Easy to use, all the while offering tremendous power
Twilio is a cloud-based communications company that provides its 40,000 customers, a mix of developers and non-developers, with basic building blocks for building voice and text messaging capabilities into their web apps, regardless of their level of technical experience.
Support at a pay-as-you-go service needs to be top-notch
Most of Twilio’s customers start out with a certain amount of trial credit and then start hacking away. It is only when they have built something useful that they decide to invest more in Twilio. So it is critical that the company’s support team helps all of its customers building something as quickly and seamlessly as possible, otherwise it’s a bad reflection on how easy Twilio is to use.
“Only when our customers have built something will they decide to use us for bigger parts of their actual business. This is why we have support agents on the weekends and always make sure that a developer is on support duty. It’s a key piece of our sales retention strategy. Without Zendesk we would be unable to provide the quality of support to keep our customers happy and loyal,” says Renee Chu, manager of customer support at Twilio.
Cloud-based Company Wants a Cloud-Based Help Desk Software
Twilio wanted to make sure its help desk solution offered the same flexibility and reliability it provides as a cloud-based company. This is one of the reasons why they chose Zendesk, and have been using it since November 2008.
“We’re a high-growth web based company and we knew that email wasn’t going to be a scalable way to respond and keep track of our support requests. We wanted a system especially designed for customer support,” Chu says. “Because it is cloud-based, we don’t have to install something and reference a certain number, and that’s important because our evangelists are based all over the country.”
Lean, Mean, Tech Support Team
Most of Twilio’s customers ask very technical questions, which is why its support team has a unique structure. Out of its 45 employees, 26 are agents who work with Zendesk. Though only five to six agents are designated to be on support duty all the time, the additional licenses allow other engineers to jump in when needed.
Faster, Flexible, and Built to Scale
It used to be that Twilio’s customer support manager would manually look at every ticket in the queue and individually assign each ticket to the right person on the team, based on their availability and their knowledge.
“That approach was good when we were really small but since we are getting bigger, this way of handling tickets doesn’t scale at all,” Chu says.
With Zendesk’s help desk software, the support team began using triggers, which are customizable automated workflows, to direct tickets to the right people depending on their area of expertise. Agents also have views, or customized inboxes for their tickets, to make sure they never lose track of the support requests assigned to them, and therefore respond to them in a timely manner.
Triggers are also a great tool to surface high priority tickets, which allows our agents to be much more productive with their time and respond to tickets according to their level of importance.
“In the background there’s lots of triggers telling us when a ticket should be reopened, when we need to check in on a ticket, and when a customer writes back. We love the flexibility that Zendesk gives us to automate processes in the background, while keeping everything simple for our customers,” Chu says.
Simple Features Provide Powerful Support
Macros are used to create a template answer that will auto-populate people’s names and fill out the custom fields. It’s a great tool for answering frequently asked questions. Twilio uses macros to apply standard answers to FAQs or to simply change ticket fields of a support request. The support team also uses keyboard shortcuts to access and apply macros quickly and easily, which give agents the ability to assign tickets to someone else as well as change the status of the ticket..
“You can even use a macro that’s just one or two sentences in the middle of a larger email that links to our documentation. There’s just so much flexibility,” Chu says
As mentioned earlier, Twilio employs a customized ticket view for those who are on support duty. This is an actionable list of all support requests needing a response. It’s a way to keep tickets organized and give agents instant visibility on ticket statuses. Ticket views help agents provide answers quickly because the risk of a ticket lingering in limbo is minimized.
Views are also used for recently updated tickets that lets agents quickly view sent emails to find answers they’ve recently drafted to a reoccurring question.
Tags have proved to be another invaluable feature. A really important function of Twilio’s customer support team is to funnel feedback from customers to the product team.
“Whenever there’s a ticket with really valuable product feedback, agents will insert a tag related to product feedback and write a brief one sentence summary in a custom ticket field. All these tickets then get surfaced in a report that we download to a CSV file, and later share with the product team. The report contains all tickets tagged over the last two weeks, with a one-sentence summary from the agent. It is just a really easy way to consolidate feedback and give the product team information they can easily digest,” Chu explains.
Twilio wanted to make sure its customer support mirrored the same flexibility and power of its product. Zendesk has been able to do just that by offering a help desk tool that is easy to use, all the while offering tremendous power. Twilio’s support team is able to troubleshoot very technical issues with a help desk solution that can be up and running within a day. The fact that engineers can jump in at anytime to help with a support issue is another important and necessary advantage.
“We are a super technical team and we want to keep it that way as much as possible so having a really smart customer support tool is important,“ Chu says.
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