Taking a leaf out of their successful decade-long journey, Freshworks hosted a masterclass at TechSparks 2022 on how to build products that delight customers and how to take these products to the next level by offering a single well integrated out-of-the-box suite solution for customers.
Hosted by Ramesh Parthasarthy, VP Engineering and Chief Architect of Customer Experience Products at Freshworks, the session touched upon the customer suite of products as well as the employee suite of products.
Freshworks launched their flagship product called Freshdesk in 2011. A customer support product, Freshdesk is basically a ticketing software that helps customers with raising tickets for any issues or problems that they face in using the systems. Freshworks took three years to diversify into an employee suite product that was launched in 2014. And from then on, it has been on a journey of building products with the fundamental policy of ‘delighting’ their customers.
“We want our products to delight our customers, that’s been our philosophy right through. We want to build products which are simple and easy to use for our customers,” said Ramesh.
Stages of product development
A product development company faces many changes in demands from its customers through the various stages. While the customer may want something, the company’s capacity and constraints may not allow that to happen. Hence, it is very important to strike the right balance between the customer’s demands and what the company is capable of building at the moment.
The first stage of product development focuses on building a product and ensuring that it impresses the customer enough for them to purchase it and use it. “We had extreme emphasis on design, simple and easy to use software, and an affordable product. That was the core theme of the first phase,” said Ramesh.
The second stage requires a company to build products with differentiating features, a multi segment product, a horizontal product that caters to all industry segments. The important decisions to make at this stage of product development includes engineering decisions about your scale as well as catering to a different segment and to a global audience.
“At this stage we decided to build a lot of platforms, we started doing platform engineering. If you have to differentiate yourself as a company you have to do something yourself, in spite of that being available by a cloud provider or another SaaS tool. Because that’s where the differentiation comes in and that’s how you impress your customers,” explained Ramesh.
The third stage is all about creating unified experiences. Out of the box, pre-integrated product and sales support and marketing tools can ensure delighting customers. The demands of the customers are ever changing, but what you can offer them also depends on the pool you’re competing in and the markets or domains, so to accomplish creating products that the customer loves, one has to constantly adapt to these changes.
Another aspect which comes into play here is the need for prioritisation. “You have to pick and choose the battles that you want to fight, you can’t have everything on day one,” emphasised Ramesh. It’s important to assess the space you are in as a company vis-a-vis the category of customers that you want to build for in order to continue innovating and generating customer love for your products.
Summing up the masterclass, Ramesh threw light on the importance of having some core tenets throughout your journey. “We don’t have separate deployments, we are always on the cloud, we have one version of the software running for all customers, we still believe that product-led growth is the way that we want our customers to use our products. These are our core tenets that we will never sacrifice,” he said.