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Sep 4 2019   5:11PM GMT

Freshworks Refresh 19: keynote notes, quotes & anecdotes

Adrian Bridgwater Adrian Bridgwater Profile: Adrian Bridgwater

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Customer engagement software company Freshworks Inc. hosted its Refresh 19 conference and exhibition in Las Vegas this month… and the Computer Weekly Developer Network team was there to drink it all in.

This is the firm’s second conference in the USA and the first one in Las Vegas… which is kind of ‘telling’ in some senses i.e. this is a firm that has drawn around 700 attendees to this show, plus a full set of partners… so it is pitched at what we might call the ‘large SME’ level, rather than being a massive tech behemoth enterprise operation.

That being said, Freshworks has now racked up US$ 100 million in annual revenue and the firm features on three of Gartner’s magical mystery quadrants.

“I’m so excited to be here and proud to be able to showcase our achievements in terms of product developments and customer satisfaction,” said Girish Mathrubootham, founder and CEO of Freshworks.

Customer software stack

Looking into the Freshworks software stack, this is a technology platform designed to support organisations on the road to all levels of customer engagement.

So how is that done?

Mathrubootham used a bit of keynote showmanship to say that his firm’s software is designed to create ‘moments of wow’ i.e. when customers engage with the firms they buy their products and services from and really feel like they have been properly looked after.

It might sound fluffy, but there’s real data engineering behind the company’s approach to building what it calls its ‘delight matrix’ — an algorithm-based AI and ML-driven model designed to help the go-to-market process that any business will want to go through.

Mathrubootham noted just how fragile customer relationships can be in the modern data-driven economy. He tabled a figure that suggested 70% of customers will take their business elsewhere after one bad experience.

4-degrees of engagement

According to Mathrubootham and Freshworks, the four key customer engagement strategies are:

Contextual engagement: companies often have lots of information about customers, but how fast they can get the right information to customer support staff is the crucial factor…. and this is often called ‘customer 360’ in modern parlance.

Predictive engagement: the ability to know what customer issues will surface before they happen based on AI and ML models that predict typical use cases.

Anywhere engagement: this is no longer a choice in modern commerce insists Freshworks i.e. firms now have to offer an omni-channel customer engagement experience — what that means in practice is that queries made on Facebook need to be dovetailed intelligently with interaction on Twitter, phone calls, WhatsApp messages and more.

Collaborative engagement: customer service has to permeate throughout all an organization’s departments (so that all possible knowledge is brought forward) and so this means that customer engagement becomes the responsibility of all departments, not just the customer engagement (more usually called customer service) department.

Mathrubootham thinks that the time for customer engagement software to elevate is now… well, he would, wouldn’t he? So is there substance in that statement?

“Think about the fact that major technology shifts happen roughly every 10 to 15 years. Contemporary forward-thinking firms need to think about moving away from silo’d and fragmented customer data stores to a new era of connected customer data,” said Mathrubootham.

Talking about the huge leap the tech industry saw at the time of the iPhone’s introduction (which was the de facto launch of what we all now know as the modern smartphone)… Mathrubootham asks the market to consider this question: what if there is an iPhone moment for business software?

The suggestion here is that connected cloud platforms, combined with AI and ML and the right level of algorithmic logic can lead us all towards a much more intelligent way to engage with customers.

During his closing keynote session, Freshworks CEO Mathrubootham detailed his company’s latest product development, a piece of software called FreshSuccess — story link to appear here.

What developers should think

For software engineers building applications that connect with the sales, support and marketing function, there is perhaps a central message to take away here: customer behaviour intelligence management should now feature as a tangible element of every enterprise architecture and programming project… and, further, that intelligence should be ‘predictive intelligence’ driven by AI and ML advantages.

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