The customer-for-life software suite
By Use Case
Applian Technologies develops and provides world-class, affordable streaming media recording software for Windows and Mac users. Launched in 1997 with just one product called “Replay Radio”, the company has grown to develop a suite of products that help anyone from teachers to teenagers record anything from Ted talks to video games. Interestingly, the idea of recording streaming media came to the CEO, Bill Deterring, while he was on a long commute wishing he had a way to record his favorite radio shows and play them back in his car.
Applian Technologies currently has around 700,000 paying customers in addition to those who use its free products. Its distributed support team is focused on making it easier for its free and paying customers to find the right solution to their problems.
Although Applian uses email, web forms, and customer portal to receive customer queries, they encourage users to help themselves whenever they can. Debbie McCormick, the Director of Technical Support Systems, firmly believes that self-service is the best way to serve thousands of customers across many products.
"We can only be as good as our knowledge base"
But when it comes to multiple products, getting self-service to work in a way that is neither confusing nor misleading to customers can be a challenge. Debbie wanted to set up different support portals for different products and link them all to a single page on their website. That way, customers could locate the product they were using and see only related solution articles as opposed to combing a huge combined repository.
"A lot of our products have features that are present in some of the other products as well. So when customers are searching for answers about product A, I don’t want them to be getting answers from products B, C and D."
As a small team supporting a large customer base, she wanted to make sure that the only time customers contacted them directly was when they were not making it easy enough for the customers to find whatever they needed to find.
A search for a simpler solution to provide the best self-service experience is what motivated Debbie to look for a better alternative to the support tool they were using.
"We were with Zendesk for 3 years. It was expensive and complicated. We were on their hub-and-spoke system and to provide multi-product support, I had to set up close to 30 portals having different URLs. All with their own triggers connecting to the central desk. It was a nightmare to maintain it."
In their quest to simplify the support process as well as reduce cost, Debbie evaluated 3 to 4 alternatives before deciding that Freshdesk was the way to go. In addition to an easier setup process, the learning curve for Freshdesk was much lesser than with Zendesk. With all the settings in place, Debbie got her entire remote team on board the new system just by running them through the documentation during a team conference call.
Though the primary motivation to switch to Freshdesk was a better way to manage multi-product support, the team found that Freshdesk’s clean UI made it easier to see who was looking at a ticket and identify tickets that required an immediate response or were overdue.
“In Freshdesk, I didn’t have to jump around to 30 different places to set it up. It was all right there in one place. To improve the self service experience across multiple products, I had to set up some more email addresses and sub-domains from our end, but once that was done, it was very straight-forward and easy to accomplish.”
Director of Technical Support Systems
Compared to the previous system where she had to create a separate view to see the late tickets (which the agents could choose not to see), this interface combined with the “glaringly obvious” agent collision detection feature immediately added value to the team’s work.
Applian Technologies has 18 support portals set up in Freshdesk – one for each product. Each portal has its own knowledge base, its own set of customizations and its own branding.
Debbie has been able to effectively use Freshdesk to smooth out the self-service experience, streamline the support process and reduce the cost for her organization. One of her immediate next steps was to integrate Freshdesk with Zingtree so agents know the steps customers already tried before contacting support.
She has more ideas to make the support experience better for all users of Applian products and she is confident that Freshdesk can help her achieve them.
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