an entirely different paradigm, and I think that’s encapsulated by using this term customer experience to refer to customer support.
I think it seems obvious, but now that I think about it, you know, when you were saying it, it’s so true that, like, tech, in turn, kind of enables or it expands the scope of what this world really is. Right? And, you’re right. Like, again, it’s after you pointed it out, I’m like, of course, because, marketing traditionally takes care of, you know, anything social media, but this gives, like, if there is the right set of infra to kind of collaborate in this cross-functionality to figure out how it happens. Then what is stopping people from kind of like picking up stuff everywhere else as well?
Right? I think that’s very interesting and that, you know, how tech companies can basically have a chance of differentiating themselves with this basic. And you’re absolutely right. I think every single product that I’ve used, there is some element of customer support-like experience that’s involved that’s made a decision. Right?
Like, if let’s say I had one bad experience with something, there’s a good chance they’re not gonna go back to that because you know that there are other companies vying for it, and they are willing to do the work to, like, you know, keep you. So I think that is definitely there. Now that the stage is set, I would love to know, you know, a fresh chance journey, like, you know, can you take us through how the last few years have been, you know, how the product has evolved and how the market is evolving, like, hourly.
Absolutely. So it’s very topical for us because we’ve had our FreshChat product, but so, basically, FreshChat is just to define for everyone. So that powers all sorts of conversational engagement. And I know this is a place where terminology is kind of thrown around and still developing, but by conversational engagement, we’re really talking about, live chat and all the types of channels like SMS and WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger and Instagram direct message and Twitter direct message and all these channels that are under the messaging umbrella broadly speaking. And so, again, people refer to them in different ways, but a kind of a good common reference is conversational channels which is to say that they are written channels that kind of mimic human conversations. And I think the term makes sense because more and more, all the conversations we have in our lives are all in these things anyway.
Even less so in face-to-face interactions. So that’s what I mean. So FreshJet powers all these conversational channels. So it runs across the board all sorts of different ways you can engage with customers on your website, on your app, through these social media channels, etc. And, we’ve had a FreshChat for a number of years now, but we’ve really been down in it, over the past 6 months.
So we launched it about, I think, about 4 years plus ago. And, then for a time, we, kind of were marketing it as a bundle with our other customer support platforms. Again, we have a ticketing system, Freshdesk, and we have a telephony system and so forth. We kind of took FreshChat, and we marketed it as part of this omnichannel experience And what we’ve done recently is we’ve understood that, you know, since so many companies are moving into the conversational space, and they’re moving into a world where conversational engagement is dominant. So it’s the main means you use to engage with your customers.
And if it’s not the main means, it is tied for 1st place, essentially. So we relaunched our FreshChat product this past summer in, June-July. And maybe some people speaking with you. Right? It is completely to be the first one. I can completely imagine. Like, it’s just that your customers are right there.
You don’t really need to go somewhere. Meaning, someone from marketing I’m struggling with just to speak to a relevant person. So this is, like, the best channel available for sure. Absolutely. And I think the key thing is that, and, I have just mentioned it when I was talking about, like, the changing nature of customer support organizations, we acknowledge is we used to have, like, a variation of FreshChat that was more sales focused because you can engage with customers as they’re navigating your website. Or you can capture people here, a software company, capture them as potential leads, and establish campaigns on your website to engage with them over chat. So we used to have like a version of FreshChat that was sales-focused and one that was more support-focused. And so what we did is we unified that in a single platform.
In our new FreshChat, we recognized that’s what most companies are doing now anyway, where these customer support teams are engaging through sales and engaging for support purposes. So it doesn’t make sense to bifurcate those technologies. So our FreshChat product now has a vibrant ability for you to engage with prospects surfing your site as well as customers post-purchase. And another exciting thing that we’re launching is a single inbox view. So right now, you can use FreshChat and you can engage across all these different channels, like I said, so live chat, SMS, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, Google Business Messenger, Facebook Messenger, etc., just goes on and on and on and we keep adding channels in there.
And all those communications, even though they are across different channels come to the same inbox view. So there’s a singular view for agents, which makes it very easy for agents, and very efficient for agents to engage with customers. And we’re also adding to that this single inbox view where we’re bringing in emails and telephony. So if you’re using a telephony system or you’re also still using email, those can all come into FreshChat and you have a single conversational view, where you can tap on a customer and you can see their full history. So you can see all the chats they’ve had with you across all these different conversational channels, and you can see the emails they’ve sent to you, and you can see the phone calls they’ve made to you.
So it’s that true conversational view where you have that 360-degree view of the customer experience. So yeah, so very, very excited about that because that’s really on the cutting edge of efficiency in a lot of companies that have this omnichannel approach, but one that’s dominated by conversational engagement.
