The founder of Favstar, a tool that surfaces popular Twitter favourites, has launched a new startup with a Twitter focus — bringing a customer support tool called Respondly out of private beta today. Its tagline best sums up what this b2b startup is aiming for: ‘Team inbox for email & Twitter’.
The basic concept, say co-founders Tim Haines and Phil Cockfield, is to strip back the problem of managing customer support across multiple touchpoints — by focusing on making it easy for teams to respond to (and keep on top of) incoming emails and tweets.
The pair previously worked together on a Favstar redesign in 2012 but have known each other for a decade. The idea for a unified system for managing support-related comms came to them when they were trying to manage Favstar user enquiries.
“As Favstar user numbers grew, so did the amount of user enquiries, and those enquiries naturally came in via Twitter. We were getting crushed by the daily onslaught of these support tweets,” they note.
Early design and prototyping on Respondly started in January last year, with those prototypes put into active use fielding enquiries from Favstar’s 3 million+ monthly users.
The pair have also beta-tested the product with a small group of third-party beta testers — fewer than 200 organizations in all, says Haines — including the likes of Tweetbot, Pocket and Stripe. So really it’s been cherry-picking those startups that are going to immediately grok its pared back, consumerised approach to the support problem.
“The strategy for Respondly has been to compete through nuanced, minimalist design that provides a simple yet more powerful experience for users,” says Haines when asked how Respondly sets itself apart from existing customer support/social media comms management tools.