The case is about AnswerDash, a company founded by Dr. Jacob Wobbrock and Dr. Andrew J. Ko in September 2012. It provided a solution to self-service issues, particularly, vocabulary problems, where different users used different words. The company is required to reduce the cost of acquisition of new clients while, at the same time, it must maintain sales. Since they were going to run out of contacts, they needed a market strategy to go ahead.
Elie Ofek and Jeffrey D. Shulman
Harvard Business Review (516106-PDF-ENG)
June 13, 2016
Case questions answered:
- Which option should AnswerDash select? Choosing the Right Path:
Option 1: Lower Acquisition Costs: Reduce the number of stakeholders involved in the decision
Option 2: Move Upstream: Focus on selling to enterprises
Option 3: Going Vertical: Targeting specific customer types or industries
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AnswerDash Case Answers
Introduction – AnswerDash Case Study
The case is about AnswerDash, a company founded by Dr. Jacob Wobbrock and Dr. Andrew J. Ko in September 2012. It provided a solution to self-service issues, particularly, vocabulary problems, where different users used different words.
- Users faced the issue of time taken to search and find the answers to their queries at times getting confused midway.
- The company’s cost was increasing due to increased customer support.
- AnswerDash solved both problems by categorizing the FAQs based on label or element.
- Since its inception, the company was dependent on Warm Calls, but now this possessed a major problem.
- The founders of the company have to decide the way forward since they risked their academic careers for the company.
- Support solutions were designed to help online users find answers to their questions and can be classified into two categories:
❖ Self-service (Users tried to find the solution within the interface)
❖ Assisted service (Users connected with the company’s representative)
- Two major players in the industry included Salesforce’s Desk.com and Zendesk.
❖ ZenDesk: Launched in 2017, went public in May 2014, has 51,000 customers, and charges between $5 to $99 per customer per support agent.
❖ Desk.com: Launched by Salerforce.com Inc in January 2012, charged between $30 to $135 per support agent. It had the support of Salesforce’s Customer Support Software, which was provided with higher-level packages.
- A shift towards self-service option over to speaking to agents with web self-service use increased from 67% to 76% from 2012 to 2014
- AnswerDash started as a thesis project by the founders and Parmit Chilana. They hypothesized if they could directly embed the answers into the web experience right where the questions arise, users could get answers quickly and move forward successfully.
- They solved the Vocabulary Problem by replacing the questions typed by the users with directly going to questions by clicking on the objects within the interface where they have a question.
- After initial success as an academic project and consultation with Ken Myer entrepreneur-in-residence, to evaluate the viability of the commercialization of the software.
- Self-Service Product: Created a layer atop of content layer which contains questions.
○ The company can choose to publish relevant questions from top universities.
○ Due to being built on AWS, it did not delay the load time.
○ Customers can choose the location of the AnswerDash icon.
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