5 min

Last October, Freshworks held the virtual Refresh 2020 event. During this event, the company gave a glimpse of what it was working on, new products, like Freshworks CRM, and what is still to come. The company looked closely at the major players in the CRM market. We spoke about it with Raymond Hüner, general manager Benelux and Nordics.

Freshworks was founded in India as Freshdesk, a software solution to provide a better customer service experience for both customers and businesses. The company has since been renamed to Freshworks and aims to offer affordable and accessible business software. A good customer experience is still one of its pillars and the company is now operating on a much broader scale. The portfolio consists of, among others:

  • Freshworks CRM (CRM)
  • Freshdesk (Customer service)
  • Freshservice (IT service management)
  • Freshcaller (Callcenter software)
  • Freshteam (HRM)
  • Freshchat (Customer communication via various channels)

During Refresh 2020, the company mainly focused on Freshworks CRM. Freshworks released a completely new version of the CRM product. In this new product, various Freshworks components have been brought together. The Sales and Marketing solutions are now part of the new Freshworks CRM. The new product is built on what Freshworks calls the Neo platform. This is the new standard platform for Freshworks products, with the great advantage that products can be integrated well because the basic structure of the applications is the same.

Freshworks wants to simplify the business software landscape

While it is important these days that products can integrate and work together, Freshworks CEO Girish Mathrubootham argues that some solutions can become even more powerful when combined into one. Previously, phones, cameras and GPS devices were separate solutions; bringing them together has resulted in a much better product.

The same sometimes applies to business software. You don’t always need 1001 packages to make your business perform optimally. Sometimes the same can be achieved with one or just a handful of solutions. That’s what Freshworks strives for: a handful of products that can replace virtually any business software. The goal is to make the products as user-friendly as possible by developing them from the perspective of the end user. If you can work with one of Freshworks’ solutions, it is very easy to work with other Freshworks applications as well.

A well-known philosophy for Freshworks CRM

With the introduction of the new Freshworks CRM, many terms sounded familiar to us. Freshworks talks about the Freshworks CRM Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud, among other things. Applications and integrations can then be built on the Freshworks Platform. There’s also Freshworks 360 for a complete overview and integrated experience of all customer information.

Customers who are familiar with Salesforce have undoubtedly heard these terms before. Raymond Hüner his this to say about that:

Freshworks competes with other CRM vendors on ease of use, fast implementation and affordability.

Ultimately, we see more players creeping towards each other in the CRM market. Salesforce is so hugely successful that more companies see it as an example and want to join in. Freshworks is now moving from a customer service product to a solid CRM proposition, while HubSpot, for example, is doing so from a marketing product. The competition in the CRM market is increasing, which means that the products are improving. After all, all players have to keep up development of their product.

The winner is ultimately the customer. They see more and more features being added to their products, which can be put to good use. In addition, competition on price may lead to lower costs.

Freshworks is growing fast in Northern Europe

Freshworks has only really been active in Europe for a few years. We spoke about this with Hüner, who told us that for a long time the company only sold the software in Europe through its website and call centres. The company started opening physical offices a few years ago and creating local sales and support teams. With this, Freshworks has made great strides.

Hüner also stated that Freshworks was delighted with the European turnout during the Refresh 2020 event. In total, 3500 people from the continent took part. “It shows that customers are involved with Freshworks and that plenty of prospects are interested in what we are doing.”

Currently, Freshworks is particularly strong in Northern Europe, with the Benelux and the Nordics in particular. Recently, the Swedish utility company Ellevio started using Freshworks’ CRM solution. Other countries are following, with the Netherlands being the strongest of those. Belgium is now slowly gaining momentum, according to Hüner. Freshworks is also doing well in the Nordics.

If we look at the customers that the company has signed, then it can be particularly happy with names like BOSS, Cheaptickets, Cisco, Honda, Klarna, Maersk, Talpa eCommerce, Toshiba, Unicef and Volvo. In addition, the partner channel has grown considerably. Its local presence makes it easier to engage partners and gives Freshworks more traction in the market. For example, companies such as Accenture, AWS, Gorilla Services, TKC, Tata Services, G-Company, SMC Consulting and 2Grips have become Freshworks partners. This has resulted in a further growth in affiliated clients.

Related: Freshworks prioritises the customer with Customer Engagement software

Freshworks has laid the groundworks, now it has to scale up

If you had to judge Freshworks on the basis of the Refresh event, and perhaps the interview we had with them, we could say that it has laid a very good foundation in terms of its product portfolio. Now it needs to expand and scale up. This requires customers, new product features based on customer feedback and integrations. The company is working hard to achieve this.

The Freshworks CRM product now appears to be the most attractive basic product to build on. Nevertheless, Hüner maintains that Freshworks is winning customers across the entire portfolio. He cites the large French supermarket chain Carrefour as an example. In Belgium, Carrefour makes its own IT choices and intensively relies on Freshservice. ServiceNow was pushed as a service solution from France, but the Belgians found it far too complex and not fitting with the business case. In the end, Freshworks’ Freshservice was chosen, which Hüner claims works better and is cheaper than ServiceNow.

Hüner says that because the clients are satisfied with Freshservice, it is now also easier to talk about other solutions such as Freshworks CRM. According to him, customers get exposed to Freshworks via multiple products. Freshworks’ strategy and its integrations make it very easy to start using more products now.

Freshworks today

In our view, Freshworks does indeed have a good foundation to build on. With its mix of applications, the company is mainly competing with Salesforce, but it can also compete with ServiceNow in some aspects. The ease of use and the price point seem to be the strongest weapons at the moment. However, the company will have to keep innovating at a fast pace to remain competitive against these tech giants. Whether it succeeds in doing so, only the future will tell. In any case, it is a vendor to keep an eye on, and a valuable option for companies to consider that are exploring the CRM market.