At a glance
MADE.COM is an online retailer with the mission to make original designer furniture accessible to everyone.
They do this by cutting out the middlemen – the importers, wholesalers, and high street stores that typically drive up the price. The company is “doing it differently” by working with a cadre of in-house, established, and up-and-coming designers, batching orders, and shipping directly from the makers to consumers. As a result, the company also has to think differently about customer support.
Dee Kumar, Head of Customer Services for the United Kingdom, manages the team of 40 agents that handle contacts by phone, email, web form, and Chat.
While it’s easy enough to answer questions about fabric swatches or visiting the company’s showrooms, tracking down carriers and helping customers with unexpected needs across the UK, Ireland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and soon, Germany, requires both finesse and patience. Consider the case of new homeowners Sonya and Elliott, who ordered the Flynn 3 Seater sofa in Persian Grey. Sonya’s excitement about the piece quickly became despair once the sofa arrived. Only then was it clear she’d taken the wrong measurements, and her made to order sofa was too large for her space.
Human error is an inescapable facet of life. As are hiccups with forces beyond our control, such as the schedules and routes of delivery carriers in foreign countries. This is why Made.com’s agents handle fewer contacts than the average contact center but the number is fitting to their business model as a “service-based, service company.” The numbers that matter to the team relate back to the customer’s satisfaction with MADE.COM’s products and service, and to improving the business as a whole.
It’s a mature perspective for a company so young. At four years old, MADE.COM has undergone a near constant growth spurt. At their founding, they received customer queries into a shared inbox, but quickly realized that wasn’t going to scale. During their first year, co-founder and COO, Julian Callede, chose Zendesk Support as MADE’s customer service software, but things were moving at such a swift clip that they just forwarded emails into Zendesk Support and kept going. Now that they’ve expanded so broadly, however, they’ve gone back to optimize Support and their workflows, and to review what more they can do with the data they’ve collected.
“Zendesk Support represents an excellent way to engage with customers, and to provide reporting off the back of that,” Dee said. “Made is obsessed with understanding what our customers’ issues are, and then improving the customer experience. Customer service is always your eyes and ears, in any company.”
Although they’re less concerned with every metric that can be measured, they’ve steadily implemented automations and triggers to streamline processes and to remove extra clicks in the agent process. The team can automatically check in with customers to see if their reply resolved their question, and tickets that aren’t answered within 24 hours, often over a weekend, are now automatically returned to the main queue for handling by another agent.
These changes add up to important, but small gains. Two ways they’ve been able to make rapid improvements to the customer experience are through their new Help Center, and by sharing Support tickets with their Shanghai office using the “Light Agent” feature in the Enterprise plan. Until recently, the company had static, non-searchable FAQs, which weren’t localized for each country. That changed when they built a dynamic Help Center.
“We want to provide answers to questions before a customer needs to ask,” Dee said.
“Help Center helped us identify the questions we get asked most often. That in itself was invaluable.”
Whereas before each agent might have noticed, anecdotally, that they received the same question 10 or 20 times, the team can now see exactly how many customers search for a particular answer in a given period of time. They learned, for example, that one of their most searched-for questions was whether dining chairs have to be purchased as a pair.
The team has also used custom ticket fields to categorize every ticket so that they can create detailed, micro-level reports for other departments to review. As a result, they’ve learned which carriers are most reliable, or where product descriptions lack clarity or detail. Additionally, by categorizing things like faults in materials and sharing access to that information with the Product Quality Team, the company is able to maintain the highest level of product quality that customers have come to expect.
With Light Agents on the Enterprise plan, the global teams at MADE.COM could collaborate and share information faster.
“Thousands of miles away, at any time, our Shanghai office can check in on the details of a ticket or fault report and provide information back to suppliers, straightaway,” Dee said. “The Shanghai office was almost like proof of concept for the Light Agent functionality. It has increased visibility and impacted the business because these product quality inspectors can gain access to information faster than ever before.”
“Zendesk Support allows us to listen to the customer, and then begin to change the company as a whole.”