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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Elizabeth Cholawsky, General Manager of IT Support Product Line, Citrix (Part 2)

Posted on Tuesday, Sep 11th 2012

Sramana Mitra: The part of the market I was referring to as the broader support market includes products like Assistly, for instance, which is inside of, Zendesk, and a variety of startups and other companies that have come up with products in that space. Those are not what you compete with?

Elizabeth Chowalsky: Well, one of the areas that’s changing and growing – and we’re expanding in both of the product lines we’re discussing – is customer-initiated support. Five years ago, the way that customers would get in would be to push into a session with a support professional, hit a button that says “I want to talk to a live agent,” and then get in and go into a chat session. That interaction has become much richer with what you can do in terms of tracking what the user has done on the site and what other queries he’s launched in the self-serve database and bring that rich information into the chat session before there’s even a question typed with the agent. There’s some of that knowledge around the support interaction that a company like Assistly would provide. We’re squarely in that. Both product lines have the ability to interact with self-help and forums via a rich customer-initiated/chat interaction. With the GoToAssist the platform, in the spring  we showed a demonstration, and we’re piloting an integration with GetSatisfaction so that if somebody comes onto the GetSatisfaction site and doesn’t find an answer to her query by talking to other people or searching the knowledge bases, she can go into a live chat session.

The key thing is that you can bring that information into the support session with the rep so that you don’t have to start from scratch with the question. We all know that self-help is the cheapest way to get a support query answered, but it’s often the lowest in customer satisfaction. What we’re seeing is if we can combine self-help with the ability to go over to a live session, you can get both the efficiency of self-help and the customer satisfaction to the same levels you get when you have live support. It’s the best of both worlds.

SM: In any case your customer support reps are working off the same knowledge base as the self-help does. Often when you get somebody on a call, he’s cutting and pasting knowledge base material into the chat session, right?

EC: Absolutely. One of our reps got a call in, and he Googled the query that the customer had and was about to suggest what came up on the first search page. The customer said, “I already Googled that.” The rep’s ability, though, was that he was able to go through some of the other responses that came back from Google, put two and two together and give a more sophisticated answer and actually help.

SM: Yes. Because they do this day and night, they have a better idea about what’s where.

EC: Exactly. It was fun to see it firsthand because you could the guy’s face change and quickly recover when he realized that he had the secret sauce to solve the problem.

SM: Could we talk a bit more about how the space is evolving? We saw that Salesforce bought Assistly. You talked about some other competitors, but that still doesn’t cover all the competitors in the space. If you broaden it beyond IT support, what other competitors come into Citrix’s spectrum?

EC: As we get increasing demand for live support from the internal help desk, from the true IT user, the competitive space does get large very quickly. Service Now is an interesting competitor in the long term. We narrow the space by if it’s not cloud-based, it’s not in our target market. We’re a pure software-as-a-service play. But Service Now has done a great job with a key piece, which is tracking the issues that come in and then filling out a constellation of services around that, including a remote support capability, to do a great job for an IT pro.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Elizabeth Cholawsky, General Manager of IT Support Product Line, Citrix
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