Fast growth, fast resolution times: How Showpo is scaling support with Zendesk
With 50% YoY growth, Showpo quickly outgrew Freshdesk. Using Zendesk, its 52 agents provide support for customers in 80 countries—and beat its KPIs even while handling a quarterly volume of 46K contacts across its channels of support.
Fashion icon Marc Jacobs once described customers as “the final filter” that determines whether designs succeed or lapse into obscurity. For Australian fashion company Showpo, that unforgiving filter has consistently worked in its favor, with customers snapping up its slinky black party dresses, playful rompers, and stylish home decor in ever-increasing numbers.
Started by Jane Lu in September 2010, Showpo (originally Show Pony) came from humble beginnings, with orders being filled from Lu’s parent’s garage in Sydney. After a brief flirtation with traditional brick-and-mortar storefronts, Showpo embraced e-commerce and now sells its goods to customers in more than 52 countries. Having proved that its fashion sense resonates with women across the globe, Showpo now faces what most companies would consider a pretty good problem to have: 50 percent year-over-year growth and an international footprint that accounts for nearly a third of its business.
Yet rapid growth comes with significant customer service challenges, said Paul Waddy, Showpo’s head of operations. “E-commerce, particularly in fashion, is becoming more and more competitive,” said Waddy, who joined Showpo just over two years ago. “Customer happiness can differentiate us if we do it right. But it’s very easy to say, ‘Our goal is to provide great customer service,’ without answering what that looks like. For us, it’s fast resolution times.”
Achieving and maintaining fast resolution times proved difficult for Showpo at first, when its support teams, split between Sydney and the Philippines, initially relied on Freshdesk. A lack of actionable analytics made resourcing the teams particularly challenging as the company grew, which often led to SLAs not being met.
“We see absolute peaks and troughs across the 24-hour day,” said Waddy, who prior to Showpo founded and ran Antoine and Stanley, a men’s shoe importer/exporter. “If you’re not getting clear reporting on that, it makes it impossible to resource, which then makes it impossible to deliver good results for customers, such as fast response times and, ultimately, high CSAT scores.”
It soon became clear that change was required. In September 2018, Showpo made the switch to Zendesk and rolled out The Zendesk Suite for an integrated, omnichannel solution. The move quickly revealed that the company’s 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. support model was leading to missed calls and chats, as well as failure to meet SLA requirements. “That was a real eye-opener for us, and we’ll absolutely change the look of our team based on that and get more evenly spread out across the 24 hours,” Waddy said. “It could well be that our team will be at its largest from midnight till 4 a.m., which is bizarre for us. On one hand, you think, ‘Oh wow, we got this wrong,’ but on the other, it’s really exciting to see some quick wins, ones that we can make with relatively small changes.”
Those quick wins resonate across a company that puts a laser-like focus on return on investment. “We have no external funding, so we’re accountable for every dollar that we spend,” Waddy said. “We closely monitor everything that we’re spending on. It’s our ability to constantly evolve and be agile and make quick changes that allows us to keep growing, and to identify opportunities a little bit faster than our competition.”
Maintaining an agile company culture requires good communication across teams, and ample resources for training and onboarding, Waddy said. Showpo plans to use Zendesk Guide as a central repository for employee knowledge. “It’s going to allow us to centralize a lot of different documents that are floating around the business,” Waddy said. “I never expected that, and I didn’t consider that when making the decision to go with Zendesk. It’s been a nice bonus that we’ve stumbled across.”
Internally, Showpo uses the Slack integration to spur open and efficient communication, but Waddy believes adding that centralized internal knowledge content will help improve collaboration between teams located in the two warehouses in Sydney, the head office, and the offshore team in the Philippines. “One of the reasons we introduced Slack was to cut down on emails, keep things more collaborative and quick,” Waddy said. “In a busy company, you really want to try to help people help themselves.”
The team in the Philippines is an important part of Showpo’s 24/7 support operation and success. As it has grown, Showpo has made sure the team there enjoys the same benefits regular employees have. “Many of our team members there have been with us six, seven years. They are dialed into our team meetings, we have awards for them, and we’ve enabled them to work from home so they can be with their families,” Waddy said.
The combined agent effort helps tackle the impressive volume of requests that come in–a three-month average of 14K chats, 11K calls, and 21K emails–and still beat its KPIs. For example, Showpo’s agents answer chats within 26 seconds, 4 seconds faster than their KPI.
As Showpo continues to explore what it can accomplish with Zendesk, it’s working on scoping how to use Zendesk to centralize and automate tracking information for shipments, which has previously proved labor-intensive for agents. “When we were on Freshdesk, an agent would have eight, nine, ten different tabs open—DHL, Australia Post, Magento, all these different tabs,” Waddy said. “Our goal is to integrate those into Zendesk.”
In the meantime, Showpo intends to use analytics gleaned from Zendesk Explore to help restructure the support team based on expertise, to form dedicated groups for handling live chat, email, social media, and phone inquiries—all with the goal of delivering the best experience to customers. “Zendesk is really user-friendly and easy to get up and running,” Waddy said. “I can’t emphasize enough how much easier Zendesk makes life for us, be able to see and understand the data. It’ll make a big difference for us at Showpo.”
“We wanted to go from our startup vibes to a big company structure. We’re getting a lot of assistance from Zendesk in doing that. It’s a game-changer.”