Global Industry Supporter:

Helpshift CEO sees machine learning as future of in-app customer support

20 JUN 2016

Helpshift, a company which enables in-app customer support, recently closed a $23 million funding round with backing from Microsoft Ventures and Salesforce Ventures among others.

Since it began in 2012, Helpshift claims to have pushed the market forward, being the first to offer a fully native mobile support experience.

Some of the customers benefiting from Helpshift’s technology include Zynga, Virgin Media, Microsoft and WordPress.

CEO and co-founder Abinash Tripathy (pictured) told Mobile World Live that developers of enterprise apps must focus on in-app care, estimating that close to 95 per cent of apps do not do so, thereby losing users.

What are the most common challenges developers face when sorting out customer support for their apps?
Most of the traditional solutions are not optimised for mobile and add too much friction to an already hassled user of the app, causing them to abandon it or leave a negative rating in the app store.

Statistically speaking, we know one in every five mobile users actively seeks help. We also know engaged users spend more time and money in-app.

In an age where many brands’ services are commoditised in a crowded app store environment, ensuring your customers get great support, in real time, without having to leave your app, will significantly reduce churn and make them more loyal.

What advice would you give new app developers regarding customer support?
Think about in-app care first. It should never be an afterthought.

We all know apps are naturally going to run into glitches. Thinking your users won’t need help or, worse, sending them out of your app to get it, is a waste of their time and doesn’t allow them to communicate in more efficient ways they’re used to now, such as messaging.

Is it an area that often gets neglected by them?
Yes, we estimate that close to 95 per cent of apps in the most popular app stores are missing in-app support. Because Helpshift is deployed on more than 1.3 billion mobile devices, we know first-hand that one in five mobile users seeks help while using apps.

This is a serious issue and we believe it’s why people are so quick to abandon apps.

Who do you consider your competitors? What sets you apart?
On paper there are probably a lot of competitors in the CRM space, but we’re built around a very high quality experience inside mobile, and that’s what sets us apart. The advantage we have is our mobile focus and our ability to do it right.

There are other companies with large products and services that would love to say they’ve done this, but it’s a complicated space and we’re the first to master it.

What are Helpshift’s future plans?
Our plan is to create a world in which customers are cared for beyond the storefront.

When businesses were pushed online, they lost the one-to-one relationships customers valued. Buyers today interact with “web/mobile-fronts,” and have trouble reaching real people in moments of need. The personal touch has been lost. We want to make it easy for businesses to care for their customers, everywhere.

What do you plan to do with the funds raised?
Businesses everywhere are moving away from email and embracing intuitive in-app support as the future. The tech industry saw this just one month back when Uber announced they had rolled out an easy to use in-app customer support model to deliver what they called ‘service at the push of a button’.

At Helpshift, we saw this years ago. We’ll continue to see many more companies make the change towards better, faster, in-app customer support.  Our new financing will help fuel our continued expansion across teams in R&D, sales and marketing.

The funding will be used to move the product towards our vision of autonomous customer support where machine learning technology will be used to automate large parts of the customer support workflow driving efficiencies for both companies and their customers.

Do you expect to see any trends in customer support for apps in the coming years?
Clearly, we see messaging playing a much larger role for in-app support. As the world rapidly moves to adopt this form of business to consumer communication (in-app) we are well positioned as the leader in this category.

There is an exciting world ahead of us where customers can proactively receive help even before they face a problem through predictive machine learning, customers can chat with intelligent bots to receive timely help and algorithms based on data can make customer support agents real superheroes.

This new round of funding enables us to take what we started to the next level – the world of autonomous customer support.

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Saleha Riaz

Saleha joined Mobile World Live in October 2014 as a reporter and works across all e-newsletters - creating content, writing blogs and reports as well as conducting feature interviews...More

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