Why we rebuilt a successful product with 100,000 customers

Rebuilding Freshdesk – 6 years and 100,000 happy customers later

Written by on November 13, 2017

Your UI is so 2010

The entire room was shocked. When our Sales engineer Vikram presented a slide with this quote from a customer – he suddenly had the complete attention of our Product team. We had never heard something like this in six years since launching Freshdesk.

When we first launched Freshdesk in June 2011, we took pride in the fact that we had built a helpdesk that was simple, intuitive and just worked. In fact, one of our early customer testimonials was “Freshdesk is like a breath of fresh air in comparison with some of the existing solutions.” This had become a big differentiator and was the main reason why we were able to scale to tens of thousands of happy customers in the next few years. So it was a wake up call for us to re-think Freshdesk from the ground up.

I have always believed that one of the key traits of a good product manager is to look at customer feedback without emotion and see the product the way the customer sees it.

When we looked deeper into the feedback, we realized that the problem was not actually with the UI. The product had the same, refreshingly simple design. But that design was meant for a simpler Freshdesk and not for one that had accumulated 6 years worth of powerful feature additions, enhancements, apps, and extensions. While there was nothing wrong with the design of the product, the world around us had changed. Like music, good design also has an element of time-period in it. The 90’s made the client-server design popular along with Nirvana. The 2000’s had detailed web UI with lots of forms and links along with the Black Eyed Peas. Our product was indeed so 2010 – with lots of tabs and tables.

To improve customers’ experience now, we needed to move beyond the design boundaries that we had set ourselves long ago. And that’s how the Freshdesk Mint experience came to be.

A need for better APIs

As we’ve grown over the years, so has our existing customer base. And, we’ve seen increased inbound interest from larger companies as well.

But along with this growth, we’ve also noticed increasing interest in better APIs from both these segments. How open was Freshdesk? How could they hook into our product and fit it into their workflows better? Could they bring in data from other products? The first version of our APIs were pretty basic in functionality and suited our SMB customers well but as we started engaging with larger customers, it was becoming very clear that we should address this urgently.

We have over 90 apps in the marketplace, connecting to the most popular business software suites out there. But when our users installed 8 or 9 apps, page load times would increase affecting ticket details and more.

It was clear to us our users needed a stronger platform that would adapt without compromising core functionalities. A product which users could hook onto for extracting data or build their own apps on, if necessary.

This was the other challenge that we needed to overcome if we wanted to grow faster.

Refreshing Freshdesk with the Mint experience

Improving the user experience meant not only did we have to redesign our product’s user interface, but also revisit our entire architecture. So we solved the problem by tackling it in three phases.

In the first phase, we split the front and backend of the product, and modularized the helpdesk so that each segment or support channel or piece of code could be worked on and improved independently of others. This also ensured that in case of a problem in the future, bugs in the affected part could be immediately patched out, while users still had access to the rest of the helpdesk reducing overall downtimes.

During phase two, we opened the new Mint experience to beta customers. Design had almost solidified the look and feel, bringing the “refreshing” part of our UI back. They had also ensured that the look of the helpdesk was flexible in order to future-proof it. With Mint, new features and updates could roll out anytime, and businesses could plug in other software suites via Apps from the Freshdesk Marketplace, but the helpdesk would adapt actively to display these new additions without compromising the core user experience.

This brings us to phase three, starting Today. Freshdesk Mint will be made available to all of you, our customers, in a phased rollout. And with it, you’ll get:

  1. A simple, intuitive Helpdesk: A helpdesk with a new, minimalist design built to focus on speed and performance that will ensure your focus remains on the customer’s problems no matter how you setup your workflows and apps.
  2. Re-architectured for better performance: Faster feature releases, updates and patches. Smoother user experience with better performance support for Freshdesk Apps, thanks to a modular helpdesk built on a Ember platform.
  3. An adaptable, future-proof solution: A helpdesk with a firm architectural foundation and powerful APIs so you can integrate Freshdesk easily into your workflow along with the other solutions you use at your business.

For a full list of changes that you can experience in Freshdesk Mint, click here

Unifying our products

I’m proud of the Freshdesk team for having worked together as a single unit to build the Freshdesk Mint experience. Sales and Support worked cohesively to identify customers and got a lot of constructive feedback on what they expected from a new age helpdesk. Engineering worked on innovating how the helpdesk works and behaves, shaping a new solution capable of evolving with the future. And Design bridged the gap in the middle, ensuring the helpdesk experience was refreshed to be better but not at the cost of destroying our users’ workflows and alienating them.

With this release, users signing up for Freshdesk will have the same experience as they would in any other Freshworks product. Our goal has always been to make it easy for every team to deliver moments of wow – whether it’s customer support or sales or hiring. This update moves us one step closer to that goal, where we present a unified Freshworks experience.

Want to try out the Freshdesk Mint experience?

The Freshdesk Team and I are excited to know what you think about the new Mint experience. If you’d like to try it out now, sign up here!

If you are an existing customer, click on the “Switch to the Mint experience” button at the top of your helpdesk. Please note that we are rolling out Mint experience in batches so your experience is not compromised in any way. Check it out and let us know what you think.

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