My Journey from Salesforce to Helpshift
People would say that I’m passionate about technology. I say it makes me thrive! Starting off in business development at Salesforce 8 years ago, I was on the front lines with customers just getting introduced to the concept of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). It was 2007: Marc Benioff was pioneering the industry and molding the foundation that would soon take the enterprise by storm. What started as a product for sales soon evolved into a product suite of offerings galore. From Customer Service, to Partner Management and Marketing Automation, I soon had a plethora of technologies at my fingertips to sell.
But selling alone didn’t cut it for me. I wanted to do something more. Something that would allow me to evolve the brand of an organization rather than simply offer it. So, naturally I moved into marketing. Deciding to shy away from the very lucrative sales journey that salesforce.com offered was a tough decision, but one that I have never regretted. As a marketer I’m able to combine my creative thought process with my (healthy) obsession for technology and bring to market a concept, a vision, and a product. Anyone who has dabbled into the trenches of marketing knows that the approach of testing and trying can be rewarding and unsettling at the same time. But isn’t that what makes it fun?
Fast forward eight years of Salesforce marketing roles, and I was ready for a shift. A significant one.
People always say, “Oh my gosh, you were at salesforce for seven years!” as if it was the same as graduating with a PhD, Masters and Dual Degrees. Experience at salesforce.com gives individuals notoriety and distinguishment. As it should – the mothership of technology provides it’s employees the education, the tools to succeed, and the competitive paycheck. But for me, and for a lot of others I knew, that safety net wasn’t enough. I wanted more than the 9 to 5. I wanted to be able to take chances and risks.
Leaving the Mothership
So I started working my network as any smart marketer would. Working in the land of start-ups was always enticing, but instability was such a risk. Yet at 31 years old, with a tenure and experience from Salesforce in my back pocket, I thought: Now is the time to do something remarkable. I was set with experience. I had the drive. I just needed the right company.
And I found it.
After meeting with a variety of different technology businesses, start-ups to huge enterprises, when it came down to making my choice, there was no question about where I wanted to be. I wanted to join a company where I had the opportunity to fully utilize my marketing foundation. I wanted to join a company where I had the power to shake things up. I wanted to join a company where every individual is valued, appreciated and motivated. And lastly I wanted to join a company that has the opportunity to be the best in the industry.
A name is one thing, but a brand is another. A company can have a successful product and happy customers. But those are just two factors. A successful brand has vision. They have a mission. They are on the journey to do epic things for their customers, their community, their culture and ultimately the market.
This is why I chose Helpshift. Vision. Mission. Journey.
During my meeting with Helpshift, I had the opportunity to sit with the company’s VP of Business Development, Tushar Makhija. It was not an interview. I was told a story. It was the story of why Helpshift exists and why the world needs a new CRM. Helpshift is on the same race track as desk.com and Zendesk. I worked on the desk.com market strategy team. I know the problem they solve. The product works, and they have the mothership behind them to pat their backs and pad the blows. I know Zendesk. I know a lot of former colleagues who work there now. It’s an easy sell because there is a market for it. But that’s it. The product is too complicated and cumbersome for the problem that they are looking to solve. Neither of these two companies are truly grasping what the market wants. The market, the customer, the user: They want simplicity. They want personal relationships. They want in-app engagement.
As I was sitting with Tushar, he spoke to me about the transition from the web to mobile. If you ever get a chance to sit and meet him at any point, I promise you’ll never hear pitch in his voice. He uncovers the pain points and tells the story of how Helpshift is the visionary for this New CRM. The New CRM as he has labeled it, will put the relationship back into customer service. This mobile-first, proactive platform is the vision for this industry. And it’s the vision for every vertical.
He said to me, “Sheridan, the marketplace has changed. Business has moved from web to mobile, but app developers and brands don’t have a real one-on-one relationship with their end user. There is no human aspect. Until Helpshift, if you had a problem in an app, you would be sent away from the app to email or web, causing friction. Feedback is instead sent to the twittersphere or app store with a bad rating that affects business growth. The App Store acts as a walled garden keeping feedback from getting to products in a timely way. We create a direct two-way line of communication that is within the app. We are the only company that focuses on aligning the app to the customer. Helpshift is the golden triangle to connect developers, apps, and their users. This product allows you to control your app’s destiny.”
And I was sold.
I left the meeting knowing that I wanted to be part of that vision. I wanted to be a conduit, an advocate for that brand. They are revolutionizing the way in-app customer service is thought about and they are implementing a strategy and producing a solid product that will carry this vision to market.
I’m in my second month as the Director of Marketing for Helpshift. And now I’m part of our larger mission. That mission is to implant the vision of Helpshift in the larger industries of mobile development, customer service, and customer engagement. If you have an app, are developing an app, or are even dreaming about creating an app, I want you to have Helpshift on your mind.
Just think about the mobile experience today. Let’s say I try to buy something from Amazon and come across a bug. I can’tfigure out the problem, so I leave my cart. And I forget. If I do want help, I call, I email, then I wait. Friction, Friction.
Now the mission is to change this outdated process, remove the friction, and help the business grow. Boom: a button pops up! Chat now with the agent behind this app who knows everything. They know how long I have been a customer, and if have a credit card on file. Helpers are given a 360 degree view of the person on the other end of your app. The support agent can send an in-app message, an email, or pick up the phone and call. It’s all about what works best for your customer, and your business. The app is in control now. And your customer is happy.
That’s our mission. To provide this service, this platform to anyone that is even thinking about the the idea of building, branding and promoting a mobile application.
What we’re offering is very simple, and our value is clear. We put the human experience back into customer service. That is our mission. That is our goal. Our customers are our advocates. They embrace their story and showcase that to their communities.
A mission isn’t about one person, one brand or one company. It’s far more than that. It’s about the community of ambassadors that want to take the vision to the masses. And we are on our way. That’s why we won CRM Idol.
Our Journey: The New CRM
2015 will be epic. Taking this job at Helpshift will be a major milestone in my career as a marketer. I have the opportunity to carry out the vision and build out the mission of this company. If I wanted routine and the simplicity of the enterprise, I would have gone back to desk or have been satisfied at a place like Zendesk.
But that didn’t cut it for me. I want grand. I want to be able to innovate, not just mimic. I want chance. I want disruption. I want the market to know that I’m part of the vision, the mission, and journey that is the New CRM. The journey that we’re on is a big one, but we are one step ahead of the game because we have the people, the expectation, the motivation, and the ultimate drive to succeed.
Helpshift is defining the future of CRM and I am honored to be a part of the adventure.
Written by Sheridan Gaenger, Director of Marketing at Helpshift.