‘Let’s use cloud to help citizens and save costs’

Online channels and greater use of self-service should enable support when people really need those services, says customer engagement contender Freshworks

Posted 12 September 2017 at 7:39am by

Customer engagement firm Freshworks will be exhibiting at Think Digital Government 2017 at The Business Design Centre, Islington on Friday. We met with Simon Johnson, its UK General Manager, to get a feel for the company and what its message might be for the public sector.

What is Freshworks?

Freshworks provides organisations with cloud-based software for a range of requirements. These include service desk platforms, help desk management tools and call centre systems through to apps for human resources, sales and for live chat.

The company was actually originally founded after an incident around a broken television and how poorly the customer experience was handled! Based on this negative experience, the founding team saw a gap in the market to apply some of the new design principles around consumer Internet services to help-desk software.

The team thought that each interaction can and should be better, both for the person that needs support and for the team delivering that help. Delivering that experience for support, service and other interactions became our mantra. We believe everyone deserves better software – software that’s ready to go, easy to setup and use, and requires minimal customisation.

Since we launched, the company has expanded from its original base in India, and now has offices across the world including London. We support more than 120,000 customers worldwide, and are growing quickly.

What’s your ‘USP’ for the UK public sector?

In the UK, we’ve seen demand from public sector organisations around how they can support citizens quickly and affordably. For example, GDS put together the Digital Service Standard guidelines to help all public sector bodies move their services online, and to increase the take-up of those online channels over time compared to non-digital channels.

The theory here is that online channels and greater use of self-service should enable support when people really need those services, rather than based on working hours. It’s also cheaper to deliver services using digital channels compared to traditional ones. So there should be both pull from citizens for digital services and push to reduce costs for support and service.

The challenge here is getting these services set up and working effectively. Countless hours are often wasted trying to customise solutions that often require expensive professional services to get everything to work. In the end, the solution becomes so complex that organisations need to hire full-time employees to babysit the software.

We have designed Freshdesk (our helpdesk tool) and Freshservice (our IT service management offering) to be fast to deploy, and more cost effective than traditional products or internally developed services. By keeping users in mind on both sides of each transaction, we can help IT teams concentrate on service quality rather than on their platforms and how much they cost.

What’s your track record in all this?

In the UK, we have already seen a number of NHS Trusts implement Freshservice to improve how they deliver support to their clinical staff. As an example, Western Sussex Hospitals moved to Freshservice when the IT team there wanted to implement a new internal service desk to replace an external managed service provider. As part of that move, the team there went through how internal staff wanted to be supported, and used Freshservice to deliver that support experience. As a result, they have seen a huge improvement in customer satisfaction and got their call times down dramatically.

Waiting times using the previous service would be around 15 minutes on average; using Freshservice, the internal team’s average wait time is around 20 seconds. That’s a massive improvement, and we have been very happy to support them in that endeavour.

NHS organisations have to reduce cost and improve efficiencies in how they deliver service, and moving to the cloud is one approach that can help. We are seeing similar requirements in local government and other not-for-profit service providers too. All UK public sector providers want to manage their costs, but not at the expense of service quality.

Are you on G9/The Digital Marketplace?

Yes, Freshservice and Freshdesk are both available through The Digital Marketplace. Depending on whether support is focused on internal staff requirements, external customer support, or a mixture of both, organisations can deploy quickly and get up and running in a few weeks.

We are also looking at how our customers can start embedding new tools like chat into their services, either as standalone channels or integrated into their service and support processes.

You will be at Think Government 2017 this week – why, and what’s your message to representatives of the UK public sector ICT buyer and seller community who’ll be there on Friday?

We are looking at how we can help more public sector organisations manage their digital services more efficiently. Getting to events like this helps us go through what requirements people think they have, what problems they are experiencing – and how we can help them deliver those services more efficiently.

We are seeing a lot more demand in the UK public sector around improving customer experience for citizens. Getting the balance right around new processes, new services, and the right technology to deliver these, is where we can help. So we are excited about getting involved in the conversations about digital strategy and delivering better services.

I’m personally looking forward to hearing more from one of our customers  presenting with us at the event, the service delivery lead at Citizens Advice. That individual has been instrumental in leading a complete reworking of how the team delivers on workflows and supports the organisation, in concert with a major migration to Google Apps, and the most important element here has been how they streamline processes and are more proactive in support. I think a lot of the attendees from public sector organisations will be able to learn a lot from Citizens Advice’s experience around cloud, digital and improving the experience for both internal and external requests.

How can readers find out more about you?

Our website is a good first step to find out about the company, and we also have dedicated pages for our Freshservice and Freshdesk products, too.

As stated, Freshworks is exhibiting at Friday’s Think Digital Government 2017 – go here for more details