Front goes beyond the unified inbox with a Zendesk-style knowledge base

Customer operations platform Front is better known for its omnichannel inbox that lets you aggregate all customer conversations in a single view — emails, chat conversations, SMS, social media messages. Today, the company unveiled a handful of new features that turns Front into a more complete customer support platform.

By bringing all these features under the same roof, Front can use artificial intelligence to generate smarter automatic responses so that teams can focus on what’s important.

“[Customer service teams] face what I think of as a carrot-and-stick situation. The stick is the pressure from the market to do more with a fixed budget, or even more with less. But the carrot is all the technological advances around AI that promise to make your team more productive than ever,” Front co-founder and CEO Mathilde Collin said at the company’s virtual event called Frontlines.

Instead of saying that AI will destroy jobs and customer support jobs will disappear, she says that AI is going to bring productivity improvements that will free up time to focus on more complex situations.

“Customer service used to be a job of repetitive questions and answer, what I call transactional conversations — one question, one answer. With AI, it will become table stakes to get instant answers to these questions. And your team will only be working on the most complex cases,” Collin said.

According to her, customer service teams currently spend 90% of their time completing transactional tasks. Thanks to AI, this could become the opposite with customer service teams spending 90% of their time on complex tasks.

“When you think about legacy platforms like Zendesk or Freshdesk, they were designed for high-volume transactional service where collaboration just isn’t as important to answer tickets. But that simply won’t be good enough. You’ll need tools that bring all your customer-facing teams under one roof,” she added.

An integrated knowledge base

Front is launching an integrated knowledge base in Front. Customers can browse and search for information just like in any customer support knowledge base. But that’s not the reason Front is adding a knowledge base.

First, there is value in going wide when you’re an enterprise SaaS company right now as it means that your customers can replace more specialized products — especially in a year when big companies are reviewing SaaS budgets to find some contracts that they could stop.

“With the knowledge base in Front, you don’t need to manage another vendor, and it’s ready to go as soon as you hit publish,” Front Head of Product Maya Eichler said at the company’s virtual event.

Second, customers that decide to move their knowledge base to Front will be able to leverage this data to improve customer support. “With your knowledge base and chatbots in Front, we can layer AI on top to provide AI answers that resolve live chat inquiries without a team member ever needing to be involved,” Eichler said.

Right now, Front can automatically send links to relevant knowledge base pages. Of course, this is just the first step as Front expects to generate answers based on knowledge base articles using AI. It is currently available in limited beta and should be available to everyone in a few months.

Front also announced some other new features, such as native WhatsApp integration, an improved chatbot workflow editor, automatic tagging based on the content of conversations, new analytics data, the ability to get info on orders, and reservations or shipments directly in Front. Front Head of Design Maggie Lamas also teased a new time-off planner out with support for local holidays. Overall, the company now has 8,000 customers.

Image Credits: Front