Understood. So what I’m hearing is basically that the market stopped looking at, you know, let’s say, any interaction, I mean, basically, all customer interactions started changing, right, like, anywhere that we could get a direct connect with customers we would like the market try to capitalize on that. Right? And that is how the earlier version of FreshChat existed, which is basically something that is focused on presales and, like, something that is, like, post-sales, like, something like that. But now that is a more integrated flow because that is how they’re looking at the life cycle rather than what is happening in which we pre- or post.
Right? Like, that’s what at least is the insight that companies are looking for, and that is how you’re building out fresh air as well.
Yes. And I would say, one other thing that’s an important component to that is under our FreshChat product also includes our bot technology. So we’re kind of unique that we have native bot technology that we’ve had for, over 3 years now. So we have a native chatbot solution that’s, intuitive and easy to use, that’s built into our product. And that’s part of our FreshChat product inherently, and you can use chatbots to power through any of these channels.
So not just live chat, but an SMS or WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, etc., and we’ve also invested a lot in agent-facing AI technology too. So we just launched what we call smart reply, which is an agent assist tool, which is also like a very, very topical thing in the CX world now, where it’s not just about empowering customers, which is where the theme has been for the past 5 plus years, but now more and more companies are recognizing that it’s also about empowering employees. And, so a great representation of that is agent assist technologies that in real-time provide recommendations to agents who are balancing out, you know, multiple conversations. So maybe 4 or 5-6 conversations simultaneously, which can be hard to do and can result in burnout, but much easier to do if you have a bot there that’s helping to recommend, hey, here’s what you can say next or here’s some next best actions.
So it makes the agent experience a lot better. And it empowers agents to deliver high-quality service at scale and balance out multiple conversations simultaneously. So the agents aren’t burning out. And then at the same time, you’re able to reap the positives as a business of higher utilization among your agents because agents aren’t just handling one contact at a time, but they’re multiple contacts and not with the diminution of quality. So that’s another important area as part of our FreshChat product, where it includes that box technology as well that can be utilized across all these different contact channels.
This is actually pretty interesting. I wanted to ask you. So it’s been like, I think maybe a year or 2 since you kind of stepped away from core sub-customer support being your you know, primary priority. Now you’re more on the advocacy where do you find insights? Like, how do you keep up with the industry?
What is helping you the most? Like, you know, that would be great as well. Like, you know, I just, like, even I’m curious how to kind of keep up in the industry that, that you’re looking at.
Absolutely. Yeah, because it is hard because there’s so much information all over the place. And, I would say there are some things that I listen to on a more tangential level, I guess you could say. It’s like I attend events and I attend events on behalf of Freshworks. I kind of absorb things in the ether there. But honestly, I think one of the best ways to do that is to talk with peers because, at the end of the day, I think you find more innovation in what your peers are doing.
And in my particular case, it’d be former peers with my, say, a leader’s head in my head and also chatting with our customers. So that’s where we get, like, what’s on their mind, and, you know, we look at different ways that they innovate in their use of our products. And that’s one of the reasons why we’re investing more in the online community space as well so that we can take the knowledge our customers have and share that more broadly with other customers in our ecosystem. Because honestly, that’s where you get most innovation. Then what ends up happening is if you go to some of these conferences and that sort of thing, you can get a lot of theoretical insights, and you can get content that’s pretty airy.
But, again, in the customer support world, a lot of what you need is very practical content with very tangible takeaways. And the best way to illustrate that is really through use cases and stories. So hearing the experience of, a CX leader who had a problem, and they were able to solve it using technology and they’re able to illustrate. Here’s how solved it, and here’s how we calculated the ROI. And it’s those very tangible use cases that you understand kind of what’s coming down the pike.
And I would also say another thing is engaging with peers in the technology space. So one of the things that you can do to learn about what’s going on in CX is to look at companies like ours and sign up for our newsletters. And I’ve heard this from a lot of our customers, by the way, as well that, some of the best ways is just to see what technology vendors are doing. And you can do this going to conferences and just meandering your way around and looking at the booths to see if there’s a pattern in terms of, you know, where is there a technological emphasis?
So, I was at Customer Contact Week in the United States a few weeks ago, which is one of the you know, major events in the US. And you could just tell walking the floor where there were technology trends. So a lot of technology trends towards knowledge management and customer support and a lot of technology trends towards agent assist and a lot of technology trends towards, incentives and recognition and agent gamification. So that’s another way too. So, different software newsletters can actually be really interesting as well.
Understood. What do you think is, like, what are the factors that contribute to the longevity of a product like FreshChat? Because I also used to work in Freshworks. This was back in, like, 2013. That’s where I started my career, and I remember FreshChat was just about to get launched when I left.
So it’s clearly like, it’s been around. It’s seen the market evolve. It’s evolved itself. So, you know, what do you think are some of the things that give it the longevity that it does have?
