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Zendesk - Blog

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Let’s get serious about improving the customer experience

A smooth customer experience calls for a tailored and proactive customer service, the kind that anticipates the issues a customer may have. Feeling like their hand is being held through a situation inspires both comfort and confidence in customer service. Unfortunately it’s common for customers to feel as though they’re helping the agent solve an issue or, even worse, feel like they’re guiding multiple agents towards a solution. It’s not surprising that 89% of customers get frustrated when they have to repeat information to multiple service representatives.

Companies know how imperative it is to better understand how their customers interact with their brand so they can provide a better customer experience. The Gartner report “Customer Experience Innovation 2017” found that many companies are looking to do just that. 41% of those they surveyed said they plan to increase their investment in customer analytics to better understand their audience.

But how to successfully do so? It can’t be done by a single department, it takes buy-in and a cross-functional effort amongst various teams. The different metrics and technologies that measure Customer Experience can be linked to financial indicators (like revenue). To prove the ROI of new data-driven strategies require the sort of stability that only an entire organization can support.

What’s the future of Customer Experience?

It’s an almost daily occurrence now to hear of advancements in AI and how it can solve many of the problems that companies face. According to Gartner, 55% of organization will be implementing machine learning (ML) in some way in the next 3 years. Machine learning has the capability to automate the way that simple tasks and easy questions are dealt with. For service agents, this means their workflow will be more streamlined and they’ll have more time to spend on complex tasks. For the customer, it means faster and smarter self-service support.

Gartner’s report on “Customer Experience Innovation 2017” gives insight into the new analytic processes and technologies that will drive ROI in the near future. The strategy of better understanding customers and implementing the right measurements via AI are what will be key for improved Customer Experience.

For a limited time, you can download Gartner’s “Customer Experience Innovation 2017 - AI Now on the CX Map”.


Publish Date: May 26, 2017 5:00 AM

How to increase conversions with chat

Let’s say your e-commerce website sells unicycle repair kits. You sell about 600 kits each month, and you get about 25,000 visitors to your website—that’s about a 2.4 percent conversion rate. Even though you may provide live chat to connect with customers in real time, your online business still has to compete with local unicycle repairmen, and you’re left wondering how you can increase your repair kit sales.

While adding a live chat channel can increase website conversion rates by 29 percent, you can further optimize your chat channel and increase conversion rates with chat conversion tracking. Conversion tracking enables you to see how many of your 600 conversions were influenced by a chat and even which agent was involved. With the power of chat analytics, you can better meet your customer needs and, as a result, increase sales.

Define and track goals
Chat conversion tracking helps you track which chats influenced a customer to complete a business goal, whether it’s a sales conversion, product signup, or feedback form. For example, say you want to know if your customers have purchased a unicycle repair kit or registered for your “Uniquecycle” newsletter, or both.

With chat conversion tracking, you can set the page where your customer completes their purchase, “”, as a goal. Whenever a customer lands on this URL it counts as a successful conversion. Other goals you can set and monitor include how many customers sign up to learn more about your repair kits and which customers start and finish a survey on your website. By creating business URL goals, you can identify and track which web pages, chats, and agents create conversion opportunities and which areas need improvement.

Ramp up operations
Once you have the right information, it becomes easier to optimize your website conversion funnel, reward high-performing agents, and ultimately grow sales and leads.

Here are some examples of how you can increase conversions using Zendesk Chat:

  • Proactively engage customers
    If a customer seems stuck on a particular web page, you can proactively reach out via Chat to help. Reaching out to customers first can help mitigate cart abandonment while also enabling your support team to offer a personalized customer service experience—all of which can help improve conversion rates. You can create triggers in Chat that proactively engage your customers and help them down the buying funnel.
  • Optimize website flows
    Chat conversion tracking can help you measure which pages perform better and what customers have the most questions about. When you see a weak conversion area, you can improve your website to create a smoother customer experience. For example, say customers spend a lot of time on one particular page during checkout. By reaching out via live chat, you can see what the hesitation is, whether it’s product-based or the customer is having trouble navigating your website.
  • Improve agent training
    With chat conversion tracking, you can monitor which agents perform the best and have the highest conversions, and as a result, you can use these agents as a model to train the rest of your team. That way you can be sure you’re delivering the best support experience—as good, if not better, as any local unicycle repairman.

According to a recent study on Zendesk by Forrester, “Organizations that used chat during the sales process found that customers were more willing to engage and that conversion rates increased.” Spartan Race, a Zendesk customer, reported that live chat helped increase their conversion rates by 27 percent, adding that “customers prefer to use chat to get an immediate response to simple questions.” Adding a live chat channel can help increase sales, but tracking your live chat conversion rates can help you improve and grow your business on a much larger scale.

To learn more about how implementing live chat with Zendesk products can empower your customer service team and save you money, download the full Forrester report: The Total Economic Impact of Zendesk

Ready to measure your business goals? Get started with conversion tracking here.


