Zendesk’s Customer Service Predictions for 2011

January 14, 2011

Zendesk was founded on the idea that if you create a customer service system that customers and support professionals love, then companies will deliver better service. Our users love using Zendesk since it enables them to deliver better customer service across all types of channels — email, web, online chat, community forums, Twitter, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and more. It’s what we believe will continue to keep us ahead of the curve in 2011.

We recently sat down with Enterprise Features to talk about what we see as 2011’s biggest trends in customer service. We say with the utmost certainty that the traditional consumer-to-company dynamic will change in surprising and compelling ways, largely because of emerging technologies that continue to empower consumers with additional channels.

Here’s how we see those newer technologies changing the business-to-customer relationship:

More and more companies will recognize that customers are always online. Whether it’s engaging with others through the web, social media, mobile devices, public discussion forums and so on, customers are online round-the-clock. No doubt some of these channels will continue to evolve; some may be more business-oriented and some more consumer-oriented.

Companies need a multi-channel approach for responding to customers. Customer service will not just be a call center on the phone from 9 to 5.  Businesses that want to deliver great customer service will need to offer multi-channel support and let the customer choose which channel works best.

Companies need to think of customer service not as a cost-center, but as part of the overall product and brand. A company’s brand hinges upon every interaction a customer has with its business. It’s not just about the product, it’s about the experience. So, the questions executives should be asking are:

  • “What does it feels like to be a customer of ours?”
  • “What happens when something goes wrong?
  • “Do we track every service request?”
  • “Do we respond to these requests quickly?”
  • “Do we resolve the issues proactively?”
  • “Is every experience excellent?”
  • “How do we compare to the gold standard?”

Companies that don’t put a plan in place for communicating with their customers through multiple channels are going to be left behind. 2011 will be the year when newer technologies (whether it’s software-as-a-service, social media, or mobile technologies) becomes the mainstream way to engage with your customers. We see huge adoption of social media among our customers — and it’s not just web 2.0 startups. We see some of our very large enterprise customers adopting newer technologies as well. The companies that continue to ignore this shift will be clinging to their fax machines wondering where everyone went.

In some companies, when you are sent to customer service, it means you are sent to a “black hole” of customer dis-service. We’ve all heard horror stories of being kept on hold or having to repeat the same information over and over again to different suppport agents or managers.

We’ve built Zendesk to be the antidote to customer dis-service.  Zendesk actually helps companies deliver better service by turning customer support agents into “customer advocates.” They can use Zendesk to track the details of every support request and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

We think organizations that excel in customer support will continue to improve their brand and their relationship with their customers. Look at a company like Rackspace that prides itself on “fanatical support” or Zappos’ “powered by service.” These are indicators of what customers want and deserve. Here’s to making 2011 another banner year for customer support.

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