How to provide support for every community
Patch is a hyper-local community news and information platform that targets specific communities and towns that are under served by major media outlets. With a massive field organization made up of editors, writers, and photographers scattered across the United States, Patch required a support solution that would allow its lean headquarters operation to communicate efficiently with a large number of isolated community websites. Patch’s incredible rate of growth—30 sites in January 2010 had grown to 820 by June 2011—also meant that its help desk solution had to be both easy to implement and able to keep up with the needs of a rapidly growing organization.
Support Solutions in Bulk
Relative to its immense field organization, Patch’s internal and external support team started out small, with just four full-time employees back in June 2011. Its community sites (or “Patches”) are essentially isolated from one another, so when support issues arise, each site communicates with the support team individually—and occasionally all at once.
“When we have a site issue that’s happening on 800 different communities, multiply that by the number of people who are paying attention to each individual site,” says Gavin Blair, Patch’s director of technology operations. “One incident would blow up with literally hundreds of tickets in a short amount of time.”
Zendesk’s ability to handle support tickets in bulk proved to be a tremendous help in addressing site-wide problems, settling hundreds of tickets at once with as little as just one efficient response. And while the company’s support team has significantly expanded, the same features that made them efficient when they were small, continue to fuel that same caliber of efficiency as the team continues to grow.
Easy Implementation Across an Entire Organization
For Patch, expanding from 30 sites to more than 800 in less than two years didn’t come without some growing pains. The single largest hirer of journalists in the U.S. last year, the company was at one point onboarding an average of 20 and 30 employees every single week. In Zendesk, Blair found a help desk tool that was both easy to implement and easy to use for employees with varying degrees of technical savvy.
The roll-outs didn’t stop with the field operation—Blair and his team soon decided to expand Zendesk to other business teams throughout Patch’s headquarters, including its marketing, finance, social media, IT, and editorial departments. 12 departments across Patch now use Zendesk, each with its own set of triggers, notifications, views, and workflows. In addition to the simple joy of implementing Zendesk throughout the company (“We enjoy it!” says Blair), he cites the ability to move tickets seamlessly around the organization as an enormous benefit.
Thousands of Tickets, Four Support Agents
Patch’s rapid scaling has hardly been something to complain about, but as the number of community sites has ballooned, so has the number of support tickets coming into headquarters. Blair credits Zendesk with allowing his four-person support team to respond to 6,000 tickets in a single month.
Presented with the same kind of accelerated growth enjoyed by Patch, many companies are forced to take a reactive stance to the negative effects of scaling. By using Zendesk to respond to hundreds of tickets at a time, Patch’s support staff keeps what Blair calls a “steady even keel,” leaving them free to create a more proactive support infrastructure and address any larger support issues that arise.
Commitment to Core Functionality with Amazing Integrations
Ironically enough, a big part of what Patch has found useful about Zendesk is what it isn’t. After feeling that a previous help desk solution tried to package too many different functions into a single product, Blair found Zendesk’s commitment to core functionality coupled with its suite of integrations to be a huge breath of fresh air.
Zendesk’s out-of-the-box integration with GoodData proved particularly useful to Blair who immediately made use of its metrics to determine the busiest times of day for support-ticket generation and gauge the balance between tickets created and resolved over the course of a given month. His favorite metric is “Average Time to Assign,” which allows him to see the speed at which members of his staff are dealing with newly generated tickets.
Streamlined support for causes and customers
Charting a path to 99% customer satisfaction
Topic suggestions reduce ticket volume by 70%
Customer service outgrows email
Delivering customer service 35% faster
Connecting with supporters to change the world
Maintaining a consistent level of service for all
Rapid response is key for a fast-paced business
Improving support by moving from email to Zendesk