“Indisputably, we are all going through a moment of external challenges and uncertainty,” says Girish Mathrubootham, the founder and CEO of customer engagement software company Freshworks. (Indeed, like so many of us, Mathrubootham was working out of his home when I caught up with him for this interview.) “But you can’t keep great people, or great companies, down. And, looking forward, I’m betting on what I call ‘the power to wow.’”
Adding “wow” to the customer experience isn’t a concept that usually comes up in the heads-down world of technological innovation. But Mathrubootham is on a mission to change that. “Our industry, understandably, is populated with tech-focused people. But the point of technology is what it creates, what it facilitates. And at Freshworks, we’re passionate about creating moments of wow for the users of our software,” which includes the company’s flagship program Freshdesk as well as Freshchat, Freshsales, Freshservice, and others.
Girish Mathrubootham, the founder and CEO of customer engagement software company Freshworks
Built for both the Fortune 500 and the “Not-so-fortunate 5,000,000.”
And who are these Freshworks users? Small and mid-market enterprises, as well as some larger organizations, that are looking for a solution that is self-deployable, that allows them to hit the ground running.
“We don’t build software exclusively for the Fortune 500, because those companies can afford to have consultants facilitate the deployment of hard-to-use programs with a steep learning curve. We build software inclusively, for what I call the ‘not-so-fortunate 5,000,000’ as well. But whatever the size of our customer, we want them to be wowed with the simplicity of working with our programs from day one.”
Part of this simplicity comes from breaking down communication silos. Mathrubootham says that he’s aiming to create an iPhone-like breakthrough for his customers. He explains his analogy: “When everything that used to be on individual devices moved to the iPhone, you didn’t see customers sitting around and mourning the loss of their old MP3 player or point-and-shoot pocket camera, because we weren’t loyal to the player or to the camera. We were loyal to our music and our photography. Likewise, with the Freshworks anti-silo approach, we give our users a way to interact with customers without using a slew of different tools cobbled together. Believe me, this is a huge ‘wow’ for our customers, regardless of industry or the size of the operation.”
Freddy, the Freshworks AI Icon
Freddy to the Rescue: The Freshworks AI engine
Another element of the Freshworks approach is the AI engine that’s available to automate routine processes and responses and unlock the value of end-user data across the customer experience–whether in predictive support or automating repetitive tasks, or powering a customer-facing bot, or helping to onboard new support agents. (This functionality has been informed and enhanced by Freshworks’ recent acquisition of Seattle-based AnswerIQ, the AI-powered intelligent customer service and process automation startup founded by Pradeep Rathinam, which I previously covered here. Rathinam has since come onboard at Freshworks as Chief Customer Officer.) Freshworks has adorably personified its AI engine in the form of Freddy, a beagle-ish, glasses-wearing mutt. “The press is obsessed with the idea that AI and humans are at odds,” explains Mathrubootham. “So we decided to portray our AI engine instead as humanity’s best friend: a helpmate for employees and, ultimately, their customers.”
The importance of internal wow for employees
Girish also obsesses over creating “wow” for his own employees, who number more than 2,700 worldwide. “To succeed in providing the power of wow externally, we need to be experiencing it internally as well. An internal moment of wow can be how an employee here [“here” for Freshworks can mean San Francisco or one of their other 12 locations worldwide] feels about their work. Or how our new employees feel when they’re joining our company, or how developers feel working on a new project.” (One internal “wow” that I find striking is Freshworks’ ongoing delivery of laptops to newly hired employees at their home addresses so they can work from home during this challenging time.)
Mathrubootham, who is well known as a mentor of other entrepreneurs, particularly in the Southern Indian metropolis of Chennai, gets passionate as he makes this final point. “I never want to be one of those companies that is only about wowing our revenue sources. It’s the people at Freshworks who drive all of our success, ultimately,” he says. “And wowing them, day in and day out, is job #1.”
Micah Solomon is a customer service and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and trainer. He also works as a content creator and ghostwriter and as a customer service expert witness. Micah was recently named “the World’s #1 Customer Service Turnaround Expert” by Inc. Magazine. Reach him directly at micah@micahsolomoncom, visit his website, or check out his new bestseller: Ignore Your Customers (and They’ll Go Away) (HarperCollins Leadership).