That’s a really good question. So, I kind of, retouch base on some of the things that I mentioned already. So one of the things definitely is the native chatbot functionality. So I think that’s very prominent because there are a lot of companies, and I can say this with my experience as a CX leader, who don’t necessarily vet together their bot’s technology or their AI technology and their, conversational software very well, where you’re forced to, use a third party vendor if you wanna build your chatbot. And that is just a huge hassle when you’re a customer support leader and you’re already bouncing out galloping costs and you have the cost center stereotype looming over you.
and, just the administrative and bureaucratic, pull of of having to go through an RFP process and get buy-in to onboard another vendor and then, you know, challenges that are created from that where you have, like, siloing of data because you’re using a separate vendor from your normal customer support platform. So I think that speaks to longevity. because the future is more and more towards efficiency and, multi-use platforms. And that’s just across the board. I’ve heard that also from our customers and other CX leaders.
Where they really value having all-in-one solutions in one place just because of the simplicity, and the scalability of that. So I think that’s one thing that we are really good at seeing in that particular space earlier than some of our competitors. I think another thing is the ease of use of the platform. So one of the things that we always come upon. And this is really across our various products in the fact that we formulated them to be easier to use, so a lower total cost of ownership and quicker time to value.
And, we have some pretty great examples of that. So, like, we have the insurance carrier, lead just in the US, where I think we onboarded them just over, about, a little over a month or so with hundreds of agents over a very, very quick period of time. And that’s because the software is easy enough to use. I even remember that in my experience when I was using Freshdesk back in 2016, 2017 I really liked it, and my agents really liked it. So it’s much more intuitive and much easier for people to use and, many more options rather than having to configure something through various rules.
You can press a button and make it happen. And that really matters, especially in a world, in the conversational space where you’re counting your response time in seconds. So seconds literally do matter because they can be the difference between whether you, hit your KPI, or whether you, don’t hit your KPI. I think another thing is channel diversity. So we’ve been really good at going out there and connecting with channels in the conversational space because again, there’s just so many different channels and we recently had a Google business messenger, but we’ve been really good at proactively adding channels to the framework.
And, again, adding them in a way that’s intuitive. So all these communications are coming into the same interface. That’s an important component. But what’s also important is we provide an a-la-carte means of adopting channels. So there are some companies, for instance, that have more of an all-or-one strategy where you have to buy into their platform.
You get all these different channels, but a lot of companies are very nuanced in the conversational channels they wanna use. So they may just wanna use SMS and live chat and not wanna use WhatsApp or not wanna use Apple Business Chat. Maybe they wanna use Apple Business Chat and they wanna use SMS. So it’s almost like a potpourri of combinations.
We make it very easy for you to choose the channels that you want both by making sure those channels are available and allowing you to select them a-la-carte. So I think that’s also a very key thing as well. The last thing I’ll say is that adding in that sales component, we’re early on. We added a sales component to our FreshChat product when a lot of companies still mainly looking at, chat as a support tool, and they weren’t building in, like, campaigns with prospects and leads. So we were kind of earlier in doing that. And again, that’s very topical now that sales and support functions are increasingly being unified together.
Got it. I think that’s also pretty much, like, can you also take us through how, you know, you effectively collaborate with the marketing and sales teams, what kind of insights you know, do you take and what kind of insights do they bring? That would also be very, like, very interesting to kind of understand how the overall structure flows within FreshChat.
Absolutely. So, it’s mainly through these voice of the customer initiatives, that I run. So like I said, I run focus groups and advisory councils. And, of course, I just kind of naturally chat with customers in my everyday job anyway. So I get a lot of feedback from and, of course, I have my own experiences, with, the CX leaders had on my head, from running customer support teams. But to kind of take that experience and also take, from these voice of the customer initiatives and really use that to kind of circle back to people in product and marketing, just to make sure that the voice of the customer is presented.
And, then that in terms is kind of iterated in how we, frame the products and how we, ideate on the product. So it’s mainly been through those voice of the customer programs. And, I have to say one of the things that we’ve done very well as an organization is kind of pivoting our strategy because this big FreshChat relaunch, like I mentioned, was just this past, June-July. So it was a pretty major pivot as a company where all of us got together and said, look, this is a key area for our customers’ conversational space, and we really need to get it right. And it was a huge organizational effort where we had representatives from across the organization, from customer success, from customer support, from marketing, from sales, from product, all gathered together, in this common initiative.
And, I think it was a really impressive collaboration exercise that we all were able to come together and pivot very, very quickly towards this more conversational engagement strategy. So I think organizationally, you know, having these kinds of cross-functional teams that have clear goals and clear KPIs, and a clear north star to shoot for in a common sense of purpose has been really impactful in helping us make those changes and, making sure that that we’re keeping up with customer expectations in the conversational space and also aiming to exceed those where we can.
