GoFundMe

GoFundMe strives for uber-fast first response times

  • Campaign Funds Raised $5+ Billion
  • Average Volume/Month 50K
  • Average CSAT 90%
  • Products Used Support, Guide, Talk
  • Products Used

Hurricanes at home and earthquakes abroad. Major illness, a friend or mentor who’s passed on and deserves a worthy memorial. Events like these can be among life’s most challenging. In such times, family and strangers alike tend to have the same question: How can I help?

Since 2010, GoFundMe has offered an answer, impacting 40 million people in 19 countries. All those helpful souls are not just reacting to tragedies, though. GoFundMe’s customers also raise funds for school projects and to support acts of love and generosity—like fabric for the 95-year-old grandmother who sews blankets for rural health clinics in Kenya. There are also projects that reward quiet heroes like Goldin, founder of Get Focused, offering a literacy and fitness program in which kids can earn books through exercise.

For those raising funds, GoFundMe is simple to use: Create a campaign, share it, and accept donations. On the flip side, setting up shop in the online-fundraising space is also pretty simple, since all that’s needed is a website, the right developer, and a suite of payment-related tools. That relatively low barrier to entry has been central to GoFundMe’s five-year relationship with Zendesk. With the crowdfunding space so… crowded… how does a company differentiate itself?

GoFundMe knew that one way had to be to be through customer service. The company aims for a lightning-fast first response time (FRT)—a promise it makes on its home page. After all, explained Morgan Wood, head of customer happiness at GoFundMe, there’s a good chance that you’re somehow in a time of need if you’re using GoFundMe. “We know you might be going through a very difficult time, and the last thing you need is to be waiting for a response from somebody,” he said. “You want your problem or your question answered as fast as possible—in a human way.”

That was unlikely to happen when the company was using Gmail for support. “Support was kind of rogue,” said Wood of the early days. The Customer Happiness team moved to UserVoice, but found that it lacked sufficiently granular insights and the team was unsure that the tool could support their ambitious FRT goal, particularly during periods of rapid scale. As they looked for a replacement, they felt confident that Zendesk Support could meet their needs in terms of response time and scale. That the product also allowed for customization helped seal the decision.

GoFundMe offers 24/7 support every day of the year from the company’s offices in San Diego, California and Dublin, Ireland. Between the two locales, Happiness agents are always available and provide support in six languages through email, Facebook Messenger, and a self-service help center. Powering these channels are Zendesk Support and Zendesk Guide. Additionally, GoFundMe’s Trust and Safety team uses Zendesk Talk to connect by phone in situations that are better handled in person.

To prepare agents to handle sensitive issues, or customers facing challenging times, the Customer Happiness team undergoes a month of intensive customer support training. Mostly, however, customers typically reach out for troubleshooting and coaching on things like password resets, how to best share a campaign, about funds, or why a project isn’t as successful as its organizer had hoped.

Each agent might work on 60 to 100 tickets a day, adding up to a team total of up to 50,000 tickets handled each month. To help meet the team’s first response time, agents are backed by a workflow automation through the robust configuration of some 800 macros, a Chrome extension called Auto Text Expander, and a robust list of triggers and automations.

Ticket routing is a well-oiled machine that Wood and his team are constantly tweaking in support of that differentiating first-response time goal. Also integral to the team’s workflow is a reliance on, and investment in, self-service—both through auto-replies outlining the next steps for support on Facebook Messenger, and by strategically directing customers through GoFundMe’s help center.

For example, when a customer first clicks the help button on GoFundMe’s website, they immediately reach the help center, which offers articles in six languages. If the customer continues to seek help, they engage with a sort of self-service triage: They select who they are—donor, campaign organizer, or beneficiary—and the nature of their question. Then there’s what Wood calls a “last Hail Mary” of self-service: GoFundMe’s partner Solvvy reads the text of a question and pulls information from the help center to try to solve the problem before a ticket is created.

Self-service is also emphasized on Facebook Messenger, which is fully integrated with Zendesk Support. Customers who use this channel are first met with an auto-reply directing them to the help center. Then, if the customer still needs help, they’re prompted to respond with their e-mail address and a ticket is generated in the main queue.

Even when it’s not possible to keep the aggressive first reply time goal, the Customer Happiness team is still able to respond faster by email than what customers are used to elsewhere online. And in the event of a natural disaster, or something else that sparks a sudden spike in campaigns that might cause slower responses, GoFundMe communicates response-time delays to users directly on the contact form.

The push for a rapid email response time has had what Wood calls a halo effect on the entire organization. To maintain the team’s SLA, he said, they have to be “very, very tightly connected” to the product and engineering teams to understand what bugs are popping up and what friction points are causing customers to create tickets. “Pushing toward that goal helps to push the whole organization forward,” said Wood. “For us to meet it, we must react swiftly to any issues that come along and constantly seek out ways to build in self-service and keep creating a better experience for our product.”

All of these efforts show, as the team’s CSAT rating is consistently over 90 percent. GoFundMe uses Zendesk to measure customer satisfaction on interactions, and also conducts two NPS surveys per year to help gauge sentiment across all customers, not only those who submit tickets. In addition, the team reviews solved tickets per day as an output metric; how many replies agents are doing; the reply-to-ticket ratio, which indicates the efficiency of both the agent and the product; and also the number of new tickets created.

Wood and his team also lean on Zendesk from time to time for some customer service thought leadership. “The Zendesk blog and the resources you’ve provided throughout the years have been super-beneficial. The product is in a place where it works really well for us. We are stress-testing it—we use it in a unique way and it has worked very well for us,” said Wood.

“We’ve optimized the team for extremely fast response time, so that the customer knows we’re here for them when they need us, and quickly. “We lean on macros and text expanders to help make us more efficient, but we think about them more as a base for agents to build a response from that is human and not automatic.”

– Morgan Wood Head of Customer Happiness