Mobile

Social CRM company reaches out to small businesses with Assistly 2.0

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Customer relationship management (CRM) software provider Assistly is shaking up its business model to become affordable for smaller and mid-sized businesses.

Assistly’s application gives businesses ways to interact with customers via various social media sites like Twitter and Facebook as well as email, all through a single window. Like the customer service product it is, Assistly listened to its own reviews and found smaller and mid-sized businesses could not afford the product.

Enter new business model, Assistly 2.0.

Co-founder and chief executive Alex Bard told VentureBeat the company now offers the account with Assistly free. Assistly wants smaller and mid-sized businesses to try out the company’s software and find out if it needs to expand.

“We want to grow with our customers,” Bard said. He said he hopes customers will identify their business needs and be willing to pay for more accounts.

Small and mid-sized businesses are deterred from buying because CRM pricing levels are difficult to grasp, Bard said. Companies don’t understand what features are worth paying for or what they will utilize, he said. That’s why Assistly has taken the freemium route — a model that gives customers a taste of a service and then charges for premium services later. Their new pricing model looks like this:

Pricing Model

The “flex agent” is an employee who only uses the CRM software on the occasion. A developer may be called into customer service action at the launch of a new product. That developer can spend 25 hours assisting customers that week and only pay $25 for his usage. All full-time users after the initial agent pay $49 a month — which includes unlimited usage for the CRM software.

The company is going the popular “gamification” route to get users to try out features in the service. Setting up new features within the app gives customers rewards such as hours of free usage. For example, if a company connects its Twitter account to Assistly, it earns 3 free hours. The company is gamifying customer feedback in Assistly 2.0. Similar prizes are awarded when companies receive good feedback..

Assistly’s competitors are other social-based customer relationship apps like Zendesk, Parature, RightNow. The company also competes with CRM supergiant Salesforce, who is an investor in the company.

A competitor that is also an investor? Yup.

“We target 1-800 employee companies,” he said. “Their sweet spot is medium and large enterprises.”

Though they occasionally cross paths, Salesforce generally acts as more of a strategic investment. Assistly works with Salesforce to cover the a company’s overall CRM needs.

When asked if they would welcome an offer from Salesforce to buy the company, Bard said he wanted to create a large, standalone business. As far as the future it concerned, Assistly is developing iPhone, iPad and Android apps. Bard expects the mobile apps will go live at the end of Q3.

The company currently serves clients like Instagram, Klout, Vimeo, Yelp, Etsy, Spotify, Pandora, Square and more. San Francisco, Calif.-based Assistly was founded in 2009 and currently has 35 employees. Investors include True Ventures, Social Leverage, Bullpen Capital, Index Ventures, Salesforce.com and Kenny Van Zant.