Fintan Murphy continues in conversation with Hiver’s CEO and founder, Niraj Ranjan Rout. Hiver is a collaborative customer support space that exists within Gmail. A tool that provides automated workflows, it helps improve customer service within your business. Fintan and Niraj discuss the future of Hiver and the impact of remote working, and how Hiver has adapted to face the challenges posed by COVID-19.
Collaborative Inbox Space to a Customer Support Solution: The Evolution of Hiver
Hiver’s business journey has been built entirely on growth. Hiver takes up large and complex issues and reframes them into smaller problems to be solved. This was manifested through observing and documenting what customers do with Hiver’s product and what they expect to receive from its use.
The transformation from a collaborative inbox to a customer support space occurred due to customers using it as a tool to interact with their own customers. More than 80% of our customers used Hiver for some type of customer-facing communication. Hiver knew that no matter what type of business or service that a company offered, conversing with customers was considered an important role in all of the daily operations.
After observing this, Hiver moved from a collaborative inbox positioning to a customer-service positioning. This allowed us to direct our marketing efforts and product roadmap into a clear vision. Hiver is able to frame customers’ problems better and present opportunities for customers to interact with their software. This creates solutions for some of the larger issues they were facing. Namely, collaborative inboxes.
Pros and Cons to Redefining Products and Tools
Hiver is very different from other companies. Despite entering the customer service space (that has many tools), there isn’t a solution that is email-centric. Hiver’s popularity delves down into how it solves issues. The typical journey of a customer service team usually begins with email. They will try to scale it and sometimes be locked out of their email inboxes, and then they’ll become frustrated. Hiver solves this problem inside the inbox itself. It’s really intuitive because a business doesn’t have to change the system that it is using.
A lot of other organisations are moving towards making the inbox the central place. For example, Google. With a variety of tools that can be pulled into them, Hiver has an interesting advantage by already operating within Gmail. Niraj believes it is even more natural than having your calendar in your inbox because an email you receive from your customer exists within your inbox. It is artificial to move it to another system which is one of Hiver’s key strengths, making it an attractive choice for those wanting customer service solutions.
Too Many Add Ons: Is the Inbox too Busy?
Not everyone is going to use a customer service product and a CRM together because they have different functions. Hiver is constantly consolidating their product to make sure that it is relevant and the tool of choice for people managing customer-facing scenarios.
With applications being widely and freely available, integrating tools into an inbox is a way of ensuring that it doesn’t become too overwhelming. Hiver is one of the many useful tools within G Suite that allow for effective communication and functionality.
Growing Business: Integration into Other Tools
Hiver has plans to integrate with Google Drive in a much broader sense than they do currently. Hiver’s plan is that 2021 is going to be their year of integration with many of Google’s other features.
Niraj expressed interest in finding a solution to allow Google chat to open as the alternative to a website chat, allowing users to access Hiver with this solution. This could allow a single integrated experience using Google Chat and Mail to communicate with your customers.
The Vision for Hiver
One question that Niraj receives frequently is why does Hiver remain within G Suite and not experiment with other systems like Microsoft? Hiver costs more than the G Suite platform does for most of Hiver’s customers. This gives an index to the value of the tool – it is useful and in demand.
Hiver is constantly discussing how they can do more as a customer service product. Can they open up different functionalities and make the product even more valuable to businesses? When Hiver has reached this level, they will be able to expand their market reach and include a lot more potential customers.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Hiver
Hiver was able to work from home immediately after COVD-19 became an issue for the general public. This is because all their work was in the cloud and within G Suite. Everything is cloud-based, even the development tools with servers online. Hiver is designed to be able to be a remote working space.
One of the dynamics that affected Hiver when dealing with the coronavirus crisis was the cultural impact. With 80-90 employees, becoming remote had a cultural impact on employees not experiencing face to face meetings or daily interactions. Niraj relays that sometimes remote working can be too structured. One of the main difficulties Niraj sees with remote working is enabling serendipitous events to happen. There are no accidental encounters as there would be in a physical office that can lead to useful discussions. This is one of the issues that they want to change. Employees are now more interested in hybrid models that allow them the flexibility to work from home and spend some time in the office. Niraj believes that it is this mix that is going to lead the future in business with employees having control of when they’re in the office and when they work from home.
Hiver helped customers by deferring payments for a few months to allow for small businesses to have some flexibility while they coped with the effects of COVID-19. Now that businesses have more control over the situation, Hiver has seen their growth continuing after a stagnant April and May.
The Future of Hiver
Hiver occupies two floors in a building. Niraj has discussed with his team remodelling these floors to allow for 50% occupancy which encourages social distancing and allows remote working opportunities as well. Niraj believes that people will make reasonable changes to their businesses through community and revamping spaces.
Regardless of the direction of your business or your field, Hiver can offer customer service solutions for your team in a collaborative inbox.
As a longstanding member of the Google Cloud Partner Program, Damson Cloud specialises in bringing people and ideas together through new ways of working. We champion the very best practices in remote working and change management, helping companies and their teams collaborate productively from anywhere in the world. To find out more about our services, check out our library of tutorial videos or our blog.