Article | 4 min read

Stay agile and innovative—and rein in expenses

Facing a possible recession, business leaders are making tough choices. It’s possible to slow spending and hiring, without having to sacrifice quality or scale.

By Julie Swinney, CFO, Zendesk

Last updated December 19, 2022

Interest rates are rising, the housing market is slowing, and according to the Consumer Price Index report released on October 12, inflation is increasing at the fastest rate in 40 years in the U.S. Prices for all items—not including food and energy—climbed by 6.6 percent over the year through September.

With the ongoing war in Ukraine and rising energy costs, the economic picture across the world isn’t much better. “Global economic activity is experiencing a broad-based and sharper-than-expected slowdown, with inflation higher than seen in several decades,” the International Monetary Fund said in a report released on October 11.

Provide personalized service without spending more

Globally, many organizations may have to slow spending for a variety of reasons, but spending less doesn’t have to translate into loss. This can be a particular challenge for companies historically viewed as a cost center, such as customer service. Yet it’s also a good opportunity to review whether you’re using your existing support system to its fullest potential.

When you can’t add headcount, automations aren’t just “nice to have,” but a critical tool. And when you offer customers omnichannel, conversational service, your CX agents can provide a personalized response—fast.

Enabling automations like chatbots and self-service pages will help to rein in expenses, too. You can also deploy an extensible platform that connects to your existing tech stack with APIs, webhooks, and an application framework. This way, you can still provide personal and customized services without spreading resources too thin.

Reduce costs while increasing customer satisfaction

Founded in 2004, Virgin Pulse is the world’s largest cloud-based employee well-being solution. Serving 14 million members in 190 countries, the app helps businesses promote a healthy lifestyle for their employees with health coaching, medical and condition management, well-being engagement, and digital therapeutic interventions.

Facing double-digit annual growth, Virgin Pulse needed to improve efficiencies with its self-service options.

“We decided to invest time and resources into improving our support site, which is powered by Zendesk and home to all of our external FAQs, and the results have been absolutely phenomenal,” says Michael Pace, Senior Director of Global Member Services at Virgin Pulse.

Virgin Pulse now serves millions more customers—a 2.5x improvement of its human-to-FAQ-view ratio. And this increase in service happened without affecting the Member Services budget.

“If we had not implemented the self-service strategy, we would probably have had to increase our budget another 25 to 30 percent over what we spend today to handle the increased volumes,” Pace explains.

Virgin Pulse was not only able to stay within budget, but it also enjoyed a six percentage point increase in CSAT.

Increase productivity without compromising high-quality service

LUSH is an international beauty retailer known for its fair-trade practices, sustainability credentials, and cruelty-free cosmetics. Founded in the U.K. in 1995 as a shop featuring cosmetics made from fresh fruits and vegetables, LUSH now operates almost a thousand stores in 49 countries.

In 2016, LUSH partnered with Zendesk to standardize its business processes and digital offerings. That year—right before the holiday shopping season—LUSH also replatformed its website.

“It was the busiest Christmas the digital team ever had,” Naomi Rankin, LUSH’s Global CX Manager, explains. “Having Zendesk as a stable force at that point meant we could identify any potential customer issues and quickly get those rectified.”

With those strategic changes, LUSH saw a 50 percent increase in productivity while saving $208,387 in cost efficiency. The customer experience was improved as well, earning a CSAT score of 91.8 percent, well above the industry average, even with a 60 percent increase in tickets during COVID.

“While we’re now a global business with a thousand shops, we want to perpetuate that feeling that we’re your friends, and if you come to us we have the time to listen to you and find a resolution,” says Rankin.

Take action during a downturn

If you’re in the position of slowing spending, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice exceptional CX. Review your current customer experience strategy, and take the necessary steps to improve efficiency. This will not only help your agents—it can help improve your bottom line, too.

Check out other areas where you can see the highest return on your service investments to save cost and time.

Want to stay agile during a downturn?

Here's a guide for CX leaders to adapt customer service when facing uncertainty.

Want to stay agile during a downturn?

Here's a guide for CX leaders to adapt customer service when facing uncertainty.

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