Today we announce the launch of Freshchat, a brand new product for customer engagement on websites and apps. It is the sixth product from us at Freshworks, and offers a modern messaging experience to businesses of all sizes.
You may be wondering, “Freshdesk has had live chat capability built-in right from 2013. So why an independent chat product from Freshworks?”
There have been many factors, both internal and external, that lead to the creation of this product, and here’s the story.
Growing beyond Support
The launch of Freshsales last year changed not only how we view ourselves, but also changed customer perceptions. While our earlier chat product was fully integrated with the helpdesk offering, we’ve had many customers who wanted to use chat only for sales, and some others who wanted to use a single chat product across both sales and support.
We realised that chat for sales needed a whole set of new capabilities to serve the key need of the market – aid in conversion. For example, sending out a contextual and rightly-timed message to nudge a shopper, syncing lead information from chat into your CRM automatically, or to see the activities of the user in order to help your team engage more smartly and efficiently.
Asking our customers to buy Freshdesk for their sales teams wasn’t the right solution — instead we decided to build a chat platform that can be used by sales and support teams alike.
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 has had to give way for a modern “messaging” experience.
A typical chat is session based — requiring 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. So we decided to 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 are now 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, so as to avoid silos. A multi-channel messaging offering is what we needed to move towards.
We have always known that bots are an emerging theme we could not ignore, and chatbots were certainly the flavor of 2016. AI based bots, decision tree/IVR style workflow bots, bots on your website, bots through Messenger – they 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 series 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 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 via Freshsales, that the lead is online in your product. What if the sales rep can also see their recent actions within the product, and then reach out proactively to send a message in the moment — all 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 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 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. You can also pull in information and actions from third-party systems, to enable teams to engage faster and conduct their key tasks right from 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 only the people who matter.
- Bot for lead generation: Freshchat offers a customisable bot, so you can discard 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.
- Message Channels: A new way to segregate customer conversations with businesses 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.
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.
You can bring up to 10 members from your team on board with Freshchat’s free plan. So give us a spin, and let us know what you think!