Freshworks: Accessible Tools Delight the Customer and Fuel Business
Accessibility as part of inclusive, customer-focused design
Freshworks is a business automation software company that helps organizations deliver exceptional experiences to customers and end-users. Freshworks’ suite of tools includes software for internal and external customer support, helpdesk, IT requests, chat, and CRM. Freshworks aims to design and deliver software tools that are easy and enjoyable to use. With tens of thousands of customers across the world, Freshworks offers popular solutions for many different types of organizations.
“Every user deserves a great experience,” says Senthilnathan Shanmugam, Senior Manager of Design at FreshService, Freshworks’ IT request tool. As an extension of their inclusive approach to technology, Freshworks sought to make their products accessibility-compliant. To achieve this, Freshworks looked to Deque to help educate their team and set them on the right path towards future sustainability.
We truly believe that we should give this world-class experience to everybody, not just a specific set of customers. By becoming accessibility compliant, we believe that it opens a lot of room for us to grow as a company, grow our products, and make the end user’s life easier.”
— Senthilnathan Shanmugam Senior Manager of Design at Freshservice, Freshworks
Building an accessible user experience starting with design
Aiming to design the Freshservice product to be compliant with WCAG 2.1 AA standards, Senthilnathan and his team had a Design Component Accessibility Annotation (DCAA)– often referred to as a “Design Audit” or “Design Review”– performed by Deque. This process involved Freshworks submitting their design wireframes to Deque, followed by Deque returning them with annotations where they could improve upon the accessibility.
Ultimately, the DCAA helped put the Freshworks team on the path towards self-sustainability. With Deque as a partner, Freshworks refined its processes on how to continue practicing accessibility in the future. “Now we’re a well-oiled engine,” says Senthilnathan.
The Freshservice Design team at Freshworks
The Freshworks team attends Instructor-Led Training at Deque India HQ.
Building the foundation for future accessibility practice through Instructor-led Training
The Freshworks Freshservice team engaged in multiple Instructor-led Training sessions held by Deque. The training included Web Accessibility Bootcamp, Accessibility Fundamentals, UX/UI Design, and Quality Assurance. Combined, the training sessions spanned over 40 hours of essential, accessibility-rich content.
The workshops provided Senthilnathan and his team with the foundation of accessibility. Now, with a strong baseline from which they could build their practice, the Freshworks’ learners became thought leaders and could share their knowledge with the greater Freshworks team.
Accessible Products Make Customers and the Business Happy
When Freshworks launched its newly-accessible requester and agent portal within the Freshservice product, they received great feedback from their customers. “Our customers are extremely happy. We even won a couple of deals just because we had an accessibility-compliant product,” says Senthilnathan.
In fact, the accessible Freshservice product gave the Freshworks sales team new, valuable talking points when interfacing with prospects. “By practicing accessibility, it’s opened up a lot of opportunities,” says Senthilnathan. “We have a competitive advantage now that we can say that both our requester and agent portal inside our FreshService product is accessible. Our sales reps love that story and it has helped us to bring in a lot more business for our product.”
“Our customers are extremely happy. We even won a couple of deals just because we had an accessibility-compliant product.” – Senthilnathan Shanmugam
Before and after accessibility improvements were made to the Freshservice tool.
The Future of Freshworks Accessibility
Going forward, accessibility will be a part of Freshworks culture by incorporating accessibility in the design systems and eventually building out an accessible component library for the entire Freshworks product teams to utilize. “Just like how we are doing other types of testing, we are going to be testing for accessibility with everything we do in the future,” says Senthilnathan. “It’s our job to make this an ongoing practice, so there is no looking back from here.”
To Senthilnathan, however, the real success goes further than the business impact– it’s about making inclusive tools for real people. “Accessibility is the inclusive thing, the human thing to do,” he remarks. “We’re not just designing products for businesses and customers. At the end of the day, we are designing for humans. And if you truly care about your customers and want them to be successful, eventually you will be successful, too.”