Improving response time by over 300%
Vend bills itself as the world’s easiest and most cost effective point-of-sale. Working off a simple web browser, it enables retailers to keep a continual, up-to-the-minute check on stock and sales. Vend even works when the internet goes down, so customers can have complete confidence that their business can continue to transact even without the web. Customers also love Vend because it works off their existing devices, keeps data safe and grows with their business.
“In the last 6 months, our First Response Time has improved by over 300%”
-Nick Houldsworth, Head of Marketing and Customer Support
Growing from two to 20 in 12 months
When it started trading two years ago, Vend had just two employees. As a fledgling business with big ideas it decided from the outset to use only best of breed systems that would be able to grow in line with its ambitious vision. However, its customer support tool was the exception to this rule.
Nick Houldsworth, Head of Marketing and Customer Support and one of Vend’s original two employees explains, “When we started the company, we were initially happy with the customer support system we had set in place. But our growth was much more rapid than even we had anticipated. It quickly became apparent that our existing technology couldn’t keep up with the pace of our expansion.”
Point of sale is traditionally very expensive; Vend’s proposition is to channel its customer support through emails and forums to keep its product costs down, but with its existing support system it was unable to properly track, assign or give ownership to agents. This meant customer support was taking up too much time, and as a result, the business was not operating as efficiently as intended.
The incumbent system also fell short in terms of reporting. Houldsworth explains, “We needed a system that would deliver data and reports to enable us to plan ahead for how many tickets each agent could handle. With our existing system we had no foresight into whether an agent might have double or triple the workload in three to six months, and so couldn’t plan resources accordingly.”
What Vend did have though was lots of user data which it was keen to use. Says Houldsworth, “Our user data tied us to our existing system. We were scared that it would be a problem for customers if we moved and couldn’t take their history with us. But compatibility and flexibility were becoming huge issues for us. It was time for change.”
The team at Vend had a vision. They wanted their customer support solution to be able to start off as a tool that could support a team of two, and then evolve and grow with them to support their current team of 20 and beyond, to a team of 100 plus. It also had to be able to integrate with its existing ecosystem of products, including Salesforce, Xero and Pivotal.
So the search began, and quickly ended with Zendesk. Explains Houldsworth, “We looked at three customer service software providers in total but it always came back to the same question: ‘Will it integrate with our existing systems?’ Only Zendesk overcame the roadblock in terms of compatibility while also fitting the brief of being able to upscale in line with projected business growth.”
With the launch of a new product update scheduled for January 2012, the team decided the time was right to make the change. Setting a target of four weeks to integrate Zendesk into their system, the successful migration took place to coincide with the new site launch, and Vend hasn’t looked back since.
“Customers were immediately impressed with Zendesk, and there were no complaints about losing historical data, which had been our fundamental fear. Everyone was happy,” says Houldsworth.
Keeping costs down, productivity up, and customers happy
Core to Vend’s proposition is offering a much more cost effective point of sale solution. This is a key driver for its growth and expansion into 90 countries worldwide. To keep its costs down for customers, the company tries to operate as leanly as possible.
In keeping with this philosophy, Houldsworth and his team identified the need to reduce the number of incoming support tickets by creating a community of users, “Forums are a really important Zendesk feature because we don’t currently offer inbound telephone support. By providing online customer support in the format of a forum and encouraging user-generated content, Vend is able to use its own community to help reduce the level of support required for common issues,” he explains.
Using Zendesk’s forums as a support hub, Vend also adds articles, Q&A articles, and feature requests. They use Zendesk’s search analytics to track queries so that they can better understand which topics are generating tickets. They also use Zendesk’s comprehensive reporting tools to analyse specific behaviours on a weekly or monthly basis. Houldsworth explains, “If we notice that certain subjects are generating more tickets, then we simply post more information or additional Q&A articles in the forums about how to solve the issue. We also proactively seek customer feedback on our product. By using the forum in this way, we are able to quickly identify which areas of our product need improving, and also reduce response times by heading off issues before they become too time consuming.”
Transparency is really important for the team at Vend, which is another reason why Zendesk works so well for the business. Houldsworth says, “Because Zendesk has such sophisticated measurement and analytics, we are able to let our customers measure us, as well as being able to benchmark ourselves against each other and the rest of the industry. We can tell that we are getting much better at reducing our first response times – we get back to people within hours rather than days, and the speed of our response has improved over 300 percent.
“Furthermore, in the six months since we began using Zendesk, our paying customer base has doubled, but the number of tickets created each month has only gone up by about 20 percent. Statistically speaking, this means our customers are submitting nearly 50% less tickets in July 2012 than they were in February 2012. Through Zendesk, we can see the direct impact this is having on our customer satisfaction. For or the same period our customer satisfaction rating has consistently scored above 90 percent, something we proudly share with our customers on our website with a genuine commitment to improving the 10 percent,” says Houldsworth.
Zendesk features in Vend’s future
Now a team of 20, Vend’s support team has grown to become five-strong in just six months and will grow another 50 percent by the end of the year. According to Houldsworth, Zendesk is already flexed and ready to grow with the business, “To deliver the world’s best point-of-sale solution to a global market, Vend has to offer world class customer support across all channels, while rapidly scaling our team, responding to demand, and adapting our services. Zendesk gives us the platform to deliver this, yet we’ve only really scratched the surface with the features it can actually provide.”
When keeping it simple does the trick
73% improvement in first response time
Making support more collaborative and effective
Robust forums help customers help themselves
Automated responses save time and headcount
Maintaining a consistent level of service for all
Turning customers into advocates
Customer service that scales
Faster response times means happier customers