Publish Date: May 26, 2017 5:00 AM

You don’t always need call center scripts

Are your customer interactions scripted? For many customer service organizations, call center scripts are essential. They help to ensure consistency in detail and messaging, reduce errors, fill in gaps in training and the lack of in-depth product knowledge, and help new reps build confidence. Scripts also help to deal with the high employee turnover rate that plagues some customer service organizations–there isn’t always time for in-depth training. Scripts are training wheels, guides to proper customer interaction, and a valuable internal knowledge base.

But what about the customer experience? With the focus on taking a people-first approach to customer service and building better customer relationships, do call center scripts really have a place? Reciting scripts and sticking to a predefined path through the customer experience often comes off as rigid and frustrating, and using them may just prevent reps developing any rapport with or empathy for the customer.

It’s also almost impossible to for even the best call center script example to sound natural. Customers pick up on that immediately and any illusion of having an authentic conversation is shattered.

Sometimes a lack of authenticity or spontaneity might not matter, and a scripted support experience might be okay. I’ll tolerate some robotic script reading if I think that’s the path of least resistance to getting my support issue solved. I want fast service and if a script helps guide some newbie support rep to a quicker resolution then I’m good. The problem is, as I think about all the support calls I’ve had to make in the last year, is that life and support is complex and rarely sticks to the script.

When this happens in a script-locked customer service organization, I’m inevitably put on hold while what-if scripts are searched for, supervisors are contacted, transfers are made, and more scripts are read to me in the hope that one of them will hit the mark. This approach rarely works and it certainly doesn’t save me any time or effort.

This experience isn’t just frustrating for customers. Customer service reps are less engaged in their work when scripts stand in for training and when they don’t have the flexibility they need to interact with customers and create the personalized support experience that’s now expected. Maybe that explains the turnover? Reps, like everyone else, want meaningful and fulfilling work. The good ones want to make a difference.

Despite creating a support experience that often doesn’t serve customers or reps well, many companies find scripts useful and will continue using them. Sometimes they get the job done. However, there are other ways to accomplish all those benefits that are cited as reasons to take a scripted approach to customer service. Instead, empower your reps with the tools and skills they need to engage with customers and think on their feet.

Here are some suggestions for going off script:

  • Keep the ones you’ve got, but only use them for training purposes. Treat them as useful — but optional — guidelines.
  • Repurpose the information that scripts contain by spinning them off into macros (step by step instructions that you can pull into a customer conversation when needed) and by creating a customer-facing knowledge base that contains FAQs and other self-service content.
  • Integrate your public knowledge base into your help desk so that your reps have easy access to it. Build an internal knowledge base alongside it.
  • Use the IVR in your call center solution to provide recordings that your customers can use to solve common problems on their own.
  • Use your helpdesk to give your reps immediate access to customer data: who they are, what products they’re using, any previous call history, and any other data that provides context for reps to understand the customer’s situation (check out the Zendesk Pathfinder app) so that they don’t have to bog down the conversation gathering data that’s already available.
  • Expand your support channels to include live chat and messaging, both of which are now prefered by customers who are used to communicating in quick and informal snippets of text. If you’re really stuck on using scripts, this may be a way to mask that you’re using them — if done the right way.

And, perhaps most importantly:

  • Invest the time to properly train your reps. You can find some useful advice in How to onboard and train new customer service reps.
  • Help your reps master phone-based customer interactions with some soft skills training. Take a look at How to interact with customers on the phone and How to interact with customers on live chat.
  • Create a culture within your company that values the role that customer service plays in building customer relationships and ensuring the health of your business.

Focusing on your rep’s experience, as well your customers’, builds a strong foundation — a people-first support experience — that will reduce the churn of both. Your reps are probably the most important piece of the relationship building puzzle because they’re often the only humans your customers will speak to. They’re worth the investment.

Want to provide world class customer service? Learn how by reading how to manage your customer service team

Anton de Young is a published writer and photographer. As a long-time Zendesk employee, he built the Zendesk customer education and training teams, and then as a marketing director launched the Zendesk customer service leadership program and event series, which he then helped to expand into the Relate website and event series. Now a freelancer, Anton is busy exploring the world from his new home in Lisbon, Portugal. Find him on Twitter: @antondeyoung.


Publish Date: May 25, 2017 5:00 AM

Setup your agents and end-users for success with Chat

It’s no secret that Chat as a channel has become increasingly important to customers seeking support. You’ve made the important step of deciding to implement a new Chat channel, but now what? There are many things to take into consideration, from where you place the Chat panel to how you’ll staff your Chat agents. Don’t worry! I’ll show you an implementation path you can follow to make this transition a pleasant one.

Today, we’re leading this discussion in our Zendesk Support Forums. Join our customer success consultants to learn more about getting started with Chat, including:

Part 1, 8 am Pacific time: Testing the waters
“We want to offer it, but we don’t know where to begin,” is an all too common response I hear when speaking with customers about their chat support strategy. Rolling out a new channel, especially one that has an average first reply time of 23 seconds, can be daunting. In this first section, I’ll explain a few strategies you can adopt to make this implementation as seamless and worry-free as possible.

Part 2, 11 am Pacific time: Implementation and workflow
Once your team has determined where and to whom you’ll be offering live chat support, it’s time to implement. To some, this exercise may seem even more daunting than determining where to provide the channel in the first place. So let’s cover the three most critical stages of implementation: determining staffing requirements, training agents, and building a chat workflow.

