BAUHAUS + Zendesk: the power of WhatsApp
With the help of Zendesk, BAUHAUS has standardized and streamlined its customer service. The home improvement retailer recently added WhatsApp, allowing agents to handle 39 messages per hour.
"We found the Zendesk solution to be very easy to use. It offers lots of information we need to optimize our everyday work and provide a better customer experience."
"We have grown with Zendesk, and it has helped us know what to focus on. The tool guides our next steps. We have even learned to recognize our limits, and what we can and can't do."
Home Improvement Retail
Customer tickets through WhatsApp
CSAT for chats
BAUHAUS is a multinational German home improvement retailer that first opened its doors in Spain in 1989. It currently has 11 brick-and-mortar locations throughout Spain, as well as an online shopping platform.
Before creating a contact center in 2017, client relations were handled separately by each of the 11 stores, so service could not be standardized. The company decided to establish a contact center to achieve this standardization, as well as to screen the issues that need to be handled by the post-sales departments of physical stores.
Centralizing and standardizing customer service
The choice to use Zendesk technology played an essential role in the push to build an ideal customer experience, where customer service is consistent across the board.
“From the outset, the stores’ post-sales departments had access to the Zendesk tool. This allowed us to work from the same information. It also helped us enhance our brand image,” said Bea Niewiara, who heads the BAUHAUS contact center.
To choose which tool it would use, BAUHAUS Spain representatives went to Germany, where the company works with SAP, and to Sweden, where they were already using Zendesk. “We carefully considered the two environments and went with Zendesk because we realized how easy it was to implement. We also saw that it was very simple to use and offered a lot of information we need to optimize our everyday work, allowing us to improve our customer experience,” said Niewiara.
The contact center in Spain was an entirely new operation when Zendesk was first implemented. This means the strategy was first designed with no data on managing customer relations, since the stores had no tools of this type. “In our case, we went from 0 to 100 in customer service management. The change when we started to use Zendesk was quite drastic,” added Niewiara.
There are still more steps that could be taken on this road to improvement. The biggest step would be to put in place the Zendesk voice solution, which the company is already working to roll out this year. Currently, 60 percent of the contact center’s business is conducted by phone.
Its dependence on phone support means agents take longer to resolve customer issues. An agent can only serve one client at a time by phone, whereas on the chat, for example, it can serve five at a time. “Our goal is to shift from telephone support to other channels (chat, WhatsApp, tickets, etc.). We want to show our customers that we are omnichannel and that they can contact us in other ways besides calling,” said Niewiara.
The company has several means of letting customers know about its other channels. When customers call, an automated system reminds them they can also get in touch by email or WhatsApp. The website also displays other available options, including a live chat that pops up.
WhatsApp, the latest channel to be added
To reduce the number of calls, the company decided to implement WhatsApp last February. They have yet to experience a marked drop in calls because of the way the COVID-19 pandemic affected business.
Lockdowns caused a huge spike in calls. There were 19,000 calls in January of 2019 and 18,000 in the same month of 2020 (both pre-pandemic statistics). In January of this year, volume rose to 32,000 calls. As for tickets, 8,200 were recorded in January 2020, while there were 16,800 in the first month of this year.
These statistics aside, BAUHAUS says that WhatsApp has been a hit with customers. Since it was implemented, 37% of customers now use the platform. Of a total of 230,000 tickets since February of 2020, 92,000 came through WhatsApp. This has allowed BAUHAUS to respond more efficiently, because agents handle an average of 39 messages per hour on this channel, versus 29 by email.
“[WhatsApp] really saves us loads of time because the response is not as long and formal as it would be in an email, for example. We use the lingo of WhatsApp, with shorter and more informal messages. In emails we use formal modes of address, but on WhatsApp we take a more familiar tone,” the company explained.
Another channel that significantly speeds up the process is live chat. For BAUHAUS, chat has been a priority since their contact center’s inception. “At the time, few businesses had chats, and we thought offering it would set us apart and add value to our service,” said Niewiara.
The speed and immediacy of chat are two of its most notable advantages. The company also slashed the number of chats handled by agents in half by adding an AI-powered bot, which allows customers to self-serve for certain types of questions.
“The chat’s self-service is working very well. Obviously we don’t use it to handle matters of high importance to customers like broken products, malfunctions, etc. But it does help us answer recurring questions. Some of these questions are answered on the website, but the client can’t find them, so the bot directs them to the answers when asked,” explained the BAUHAUS management team.
Of course, customers are always offered another option if they don’t want to talk to a bot and would rather speak to an agent.
Tools for better knowledge of users
All information collected in chat is used to improve the user experience. Chats are reviewed from time to time to learn more about what customers need. Based on their comments, new information is added to the company’s help center.
“This tool is closely tied to our website; we link it to answers published on the site. Sometimes we might not know how to show the customer the information on the website, but both Guide and Answer Bot allow us to point them more quickly to what they are looking for on the site,” said Bea Niewiara.
This is also a major advantage for the online marketing department, which can improve its strategy to better align with the user experience.
BAUHAUS also offers its customers ways to get in touch on social media, with a presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. “We have to be on these channels because our clients use them, and we always try to make things as effortless as possible for them,” BAUHAUS explained.
Data for better decision-making
But if there is one Zendesk feature that has had the biggest impact on optimizing the BAUHAUS contact center, it is the reporting and analytics capabilities. Zendesk’s biggest contribution comes from this tool because the customer service team bases its work on the data Zendesk provides. Even so, the contact center’s managers say they have not yet tapped into the tool’s full potential.
While BAUHAUS already collects a wealth of information in Zendesk, it could be optimized even further by integrating it with other tools and systems already in place. The BAUHAUS management team hopes to integrate it with its online shopping system, Hybris, to be able to see the order number, information on recent purchases, etc. directly in Zendesk.
The way forward, with company
BAUHAUS recognizes the role Zendesk plays in helping them standardize their customer service and create a strategy to continuously improve the customer experience. They also value having a solid foundation of basics, like a phone platform designed to meet the needs of a contact center.
“You have to start with the fundamentals, like making sure a customer doesn’t have to explain something twice and knowing their name when they call us and what they were looking for on our website. These details help us provide better service and be more productive. Getting these basics down is our goal for this year, and we can build on that,” said Niewiara.
With Zendesk, BAUHAUS can continue building on the foundations they’ve established and create a consistent customer experience at every touch point.
“The real-time data that Zendesk gives us enables the department to make the right adjustments. We make better decisions because we know when peak call time is and we can optimize our resources. Working with Zendesk has allowed us to learn our customers’ needs, why they contact us… We have grown with Zendesk, and it has helped us know what to focus on. The tool guides our next steps. We have even learned to recognize our limits, and what we can and can’t do,” said Niewiara.