Freshworks: The customer and authenticity

Freshworks: The customer and authenticity

Freshworks makes it easy for businesses to provide an outstanding customer experience and, in the modern era, this is crucial to a company’s success. John Crossan, VP and General Manager of Europe, Freshworks, talks to Intelligent CXO about what makes Freshworks stand out in the market, its unique end-to-end user experience and how he equips his staff with knowledge and skills. 

  1. Tell us a bit more about your business and how it started. 

The Freshworks ‘origin story’ is one of my favourite aspects of the company, because it perfectly demonstrates our purpose. 

Around 10 years ago, Freshworks founder, Girish Mathrubootham, was having difficulty making an insurance claim on a broken TV. The customer service was so frustrating to deal with he ended up venting in an online forum and after it sparked much online conversation, he received a personal apology from the CEO and a full refund the very next day. This inspired him to set up Freshworks, partly based on the belief that the age of social media was significantly changing customer experience and expectations. 

This is exactly what Freshworks set out to do – improve customer experience for everyone. Every day, we think: What can we do to make a difference for customers? And it all comes back to one poor experience all those years ago. 

  1. How has the business grown since it started and how did you ensure growth? 

I joined Freshworks earlier this year, but since then we have continued to build on the company’s significant, rapid growth. In fact, we recently became the first Indian SaaS company to list on the Nasdaq – significantly beating initial IPO expectations by jumping 30% on listing day and landing on a market capitalisation of nearly US$12 billion. 

A huge part of our success can be attributed to Freshworks’ single platform that delivers best-in-class solutions across CX, IT and CRM. In my opinion, no other competitor even comes close in terms of quality of product or ease of access across all platforms. It’s this integrated offering that compelled me to join and what our teams will be continuing to build on to ensure our customers and employees remain delighted. 

  1. What’s the business’ approach to management? 

Our CEO, Girish, places a lot of importance on family. In fact, he rang the Nasdaq bell at our IPO in September with his wife, two sons and dog by his side in New York. This ‘Kudumba’ culture – meaning ‘extended family’ in Tamil – sits at the heart of how the business is managed. 

All employees across the business call him ‘G’ and over three-quarters of us are shareholders in the company. After our successful listing, around 500 Indian employees became ‘crorepatis’ – someone whose net worth exceeds 10 million rupees (nearly £100,000) as a result, rewarding their commitment to the business. 

  1. What is your company’s vision and goal? 

Freshworks aims to be the top customer and employee experience platform in the market. And with more than 50,000 customers, I think we’re well on our way to getting there.  

This means accelerating in three areas specifically: our customer base, revenue base and employee base. If we can do this, I believe we will be in a very strong position to take on some of the Silicon Valley giants in the market. 

  1. What kind of clients and markets do you serve? 

We are primarily focused on mid-sized businesses but have clients of all sizes in a range of industries! In fact, our product offering is so broad, we’ve expanded the size of our market globally.  

Our customers include the likes of Klarna, Trainline, ITV, and Radisson Hotels – spanning sectors from FinTech and hospitality to media and healthcare. No matter what industry you’re in, a good customer and employee experience are always crucial. 

  1. What has your career looked like so far? 

My background is in the broader CRM market but in recent years I doubled down on customer experience. In our personal lives, we’re customers of many hundreds of organisations, so I know how important it is to continuously receive a good experience. 

I took a short career break before I joined Freshworks in March 2021 and during the time off, I renovated my house from top to bottom.  

When I re-joined the working world, I created a list of the four or five companies I was interested in working for and Freshworks was undoubtedly on top of that list. I’d previously worked for a competitor, so I’d naturally kept a close eye on the company and industry. I’ve always admired and respected Freshworks for its best-in-class customer and employee engagement solutions and I knew my role here would be enjoyable and impactful. 

  1. How do you equip your staff with skills and knowledge? 

It’s extremely important to me that my staff can grow their careers at Freshworks and for our company to become a key destination for technology talent across the world.  

I keep a close eye on our employee base, not just in terms of numerical growth, but also at the skills growth of incumbent employees. After all, the more talent you retain, the faster the company can innovate as well. 

  1. How do you work with other executives within the C-suite to make sure your voice is heard? 

We have a flat structure at Freshworks with open channels of communication, which includes regular, cross-functional discussions around how we best work together and accelerate the business. The ethos of ‘Kudumba’ plays a strong role in the success of these discussions. As with all families, we are honest, respectful and direct with each other – enabling rapid discussion, analysis and decision making. 

  1. How do you ensure different teams in your organisation work together?  

I’m very lucky that Freshworks already had such a strong company culture before I joined, with lots of opportunities for collaboration between staff, even remotely. I’ve tried to uphold those values and levels of collaboration so that we avoid slipping into siloed work, which is easily done when your workforce is spread around the globe and prevents everyone from upskilling and learning from each other. 

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