Part 3, 2 pm Pacific time: Measuring success
Although most of the heavy lifting is now complete, quite possibly the most critical piece is just underway-measuring the effectiveness of this newly adopted support channel. In this section, I’ll be diving into tools and techniques you can use to dig into your Chat metrics.

How to participate:
No matter when the information drops, join in anytime throughout the day to read through the best practices and to leave a comment, ask a question, or share your own best practices and workflow-building strategies. I’ll be available to answer your questions and discuss your strategy.

Sneak preview:
When customers are just getting started with chat support, the first piece of advice I give them is to start small. Whether it’s for retailers on their checkout page, internal help desk teams on their employee portal, or business-to-business organizations on their product plan comparison page, this technique can be applied to most every use case.

And if you notice the examples I just used, they all have something in common. Can you spot it? Yes, that’s right! All three suggestions involve a business-critical point of the customer journey that each of these teams are supporting. By implementing this same idea, you’ll provide your users with not only a support experience proven to be higher in satisfaction than any other channel, but also when and where your customers need it most.

Another technique that can be used when first rolling out the chat channel is to limit the user base who can access it. Similar to restricting this support experience by location, doing so by user will limit the number of requests being sent, thus decreasing the burden of not having enough staff to handle said volume. Check out our Help Center article, that explains how to embed the Zendesk chat widget in your own website experience.


Publish Date: May 25, 2017 5:00 AM

How customer-centric is your business?

Word travels fast, and with companies like Uber and United under fire for not putting their customers first, it’s increasingly apparent how much consumers value a customer-centric company. Consumers are quick to boycott if they believe their needs aren’t a priority.

Building a good reputation is important for any company to succeed, but in order to maintain that reputation, a company has to be customer-centric at its core—not as an afterthought. And when companies succeed at putting customers first, customers are more likely to advocate for and stay with a company longer.

Beyond that, a customer-centric company’s good reputation is likely to bring in new shoppers because consumers are more willing to purchase from a company they believe will treat them well and personalize their experiences. According to Forrester, “77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience.”

But what does it mean to be customer-centric? A customer focus strategy is important, but customer centricity is more than that. A customer-centric company is one that enables a good customer experience before, during, and long after a sale. It’s one that puts the customer first, no matter what, and it’s a brand that is trustworthy, empathetic, and respectful.

Understanding the definition of a customer-centric company is one thing. Being able to apply it and gauge the customer centricity of your company is another. Here are three questions to ask yourself to see just how customer-centric your company is:

1. How well do you know your customers?
Are your customers happy? Understanding your customers can take time, but they are a trove of valuable information—information that can be used to improve your business as well as customer satisfaction (CSAT). In order to be a customer-centric company, it’s important to give your customers a space to voice their thoughts and opinion. It’s even more important to listen to what your customers want or need and to support those needs. Online communities and surveys are two ways to get to know your customers. Online communities allow your customers to not only engage with one another but also with your company. A community is a chance to show your customers you care and to build your brand. You can get to know your customers through surveys because they are an easy way to check on your company’s CSAT and to better understand your customers’ pain points.

2. How well do you support your customers’ needs?
Once you know your customers, you can better serve them and, as a result, improve your overall business. One way to better support your customers’ needs is proactive customer engagement; reaching out first fosters an opportunity to create meaningful customer relationships. It’s a chance to find out what matters to your customers, and what you can do to better deliver on their top concerns or requests. Mobile chat notifications enable businesses to reach out first with personalized messages to customers on mobile devices. It’s a way to greet customers, offer help before they ask, and offer more information they might not know they even need.

3. Do you empower your teams to support your customers?
Understanding and supporting your customers is key to being a customer-centric company, yet it’s equally as important to empower your internal support teams. The best way to empower your team to better support customers is to equip your support agents with the right knowledge. Just as customers are great sources of insight for company improvement, so are support agents. Aside from knowing how to lead your support team, the right tools can enable agents to provide competent and quick assistance. Zendesk Guide enables support teams to tap into their collective knowledge and to even turn solved tickets into accessible content.

Being a customer-centric company is no small task, but it’s worth the time and effort spent to get there. Getting to know your customers enables your company to better support their needs and improve your company’s brand and reputation—and a happy customer means a happy bottom line.


Publish Date: May 23, 2017 5:00 AM

Creating a customer service definition

Attempting to arrive at a customer service definition that everyone in your company would agree with might seem a fool’s errand, but taking a step back to define its key elements can be a useful exercise—one that can help you focus on what really matters to your customers and to your businesses. Let’s deconstruct what we mean when we say customer service.

1. Service through the sales life cycle
At its most basic level, customer service means providing support to customers throughout the purchase life cycle: before, during, and after. That entails delivering the right service experience—either self-service or agent-assisted—to the right user at the right time within a company’s budget and customer experience goals.

