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Helpstream Helps Those Who Help Themselves

Self-service customer support sounds like an oxymoron, but Helpstream insists that it doesn't have to be. The company, which recently secured $8.6 million in series B venture funding, has developed help desk and customer support software that brings together communities of users to assist each other.
Self-service customer support sounds like an oxymoron, but Helpstream insists that it doesn't have to be. The company, which recently secured $8.6 million in series B venture funding, has developed help desk and customer support software that brings together communities of users to assist each other.Founded as Pathworks Software, the company changed its name to Helpstream earlier this year. The new funding round was led by Mohr Davidow Ventures with participation by seed investor Foundation Capital and by Roger Sippl, the founder and former CEO of Informix and a co-founder of Vantive.

Helpstream introduced its software, also called Helpstream, at the Demo 08 conference in January. It's essentially an online customer support platform with functionality that goes beyond basic problem solving and FAQs. A community collaboration module, for example, lets people subscribe to a topic category, then get notified when a question on that topic gets posted. Customers with expertise in a given area can weigh in with their own answers, and questioners can designate what they judge to be the best answers to their questions. Such user-generated answers can be reviewed by a company's in-house experts and then get routed to a knowledge base.

There also are knowledge management and case management modules. Helpstream uses the software as a service model, and a standard version of Helpstream is available at no cost. The company makes its money by charging for support and service options, such as ad removal and enhanced security.

I recently talked to Helpstream executive VP Richard Nieset about the company's attempt to improve what for many customers can be a frustrating experience, the old self-service runaround. You can see the interview below.