Customer support can be a weak link of traditional CRM software, which often focuses more on sales than support. This presents a business opportunity for providers of IT help desk software. While such software typically focuses on better serving internal customers, its integration, workflow and collaboration capabilities also work well for external customer service.
Cloud collaboration company Atlassian plans to capitalize on this with an update of JIRA Service Desk, the help desk software it introduced in 2013. Since then, said Sid Suri, Atlassian's VP of Growth, it has become the company's fastest-growing product, with triple-digit growth every year. According to Suri, 20,000 IT teams use JIRA Service Desk.
Atlassian is taking a cue from its customers. A recent survey showed that more than 60 percent of them already use JIRA Service Desk to power help desks serving external customers, Suri said. In the last year, he said, the company has seen "a marked increase" in the demand for external customer support capabilities.
Based on feedback from its customers, the most-desired new customer service capability was the ability to group customers into organizations or companies, which Suri said allows users of JIRA Service Desk to view each other's information on tickets within the same company while ensuring privacy across company boundaries. "Queues, SLAs and reports can all be grouped by company, allowing a JIRA Service Desk customer to provide more personalized service to their customers," he said.
The software now also offers better support for branding and customizing emails, including localization support and fine-grained control over notifications so that companies can present branded customer-facing communications, Suri said. "Now [JIRA Service Desk] customers can customize the style, content and triggers for how they communicate over email with their customers."
Atlassian also tightened integration of the knowledge base into the software's agent interface, so customer service agents don't waste time switching between applications, Suri said. And the software provides new integrations with partners such as Bomgar, Hootsuite, join.me and Splunk. It also integrates with other Atlassian software, including the HipChat file sharing and chat tool and the Confluence collaboration tool.
Atlassian hopes the new features will help it compete against help desk software such as Zendesk and Salesforce's Desk.com.
It isn't the only company hoping to leverage its internal customer service capabilities to win customers also looking for solutions for external customer service. Earlier this year ServiceNow introduced a solution called ServiceNow Customer Service Management, that it said aims to create a closed-loop system from customer engagement to issue resolution.
The new capabilities will also be popular among internal customers, Suri said.
"The lines between an internal and external support offering are blurring for many of our customers. Internal employees are asking for the same type of consumer-like multi-channel support -- with channels including web, email and chat -- that external customers enjoy," he said. "Further, many smaller companies don't see a reason to invest in two support platforms, one for employees and one for customers when the functionality is shared to a large extent."
The value of the new features will be especially high for companies that track their development work using Atlassian's JIRA software development tool, Suri said.
"Companies that track their development work in JIRA Software get tremendous value with a support help desk that is plugged into their development tasks," he said. "What this means is that support agents can link customer bugs in JIRA Service Desk to the bug fix in JIRA Software and have full visibility into timelines and communication. Similarly, developers can see customer communications and ask questions as needed. Developers, agents and customers can work closely across one platform."
The new features are now available in the JIRA Service Desk Cloud software and will become available to on-premise software customers by the end of this year, Suri said. The price of JIRA Service Desk will not increase.
Ann All is the editor of Enterprise Apps Today and eSecurity Planet. She has covered business and technology for more than 15 years, writing about everything from business intelligence to virtualization.