Those customer experience goals serve a crucial business need: attracting and retaining customers in a highly competitive marketplace. Customers will purchase more goods and services after a good customer service experience, and even more will stop buying after a negative experience. Those experiences have a long-lasting impact: nearly a quarter of customers continue to seek out a vendor two or more years after a positive experience. In other words, customers have long memories. Work with company leaders to ensure all employees, not just support reps, treat your customers well. Otherwise, be prepared to see them go to your competition.

2. Building relationships with customers
Customer service is not just about providing support throughout the purchase life cycle—it’s also about looking out for customers’ best interests and being empathetic to their emotional states. Building relationships with your customers isn’t just about providing support. It’s about valuing your customers’ time and being kind.

Doing so not only helps your company retain those customers (see a trend here?), it helps drive promote your brand as one that actually cares about it’s customers, helping you attract new customers through online reviews and word of mouth.

3. Adding value to the product or service
Finally, customer service is the process of adding value to your product or service. Your product could be the best thing since sliced bread, but it won’t be complete unless you offer service to your customers. And by focusing on serving your customers’ needs, you unlock critical analytics (via CRM tools, surveys, and so on) that you can use to drive business decisions that will ensure that your customers get the products and services that they want down the road.

But it goes far beyond data mining. You can add value by offering white papers and other resources, and by providing information that helps your customers use products more effectively or run their businesses better, those patrons will be more likely to view you as a trusted partner.

Learn more about defining your customer support, read Forrester’s report, 2017 Customer Service Trends: Operations Become Smarter and More Strategic


Publish Date: May 22, 2017 5:00 AM

Ticket deflection: the currency of self-service

Forrester Research predicts that self-service will be the #1 customer service trend in 2017 because of “customers’ rapidly growing preference for DIY forms of customer service”. Why is this becoming their favorite form of customer service? Because it’s often the fastest and lowest effort way to resolve their problems—there’s no need to contact an agent and everywhere 24/7 access. That everywhere anytime access is probably the biggest factor—we’re now a mobile, multi-channel, and multi-screen world. This is great news for companies, because increasing self-service leads to improved ticket deflection, or customers choosing to help themselves rather than reach out for support.

You may have already made a large investment in creating knowledge base content that is easily available to your customers on the web and through mobile devices. While you do your best to lead customers to self-help resources, you still often need your customers to make the effort to discover and use those resources.You can be doing better, and now you can with new tech and new tools that are pushing self-service into that #1 slot, vastly improving your ticket deflection ratio.

Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, you can now automate many of your high-frequency, low-touch customer interactions and bypass the need (and the effort required) for customers to discover and use that content. This frees up agents to assist customers when they need help with more complex support issues. Self-service satisfies customers and it’s also a big cost saver.

The problem with self-service, which perhaps explains why some companies have been slow to adopt it, is that it’s sort of an indirect form of customer service. It’s been difficult to actually prove that having a Help Center loaded with great self-service content is preventing your customers from requesting support, generating tickets, and needing to speak with agents. We know it’s happening, we’ve got some metrics to indicate its effectiveness, but it’s been difficult to produce the data to show its direct effect on the ticket queue and on customer satisfaction. That’s now changing.

Succeeding, but unconvincingly
For me, self-service support has always been the most important customer service trend. I was hired at Zendesk in early 2011 to create the knowledge base and help build the self-service channel for Zendesk’s customers. Over the course of several years, my team of writers and I cranked out hundreds of articles and guides and made steady progress toward our first big self-imposed success milestone: one million views per month.

We successfully hit our target about 2 years after we launched. When we did, we got a congrats from our CEO and a coffee mug imprinted with the hashtag #OMGMYFORUMWASVIEWEDLIKE1000000TIMES from the VP of our org. Total monthly views certainly wasn’t the only performance metric we tracked, but it was the big one and it was gratifying when we made it. But was it really enough to prove the effectiveness of the self-service channel? Not for me and probably not for you either.

How we’ve been measuring self-service
The self-service metrics we track give us better insight into the content we need to create, the quality of our content, and our readers’ engagement with it—and they are invaluable from that perspective. However, they don’t really help us show the direct correlation between the use of the Help Center and the volume of ticket deflection. Here are the metrics we’ve been using:

Views and engagement
These are the typical metrics you track for help center performance (or for any web site): the number of views, unique users, and measures of engagement such average session duration, bounce rate, and so on. The usual Google Analytics stuff that helps determine if customers are finding and using the content and if they find the content useful, and from that perspective these are all extremely valuable metrics. You can read more about these metrics in the four-part article series starting with Google Analytics and Help Center Part 1: Asking the right questions.

Community activity and engagement
Another important measure of success for us was the size and vibrancy of our user community. We wanted our help center to be the go-to place for customers to not only find the information we provide for them, but also where they go to engage with other customers, share their expertise, and learn from each other.

Google Analytics can be used to measure some of the activity of your community, but this is where more direct links into the support workflow are really useful. In Zendesk Support, help center reporting is segmented into Knowledge Base and Community. For each, you can track the number of posts, views, up-votes on posts, subscriptions, and comments. The targets you set for each is up to you, but needless to say you want lots of each and to track that activity over time.

