How Zendesk measures the customer experience

How Zendesk measures the customer experience

November 22, 2016
How Zendesk measures the customer experience

Customers often ask us how we use Zendesk products internally. That’s why we introduced a discussion series in our community forum called “Zendesk On Zendesk”. It’s here that we often share how we’ve rolled out new channels of support or tricks we love, like “Bump Bump Solve”.

Because every business has different needs and Zendesk’s configuration options are limitless, our goal is never to encourage our customers to fine tune their Zendesk products in exactly the same way we do. Instead, we want to share ideas and shed light on some possibilities. After all, Zendesk and its customers share a common goal: improving how we deliver customer experience.

But how do you know if and when you achieve this end goal? Here at Zendesk, delivering on the customer experience is more than making customers happy and measuring customer satisfaction.

“We tell our advocates ‘just make it awesome’”, said Paul Barth, Zendesk’s director of global advocacy operations and strategy. “But as an organization, we have to deliver customer experiences that also make business-sense. We’re looking at how we can continue to improve our service while simultaneously getting more strategic in measuring our department against costs and revenue.”

At the heart of this challenge is a team of analysts, led by Craig Devine, manager of advocacy software engineering and analytics, who sift through the mountain of Zendesk data to uncover opportunities. “We’re not just number crunchers,” Devine said. “We are tasked to translate data into something actionable to optimize processes, measure current initiatives, and plan for the future.”

Analyzing agent productivity by channel
One of our major initiatives this past year was to optimize the many communication channels customers can use to reach out for help.

“We want our customers to be able to contact us via their preferred channel,” Barth said. “But behind the scenes, we want to better understand the right mix of channels and the resources needed to staff them.”

Senior Data Analyst Sarah Kay is one of the analysts that digs into our data to find the answers to these questions.

“When you analyze channel performance, it’s not always an apples-to-apples comparison,” Kay said. “You have to consider the nature of the channel and the types of behaviors it elicits.”

For example, response times are immediate on synchronous channels like phone and chat, but customers tend to ask multiple questions while on the phone and via email. To evaluate the effectiveness of these channels, Kay focused on how efficient Zendesk advocates were at handling inquiries by channel. To do this, the team looked at:
Cost per channel
 

By this calculation, the team learned that our most efficient channel is live chat.

“Our advocates can typically handle three to five chats at one time,” Kay explained. “Chat tends to see simpler questions, but at the same time, customers like to chat so we saw an increase in volume.”

Tracking the ROI of self-service
While opening communication channels is critical to delivering a great customer experience, resources are finite for almost every support organization. What makes the most “business-sense” is to scale through self-service, and determine how our customers self-serve has been another focus point for the Advocacy Analytics team.

“Investigating how people use our Help Center is particularly interesting,” Kay said. “It’s like getting to know our ‘silent customers’ who don’t usually speak up, and understanding where they’re getting stuck.”

To understand our customers’ self-service experience, Kay and the team monitor a variety of customer service metrics:

  1. The number of tickets across asynchronous channels like email and forms solved with a single response—aka “one-touch” solves.
  2. These tickets help us understand how many of our tickets could potentially be solved by a Help Center article.
  3. The number of searches in our Help Center where the customer did not click on an article. The self-service ratio, to measure the amount of engagement with self-service content. We use this calculation to determine the self-service ratio:

Self service ratio
 

“Each of these metrics gives us intel on how useful our Help Center content is, and where we need to invest more,” Kay explained. “By applying various lenses to this analysis, we can start to piece together the journey of a self-service customer.”

Measuring how agents contribute to the customer experience
Measuring these various elements of the customer experience is just the starting point. “Every data point that’s being used to measure the customer experience needs to be mapped back to what our advocates are doing,” Devine explained. “It’s the only way you can truly measure the value of how our advocates contribute to the business.”

One way Devine and his team tackled this analysis was to measure the sales and revenue influenced by advocates.

“The lines between sales and customer support can be blurry,” Kay said. “Our advocates often provide product knowledge and support that leads to a sale.”

Bringing together revenue and support data into analytics tools like Zendesk Explore for analysis enables the team to see the number of trial conversions our advocates touched, and how many customer wins were aided by the support our advocates provide. This analysis is taken further by then comparing the value of the customers who received support to the cost of the advocacy organization.
Cost variance
 

While it’s useful to assign a dollar sign to the work an advocate does, that number never fully explains their value. Support advocates aren’t just solving tickets day-in and day-out. They’re also making other contributions, like creating self-service content, engaging with our community, and working with the product team to troubleshoot bugs.

All these analyses and metrics help guide the Zendesk Advocacy team, but the analytics team is also working towards a bigger goal.

“I think of our Advocacy team as patient zero,” Barth said. “We are constantly thinking of how we can best run our department, but also asking how can we best provide feedback that our product team can build upon. How can we push the limits of our products so we can help our customers deliver a better experience to their customers?”

A special shout-out to all the amazing Zendesk analysts who are the brains of our operation: Sarah Kay, Cindy Au, Brent Clark, and Alex Small.

Get more tips from our Zendesk on Zendesk series. And as always, email us at support@zendesk.com for any questions on how to improve your Zendesk analytics.

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