How to manage crowdsourced content
Based in Australia, Lonely Planet is the leading global travel information company. It covers all the usual must-see spots, but also encourages travelers to get off the beaten track and experience more of the nature, culture and environment in each destination. Lonely Planet currently employs more than 360 writers, researchers and photographers and produces about 500 books, downloadable digital guides, an award-winning website, wireless applications, and cutting-edge television programs.
Thousands of customer submissions strain in-house support tool
Even Lonely Planet’s globetrotting founders and large staff can’t keep up with the latest news from every corner of the globe. To maintain accurate listings of hotels and restaurants around the world, Lonely Planet relies on information submitted by ordinary travelers.
Hoping to enhance the customer experience while reducing its data processing burden, Lonely Planet added Get Satisfaction to its technology mix—but still lacked a key piece of functionality.
“Some of the feedback we receive about our website and guidebook is private,” explains Steve McInnes, associate product manager, community, Lonely Planet. “We needed a place to track that feedback while also centralizing all the communications we have with our audience.”
Busy staff of 27 support agents embraces online customer support solution
When McInnes noticed Get Satisfaction integrated with Zendesk, he signed up for a free 30-day trial. Surprised by the simplicity of Zendesk’s interface, its useful agent and support ticket workflow, and the power and flexibility of its automated features, McInnes decided to incorporate Zendesk into Lonely Planet’s customer support processes.
“First, we designed an architecture based on a positive customer experience,” McInnes explains. “We then used Zendesk’s APIs to integrate ticket management into the process. Our Zendesk rollout was like nothing I’d ever seen. Word spread quickly that our trial team was having a great experience with Zendesk. I actually had people demanding that they be brought onto Zendesk ahead of schedule.”
Within a few short weeks, Lonely Planet’s entire customer-facing staff in Melbourne—including 27 support agents—went live on Zendesk.
User-generated content is king
Lonely Planet initially saw Zendesk as a tool for streamlining customer support for its website. McInnes soon realized Zendesk could help Lonely Planet do much more.
“As soon as I saw that Zendesk would let us send information to external targets and use triggers and widgets in creative ways, I talked to my boss about expanding our use of Zendesk,” says McInnes. “We never thought we’d be able to bring our guidebook support, internal feature request tracking, mobile support and several other functions onto one system.”
When Lonely Planet moved its mobile support to Zendesk, its customers gained a private place for discussing bugs related to the company’s iPhone app. As a result, travelers now have an easy, standardized way to submit feedback on Lonely Planet’s guidebook.
“The headline for us is that right out-of-the-box, Zendesk optimized how we handle the core of our business: user-generated content,” says McInnes. “When we get a tip that a popular restaurant in Katmandu is now closed, the value of not having to send an author there is huge.”
With a user-friendly interface and a Zendesk back-end, Lonely Planet is now getting to know its audience better than ever. Teams across the company can easily access all user-generated content in one place.
“We now have central visibility that we never had before,” says McInnes. “We can see all the interactions of a single customer in one view, which is helping us figure out what really drives our travelers. In a sense, we’ve discovered that our world is smaller than we ever realized.”
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Improving support by moving from email to Zendesk