In the Zendesk Support reporting tab, you’ll also find data on user searches in the help center. The report includes the number of searches with no results (no articles that contained the search keywords) and searches with no clicks into articles that do exist. The first can help you determine the articles you need to create and the latter can help you troubleshoot the usability of your content (no clicks might mean that your article titles aren’t descriptive enough or don’t use the words your customers are using). You can also see the number of tickets created after a search. Finally, some insight into how self-service is affecting the ticket queue—in this case however it’s negatively because tickets were created, not deflected.

Self-service score
Whereas the metrics above give you insight into the performance and quality of your self-service content, the Self-Service Score is an attempt to measure the impact that your Help Center is having as a support channel, how it’s helping customers solve their problems and preventing them from opening support requests that then need to be handled by agents.

You determine your Self-Service Score using this formula:

Self-service score = Total users of your help center(s) / Total users in tickets

This gives you a ratio such as 4:1, meaning that for every four customers who attempt to solve their own issues using self-service, one customer submits a support request. (The Self-Service Score is also discussed in the article referred to above).

The self-service score is valuable because it allows you to create ticket deflection benchmarks, so you can compare the ticket deflection ratio from one month to the next.

At one point at Zendesk we reached an almost 40:1 ratio, which looked great on my reports to management and may have helped me get a promotion, but it still wasn’t enough to satisfy my desire to show the real impact our self-service channel had in preventing tickets from being created. There’s was a lot of benefit of the doubt going on.

So, how do we get closer to real data? That new tech, of course.

Adding artificial intelligence to self-service: people and bots power the next phase of self-service

The future of self-service is a happy alliance of people and new tech working together as DIY enablers. We’re now not only able to use artificial intelligence and automation to serve up our content to our customers, it’s now possible to directly link its use to support issue resolution. This is the data we’ve always yearned for!

We’re able to do this because of new self-service tech such as Answer Bot, which is included as part of Zendesk Guide. Let’s take a quick look at how it works.

Using deep learning and natural language processing (NLP), Answer Bot scans the text in the customer’s email and then replies to the customer suggesting help center articles that may help them solve their issues themselves.

The customer’s email request of course generated a ticket, so it needs to be solved. The Answer Bot automated reply gives the customer both the information that should help them resolve their issue and a way to then close the ticket themselves–before they’re contacted by an agent. If they don’t close the ticket themselves, they’ll be contacted by an agent who will follow up and close the ticket.

The most exciting part of this, for me, is that you can then report on these self-service ticket resolutions.

With Answer Bot, self-service is now much more integrated as a support channel. We can finally show its direct impact on the ticket queue and on customer satisfaction and present the business with the data we’ve needed to prove its effectiveness. Soon we’ll be able to do this across many of our support channels, which will give us an even fuller multi-channel view into the impact of self-service.

Customers will of course continue to use your self-service content in ways that are disconnected and untrackable as ticket deflection data, but that’s okay. It’s out there helping customers solve their problems, even if you can’t always quantify it.

Learn how to provide a great self-service experience, read 6 tips for building a thriving help center

Anton de Young is a published writer and photographer. As a long-time Zendesk employee, he built the Zendesk customer education and training teams, and then as a marketing director launched the Zendesk customer service leadership program and event series, which he then helped to expand into the Relate website and event series. Now a freelancer, Anton is busy exploring the world from his new home in Lisbon, Portugal. Find him on Twitter: @antondeyoung.


Publish Date: May 22, 2017 5:00 AM

Improve the agent experience for happier customers

In contrast to the big picture challenges of hiring and training agents, agent experience includes everything from resolving support queries to writing knowledge-base articles to improving operational efficiencies. These tasks might not seem as high-impact when thinking about building meaningful relationships with customers, but doing so is impossible without them.

Customers want support to be human and personal, but they also want it to be fast and efficient. Agent experience focuses on making this possible by improving the way agents interact with customers.

To effectively meet the customer’s needs, support agents must be set up for success. That means making an up-front investment in tools and processes that enable support agents to not only provide the kind of support customers love, but avoid providing the kind of frustrating experiences customer hate.

Learn how to setup your agents for success, and help them avoid the typical pitfalls of customer service. Read the guide: agent experience


Publish Date: May 22, 2017 5:00 AM

Work smarter: live chat best practices

With every day that passes in our brave new business world, more companies discover that the key to providing effective, real-time customer support is live chat. Businesses that initially questioned whether online chat was a useful channel are now focused on getting the most value from it.

Done well, online chat is the customer support tool that keeps on giving. It can funnel more customer interactions into chat, reduce operating costs, increase customer satisfaction, boost agent productivity, and make an impact on sales conversions. Yet, as with any communication channel, there’s a right way and a less effective way to offer live chat to your customers.

Effective online chat deployments produce far-reaching benefits—ripples that start with your customer service team, then touch the entire company, then, finally and most importantly, benefit your customers, too. But these ripples don’t happen in a vacuum—they’re the result of careful planning. Read on for live chat best practices that ensure you get the most from your chat implementation.

