Managing Customers 101 With Helpshift
It’s all about increasing customer satisfaction and user experience. Abinash Tripathy, CEO and cofounder, Helpshift, explains the business and a few basic details about customer support technology.
Yes, customer support is that important and Helpshift is helping apps do it in a way that will make sure the user will stay on the app even when they need support. (According to Helpshift users would otherwise leave the app to go dial a customer care line or find help on another website.)
Give us a snapshot of Helpshift
“Helpshift is installed on more than 2 billion devices worldwide and serves over 400 million mobile customers monthly. Post our product launch in 2013, we have been clocking a year on year growth rate of 300%.”
CRM innovations gave you the golden ticket to own your own company. How did you start developing in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) sector?
Do you feel like it has changed your life?
“One of my favorite college professors wanted me to get a PhD in Artificial Intelligence, but I decided to pursue a career in databases and software engineering.
I started working on computers as early as 12.”
The computer was to Abinash what the piano must have been to child prodigy Mozart.
“It provided a creative outlet to me where I could create anything that I could imagine. This fascination with being able to command a machine to do things I wanted, led me to go deeper in this field. I studied computer science in high school, college and went to the US for a Masters in CS on a scholarship funded by Oracle. This led to me working at Oracle in the early part of my career as a technologist.
I helped create their first in-house CRM system in 1995. Before the CRM industry was born.
In 2011, I predicted that mobile was the way to go, with regards to customer support. I knew it was time for a new kind of customer support experience – one powered within company’s apps.
Through legacy CRM providers, what used to be considered ‘Customer Relationship Management’ has really turned into ‘Customer Record Management’.
It was then that Helpshift created an in-app helpdesk modelled around mobile messaging like SMS, WhatsApp etc that could be embedded in apps making it friction free for users to engage with companies that built these apps.”
“Helpshift is revolutionising the customer support experience on mobile”. Really?
“The rise in use of smartphones and the realization that we were spending 90% of our time in apps forced us to look at how companies were providing help to their users. When we looked into this for all the top apps we were using in 2012 it became clear that there was a clear whitespace.
None of the apps we were using had any ability for users to start a conversation with their publishers/developers.
Helpshift sits inside of an app in order to meet customers within the right context. This means that customers stay engaged within an app experience. It’s a proactive approach and avoids any in-app frustration through native FAQs and In-App Messaging. So customers don’t need to get out of the app to make a call, visit a company website, or social media if they need help. They can get it in-app. Customers are happy if brands solve their problems effectively with the least amount of time and effort.”
How do you explain Helpshift to a non-tech entrepreneur?
Three simple sentences.
“Helpshift provides technology solutions that enable companies to deliver very high levels of customer satisfaction at the lowest cost.
Helpshift is a software development kit (SDK).
The cost of Helpshift’s in-app support services depends on the number of Monthly Active Users (MAUs).”
How will you be utilizing funding, especially the recent round of 23 million dollars?
“We have raised total funding of more than 38.2 dollars so far from Cisco Investments, Intel Capital, Microsoft Ventures, Nexus Venture Partners, Salesforce Ventures, True Ventures, and Visionnaire Ventures.
The newest round of funding will be used to move the product towards our vision of autonomous customer support.
Machine learning technology will be used to automate large parts of the customer support workflow driving efficiencies for both companies and their customers.”
Is it an advantage that you’re based in the US? Ever thought of being based in India?
“Yes, I’ve considered being based in India. I would say that there would be pros and cons of either being based in India or the US. A majority of our team engineering team is based in Pune, India while our sales and marketing teams are in the US.
We are headquartered in the US and have an office in India.”
When it comes to getting investments, is it easier to do so from the US than maybe India?
“Definitely, investors in the US have a better understanding of technology compared to those in India. However, we did get our first cheque from Naren Gupta of Nexus Venture Partners while we were still experimenting with ideas.”
What will it take to be the market leader in this space? More funds?
The answer appears to be Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
“We have been market innovators and are investing heavily in applying machine learning and AI to make sense of all the data to help our customers become efficient by augmenting their workflows. AI can be used to drive quick answers to the most common problems that customers face.”
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