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Cloud service desk software provider Freshdesk is announcing today that it has acquired Frilp, a small startup with an app that lets users seek and receive expert help from friends.
All 19 employees of Frilp — which stands for “free help” — have joined Freshdesk’s development center in Chennai. The beta Frilp app for Android will shut down soon. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
This acquisition isn’t meant to make Freshdesk into a consumer app. Rather, Frilp’s know-how will help Freshdesk become a smarter, more scalable tool for getting customers’ questions answered quickly. And that means relying on people who don’t work directly for companies but do have the ability to help, including friends of consumers.
“What we do know is our customers have asked us for this and said, ‘Can we enable some sort of peer-to-peer conversation, because I have a very active set of users or customers,'” Freshdesk president Dilawar Syed told VentureBeat in an interview this week.
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The idea is to extract key terms from customer service tickets with natural language processing — technology that was at the core of Frilp — and use that to find the people best-equipped to help.
The move looks forward-thinking on the part of Freshdesk, as it faces competition from Salesforce (which has been doing more with the technology it picked up through the RelateIQ acquisition), Zendesk, and Atlassian, among others. There are also enterprise software vendors with on-premises service desk tools, including Oracle and SAP.
Freshdesk plans to incorporate Frilp’s technologies in three ways, Syed said.
First, Freshdesk will start routing each customer service inquiry to the agent who knows the most about the customer’s area of concern.
Second, Freshdesk will look for knowledgeable people hanging out in customer forums and communities and connect them with customers who bring in new inquiries.
Third, Freshdesk wants to connect customers who have service desk inquiries with their friends on social networks who might be able to solve their problems.
All of this should lessen the burden on companies’ customer service teams. And that’s important, because companies are getting a higher and higher volume of requests for help from customers, but companies “can’t keep hiring customer service reps, especially in North American markets,” Syed said.
It’s likely that Freshdesk will take a vertical-specific approach here in the U.S. and roll out its services in the industries where it has the most traction, and thereby the most data. Prices for the services haven’t been determined yet, Syed said.
Frilp started in 2012. The startup raised $500,000 in funding from angel investors, including Freshdesk cofounder and chief executive Girish Mathrubootham and former Groupon executive Deva Kannan. The startup participated in the Microsoft Ventures accelerator.
San Francisco-based Freshdesk started in 2010 and employs around 450 people. Freshdesk announced a $50 million funding round, with Tiger Global participating, in April. Freshdesk now has more than 50,000 customers in 145 countries, Syed said.
This is Freshdesk’s second acquisition. The first was live video chat service 1CLICK.
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