The Beginnings of a Commodified Help Desk

December 1, 2008

Zendesk has a lot to be excited about these days. We can celebrate the 1st anniversary for our earliest customers, we have passed 120,000 users and very soon Zendesk can laud its 500th customer. We’re growing at an incredible speed and are thrilled that so many are joining us on this path to enlightened customer support.

We have a bunch of interesting announcements coming up in the next months and will continue to dribble out new features and improvements to the system. In contrast to most traditional software companies we don’t do versioning or migration releases or anything like that. We have a constant flow of new features and improvements, and we try to make them available in a simple and non-intrusive fashion so they won’t disturb our customers’ business processes or day-to-day operations.

As you can see from the Customer Karma section on our front page, we have a varied selection of customers. Customers are using Zendesk for employee support, IT help desk, consumer support or B2B support. Some process 10 tickets a week, some 250 tickets a day, some support thousands of end-users, some only a dozen exclusive customers. Some Zendesk customers are traditional brick and mortar businesses, some are pure-play web 2.0 shops, some are divisions of very large enterprises, others are one-man shops. Some are replacing an old Remedy installation to use Zendesk, some are implementing a help desk for the first time.

“We see the beginning of a true commodified help desk as the internet is shuffling the software commodity stack at an incredible speed”

With such a diversified customer base and varied usage pattern we see the beginning of a true commodified help desk. The internet is shuffling the software commodity stack at an incredible speed. Getting online or acquiring an email account was painfully complicated and extremely restrained 10 years ago, nowadays it’s just there. Starting up a blog, establishing an intranet or setting up a collaboration tool was still a process for the few just five years ago. Now it’s just a matter of investing a few hours and a few bucks before you can set up a fully functional enterprise infrastructure using tools from Google, 37signals, Typepad, Salesforce.com and the likes.

The web revolution arrived late to the help desk industry. But now it’s here and in a few years nobody will think of their support system as a large or complicated organizational and technical investment, but as something they turn on with a flick of a switch. And Zendesk plans to spearhead that evolution.

“Zendesk will remain a product with instant gratification and no learning curve. As easy to adopt for the Fortune 5000 company as it is for the 20-man organization.”

We will continue to build the product on the principle of Beautifully Simple. Zendesk will remain a product with instant gratification and no learning curve. A product that everybody can apprehend and acknowledge out of the box. A help desk that allows you to hit the ground running and focus on good old customer service rather than complicated business processes. And we will stick to the principle of Beautifully Simple without compromising on the feature set or the enterprise adaptability of our product. Over the next six months you will see new features and offerings from Zendesk that will ensure that Zendesk is as easy to adopt for the Fortune 5000 company as it is for the 20-man organization.

“So if you haven’t done so already, now is the time to sit down and put down on paper all the costs you have in running, maintaining, upgrading, configuring and extending your current support system”

We feel certain that an Enterprise 2.0 industry will soar in the current economic climate. Historically the implementation and development of internal systems have also been expensive organizational maturation and retention projects. Those days are probably over. And the IT department is rapidly changing its role from hardware janitor to service operator. The hidden costs of running your own commodity systems have seriously started to surface.

So if you haven’t done so already, now is the time to sit down and put down on paper all the costs you have in running, maintaining, upgrading, configuring and extending your current support system. Compare that to the US$2,000 a year a Zendesk system will cost you (for 10 agents). Can you justify the cost difference in actual financial metrics?

Can you identify the added value you get from your current expensive system compared to the costs of Zendesk? If you can and we can’t dispute your calculation, we will send you one of our infamous Zendesk Buddha Machines and one of our very green Zendesk tees. Grab your pen and calculator. We’re ready and looking forward.