About Customer Happiness Tour Berlin – 28 June 2016
With each Customer Happiness Tour (CHT) by Freshdesk, we aim to build a community whose members can share innovative ideas to improve and grow customer service and support organizations. At our new office in Berlin, we brought together industry leaders from companies, both big and small, to share practical and actionable advice from the front lines of customer experience.
CHT Kick-off by Arun Mani, Managing Director, Freshdesk – Continental Europe
Arun Mani, Managing Director, Freshdesk – Continental Europe, kickstarted CHT with a quick introduction to Freshdesk and recalled his story; how he joined Freshdesk, and how he picked Berlin to set up an office in Europe. With over 20,000 customers and 20 partners in Europe, it was evident that Freshdesk had a significant presence in the region. A regional office presented an opportunity to provide a higher level of service, increase local awareness and be active members of the local business community. Arun was given the arduous task of picking the city we should set up base in. He sent in myriads of reports and metrics around what locations worked best. The top picks were Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin and Dublin. In the end, all the numbers pointed to only one city. His exercise had revealed a strong winner among the four: Berlin.
The Freshdesk Story by Girish Mathrubootham, Founder & CEO, Freshdesk
Following Arun, the stage was set for our CEO, Girish. Girish began with the story of how his broken TV led to the inception of Freshdesk. Having taken the issue of his broken TV onto online forums and seeing for himself how much of a difference it made, Girish realized that customers today have tremendous social power that they could wield. He narrated the story of the early days of Freshdesk when we worked out of a warehouse and had less than ten people working for the company. Today, we’re a 700-employee strong company with funding from world class investors. He then went on to share his insights on customer support trends that are popular today – things that could be the norm of tomorrow: omnichannel support, automation, chat bots, social and community interactions, and in-app messaging.
Conversational Commerce at Zalando by Ingmar Knudsen, Senior Product Manager, Zalando SE
Taking a cue from Girish’s ‘future’ of customer support – we had Ingmar Knudsen from Zalando SE talk about, ‘Conversational Commerce’. Business Insider, TechCrunch, WIRED and other top tech blogs have all said that by Q3 in 2015, chat bots and AI messaging apps will have surpassed social networks. What does this mean to companies in the ecommerce space? A noticeable change in the ecommerce market, maybe. Ingmar spoke about how chat, messaging apps and natural language interfaces fit into Zalando’s strategy to drive customer interaction. He gave the audience a live demo of their friendly chat bot, JAFF (Just Another Fashion Friend) – it responds to messages on their Facebook page and helps customers identify products that they’d like to purchase. The interface can read and understand messages like, “I want to buy red sneakers” from the user and based on the keywords, filter and show a catalog of items that fit that description. He wrapped up his presentation by saying that the best way to train machines is with human interaction. According to him, there will come a day when machines can do just about anything, but they still need to be trained to do it – and the best trainers will be humans.
“Keep it as specific as possible. Lead the conversation and involve human trainers – that’s how you achieve instant relevance in conversational commerce.” – Ingmar Knudsen, Senior Product Manager, Zalando SE
The CXO Panel Discussion Featuring Google, SwitchUp.de, celexon Group and Startup Safary
The CXO panel discussion that followed, featured Google, SwitchUp.de, celexon Group and Startup Safary. The main topic of discussion was “Achieving and Maintaining Customer Delight and Loyalty”. Companies tend to model their business around transactions vs true relationships – this maybe because they rely heavily on metrics and control. Keeping conversations direct and honest while still making room for policies and procedures can be quite tricky. The panel spoke about the importance of a “customer relationship focus”, here. Giving customers the same attention as you scale was another topic discussed extensively.
“Your CFO should never be the person who is influencing customer experience.” – Axel Niclas, COO, celexon Group.
Girish returned to the stage to give the audience a special treat. A sneak peek at Freshdesk’s newest features, still in development at our labs. Taking a page from the Ironman universe, Girish unveiled the equivalent of JARVIS for Freshdesk – voice activated and motion sensing controls. This test run was received with audible gasps from the crowd!
Achieving Customer Excellence as a Resource-scarce Startup by Dominic Blank, Founder & CEO, POSpulse
“Retail is a black box!” – this was the upshot to Dominic Blank’s (CEO and founder, POSpulse) narrative about his first company, Wine Finder. After Girish, it was Dominic’s turn to speak about customer excellence at his company. After having multiple conversations with brands that drove revenue from retail, he had zeroed in on one key problem – lack of transparency at the point of sale. POSpulse sought to address this. Though initially, they did have sizeable glitches in their delivery, they managed to retain customers. How? They followed three main principles,
- Talk to your customer regularly and especially if you under-deliver
- Create a list of deliverables upfront to set expectations
- Collapse sales and operations to drive higher customer value.
POPpulse calls this sales+operations duo the, “Customer Excellence Team”. He then shared insights about how POSpulse, using this team, remained a customer favourite despite inadequate resources.
“Have the customer sign off on the scope and expectation and don’t feel bad to charge for it!” – Dominic Blank, Founder and CEO, POSpulse
Finding Customer Experience in a Digital Haystack – Thomas Reby, Vendor Operations Manager, Google
The last speaker for the day was Thomas Reby, Vendor Operations Manager at Google. He spoke about CX in the future, where customers wouldn’t want just “help” anymore. They want expert opinions to replace assumptions. But when there’s an explosion of information out there, how does knowledge capturing happen? Thomas explained how linking interaction history and then using systems to anticipate on behalf of the customer can act as a key competitive differentiator in the CX space. He also spoke about processes in linking knowledge bases with tickets – using predictive troubleshooting as opposed to a linear taxonomy, is an example. Thomas explained, that in the future, machine learning can help support teams spot micro-changes – such as a slump in the average handle time. According to him, it all boils down to,
- The culture to start leveraging metadata
- The ability to link all this data to the right KBs
- Having the foresight to anticipate customer actions
- Being a disruptive business by adopting these techniques
“We can trust the data but not the human capability to analyze the data.” – Thomas Reby, Vendor Operations Manager, Google
Berlin’s first CHT received a great response from all our attendees. We hope to bring in CX leaders from more diverse backgrounds in the next iteration. Keep an eye on this space to see where we are headed next!