Zendesk responds to global CX pressures

The global pandemic may have simply accelerated already existing trends towards digital engagement between customers and brands, but that acceleration is putting extreme pressure on the customer experience.

CX begins with marketing, and continue through sales and customer service (arguably it has its true but less obvious origins in product and supply chain). Customer service is Zendesk’s sweet spot—it was created as a customer service software vendor, but has since added sales automation, CRM, and omnichannel messaging.

Service is under pressure. Right now, service is a stress point in CX, as shown by Zendesk’s survey of 23,000 companies worldwide. Service teams, many now working remotely, are dealing with a sharp spike in tickets. They’ve seen a steady climb for 11 weeks straight (an overall increase of 16%), and although the volume has plateaued, a decrease seems to be out of sight in most sectors.

There are exceptions: online grocers are still experiencing a 70% increase in tickets, but that’s down from over 170% in mid-April when customers were figuring out how the service works.

Explore Enterprise. Against this backdrop, Zendesk has announced the release of Explore Enterprise, a new solution within its Sunshine CRM platform. Explore Enterprise provides real-time analytics across the Zendesk support and sales suites to identify trends, problems and opportunities, and evaluate agent efficiency.

We spoke with Jon Aniano, Zendesk’s SVP Product, CRM Applications, to get a sense of how this release responds to the current climate. “People are now more bound to their homes, some aren’t able to visit brick and mortar stores and engage in behaviors that might have been customer experience or service-related. Instead, everybody is on a computer or a mobile device, and interacting with companies over digital channels.”

There’s an “insatiable demand” among customer operations teams right now, he told us, for more in-depth analytics and more visibility into customer satisfaction and agent efficiency.

So far, Zendesk has met this demand with Explore Professional, but Explore Enterprise, available August 1, makes a number of enhancements to the existing solution. “There are two in particular I’d like to talk about,” said Aniano. “One is Live Team Dashboards. Before everyone started working from home, you might have customer service agents on a contact center floor, and you might have big monitors showing things like number of chats in queue, number of tickets being worked on, CSAT average, number of agents online, average handle time.”

Zendesk is now providing these metrics out of the box in the form of dashboards, placing real-time visibility not around the contact center floor, but on everyone’s personal screens—on secondary monitors, or in a browser tab.

Sharing the metrics. “The second major update is Advanced Sharing. If you’ve got your customer experience operations going on inside of Zendesk, you’ve got this wealth of data which you want to share with people inside the company. Previously, you could share this with other Zendesk users. We’ve taken that and opened it up. You can now share dashboards with anyone inside the company, regardless of whether they have a Zendesk license, just like you’d share a Google Doc.”

Presumably not everyone has the same user rights as someone with a Zendesk seat? “People with access to Zendesk can customize the dashboard, change the metrics, create a new version. The other area is drilling down on tickets and if you don’t have access to Zendesk you can’t do that.”

In a remote world. Zendesk didn’t build these capabilities because of COVID, Aniano emphasized. “But in a world where everyone has adapted to new behaviors, mostly working remotely, having access to Live Team Dashboards, and being able to share dashboards with anyone in the company with just a simple link, is a powerful set of capabilities for customers adapting to the remote work world.”

One additional announcement, said Aniano, relates to Smooch, the omnichannel messaging platform Zendesk acquired last year, and has since rebranded as Sunshine Conversations. Multi-Party Conversations will be generally available this month: the ability to add third parties to conversations between agent and customer. In customer service today, it’s easy to have three, four, five people involved in a transaction. For food shopping, for example, there could be the online company taking the order, a restaurant or store, a delivery driver—all can now participate in the conversation.

Why we care. The future of CX is primarily digital, and while marketing might own CX for most brands, communications, and after-sales service are key elements. Zendesk has a bird’s eye view of the pressures created when entire audiences go online to get answers, and is advancing its roadmap accordingly.

This story first appeared on MarTech Today.

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