Got it. I think I’ll have one last question before I open the forum for questions. What piece of technology are you most excited about when it comes to, conversations, customer support, call it whatever?
Oh, yeah. So, there are a few things. I’ll kind of give 2 little answers, I guess. So I’ll give, one technology that it’s already kind of inactive in the space, but I think it’s worth really focusing on. Then I’ll give one that’s a little bit more futuristic.
When it comes to the here-and-now technology that I think, we’re gonna double down on and, we as in Freshworks and also that you’re gonna see more of a presence in the CX industry generally, goes back to that agent assist technology that I was talking about. And this shifts away from it’s not all about the customers all the time, but it’s also about the agents. And I think a lot of that has come about because of COVID, so the great resignation, and the fact that you have more and more people leading customer support teams and the fact that its customer support is more and more of a differentiator than quality becomes more and more important than customer support. Because it’s really quality that’s the differentiator if anything.
And the fact that more and more companies are using chatbot technology, those tier 1 or those basic mundane issues are more and more being removed from the purview of customer support agents, leading those same agents to deal with more specialized and more complex issues, which is raising the profile of what you expect out of customer support people and requiring people with higher skill sets and higher education and so forth. So that’s creating this entire shift where the nature of the customer support agent is changing, and it’s a job that’s really finally given its due and much more respected in the organization. And so there’s more investment in it. And so there’s more of a sense that when we have a good person, we wanna make sure we don’t lose that good person that we invest in their experience too and that through investing in their experience, they deliver a better experience to customers.
So a perfect example of that is lots of focus on agent augmentation and agent assist technology. So using AI power technologies, not just to power, like, a nice chatbot experience for customers but to power a great agent experience. This could be through, for instance, the next best actions. So helping agents through resolving complex issues on the fly or, recommending phrasing that agents can use so they can select answers rather than having to type everything.
Or you have, like, gamification in real-time, as agents are trying to get a response to customers, you’ll have, like, a star rating system that will help to tell them how empathetic they’re being or if they need to add more empathy words.
So all these really and there’s so many of them out there, but there’s really neat technologies like that, that make the agent experience much more scalable and much more interesting. And it says a lot to agents that after seeing all this money being invested in the customer experience companies are now coming back and investing in the agent experience instead. So it’s a great way to show agents that you care about them and to get higher loyalty from them. So that’s one thing I would definitely keep a big eye on. The more futuristic version is, I think, in the audio-video space, especially combined with conversational engagement. So I think you’re gonna see more and more world where people start to use video chat.
Granted, it’ll be for select purposes because it’s kind of hard to just schedule that through workforce management and so forth, but I think that using audio and video is gonna be bigger. I think audio to the extent that, you know, you already have a world where more and more people when they engage with their their friends and family or what have you on SMS or WhatsApp are dictating their messages and sending voice messages rather than typing everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if you start to see a trend in the customer support world because it’s much more convenient for a customer to dictate something rather than having to type it out with all your spelling mistakes and everything. So I think you’ll see more use of audio that the customer support team will have to deal with. And I think you’ll see more use of video.
More circumstances where you have a personal connection with someone on the other line, or where for certain industries video can really make a substantive difference in terms of efficiency, like, in the retail space, where if you have a problem with some clothes that you ordered or some boots that you ordered and you wanna show on your phone, exactly what the problem is or you work for an electronics company, and you wanna showcase what the problem is by taking a video and having an agent review it in real-time. They have a lot more interesting technologies like that as well.
Got it. So that’s actually, the end of questions from me. Thank you so much, for being on the call so far. Once again, thank you so much for joining us. This was such a great conversation.
I feel like there are a lot of perspectives that you’ve brought that seem kind of obvious in hindsight, but then I’m like, but that’s the whole thing when someone points it out. You’re like, of course, that makes sense. So my biggest takeaway, from this, if I have summarized is that, you know, as long as they’re, like, it’s very crucial that there is always someone who’s used the product who has used to the ground. Right? Like, I think there is a certain level of empathy and perspective that person can bring in that is it cannot be equaled by anybody else.
And a better way to kind of collaborate and communicate within the organization between different teams also really helped. And there are some very interesting things coming up in customer support. It looks like, you know, it’s soon I will be able to, you know, whenever I am looking for support, there’ll just be a very different kind of experience as both for the person giving me the assistance and myself. So this was great, Colin. Thank you so much. I hope to have you again.
And, for everyone else, the recording of this will be available on the VWO platform in a day or two once they edit, and I’ll send it to you as well, Colin. Thank you so much, and, I hope you have a good day.
Thank you. Appreciate it. Thanks, everyone.
Thank you, everybody.