Fútbol Emotion: Messaging is a winning strategy for growth
Fútbol Emotion is the leading football specialty retailer in Iberia, Spain, and Portugal with a customer reach of 3M+ and global support in up to 10 languages. The company scored a major win by rolling out Zendesk Suite with Sunshine Conversations to achieve a conversational strategy at scale. Creating personalized chatbot flows and centralizing support helped agents tackle high ticket volumes and improve the customer experience. The debut of multilingual support enhanced conversational experiences and reduced dependency on Spanish as a default language.
“Sunshine Conversations is the keystone of the scalability of our customer service operations, breaking down barriers and adding value in every single interaction between the customer and the customer service agent.”
eCommerce Manager at Fútbol Emotion
“We adapted our people strategy to the seasonality of our sales, and we deployed Zendesk with customizations to elevate our CX technology. As a result, our company sales hit EUR 34 million in 2021 with the maximum customer service efficiency to date.”
eCommerce Manager at Fútbol Emotion
Number of Employees
Joined Tansley Group
Decrease in WhatsApp ticket volume
Up to 10%
Decrease in Spanish tickets
In 2001, Fútbol Emotion kicked off as a family-owned business focused on goalkeepers in Zaragoza, Spain. Today it’s the leading football specialty retailer in Iberia, Spain, and Portugal, and ranks among the top four football retailers in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. The company has racked up success with its own brand of football equipment, SP Fútbol, while forging distribution partnerships with sporting elites such as Nike, adidas, and Puma.
Fútbol Emotion operates 20 brick-and-mortar stores in Spain and Portugal, and conducts e-commerce through its website, marketplaces, and unique mobile app. After setting a double-digit pace for growth starting in 2010, the company identified the next step on its CX roadmap: scaling customer service operations through people and technology.
In May 2022, Fútbol Emotion joined Tansley Group, aiming to create consumer ecosystems which have meaningful social impact and help build and boost passions.
Scaling up with centralized, omnichannel support
In 2019, Fútbol Emotion’s support team was operating on Google Suite with an email inbox managed by 10 agents and a process that lacked metrics, data, and scalability. By the end of the year, the company had rolled out a native integration with Zendesk Suite, including the shopping widget and support with 11 agent licenses.
“Zendesk helped us to scale operations, in terms of logistics, customer service, and brick-and-mortar stores,” recalls Daniel Hsu, eCommerce manager at Fútbol Emotion.
Specifically, the team has been able to connect its communication channels in a single platform where agents can view and manage high volumes of conversations. That visibility is crucial for Fútbol Emotion to provide native support through all the core business units of the company across ten languages and seven different channels. The company also uses Zendesk Sell to record commercial transactions and track historical data of potential clients on the B2B side.
Fútbol Emotion was planning to introduce the Zendesk knowledge base for 24/7 support in 2020, but resource challenges during the pandemic halted the project. That same year, Hsu assumed leadership of the customer service team and set to work rebuilding the team, adapting it for seasonality, and scaling up its technology.
A conversational approach is the ultimate game changer
As Fútbol Emotion recovered its sales and budget in 2021, the team began shifting away from its legacy architecture to build a more complex ecosystem based on delivering great conversational experiences to their customers through Zendesk and partner integrations. Hsu explains, “We understood the limitations of scaling a synchronous paradigm with Gmail and our big thinking led us to add the Zendesk messaging API with a Spanish third-party chatbot partner Inbenta.”
Inbenta is a Spanish company that develops an Automatic Language Processing (or Natural Language Processing – NLP) engine, which provides answers to human intentions formulated in natural language. Based on this proprietary and patented technology, Inbenta builds a set of conversational solutions for businesses such as chatbots, knowledge management tools, and search engines. In all, Inbenta helps more than 200 companies from 8 offices around the world answering more than 1 million user questions daily.
In Hsu’s mind, “Sunshine Conversations with the Suite is the keystone of the scalability of our customer service operations, breaking down barriers and adding value in every single conversation between the customer and the customer service agent.”