Align chat with your business goals
At a minimum, you must understand why you’re using online chat. What business objective will chat facilitate? Live chat should be fully aligned with your company’s business goals and its role in reaching those goals should be crystal clear. Some might include:

  • Meeting service level agreements (SLAs) for things like wait time, first reply time, etc
  • Proactively solving customer issues before they arise
  • Reducing shopping cart abandonment

Optimize the user experience
Where, when, and how you make live chat available on your website affects the experience your customers have when they visit your site. Consider live chat location, access, and timing as the three legs of the user experience stool. To fully harness its potential, chat should be deployed proactively. A respectful and well-timed intervention can make the all the difference between a customer completing a purchase or abandoning their shopping cart. The key is to be unobtrusive, so you don’t turn off potential customers.

Determine your staffing requirements
It’s critical for companies to plan for how agents will manage the live chat feature before rolling it out. Successful deployments consider agent experience, chat routing, and whether or not agents will be supporting other customer service channels at the same time.

Train your agents on live chat
Seems like a no-brainer, right? Perhaps—but it bears mentioning that agents must truly understand the program, as well as the underlying customer service aspect of live chat, and how it differs from other channels. There’s a nuanced etiquette to online chat–especially proactive live chat–that’s crucial to its success as a customer service tool.

Build a Chat Workflow
Regardless of which customer service platform you’re using, you’ll need to build a workflow that ensures a consistent support experience for your customers, a reliable ticket escalation path, an agent assignment plan, and real-time channel management and monitoring.

Monitor success and metrics and improve deployment
Once chat is up and running, monitor chat analytics on a regular basis. Using data and reporting on things like average wait times, customer satisfaction and agent productivity allows you to make changes as needed to ensure you’re offering customers the best service possible.

In short, to maximize live chat for your business, it pays to be smart about how it’s deployed. Online chat best practices such as establishing the right objectives, hiring the right number of agents, training them well, and creating a workflow are crucial first steps. Once chat is up and running, keep a close eye on your success metrics and iterating to fully realize chat’s huge potential.

Want more live chat best practices? Read the guide:How to grow your business with proactive chat support


Publish Date: May 17, 2017 5:00 AM

Improving the customer experience

The customer is the reason we’re all here. So any company looking to provide great service must first and foremost try to look at everything through the customer’s perspective. Because now more than ever, the voice of the customer is loud and public.

There will always be more than one way to do anything, such as providing customers access to important information. Your sales team might have thoughts about how best to do this, product another, and marketing might want it done a completely different way.

But what’s best for the customer? What will provide the customer with the best possible experience?

We wrote a new guide all about the customer experience to help you focus on improving the way customers interact with your business. It’s one thing to talk about being customer centric, but doing so means putting the needs of the customer front and center, even when it’s at the expense of people within the company. Taking this approach might lead to some difficult decisions, but customer service isn’t easy, remember?

Support leaders should always keep this in mind: If you provide a negative experience to a customer, not only will they likely tell their friends and colleagues, they will abandon you for a competitor. This experience is bad for everyone, including departments who might wish you’d do things their way. The good news is that the opposite is also true: provide positive experiences and customers will tell others about and choose you, time after time. When this happens, anyone who advocated against the customer centric approach will quickly forget they’d ever argued against it.

Learn how to build processes and infrastructures that enable you to always put the customer first. Read the guide: Customer Experience


Publish Date: May 15, 2017 5:00 AM

Excellent customer service, excellent ROI

“Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it” can be good advice in some situations, like when you’re wary of trying a new ice cream flavor. When deciding whether to overhaul your current customer service support system—not so much. We know selecting and adopting new software can be a hard choice, and sometimes also a tough sell to upper management. That’s why we commissioned Forrester to survey our customers about the value they’ve seen from using Zendesk products.

In addition to Forrester’s report, The Total Economic Impact of Zendesk, results were shared in a 30-minute webinar, “From Cost Center to Profit Center: the Potential ROI of Zendesk.” The webinar provides two unique perspectives on the outcomes of implementing Zendesk. Ian Jacobs, a senior analyst at Forrester, gives context surrounding industry trends while Kyle Largent, customer care fraud prevention at New Balance, offers a customer viewpoint.

While the numbers in the report are alluring—a potential ROI of 365% over three years, for one—Jacobs and Largent also cover impacts of using Zendesk that go beyond just metrics.

Here are three insights you’ll take away from their presentation.

Excellent customer service starts with agents
Customer service agents are there to help. However, when their support tools are out-of-date and hard to use, their jobs become more difficult, more costly, and their unhappiness can directly translate to customer unhappiness. Largent, in his role at New Balance, noticed a transformation in agent experience after Zendesk was set up. In an industry where turnover is extremely common, New Balance managed to virtually eliminate agent churn due to the ease of use and reliability that Zendesk has provided to their customer service staff. The bottom line: internal improvements, like agent retention, led to more visible measures of success, like faster support and more effective self service.

Zendesk adapts to your needs
Current customer service best practices are practically unrecognizable from those even five years ago. For the first time, self-service is edging out traditional, assisted channels like phone and email. Paired with a growing preference for low-friction channels, having multi-channel support features is no longer an option, it’s the standard. In this ever-changing landscape, Zendesk’s ability to adeptly accommodate new challenges posed by these trends stands out to customers. A customer quote, described as “typical” by Jacobs, states: “Using Zendesk made it a lot easier for us to grow and add on locations, diversify for a little disaster recovery, and to make it seamless to the customer.”

