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Medidata replaces six internal systems with Zendesk centralized support

What happens when a research scientist becomes head of customer care at Medidata? For starters, the team replaced six internal systems with one Zendesk instance. Centralizing customer service at scale helped create more streamlined workflows and better data analytics for the cloud-based SaaS platform.

“Working with Zendesk has been like working with a partner that thought like I did, and worked like I wanted to work.”

- Jason Martin

Vice President of Global Customer Care at Medidata


Systems Replaced by Zendesk Support


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What happens when a research scientist becomes head of customer care?

Jason Martin started his career as a research scientist working on mRNA—messenger molecules that convey information from DNA that is translated into proteins. As Martin worked his way up through the field, becoming an expert in bioinformatics, among other things, he began broadening his interests to include clinical research and entrepreneurship.

Like others, Martin embraced the new era of precision medicine on the horizon. Advances in the understanding of genetic information promised that one day soon doctors would be able to prescribe medicine that took into account a person’s genes, environment, medical history, and lifestyle. It was the opposite of the traditional one-size-fits-all approach to treating disease.

In 2012, Martin joined Medidata Solutions and has since held several roles, including head of development. Based in New York City, Medidata was founded in 1999 with the mission of transforming clinical research to power smarter treatments and healthier people. Medidata’s cloud-based platform allows customers to cut clinical development costs and bring drugs and devices to market faster. “We are like the ERP for clinical trials,” said Jason Martin, the vice president of global customer care. “Before Medidata was around, clinical trials were run on paper.”

Medidata’s Clinical Cloud SaaS offering makes it easier to design studies, manage research sites, capture patient data and track the performance of a trial through its platform. Their solution ensures shorter data capture, set up and build times, and helps customers get closer to implementing uniform clinical data standards.

The organized collection of clinical data was a crucial step toward achieving better therapies, and as a result, improved health care, and Martin was happy to be part of it. But he was about to discover that the road to precision medicine had another, unanticipated requirement—mastering the science of precision customer service.

Martin had no former experience in customer service. So when Medidata asked him to diagnose and fix the company’s support problems, he had no choice but to tap into his background.

“What I did is mix a bit of science and a bit of risk management, as well as project management and operations into my approach,” he recalled.

From Martin’s viewpoint, customer care looked like a queuing problem. “We have a high volume of things flowing through, and as long as I can process that volume and measure the quality of what I’m processing, I should be fine,” he realized.

Just before Martin took over the customer care organization, Medidata had selected Zendesk Support to replace six internal systems. The new platform moved Medidata in the right direction, providing much greater flexibility and ease of use, but Martin still had to figure out how to best match Support’s abilities with Medidata’s culture and business priorities.

One of Martin’s first steps was to realign support to be customer-focused instead of product-focused. “I basically split the reporting lines among segments of different customers and said, ‘You own all the people and all the issues for these customers. You have in your power everything you need to solve them,’” he said. Martin also made sure that all customer-facing activities occurred in a single instance of Zendesk Support, rather than in separate instances. “We wanted to have a single trail of work activity across various departments.”

Martin built dashboards in Support that let him track ticket turnaround times not only in the aggregate but by market segment, call type, and other variables that helped determine the complexity of one support request relative to another. He also built similar dashboards for analyzing the ticket backlog.

The new visibility allowed Martin and his managers to calculate ticket throughput and ticket quality. Armed with the data, they optimized workflow across the support organization and customer sentiment improved.

“Zendesk Support enabled me to make those calculations and make those workflows and ticket flows possible,” he said. “It was actually quite simple. All it really required was a 90-degree pivot. I set up queues and reporting dashboards based on the new customer segments.”

Martin also credited Zendesk’s Support Leadership Forums for making him smarter. “The community made me aware of where we were innovative, and where we weren’t, and what was possible with the software,” he said. “It helped me understand what I could be doing. Some of the things that I was looking at were the same types of things that my peers were looking at.”

Martin said his journey to improve Medidata’s customer service is far from over. In addition to rolling out Guide to offer solutions for known issues as well as self-help content, Medidata will soon be able to recognize users when they call in and automatically create a ticket, potentially saving up to half the time agents currently spend on each call. Martin has other plans to reduce call volume and to deflect tickets submitted through email to the help center.

“Working with Zendesk has been like working with a partner that thought like I did, and worked like I wanted to work,” Martin said. “It’s rewarding that I can lead a team through a change and find out very quickly whether or not it has worked. It feels good to be able to make a difference.”