Cisco is joining as an investor into Helpshift‘s previously announced $25 million funding round. That’s a big endorsement for the startup’s business of providing in-app customer support.
Helpshift has been able to reduce customer support costs for a wide swath of clients by building robust customer support directly into apps. It provides answers for frequently asked questions (FAQs) and improves search in help queries so that users can perform more self-service in getting help with their apps. That could make a real impact in the $350 billion customer support industry.
Abinash Tripathy, CEO and cofounder of San Francisco-based Helpshift, said in an interview with VentureBeat that the company’s largest customer sees 50 million people open the help section in an app every month. Most of their questions are answered, and only 2.4 million of those sessions go on to chat sessions with 2,000 live human agents. That’s a dramatic reduction in the costs associated with operating customer support,Tripathy said.
“Cisco has a large customer contact center business,” Tripathy said. “They see a shift from voice calls to the kind of dynamic chat channel that we operate. They want to keep their options open in this space.”
Cisco adds just a couple of million dollars to the previously announced round. Other investors in the round include Intel Capital, Microsoft Ventures, and Salesforce Ventures.
As one of Cisco Investments’ portfolio companies, Helpshift will also explore opportunities to integrate its in-app customer support solutions with Cisco’s contact center solutions.
“Apps have become the primary way in which consumers and employees in the enterprise are accessing products and services,” said Tripathy. “Just like customer service moved away from phone (voice) to email in the era of the web, we are now seeing a transition where customer service is moving inside apps to eliminate all the friction in the process of supporting users. With the additional funding from Cisco Investments, we are looking to help the entire contact center industry transition from being reactive to proactive while driving higher customer satisfaction and lowering cost.”
In the smartphone era, customers are using mobile apps to interact with products and services. By bringing customer service in-app, Helpshift has eliminated the frustration of customers having to leave the app to get support.
“We continue to invest in strategic solutions to help propel technology developments that will solve challenges for our customers, partners, and beyond,” said Rob Salvagno, head of Cisco Investments and vice president of Cisco Corporate Development, in a statement. “Through our investment, we look forward to supporting Helpshift to enable companies to provide best in-class mobile customer care through their data-centric messaging platform.”
Helpshift’s customers include Zynga, Virgin Media, Microsoft, Western Union, Flipboard, Shyp, WordPress, and thousands of other industry-leading brands, startups, and developers. Helpshift is installed on 2 billion devices worldwide, and it serves more 400 million mobile customers monthly. To date, Helpshift has raised more than $38.2 million and is backed by Cisco Investments, Intel Capital, Microsoft Ventures, Nexus Venture Partners, Salesforce Ventures, True Ventures, and Visionnaire Ventures.
The company has 125 employees. Gaming was once the dominant part of the company’s business, with companies like Supercell using Helpshift to head off customer support calls. Now it is just 40 percent.
“Other verticals are growing, like on-demand video and over-the-top video apps,” Tripathy said. “We are also growing in productivity apps.”
The company is investigating chatbot technology as well, but Tripathy said that is an “overheated” space, and that the chatbot technology “isn’t ready to roll out.”