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Helpshift names Salesforce veteran Linda Crawford as CEO

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Helpshift has named former Salesforce executive Linda Crawford as its new chief executive. She joins the relatively small ranks of Silicon Valley startup female CEOs and will run a company with more than 100 people.

Helpshift has made its name by transforming customer support in mobile apps and games. It creates FAQs, or frequently asked questions, that are self-service, enabling users to bypass long waits on customer support calls and find the answers to their questions themselves. Helpshift automates customer support by making the FAQs intuitive and easy to use, with search built in. The search is case-sensitive, delivering a suggested solution as the customer types in a query.

Crawford told VentureBeat that her job is to spur the next round of growth and help infuse artificial intelligence with the system that Helpshift has already created, resulting in more instantaneous answers to tough customer support questions.

“No customer should feel like a case number,” she said. “They want to be treated like humans, not just an account. Helpshift is looking at customer support in a different way, thinking of the customer first.”

Above: Helpshift creates Help FAQs for apps.

Image Credit: Helpshift

The FAQs are cross-linked and contextual, making it more likely that users will find the right answers. And customer service representatives can also use their own version of the FAQs to search for the right answers to consumers who have problems with an app.

Back in 2014, Helpshift mentioned that Supercell’s Boom Beach game would generate 40 million sessions a day. Of those, perhaps 40,000 people would open the Help section of the game. And of those, only 200 would need to file a ticket. That helped Supercell drastically reduce the number of customer support representatives and keep its customers happy.

“The ideal is to solve problems for ourselves,” she said.”My mission is to bring as much intelligence to the table as possible for the customer. That means leveraging A.I. and machine-learning techniques. We want the customer to feel the service is personal and proactive.”

Helpshift won our innovation showdown at our MobileBeat 2013 conference. And it has won lots of customers because it has created a solution that can scale upward as an app’s usage climbs into the millions or tens of millions of users. Helpshift is now installed on 2 billion devices around the world, and it serves more than 600 million active consumers monthly. Games are a big part of the business, Crawford said.

Abinash Tripathy, the founder and CEO of Helpshift, described it as customer relationship management (CRM) for mobile apps, and so it’s only right that Salesforce, a leader in CRM, would supply an executive to run Helpshift.

“What we share in common is a focus on the customer,” Crawford said.

Crawford replaces Tripathy, who will stay with the company and become chief strategy officer.

“I decided to become the chief strategy officer to be able to envision and explore future product and market direction for Helpshift, which I really enjoy,” said Tripathy in an email to GamesBeat.

Crawford has spent two decades in CRM, and she helped Salesforce focus on its cloud-based software-as-a-service solutions. She held multiple executive positions at Salesforce and was a member of the board at Demandware, an e-commerce vendor that was acquired by Salesforce. She also held executive positions at Siebel Systems.

“Linda Crawford is a visionary senior executive with a history of scaling companies,” said Ram Gupta, a Helpshift chairman, in a statement. “She has been in the CRM business since 1996, and her go-to- market expertise and track record of building multibillion dollar product and solution portfolios will serve Helpshift well.”

As for being a woman in Silicon Valley, Crawford said she considered retiring. But she wanted to become a CEO and set an example.

“I needed to come back because we have far too few women in the industry,” she said. “As a woman, I want to do my part. I feel as a CEO that I have a megaphone and can help other people achieve this.”

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