Prior to using Zendesk, all conversations at Fútbol Emotion relied on a single channel and agents were unable to keep up. The company was growing fast and delivering quality engagements was at risk.
Switching conversations from email to Zendesk messaging opened up a world of possibilities for Fútbol Emotion. “With the unified workspace, if someone messages customer service via WhatsApp, the agent can reply by WhatsApp or email,” Hsu adds.
“Now messaging via WhatsApp, Twitter, and web are all fully integrated in Zendesk support, so it’s easy to track ticket volume using the data collected,” says Hsu. That omnichannel integration helped Fútbol Emotion handle 100,000+ conversations in 2021.
Self-service soars with AI chatbot
A Spanish-only chatbot was first introduced in the Spanish market in February 2022 which significantly reduced the conversations coming in via Web Widget and WhatsApp, thanks to an 80%+ self service ratio in Spain. Further scaling on this success, Fútbol Emotion has now released a Portuguese AI bot powered by the Sunshine Conversations Platform to manage the high volume of conversations coming in from that market.
With the chatbot in place, conversations across channels are being streamlined. For example, ticket volume managed by an agent on WhatsApp has decreased by a whopping 80 percent now that the customer’s first support interaction often occurs via AI chatbot before being connected to an agent.
Customization leads to improved conversational experiences
Being able to create sophisticated conversational experiences within the chatbot gives Fútbol Emotion the edge they need to stand out in the market. Hsu says, “We have taken advantage of the rich content that Sunshine Conversations provides as a native integration with Zendesk.”
Hsu highlights data-dipping as a prime example. “If a customer wants to know the status of an order and starts a conversation with our support team, the AI bot knows who they are without asking for the order number, because that metadata is already stored in the system.” Better visibility for agents makes it easier to deliver a great customer experience.
Fútbol Emotion sees a product carousel as another innovative use case with Zendesk messaging on the horizon. “We want to customize the chatbot experience to provide personalized recommendations for football shoes, based on the customer’s age, style, frequency of play, type of field, skill level, and price range,” says Hsu.
Adapting staff resources for better cost savings and service
In Hsu’s experience, Fútbol Emotion is a complex business with a high learning curve for customer service agents who may not be ready to manage messaging channels and meet strict SLAs. Hsu was pleased to discover that “Zendesk was easy to learn because it’s so intuitive, and the efficiency gains were exponential.”
“The combination of synchronous and asynchronous channels in Zendesk allowed us to reduce the agent learning curve, because we divided the complexity of work by channels and languages,” Hsu adds. “Now we can work on improvements using new triggers, new automations, and better ticket routing.” By introducing changes in scalability in a streamlined way for customers and agents, the agents adapted to Zendesk without extra training.
A user-friendly platform and flexible staffing are essential for Fútbol Emotion. Around 70 percent of the company’s sales are recorded in the second half of the year, so the company doubles its customer service team with temporary agents to meet the demand. Using Zendesk, the team can smoothly shift from 10 fixed agent licenses to an agent pool with flexible credits.
“We adapted our people strategy to the seasonality of our sales, and we deployed Zendesk with customizations to elevate our CX technology. As a result, our company sales hit EUR 34 million in 2021 with the maximum customer service efficiency to date.” Zendesk has given the team an efficient and cost-effective way to onboard temporary agents during high season while still providing a great customer experience.
Growing by leaps and bounds with more innovation
Next, Fútbol Emotion plans to leverage Zendesk messaging further and introduce an optimized chatbot in France and Italy. The expansion plan will also involve using the brand’s large social media reach to create original content and adding social channels beyond direct messaging.
Fútbol Emotion’s ultimate goal? To be the foremost football retail brand in southern Europe and Latin America offering the best conversational experiences to B2C and B2B customers.
To that end, Daniel Hsu has been encouraging his team to take a more proactive approach since he began managing e-commerce at a global level in January 2022. “I want to keep developing more innovative cases with Zendesk messaging, such as payment transactions through the AI bot, proactive marketing, and commercial actions.” Hsu has good reasons to be optimistic. “With Sunshine Conversations in the Suite, there’s no limit from the technical side on what we can achieve.”