Customer Success Story: Why cloud-based accounting software "freee" use co-browsing

We interviewed members of freee K.K. about the details of how to utilize Surfly and the reasons for having adopted it.

*The photo above shows members of freee K.K.: Mr. Teppei Tosa, CIO/CISO (center),
Mr. Seiji Miyazaki, Small Business Platform Sales Manager (second right),
Mr. Kiminori Hirayama (second left), and Mr. Ryuusei Nakamura (left).
*Right in the photo: Norikazu Sawa from our Business Development Group

“We selected Surfly as a Web Co-browsing tool indispensable for our dozens of online business meetings every day.”

How is Surfly being used?


—  First, please tell us how you are using Surfly now?

We are using it as a tool for communicating with our customers in our inside sales (sales by inhouse staffs) of our main service, the cloud-based accounting software, freee.
It is a customer who applied for registration for the software’s free version that our inside sales person approaches. The sales person first contacts the customer by phone to inquire of him or her about the reasons for getting interested in the free version and his or her business and facing problems. Based on these things, our inside sales person proposes online demonstration (taking approximately 1 hour) to the customer, by which the customer can realize how this software can serve for himself or herself. If the customer agrees with this proposition, the date for the demonstration is scheduled.
On the scheduled date and time for the demonstration, the sales person calls the customer to share the Web screen using Surfly. All the sales person needs to do to share the Web screen with the customer is only to email the session’s URL to him or her. By sharing the Web screen, the customer can be instructed from a remote location by the sales person’s simultaneous one-by-one explanation using the customer’s own PC about how the software runs.
It is to provide no explanation about the functions that we especially take care in the demonstration.
Our customers’ interests are not in software’s functions but in how their businesses change by using it. If we are not careful about that, the multifunctionality of the software may work negatively and our explanation may be unilateral and boring.
So, we do not fix anything beforehand regarding the topics and order of our explanation, and these things change depending on customers’ businesses and facing problems. We think that understanding about our customers through asking their opinions in advance is as important as the demonstration itself.
We are doing inside sales, but what we are doing is exactly same with field sales for companies. The only difference is that the number of business talks a single sales person can perform per day is much larger because we do not need any transportation time.
Currently in our company, just several staffs are in charge of such the dozens of business talks with demonstrations every day.

Is a Web Co-browsing tool necessary for inside sales?


— What do you think about the necessity of Web screen sharing tools such as Surfly for inside sales?
Freee 2

I think it is possible for us to talk with a customer, without a Web screen sharing tool, in the form of such as by phone only or by phone with asking the customer to see documents sent to him or her beforehand or specific Web pages. However, the customer on the other end of the phone may turn his or her attention to other things or may open a Web page different from that specified by us.
When we did not use any Web screen sharing tool, we talked with customers checking if just a bit of perception gap was there or not, so it always took a long time for us to explain something. And consequently, such the explanation may have been stressful for customers. So, we adopted a Web screen sharing tool at the early stage of organizing the inside sales team.
In addition, when it comes to inside sales for cloud-based service providers such as our company, it will become an indispensable tool, I think.
I think lots of cloud-based services in the world are not just substitutions of existing software and services but those with new features and values added. Our accounting software with functions such as automatic journalization was also designed under a concept different largely from that of conventional accounting software.
Thus, customers may not notice its inherent value by only using the free version. In many cases, customers who have used conventional accounting software for a long time rather than those who have no experience of using it get bewildered, thinking like “there is no menu that should naturally be there.”
In such the case, we need to prepare demonstration environment with proper data, share a Web screen with them, and give them an explanation appropriate to their problems and experience. This is impossible to do using the free version with no data, and we would use endless time to finish business talks unless we clear this hurdle.

The reason for selecting Surfly


— Please tell us why you adopted Surfly.

Accounting software has a long history, and there are various customers from a newly started young sole proprietor to an experienced elderly accountant. IT literacy varies widely among different individual customers.
As for the tool we used previously, sometimes we needed to ask customers to download a dedicated application and so they turned down our offer of demonstration in many cases. On that point, we only need the Internet browser for Surfly and so the time and effort to share Web screens was significantly decreased.

High Security

What we should absolutely avoid in the screen sharing is to show customers something we should not let them see. Companies with shorter histories would lose the trust from their customers just by smallest things.
A good point about Surfly is that any Web pages except for the target pages are never shared, unless we do it purposely. Our desktop PC’s screen is never shown to customers, and regarding the browser, only the specific target pages are shared with them and our side’s bookmarks and other opened pages are not shown to the other side.
We gave the highest importance to the security aspect when we looked for other tools to switch to a new one, and Surfly was better in that aspect than any other tools, we thought.

Full functions necessary for inside sales

Surfly does not only have the Web screen sharing function but has full of functions such as text chat and document sharing, so we judged it was the best for our inside sales. We frequently use the text chat. When we need to show a customer a link to a URL we want him or her to see and when we explain about the knowledge of accounting and some points of accounting operation that are not fully understandable by oral explanation only, we provide our explanation inputting text like a school teacher writing keywords on a black board.

Cost Performance

Another reason for selecting Surfly was its great cost performance.
Surfly has all functions necessary for our business as mentioned above, and it was Surfly only that was able to be adopted at a similar cost with the transportation cost we could reduce.
Among the candidate tools, there were more expensive tools with more functions than Surfly.
However, we had sufficient possibility of strengthening the inside sales team in future and having more Web screen sharing tool users, and so we gave priority to the cost performance, rather than the function abundance.

Shift from “how we provide information” to “how we understand each other”

— In addition, please tell us about findings you obtained by actually using Surfly, if any.

When we operate a shared Web screen from our side, the cursor on the customer’s PC screen is shown also on our PC. We found its function was unexpectedly good. It’s because we can have the sense of feeling customers by the function. We can understand the customer’s reaction by the cursor’s movement. We can follow the movement to know which part of the Web screen the customer is paying attention now, and if the cursor moves differently from the explanation from our side, we can add some words additionally. And, Surfly has a function to switch the operating authority to the customer’s side. We have had just a few chances to test the function, but we found that we could know well the customer’s degree of understanding by letting him or her operate it by himself or herself. We once had an experience of revising our explanation by reflecting a customer’s own operation, thinking like “By explaining like this, the customer understands like that.” We think that taking care of such the customers’ unexpected minor operations and changes in their responses is directly linked to their trust and satisfactory, because we have remote online dialogues. We would like to utilize Surfly as a tool to pursue how we and our customers understand each other, not only how we provide information to them. From that point of view, we think Surfly may work effectively for not only our inside sales but our online support for customers who have already installed our software. We are moving ahead on this consideration now.

About freee K.K.

Established in 2012 aiming to realize society where everyone can act creatively and where every small business can operate its own business powerfully in a cool way. The number of business offices that had adopted its cloud-based accounting software, freee released in 2013 became more than one million (as of February 2018). It keeps spreading as the cloud-based accounting software with No.1 domestic share.FreeImage