The 2015 CRM Rising Stars: Helpshift Pushes In-App Customer Service a Few Steps Ahead

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One of the problems with mobile apps is that, while incredibly convenient, they tend to offer poor customer support. How many times have you given up on a game or app because it was malfunctioning and you had no one to turn to within the app itself? Having to turn on your computer and open a browser to fix a problem defeats the purpose of using mobile technology in the first place.

Helpshift—the winner of the 2014 CRM Idol award—addressed this common problem with an in-app service that enables customers to make quick inquiries, access frequently asked questions, and chat with representatives without having to go through another communication channel, such as telephone or email. "They've created a [software development kit] that allows companies that have mobile apps to bake in customer service functionality in the app," Brent Leary, founder of CRM Essentials, says. This will enable app users to seek help in fixing glitches while they are in the app, rather than through a desktop forum, which is how they've traditionally had to do it.

Though not its original intention, the young company focuses solely on mobile CRM. Formed in India under the name Helpshift.com, the outfit intended to concentrate on traditional support a la Desk.com and pitched ideas that, though good on a software end, were not original business ideas. "The email customer support market was already saturated," says Tushar Makhija, vice president of business development at Helpshift.

Seeing that CRM was headed to mobile devices, Helpshift anticipated an increasing demand for customer service integration. "You used to walk into a store and you had a relationship with a person who sold you goods. Then that relationship was lost and then you started buying things on the Web, where you started chatting with someone on Amazon.com or Zappos.com. Now...you're buying things from a service that is being run on this four-inch mobile device," Makhija says.

Aside from the in-app features that make communication easier and more engaging, another key feature of Helpshift is the push notification, which reads users' activity to predict what would interest them and sends them nudges in real time. The push notification has implications for many industries, including pharmaceuticals and travel, where updates on travel times and prescription availabilities are of the utmost importance. "There's a big difference between a push notification that shows up immediately and one that shows up after an hour," Makhija says. "In e-commerce, that can translate into billions of dollars."

To many organizations, having an in-app service is preferable to the cumbersome nature of call centers and email. This is especially true for small companies that may not be able to invest in the massive teams and maintenance fees these require. Already, the likes of WordPress and Yaxi have taken to the idea. And that's just the beginning. After formally launching in October 2012, Helpshift is currently installed on 350 million devices via 1,000 live apps.

On the company's list of goals for this year is growing the brand through a robust marketing campaign. Helpshift is confident that the demand for mobile service is going to grow, and so is Leary. "They're not a huge company, but they have a pretty good opportunity to claim a nice piece of that niche if they can expand it out just a little bit but really nail it," he says.


CEO: Abinash Tripathy

Founded: 2012

Revenue in 2014: N/A

Headquarters: San Francisco

Employees: 65

Customer Count: Helpshift has 1,000 live apps.

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