Time is Money
Zendesk saves you both. The Forrester report and accompanying webinar defined five risk-adjusted benefits of using Zendesk. Along with savings in productivity and efficiency, economic returns were also realized from Zendesk’s lower maintenance and licensing costs. Jacobs and Largent attributed this to the flexibility and self-contained nature of Zendesk Support. For example, rather than having to reach out to IT or outside services for every little change that needs to be made, admins are able to go in and make adjustments in real time, no dedicated staff required.

Head to our customer stories page to see examples of excellent of customer service with Zendesk

To learn more, read the Forrester report, The Total Economic Impact of Zendesk, and watch the accompanying webinar, From Cost Center to Profit Center: the Potential ROI of Zendesk.


Publish Date: May 15, 2017 5:00 AM

The art of the ticket escalation process

Most customer issues are resolved on the front lines: with the service agents tasked with walking your clients through their queries and concerns. But what if an issue raised in a ticket in turn raises more questions? Particularly questions that need to be addressed by your development team?

First, thank your super-engaged customer base for collaborating with you on making your products and services that much better. Everyone in the business is somehow responsible for customer service, even if they’re not the ones directly interacting with customers on a daily basis. Though your front-line teams are skilled, willing, and able to answer the everyday questions that arise, embedding the value of other teams and departments’ expertise is essential in shaping your customer experience landscape.

Sure, it can be difficult to know when and how to kick things up a notch, especially if you’re receiving feedback and inquiries day in, day out. The good news is that there are tips and tricks for integrating this workflow smoothly, taking it from your customer service pipeline to your development team. We promise we’re not just telling you what to do, either. We speak from experience, as all of these steps and processes are field tested and incorporated by our own development teams.

So peek behind the curtain to learn how we at Zendesk approach the art of escalating tickets.

All good things come in threes. Especially lists. Conveniently, we’ve identified three distinct phases of ticket escalation:

  1. Preparing a ticket for escalation
  2. During escalation
  3. After escalating the ticket

Preparing a ticket for escalation
Let’s start with your checklist for phase 1. You’ll first want to identify your ticket type and priority. Can your agents replicate the customer’s problem in a neutral test environment or only under their specific circumstances? If you picked the first, that means it’s a problem and it needs to be sent to the developer team. Assign it proper priority—most tickets are normal priority unless multiple accounts are impacted by the problem.

Next, you’ll want to take proper replication steps. Developers and customer service agents might read the same information contained in a ticket in different ways. So standardizing your summary—into a beginning, middle, and end—ensures everyone is speaking the same language.

During escalation
You’re now fully in phase 2. This phase is all about making sure the right information gets to the right teams, as well as the customer, as quickly as possible. First, are you selecting the right dev groups to handle the problem? Training your advocates on flagging the right group, with the best skill set to solve the problem, is key. Related: advocates should be adding relevant tags: this ensures the ticket is named properly from here on out. Last, but certainly not least, the advocate continues communicating with the customer. Though the issue may take some time to resolve, customers appreciate knowing their call has made an impact.

After escalating the ticket
Following up can be tricky, but it’s essential. At Zendesk, our rule of thumb is for the advocate to check on escalated tickets once every two weeks. If the advocate learns that no progress has been made, we’ve developed an internal checklist to move things along by asking the right questions.

Want to learn more about setting up your support organization for success? Learn how to provide global support.


Publish Date: May 15, 2017 5:00 AM

3 ways to achieve better self-service

Self-service is the latest trend sweeping the customer service nation. Most customers would rather help themselves than reach out to an agent. In order to deliver the support experience customers want, companies are expanding their online self-service capabilities. As a result of available online self-service, support agents field fewer requests and can spend time where it’s truly needed.

According to Forrester, “Customers of all ages are moving away from using the phone to using self-service—web and mobile self-service, communities, virtual agents, automated chat dialogs, or chatbots — as a first point of contact with a company.” Online self-service offers a win-win: customers experience less friction, and companies curb costs by deflecting agent-assisted interactions.

Self-service is essential to the modern customer support model. Here are three ways to empower customers and support agents to self-serve:

1. Offer mobile and online self-service
When offering self-service, it’s important to meet customers wherever they are, whether it be online or via mobile. Most important, however, is the ability to empower customers to find help center content on your mobile app or your website. A mobile or online self-service help center can foster effortless self-service through information tailored to your customers. Furthermore, whether customers reach out via web or mobile, they still need help in their own language. Zendesk Guide help center supports over 40+ languages, allowing you to publish your multilingual help center with a click.nLastly, with mobile and online self-service, it’s helpful to have a customizable help center—that way your support looks good no matter the device.

2. Cultivate a community
Online communities are a home for customer conversations where customers can discuss what works and what doesn’t. Communities are a great way to let end-users help other end-users and share tips and ideas. They’re as cozy and inviting as you want to make them, and they serve as a space to strengthen customer connections on a customized, branded platform. Building a community is yet another way to extend the reach of your company’s curated content and to offer more effective self-service.

