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Techzine visited the Refreshed ’23 event Freshworks held in the Netherlands last month. The company’s customers could learn all about the latest developments surrounding Freshworks’ Neo platform. In addition, we took part in a roundtable discussion involving representatives from vastly different industries. In it, they discussed how they use Freshworks, data and AI. “The concept of AI used to mean ‘bots’, but now it has to be something everyone can use.”

We’ve previously taken a look at Freshworks’ offerings. It provides solutions for CRM, customer service, IT service management, call centers, HR and customer communications – in other words, it’s got a broad package to offer. What unites all of it, however, is one main objective: to simplify IT solutions as much as possible. Software has to be approachable enough to as many end users as possible. At the Refreshed event, SVP Global Engineering Mukesh Mirchandani stated that Freshworks was well on its way in this regard. Since its inception under the name Freshdesk in 2010, the company has grown to serve 65,000 customers and currently employees 5,000 people worldwide. It’s Nasdaq-listed and has its headquarters situated in San Mateo, California. Its projected turnover is 580 million for 2023, although Mirchandani suggests it’s well on its way to reach 1 billion in due time. Freshworks serves a diverse customer base, ranging from payment platform Klarna to British broadcaster ITV and tyre manufacturer Bridgestone. Some of its European customers include Carrefour, Appo Group and Cannok. In addition, partners such as Gorilla Services help customers to implement Freshworks software in business environments.

Bringing together data, customer-oriented AI

Any IT event attendee in the year 2023 is bound to hear about AI. In addition, an explanation of how a company utilizes data soon follows. Freshworks intends to be the first company that brings data from sales, marketing as well as customer information together to boost employee productivity, provide customers with a better experience and thus help companies become more profitable.

The drive to simplify is alive and well in the workplace, according to Freshworks. Not only that: offering simplicity is a key method of acquiring talent. “CIO’s are looking for improved employee experiences,” Mirchandani believes. AI can be a means to that end. Freddy AI’s generative functionality is a recent example of this that Freshworks has put forward.

Tip: Freshworks improves customer service with AI tool Freddy and software suite

As far as AI use is concerned, however, AI is primarily intended to be used by employees. It’s thus at most indirectly customer-focused. Customer service agents can ask Freddy to summarize submitted tickets to get to the bottom of a consumer’s question. This makes up part of Freddy’s Copilot functions. There’s also Freddy Insights, where predictive analytics and data insights compose a “dynamic alternative to a static dashboard.” For example, while a single router may be broken, the AI tool can identify a possible underlying problem to prevent further failures.

Carrefour: predictive analytics and generative AI

At Refreshed ’23, we speak with representatives from Carrefour, Appo Group, Cannock and Gorilla Services. Carrefour has been a Freshworks customer for several years. CTO at Carrefour Belgium Stijn Sabel has explained in the past how the Freshservice solution provided a lightning-fast simplification of internal IT service management. Artificial intelligence hits at two key areas relevant to Carrefour, although the deployment of predictive analytics is currently by far the most important use-case. Automated inventory-tracking can prevent supply from falling behind demand and offer customers what they need, when they need it.

Sabel goes on to say that further growth opportunities exist along with Freshworks, with newer AI developments setting the imagination alight. Future hypermarché shoppers at Carrefour could one day expect AI-generated recipes to offer them alternatives to their usual purchasing decisions, for example. An employee who’s busy restocking the shop may not have the time or expertise to respond to missing ingredients, while an AI-based solution would be able to. Thus, AI can also be interesting from a customer-facing perspective.

Both predictive analytics and generative AI need data to prosper. Martijn Simons, VP Sales & General Manager at Freshworks Benelux, emphasizes that all workloads take place in a secure environment and that company data will ramin private. Because, as Sabel notes, data is extremely valuable.

Appo Group: modernizing the pharmacy

For Jeroen Donkers, IT director at Appo Groep, there’s another issue surrounding data. While Carrefour certainly has strict regulatory frameworks with regard to customer data, the medical world has far more stringent limits. Appo Groep owns both Appo and Nationale Apotheek. The latter offers an app to make the pharmacy fully available online. The gaps on the map left by physical pharmacies are filled up with pick-up points and vending machines. However, integrating digital structures has its challenges, as pharmacy systems are difficult to integrate online. They’re walled off, Donkers said, and face many restrictions from the authorities. The Dutch Health Ministry deploys a strategy of “online where possible, on-site where needed” which Appo Groep has to follow. In other words, even if there’s a gigantic amount of potential locked in the relevant data, a lot simply isn’t allowed. One practical example is that the promotion of specific medication use is outlawed. As a commercial player, Appo Groep and others are not allowed to offer alternative solutions if one product were to disappear.

Nevertheless, Freshworks is still extremely useful for Appo Groep. Donkers notes that many customer questions are easy ones to answer. The Freddy AI functions in Freshworks’ new Customer Service Suite can ease the work of customer service agents in this regard. Chatbots are not trained on medical data, but they are deployed to infer from administrative and logistical information. This will allow a customer to find out more quickly when a product can be delivered. “This is immediately applicable, has low risk and high added value for the customer and us internally.”

In general terms, Donkers estimates that AI mainly ensures the unification of work processes, which can ultimately make the services involved cheaper. He indicates that such AI-driven workflows have been in place for a year to eighteen months with the help of Freshworks.

Cannock: protecting the customer

Cannock operates in a completely different line of business: it helps solve payment problems regarding all kinds of issues, from pension funds and fitness centers to parking meters. Raoul Jonkers, Manager of IT Operations & Sourcing at the company, says it is still a relatively new client of Freshworks. It purchases Freshdesk, Fresh Service and Fresh Sales. It is the “beginning of our CX adventure,” Jonkers said. Cannock is a big player on the national stage: among other things, it collects 50 percent of all parking taxes in the Netherlands. By using Freshworks, it wants customers to be more involved in the payment process. It’s a tenuous process, but Jonkers emphasizes how Cannock wants to accommodate people. For example, it tries to put customers with payment problems in touch with a coach and always strives to answer any objections seriously. It also responds to consumer behaviour. Younger customers, for example, are less likely to make phone calls, making online points of contact more relevant. Currently, Cannock can easily be contacted digitally, but there’s not AI chatbot in sight. Such technology will not be customer-centric at any stage, according to Jonkers. Again, Freshworks’ AI capabilities are set to remain an internal tool.


Also present at our conversation was Joachim Beckmann, CEO and owner of Gorilla Services. It’s the largest Benelux-based Freshworks partner, and helps companies attain the most value from Freshworks. According to him, organizations often don’t realize the impact data can have or even where it resides in the first place. Beckmann also notes that customers lack knowledge of what data is available. In the end, there are still many obstacles to overcome to make Freshworks’ vision a reality. The goal is to unify sales, marketing and customer data so that data and AI can be as valuable as possible. In addition, it must be inexpensive to implement.

In that regard, Freshworks is already a successful player in many areas. It simplifies where it can and is flexible enough to serve all sorts of use-cases.

Also read: Freshworks improves customer service with AI tool Freddy and umbrella platform