Fossil consolidated tools to support 14 brands with Zendesk

  • Agent Count 150+
  • Weekly Volume Across Channels 5,000+
  • Languages Supported 21
  • Brands Supported 14+
  • Products Used

For a global enterprise company with a decades-long legacy, it can be challenging to embrace modernity in a purposeful way. But for Fossil Group, it was the clear path forward as the tectonic plates of the timepiece industry shifted and the wearables craze changed how the world thought about fashion and tech

In 2015, the global watch manufacturer carved itself a niche in a decidedly digital space by acquiring Misfit, a wearables startup. As a new line of business, the wearables division of Fossil Group offers more than 300 products, making for a complex ecosystem of interactions between Fossil Group, customers, and partner resellers. Fossil Group receives more than 5,000 emails, chats, and web or mobile inquiries each week through Fossil’s support channels, brand partner sites, and the Google Play store, from wearables customers wondering how to pair or update their wearable with their device or watch.

Supporting wearables customers is a team of more than 150 agents, under the leadership of Bernie Gessner, Vice President of Global Customer Care & Retail Operations at Fossil. The team offers email and chat support using Zendesk Support, Zendesk Chat, and Zendesk Guide, which came as part of the acquisition. From Gessner’s perspective, having an established omnichannel solution already in place was a welcome part of the package deal, as there was already a repository of customer records and internal knowledge around troubleshooting the new products.

“There’s extensive internal help center use,” Gessner said, referring to the team’s use of Zendesk Guide. “The devices themselves are simple, but when it comes to addressing different issues that may arise, our agents have a lot to keep track of. We try to manage that through the help center, so they have an easier time and don’t rely on collective memory.”

The wearables support team is broken into a tiered support model, with Tier 1 handling the more general questions and live chats, while Tier 2 dives into complex technical troubleshooting.

One might have expected Gessner to fold wearables support into the larger organization and to migrate the team to an existing tool. Instead, after seeing how much value the wearables team saw from Zendesk, he decided to roll out Zendesk to the global customer care organization, across all brands, products, and regions, supporting 21 languages globally.

“We’re rolling out Zendesk as the technology at the foundation of our Global Customer Experience platform,” Gessner said. “We’ll extend its use to all customer service agents globally, as well as some of our repair centers, and may also test it in stores.”

Spearheading the colossal task of customizing an inherited software solution for an enterprise of Fossil’s scale is Zac Garcia, Fossil’s Manager of Global Customer Care Operations.

“The challenge was really getting a feel for what Misfit had already built, because we weren’t configuring Zendesk out of the box,” Garcia said. “Once we understood the existing business rules, custom fields, and the like, we were easily able to turn around and build on top of that to make Zendesk meet the needs of our larger global business—in only about a month’s time.”

“Zac and his team built modeled workflows for 14 brands, including knowledge base articles, using only documentation from Zendesk’s help center and by calling Zendesk customer support,” Gessner said. “I think it’s quite a testament to Zendesk’s ease of use that Zac has been able to do this without any IT support.”

Garcia and his small team used Support’s Multibrand feature to separate workflows by brand, and worked with each regional leader to understand their workload and channel needs. After building out workflows for each regional team, Garcia and his team will also tackle the change management aspect of rolling out a new tool. In the case of the larger organization, some teams have not yet used an enterprise email solution—previously handling just voice and chat contacts—while other teams had other tools and siloed solutions in place.

Before acquiring Misfit, Gessner had been looking at rolling out an omnichannel solution, and was considering Zendesk alongside several other platforms.

“We had already invested in Salesforce, and the challenge was that it’s expensive. Even so, we thought we should continue down that path until we saw the entire organization wasn’t embracing it,” Gessner explained. “The reason we chose Zendesk is that we had started this relationship. We were really looking for other enterprise organizations that weren’t just about making the sale. Zendesk was more in line with the relationship side of things, and we knew Zendesk’s platform was going to work for us, and that it would be easy for agents to learn. Then what really drove it home was the acquisition of Misfit and just being able to pick up and run with Zendesk.”

The seamless omnichannel solution Fossil is building with Zendesk will provide Gessner and leadership with better visibility into agent productivity—where they’re spending the most time and why—as well as real-time customer feedback around the customer experience. Additionally, being able to open up new channels like self-service and chat, or to manage interactions from new channels, like the Google Play store, through a central tool is all part of “the value the Zendesk platform adds to the business.”

“We’ve been using so many tools, we’re spending more than we’re saving. We wanted to get Zendesk in, make it our dedicated platform, and to turn off some of the other solutions we have running globally,” Gessner said.

Garcia added, “We were so siloed before, and one of our favorite things about Zendesk is being able to take a dive deep across our different channels and get the analytics we need.” Among the metrics that matter most to the business are first reply time, customer satisfaction, and total resolution time. The team is using Support’s SLA feature to set and measure service level agreements, and to ensure that tickets keep moving forward.

Another added value is the extensibility of Zendesk Support through the Zendesk Apps Marketplace. Garcia and a small team of internal developers are building integrations with other key tools and platforms including Fossil’s homegrown CRM, the Google Play store, JIRA, and Shopify.

As Fossil’s global customer care organization continues breaking down silos, the wearables team has embraced the Knowledge Capture app in Zendesk Guide. Using the app, agents can search the help center from the ticket view, insert links to relevant articles in ticket comments, and add inline feedback to the article itself so that agents benefit from each other’s knowledge.

Being able to easily find answers to commonly asked questions, as well as automating workflows, are providing time savings. To that end, Garcia is also building out a self-service portal where customers can manage repair orders for traditional watches, alleviating back and forth status checks. This will allow the team more time to scale to accommodate growing volume on the wearables side.

The opportunities in the wearables space will only continue, Gessner said, noting the wide range of wearables already available today, from fitness trackers that track your daily steps to full-display devices that remind you of your next meeting or let you respond to an email, to a hybrid tracker that lets you know when you received a text from a favorite contact or lets you take a selfie without the selfie stick.

“The products are getting more complex, and we want to give them the ability to self serve, because I think most customers prefer that,” said Gessner, “and also ensure we can spend time working through those issues with customers.”

“We want to make as many channels available to our customers as possible. Zendesk gives us a system where the customer can engage with us in the way that they want to, and we then have the capability to serve them all the way through.”

– Bernie GessnerVice President of Global Customer Care & Retail Operations