3. Harness the power of chatbots
The future is here. Chatbots are powered by artificial intelligence—businesses can provide answers lightning fast. Chatbots enable agents to solve queries more quickly, reduce team effort, and to automatically provide informed answers. So how do chatbots work? If a customer has a simple question about company hours, The Guide Answer Bot scans the text to understand what the request is. Based on that, the Answer Bot suggests answers and the most relevant articles. Chatbots give customers another way to receive help without contacting a support agent. As a result, support agents have more free time to work on top priority tickets.

Using the right knowledge management software is the first step to offering effortless self-service. To learn more about knowledge bases and self-service, get started with Guide today.


Publish Date: May 5, 2017 5:00 AM

Outbound team: Welcome to the Zendesk family

We’re happy to report another milestone in Zendesk’s journey to help companies better communicate with their customers. Today we announced our recent acquisition of Outbound, and we welcome the entire Outbound team to the Zendesk family.

Outbound enables businesses to automate and deliver relevant messages across web, email, and mobile channels, and to better measure their effectiveness. At a time when customers are inundated with automated messages, Outbound shifts the focus from the quantity of messages delivered to the quality of customer interactions.

Why Outbound?
Founded in 2013, Outbound was born to help companies send fewer, better messages. When starting the company, founders Dhruv Mehta and Josh Weissburg set out to meet the challenges of today’s data-driven customer engagement teams and help them build authentic and lasting relationships with customers. Customers, who are increasingly overwhelmed and frustrated with the volume of automated messages they receive, will choose to build long-lasting relationships with companies who communicate with them via targeted, higher quality messages. We are excited to welcome a team who shares our core beliefs and to work with them in pursuit of our shared vision.

What do businesses use Outbound for?
Many growth marketing, customer experience, and product teams use Outbound today to personalize the customer experience to attract, onboard, engage, and support customers. With built-in A/B testing and conversion tracking functionality, these teams are always improving their customer targeting and message content, all the while measuring the impact of every interaction.

Can I try Outbound today?
Absolutely! You can start a free trial from their website.

What’s cool about Outbound?
Outbound enables you to build customer segments based on customer data and send proactive messages to each segment. Here’s what’s possible with Outbound:

  • Send messages via email, web, mobile push notifications, and SMS.
  • Bring together various sources of customer data using Segment, Amplitude, or our API.
  • A/B test different messages and channels while setting conversion goals.
  • Deliver messages at various cadences—in real-time based on a customer action or at various points during a customer’s lifetime.

How will Zendesk Connect and Outbound work together?
Zendesk Connect and Outbound will be combined into a single, multichannel solution. Both the Outbound and Zendesk teams are currently working together on the integration. Stay tuned for updates.

Learn more about Outbound


Publish Date: May 4, 2017 5:00 AM

Why you must offer chat support

It’s a scenario that’s all too familiar: having spent some time researching a product online, Jane is ready to make a purchase. She starts to check out and scans the shipping options. Will it arrive when she needs it to with regular shipping or should she pay to have it expedited? Hmmm…She can’t find information about order processing times anywhere on the website and when she mistakenly hits the back arrow on her keyboard the item disappears from her cart. And just like that, Jane has lost all patience with the transaction and with the company she was trying to purchase from.

Now imagine a different scenario. While Jane is scanning the shipping options, a customer service agent starts a live chat conversation and asks Jane if she has any questions about her order. Without missing a beat, Jane types in her concern and the agent responds with the information Jane needs, allowing her to check out quickly and leave the site a satisfied customer. Much better, right?

As more and more businesses are realizing, the easiest way to meet the demands of today’s connected and discerning customer is with live chat. Providing live chat support ensures real-time communication with your customers, a competitive advantage that’s quickly becoming a business imperative. With website chat, companies meet their customers where they are—online—in time to support them before they give up and go elsewhere. Question answered, transaction salvaged, customer satisfied.

Customer service chat has transformed the way customer service teams provide support. Simply put, with chat, agents and customers get on the same page more quickly and can move on from there to resolve the problem. Live chat is captured verbatim meaning there’s less room for mishearing or misunderstanding in the moment. And because it’s a real-time conversation via text, agents can reread the customer responses and ask for clarification easily. Live chat also allows parties to share content like item numbers, descriptions, and photos as quickly as they can copy and paste a link, so queries and clarification happen in real-time.

Beyond being a seamless and familiar interface for customers, Live chat is also a valuable means of maintaining customer service records. It’s a gold mine for companies that seek to understand customer pain points—which in today’s competitive business climate should be all companies. By reviewing live chat sessions, businesses see where they’re letting customers down with their website content or purchase processes and can make changes to improve the customer experience accordingly.

Another strong selling point? Website chat is an incredibly efficient means of communication for all parties involved. Customers don’t wait in a long phone queue and agents can multi-task during chat sessions, often handling more than one customer issue at a time.

When it comes to delivering the best and most timely customer support there’s no question Live chat has become one of the most useful arrows in the customer service agent’s quiver.

Learn more about the benefits of chat support, read the guide: Grow your business with proactive chat support

Start offering live chat today


Publish Date: April 25, 2017 5:00 AM

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