I’m a firm believer that customer experience helps enhance your marketing. After all, great customer experiences give customers one more reason to talk about your business and word of mouth is still the ultimate medium in marketing. As business increased, we were beginning to get swamped with emails from customers asking the same questions. With a very small support staff, efficiency and quality were top priorities when it came to how we wanted to communicate with our customers.
We searched for ways to make things better and after researching a few options, we discovered Zendesk. In three days flat, Zendesk made it easier for our small staff to handle a gamut of customer inquiries, helped dramatically reduce emails and freed up the team to focus on more pressing issues as business increased. Here are the two features (Zendesk offers seven) we used to give our customers better experiences with our brand.
For the record, I’m in no way affiliated with Zendesk. I write this because I genuinely feel it’s a tool that can help both small businesses and large corporations alike.
What is Zendesk?
As large as Zendesk has gotten, this is one tool that far too many business owners I’ve spoken with have never heard of. I’ll let Zendesk do the extensive talking for themselves, but it’s essentially an easy to implement software service designed to help businesses enhance their customer service, increase their customer engagement, and enable customers to have a smoother, more informative experience with your brand.
How Zendesk Support Got Us Organized
Zendesk Support essentially functions as an interface level substitute for your emails. Instead of just getting emails from customers, you now have tickets your staff can take a look at.
If you run a small business, I’m sure you’ve dealt with issues like having emails that never get resolved, ones that get lost in the endless void that is the inbox, or issues being dealt with by two customer support members who have no idea they’re both going at the same customer without the understanding or context the other member has. It happens more often than you think.
Here’s how Support eliminates email issues.
When a customer sends you an email, a ticket is automatically created for them and an automated message is sent to them referencing their ticket number and letting them know that you’re well aware they’ve reached out. You can fully customize that automated response email and its delivery to say exactly what you’d like. This eliminates the question for customers as to whether or not you’ve actually received their email, which is a relief on its own.
Once the ticket is created, all of your staff can see the ticket, who has already communicated with the customer, what was said (to avoid taking the customer in circles having to re-explain their issues), and internal notes within the ticket the customer cannot see. When an issue is resolved, the ticket is listed as solved and it’s taken out of your view and closed for good in a timeframe you can determine.
But what happens if a customer sends a brand new email three weeks later for a related but previously unmentioned issue after their first ticket is closed for good? Zendesk automatically notifies your support staff of all prior communications with that customer, immediately giving your support staff context on all of the customer's prior interactions via email with your company.
This lets customers know that your company is all-hands-on-deck dealing with their issues, which builds trust and gives them the sense of security needed to garner them as a long-time customer who knows exactly what type of attention they will get from your brand.
Not only does Support help you open tickets for customers with emails, but it also helps you consolidate social media interactions with your customers who message you on Facebook and Twitter, eliminating the need to go into each app individually to see if customers need your attention.
With Zendesk Support, you can also assign certain tickets to their relevant departments, taking them out of the view of those who may find them irrelevant.
This helped us immensely since we functioned as the main point of contact for customers between our New York and California offices. When something needed to be handled by California before New York could finish helping, it was eliminated from New York’s view while being easily referenced as an individual touch-point for the New York staff member who initially interacted with the customer.
This also meant that while our office was handling all of the customer inquiries, the California location was only seeing tickets they needed to act upon. If it was irrelevant to them, they weren’t distracted by it.
Support was a great help in organizing tickets and keeping us all in the loop on customer communications, but things didn’t really change until we started implementing Guide into the workflow.
How Zendesk Guide Changed the Game
Zendesk’s Guide product functions as a knowledge base that helps customers solve their own issues without having to email you, which may create a delay in and even deter them from buying your product if they feel too overwhelmed by the unknown.
Got emails coming in asking the same common questions? Got customers calling you lost on your website trying to figure something out that hasn’t been made obvious? Got an FAQ section bombarded with text and photos that can easily lose a customer? Zendesk’s Guide function can help eliminate these issues.
In Guide, I personally wrote over 50 articles answering the most common questions we would get asked.
Once those articles were written, what occasionally took us five to seven minutes in simply writing one email filled with details now took about a minute or two. You multiply that by — for argument’s sake — 50 emails, and you’ve already saved over two hours in time your staff could be using to tackle other tasks.
Using the Guide as a knowledge base that spoke to the Support function, when a customer had a complex issue, we were able to send links to the knowledge base articles written for that very issue without having to write it all out in email again and again and… you get it.
This saved an immense amount of time in customer support efforts.
Not only were we now dropping reply times to customer inquiries, but we also reduced the number of emails we were receiving. This was due to customers having easy access from any page on the website to the knowledge base.
By using the right keywords in the creation of each article, if a customer had a question, they could simply hit the HELP button, type in the question they had about our products or process, and they were instantly shown links to the articles that exist within the knowledge base that would answer their questions and streamline them to their item(s) and the checkout page.
Since their questions were being answered without them having to interact with a customer support member via phone or email, our customers were happier, more aware, and excited to share with their friends, knowing how easy we made the process for them.
One more cool feature of Zendesk Guide is the contact form linked to the knowledge base. When customers filled out the subject of their contact form, the Guide would actively suggest articles that matched the context of their subject, often eliminating the need to open what would have been a new ticket.
You’ve Probably Already Used Zendesk Without Knowing
The implementation of our guide was very crude, largely due to the nightmare we would endure trying to deal with the company that designed our website.
But if you’ve ever visited Dollar Shave Club, you would have seen the guide at full implementation, designed to match their full site aesthetic.
The Wrap Up
Zendesk is not a CRM, nor is it a CRM replacement. It does, however, integrate with your CRM to keep all of your teams — whether local or abroad — on the same page when it comes to customer communications.
Zendesk offers more products that extend beyond the ones I’ve mentioned and there’s so much more we benefited from that would take much more eyeball energy on your behalf to read.
Quite simply, Zendesk helped us create a much smoother customer experience that not only delighted our customers but also made for a happier customer support team that was able to provide higher quality, quicker customer service.