We are getting much smarter questions from customers
Turning Technical Problems Into Easy Solutions
Ponoko is the creator of Personal Factory – the world’s easiest making system. It’s where you turn your design ideas into custom products using the Internet and our global making network. Over 100,000 customer designed products have been made so far, everything from 3D printed jewelry to laser-cut clocks to CNC routed furniture. With the Personal Factory platform and apps, Ponoko envisions powering a digital factory in every home, business, and school around the world.
Josh Judkins is the Community Manager at Ponoko and manages a dedicated support team, assisting customers with the digital making process from design to fabrication to delivery.
Building a Proactive Support Culture
Ponoko has built a support culture that is pro-active rather than just reactive. They make sure everyone in the support team has proactive responsibilities such as webinar presentations and updating the knowledge base. Judkins motto is that if a reply takes longer than 5 minutes to craft, it should become a forum post or a macro (canned response). The idea is if you spend time on a question, you don’t want to have to repeat that over and over. Macros allow an initial 5 minute response to be solved in less than 30 seconds each subsequent time. Judkins encourages the team that if they don’t have time to make that 5 minute reply into a forum post, note it and do it later in the day when they have slower periods of time. “It’s nice to have projects that have a completion since email never stops.”
One of Judkins favorite support stories is a situation they turned around on Twitter. One day Judkins saw a tweet where one of their customers was complaining to his friends about an order taking too long. The tweet wasn’t directed to Ponoko but that didn’t stop Judkins from helping out. He found the order and noticed there was a format error with how the customer set up the project. He reached out to the customer to help him fix the error and created an over-the-top support experience that blew away the customer. You can read more about that Twitter support story.
Building a Knowledge Base Encourages Smarter Support Inquiries
More recently Ponoko has been building out their knowledge base and user forums. They were pleased to see new Zendesk product features added to the forums for better organization, search, ticket deflection and voting capabilities. Judkins said, “We’ve found that with a built out knowledge base, we are suddenly getting much smarter questions from customers. When customers email us, they often reference articles that they saw which helps explain the context of their question. It makes our jobs much easier when our customers are better informed.”
Along with an extensive knowledge base, they are trying to build the user community. But this takes time. “People are shy so you have to lead by example. We try to give people a framework to encourage sharing. The biggest challenge is just getting people to the forums. So we try to build compelling content to attract them there. We’ve recently posted a lot of how-to articles,” notes Judkins. Prior to building out the knowledge base, they were putting those how-to articles on the blog. By pulling them onto the forums it’s easier for people to find the articles when they need them.
Using Zendesk with a Distributed Team
Judkins comments, “Zendesk is great for distributed teams. We set up Views to display all the open tickets for each team. These views are what our agents work from, rather than just their own open tickets. This enables us to share ticket responsibility and keep a fluid support experience that is seamless to our customers. Thanks to the time difference between Wellington and San Francisco, this also means we can provide support 6 days a week, but our staff only work Monday to Friday.”
The Ponoko team not only uses Zendesk for inbound support inquiries but also for outbound pro-active communications with customers. “We wanted to have all of our customer conversations in one place so we came up with a interesting use of triggers to make it work for us,” says Judkins. They create a ticket with the outbound email content and tag it as “outgoing.” They’ve created a trigger that reacts to the tag, that will strip out the normal added ticket language so that the email just contains the outbound email content. As a result, the email and its reply are part of their help desk and they have a record of both outbound and inbound conversations.
Judkins closes by explaining: “Because we’re not all working in the same office, or even at the same time, the features offered by Zendesk have been instrumental in the creation of our support culture and systems.”
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