Cloud-based business software provider Freshworks (previously, Freshdesk) has launched its latest product, Freshchat, a new product for customer engagement on websites and apps. Freshchat is the sixth product from Freshworks’ kitty which includes Freshdesk, Freshservice, Freshsales, Freshcaller, and Freshteam. Freshchat aims to make a modern messaging experience accessible to businesses of all sizes.

The product was announced in the company blog by Srikrishnan Ganesan, responsible for building chat at Freshworks. Srikrishnan Ganesan co-founded Konotor, an in-app customer support startup 2012 by Srikrishnan Ganesan, Deepak Balasubramanyam and Vignesh Girishankar. Konotor was acquired by Freshworks in December 2015, making it the third acquisition by Freshworks in the last two years.

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Throwing more light on the need for a new messaging platform, Srikrishnan Ganesan wrote in the blog, “While our earlier chat product was fully integrated with the helpdesk offering, we’ve had many customers who just wanted to use chat for sales, and some others who wanted to use a single chat product across sales and support. We realised that chat for sales needs a whole new slew of capabilities to serve the key need of the market – to aid in conversion. The ability to send a contextual and timely message to nudge a shopper. The ability to sync lead information from chat into your CRM automatically. The ability to see the activities of the user to help your team engage smarter.”

Hence the idea of  building a chat platform that can be used by sales and support teams alike was sparked post the launch of Freshsales– a customer relationship management (CRM) solution and sales system designed for sales representatives working in high velocity environments- last year.

Freshchat : A Full-Featured Modern Messaging Software for Sales and Customer Engagement

With Freshchat, Freshworks aims to build chat that works for teams of all sizes, across sales and customer support. The idea is to help businesses start generating more leads on their websites, and engage smarter with their customers. As per company claims, Freshchat can integrate into websites, web-apps, native mobile apps, and other messaging products like Facebook Messenger. It claims to deliver a modern messaging experience similar to personal messaging apps like WhatsApp.

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Main features of Freshchat include:

  1. Event Timeline and Smart-plugs for smarter conversations: Know your users and what they are doing in your product, and also pull in information and actions from third-party systems, to enable teams to engage faster and do their key tasks right inside the product (like cancel an order, or initiate a refund).
  2. Proactive messaging for conversion: Freshchat allows finer granularity targeting for triggered messages and campaigns, based on a combination of user properties, and events, to help you start conversations with just people who matter.
  3. Bot for lead generation: Freshchat offers a customisable bot to do away with forms and free-up sales reps from manual work. The bot collects lead information conversationally, sets the right expectation with the customer, and auto-uploads the lead to the CRM.
  4. Message Channels: A new way to segregate customer conversations with business into topic based threads that offer many benefits in streamlining engagement and setting expectations.
  5. Integrations: Freshchat has integrations with Freshsales and Freshdesk.

To improve conversion, Freshchat enables businesses to target visitors with highly contextual messages. Once the end user responds, a bot screens and qualifies leads before bringing in a sales rep. This information is auto-synced into the CRM, thus providing context for sales reps.

Freshworks’ Acquisitions In The Chat Domain

Freshworks has been observing that customer expectations on conversations with businesses have changed in a big way over the last few years.

Srikrishnan notes, “Today’s customers are multi-tasking and want to engage at their convenience. Long lived conversations have become the norm for certain kind of interactions — like support inside mobile apps, or support on social ( Messenger/Twitter), and increasingly even on the web. At a high level, customers expect an experience that is almost like Whatsapp or Messenger — where they can engage at their convenience and be notified of responses. This has meant that traditional live chat is giving way for a modern “messaging” experience.”

These observations were the key motivators for the company to rebuild its customer engagement product around the messaging experience. He adds, “Our product needed to address customer conversations from across web, web apps, mobile apps, and social channels like FB Messenger to avoid silos. A multi-channel messaging offering is what we needed to move towards.”

Additionally, what it also needed to incorporate was the emerging technology of chatbots and the need for interleaving of bot and human agent interaction with the end users. It is in this direction that Freshworks had acquired Joe Hukum, a platform that enables businesses to build their chatbots, based on logical workflows, in July this year.

At the time of acquisition, Girish Mathrubootham, founder and CEO of Freshworks had stated, “We are seeing strong interest from our customers on how they want to leverage chatbots as they are looking for new ways to engage with customers on their web and mobile channels. As customer preferences shift from traditional phone tree based call centre support, chatbots offer a new support experience, while essentially solving the age old challenge of triaging customer inquiries and routing that to the right support agent. These are still early days for chatbots, but Joe Hukum’s innovative team and technology will help our clients better engage and support their customers.”

Another acquisition that helped shape the product Freshchat was that of Chatimity, a social chat platform that develops artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbot technology, in October 2016.

Girish had stated at that time that people want a fast, personalised response and chat will play an important role in the future of communication for customer service.

Prior to that in October 2015, it had acquired Frilp, a social recommendation app for exchanging references and recommendations. In fact its first acquisition was also in the chat domain. In August 2015, it had acquired live video chat and co-browsing platform 1CLICK.io. The acquisition was done to help Freshworks deepen its real-time chat support capabilities.

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These strategic acquisitions have played a key role in shaping Freshchat. The messaging and chat software is the sixth offering in sync with Freshworks’ mission to build software suite that helps its customers manage every critical business function. In August this year, it had launched its fifth offering Freshteam, a recruitment management software that enables businesses to efficiently organise their talent acquisition function. Freshworks, with more than 100K customers, currently competes with global players like Zendesk, Zoho, and Salesforce.

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