Today’s interview is with Girish Mathrubootham, who is founder and CEO of Freshdesk, an online customer support Saas software solution. Girish joins me today to talk about how to turn customer service into a marketing opportunity/asset.
This interview follows on from my recent interview: Most websites fail to facilitate the customer journey – Interview with Mark Lancaster of SDL – and is number ninety-two in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.
Here are the highlights of my interview with Girish:
- Girish has a background as a software developer but by his own admittance was pretty lousy at that so moved into product management and pre-sales.
- Previously worked for Zoho.com.
- Girish considers himself a product managers at heart and believes that a successful product is one that has a lot of happy customers.
- Girish quit Zoho in October 2010 with a colleague and Freshdesk was launched in June 2011 as an online customer support software delivered as a Saas solution.
- They launched the company as they were seeing the market change from a one-to-one ticketing approach in customer service to a one-to-many approach.
- Customer service can turn into a key marketing opportunity for firms.
- This is driven by the transparency that now exists when it comes to customer help, forums, recommendations, ratings, feedback etc etc.
- This has resulted in the lengthening of the ‘shopping’ cycle and the shortening of the ‘buying’ or ‘sales’ cycle.
- To facilitate this companies have to change their focus towards solving customers problems rather than forcing them to follow old processes and rules.
- Customer support on social media isn’t just a customer service issue it’s a brand issue.
- Consumer behaviour changes more rapidly than company behaviour.
- All of your customers today have social power, it’s just that some of them haven’t realised it yet.
- With respect to customer service, social channels used to be used primarily as conduits to move customer issues to traditional channels. Now, the technology has developed such that most customer queries can be ticketed, handled, tracked and closed directly in the social channel. This is having a positive effect on customer ease and advocacy.
- This also has a positive impact on customer service as a marketing opportunity as others are watching.
- One big challenge that gets in the way of companies picking up on this opportunity is their mindset and the fact that they still think that customer support means answering phone calls and emails.
- Another challenge is that customer support, in many firms, is still seen as a cost centre and so is still not getting the investment and support that it needs to exploit this opportunity.
- Customers today have a platform today to go and influence and impact future business.
- Girish cites Amazon and Zappos as leading proponents and advocates of this type of approach.
- Girish also cites Buffer as another example of a company that is doing great things in this space. Buffer goes as far as calling themselves ‘happiness experts’. They go out of their way to educate and help their customers.
- An easy way to find other companies that embrace and understand how customer support can impact marketing are those firms that are not charging, at various levels, for their support and are treating all of their customers with the same level of care and attention.
- One of the biggest challenges facing companies today is integrating all of their channels so that they have a unified view of the customer. In simple terms, companies need to know if a customer has already sent them an email or has tweeted them when they call customer support.
- The typical customer may be jumping around channels but in their mind they are only having one conversation with the business. If the business doesn’t not link all of these touch points together then they will miss out on the sentiment and context of the conversation and that could have a negative impact on customer service delivery and sentiment.
- It’s not about the channels in your support, it’s about the support in your channels.
- Question: if you have a mobile app, should your customers be able to call you directly from within the app?
- Freshdesk’s aims are to make customer support simple, flexible and fun to help clients achieve 360 degree engagement with their customers.
- They are making their support more fun by bringing in game mechanics and gamefication.
About Girish (taken from his Freshdesk bio)
Girish is the founder and CEO of Freshdesk, and is in a permanent state of Sahelu with customers. He is also the official Foosball Champ at Freshdesk (though he sometimes loses out on revenge games, just for the kicks). When he isn’t conjuring up interesting product ideas, talking to investors, or beating little children at Foosball, he loves walking around the floor and being the Guy with the Answers.
Girish comes with over 15 years of experience in making and marketing best-in-class enterprise IT management software, and a pedigree of having some of the happiest customers in the world. Before starting Freshdesk, Girish was the VP of Product Management at the ManageEngine division of Zoho Corp.