Today we announce the launch of a brand new product for customer engagement on websites and apps, Freshchat. It is our sixth product at Freshworks, and aims to make a modern messaging experience accessible to businesses of all sizes.
You may be wondering, “Didn’t Freshdesk have a live chat capability built-in right from 2013. So why another chat product from Freshworks?”.
The answer is manifold.
A variety of internal and external changes have lead us down this path. Here’s the story.
Growing beyond Support
The launch of Freshsales last year has changed how we think about ourselves, and how our customers see us as well. 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 sales CRM automatically. The ability to see the activities of the user to help your team engage smarter.
Asking our customers to buy Freshdesk for their sales teams wasn’t the right solution — building a chat platform that can be used by sales and support teams alike was.
Customers have changed — Messaging vs Live Chat
Once we figured new capabilities to add, we also saw that customer expectations on conversations with businesses have changed in a big way over the last few years. 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.
Typical chat is “session based” — requiring the customers and chat team members to be present for the duration of the conversation, timing you out in case one of the parties is away. Messaging is more long lived, and allows each party to engage at their convenience. It is an experience sans “missed chats” or “queues”, with the ability to set the right expectations of response times upfront. With messaging, a business and its end users can benefit from the best of both worlds:
- For the business: Deliver good customer experience and improve your team’s productivity without worrying about staffing up for peak times or instant responses.
- For the customer: Ability to engage in a familiar messaging experience at their pace, and not having to deal with sessions timing out or restrictions based on team availability.
We knew this is the future of customer communication with businesses, and decided we should take this route — and rebuild our customer engagement product around the messaging experience.
One of our learnings from the last few years has been that specialised messaging/chat software for different touch-points make it hard for customers to adopt these solutions in silos.
While there were products customers preferred for web-only or mobile-only experiences in the past, most companies now are looking to deliver a customer engagement experience that works across their channels. Many mobile-first businesses have evolved beyond just mobile and have web experiences now, and bigger businesses are still looking to deliver the same communication options in their app as they do elsewhere.
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.
We have always known that bots is an emerging theme we need to bet on, and chatbots were certainly the flavor of 2016. AI based bots, decision tree/IVR style workflow bots, bots on your website, bots through Messenger, all dominated events, tech media, and even many of our customer conversations in the last year.
Though we’ve had our own experiments with bots in the past, with the acquisition of Joe Hukum earlier this year, we kicked off a new set of initiatives in this space. What was obvious and important was the need for interleaving of bot and human agent interaction with the end users.
To do this right, it made sense to revisit how conversations should work in a world with bots.
Working well with our suite of offerings
Finally, as a multi-product company, our customers have come to expect our products to work well together, seamlessly. This doesn’t just mean creating tickets after a conversation, or syncing leads. There’s much more to enabling an experience that can add real value to the business.
Imagine being able to see right on Freshsales that the lead is now online in your product. What if the sales rep can also see their recent actions in the product, and then reach out proactively to send a message in the moment — right from inside the CRM?
We recognised an opportunity to create a product that can weave these magical experiences into our products, and add even more value to our customer base by making our products more impactful when used together.
Now that we’ve shared our rationale for launching a new product, let’s move on to what we’ve launched!
Introducing Freshchat — Full-Featured Modern Messaging Software for Sales and Customer Engagement
Our new mission with Freshchat is to build chat that works for teams of all sizes, across sales and customer support. I’m happy to say we’re today launching a product that can instantly help businesses start generating more leads on their websites, and engage smarter with their customers.
Key differentiators of Freshchat include:
- 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).
- 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.
- 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. Its our baby step into integrating the capabilities we acquired. Watch out for more excitement here.
- 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.
- Integrations: Freshchat has integrations with Freshsales and Freshdesk, with big new updates coming soon on this topic.
As a company whose software is used by over 100,000 customers, we realise how key chat is for the businesses that work with us. We will continue to invest in building a messaging product that is affordable and viable – for our customers, and their customers.
So go ahead, give us a spin, and share your feedback. You can bring up to 10 members from your team on board on Freshchat free plan.
See you on the other side!
Illustration by Karthikeyan Ganesh