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An intelligent future is calling—here’s a look back at Zendesk Relate 2023

It’s not too late to catch our keynote and product announcements, and watch additional on-demand content from Zendesk Relate 2023.

Last updated May 18, 2023

What a year. Here at Zendesk, we’re so grateful that we were able to meet again in person for our annual flagship conference, Relate. This year we returned to the stage with a hybrid event, bringing together customers, partners, and community in San Francisco at the historic Pier 70 shipyard. And, similar to last year, we streamed our keynote live for our digital audience, across five different broadcasts and time zones.

Certainly it was a year of change and, at Relate, our new CEO Tom Eggemeier shared his vision for how Zendesk will deliver intelligent CX in the days ahead. We also launched our largest product announcements for the year, including Zendesk AI.

Zendesk Relate is also where we share our vision for where customer experience is headed, based on our research and trends in the market. We like to take the long view but realize the very real need to adapt to market changes in real time. And, in the wake of the pandemic, amidst ongoing economic uncertainty and the advent of advanced AI, we all have a lot to think about. Even so, these are exciting times and here’s a quick look back at Zendesk Relate.



This year, as Eggemeier said: “efficiency at all costs” isn’t a sound business strategy; instead we’re focusing on how efficiency can drive profitable growth. We all need to apply AI to drive efficiency, even while we may be faced with controlling costs, and yet still without sacrificing personalization and while adding an empathetic touch to the customer experience.

Zendesk AI for CX: From aspirational to the right now

We’re all talking about AI, but Zendesk AI is a revolutionary new offering that CX teams can take advantage of today. These AI capabilities include tone shift, sentiment analysis, and summarization, built to support agents in the pivotal, high-stress moments that matter most.

At our Relate event, Zendesk’s head of AI, Cristina Fonseca, as well as product experts like Claire Peracchio and Ian Hunt, and Director of Operations and Customer Services at UK retailer Liberty London, held court at our product lounge, diving into new features like intelligent triage (eliminating the need for time-consuming manual triage in a ticket queue), advanced bots (bots with pre-trained intents), and macros. Hunt reported that his team is enriching tickets with AI, and he anticipates features like intelligent triage will have a big impact come holiday high season.

Zendesk AI is custom-built for CX and helps teams expand their reach by managing more tickets with smarter bots and helps agents manage tickets faster. In other words, it helps teams scale customer service. Zendesk experts Jennifer Vargas and Caroline Hynes, both senior directors of Product Management, were on hand to explain how our Agent Workspace can maximize efficiency, help agents make data-driven decisions in the moment, and boost productivity with customizations.

Learning from our customers

In our customer-focused breakout sessions, Dale McCrory, VP of Product and Engineering at Cox Automotive, joined Kevin Boyer from Zendesk to discuss the challenges of creating an excellent online car-buying experience. By leaning on the power of conversational commerce—using messaging apps to connect with customers—the team at Cox is turning everyday support conversations into opportunities to generate more revenue. Agents are empowered to make product recommendations, share promotions, and handle payments all within the same conversation.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the power of personalized conversations also proves successful at online dating pioneer, Match. At Relate, Alice Curry, VP of Member Services at Match Group, explained how using proactive messaging to deliver personalized dating advice within the platform boosted customer loyalty and retention, thereby having a direct impact on revenue growth.

And integrating customer service with product, sales, and success teams is also a priority for Kevin Barry, VP of Global Technical Services & Support at Degreed. He joined us to share tactics for customer retention, automating requests and running a lean team in hyper-growth phase.

CX Trends: Separating hype from reality

Meanwhile, Zendesk’s Paulette Chafe spoke with CTO Adrian McDermott, Wilson Nieves of Citizen Watch Co., and Rapha Fontes of Squarespace about major trends shaping the future of CX. McDermott, Nieves, and Fontes explored a half dozen emerging trends, with the promise of generative AI taking center stage.

From AI acting as brand companions to the rise of synthetic sales associates and agents, the panel discussed the far-reaching implications of AI. While the trio found much to be excited about, some of the trends—for example, the concepts of agents live streaming and “digital twins”—were met with skepticism, due to questions about financial viability and implementation.

That said, one trend in particular resonated with the panel: companies employing inclusive technology with adaptive support. As Fontes sees it, the technology available today and in the near future, could help businesses provide richer service to customers with special needs, such as the visually impaired.

Watch more, on demand

Our customers are our inspiration. If you weren’t able to join us at Relate, please tune in to hear more about our latest releases directly from our product leadership team.

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