Mizuno USA teams with Zendesk for integrated and agile CX
Longtime sports retailer Mizuno brings a rich tradition of customer-centric thinking and innovation to all aspects of its business. Building a robust tech stack around Zendesk Suite and Sell has enabled the Mizuno USA internal support and sales teams to consolidate their operations and create a more efficient and personalized customer journey, end to end.
“The goal was to fully integrate all of our support services–chat, ticketing, and eventually phone–in the same application. I did my due diligence researching vendors, and Zendesk had the best product.”
Director of Customer Support at Mizuno USA
“One of our biggest accomplishments moving to Zendesk was integrating both platforms with our ERP system, so we’ve connected our customer information across the entire organization.”
Director of Customer Support at Mizuno USA
Peachtree Corners, Georgia
Started Using Zendesk
Average one-touch tickets
Average Monthly Tickets
Mizuno USA is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mizuno Corporation, one of the largest specialty sporting goods manufacturers in the world. Mizuno USA manufactures and distributes baseball, golf, softball, running, swimming, track and field, and volleyball equipment, apparel, and footwear for North America.
The Mizuno brand has a long and storied history stretching back to its founding in 1906. Globally, Mizuno Corporation supports two flagship stores in Japan and has more than 3,700 employees. A true leader in innovation and industry, Mizuno’s mission is to ‘create the best products for customers’ and contribute to a happier society through the promotion of sports.
Passionate agents boost staff retention
Whitney Conner’s journey with Mizuno USA began 22 years ago, as a former college golfer who wanted to work in the golf industry. Starting out as a support agent set Conner on a path of professional growth in CX, discovering along the way her innate strengths in order management and customer support.
When the role of Director of Customer Support at Mizuno USA opened up six years ago, Conner was a natural fit for the job. Today, she manages three support teams: a customer-facing group for retail brick-and-mortar stores, a consumer-facing group tackling questions on warranties and products, and an order fulfillment team. A total of 16 Mizuno support agents handle 6,000 average monthly tickets, with more than half of those agents working on the golf side.
One key to Conner’s success over the years has been hiring the right people. “We look for specialized athletes who are passionate about a sport, passionate about the brand. Once those people get in the door, they stay longer.”
Out with siloed teams, in with unified support
Up until 2022, Mizuno USA had been operating in a very siloed CX tech stack, with ticketing in Salesforce, sales using a separate CRM, and another team working in Zoho. “We were all using different applications and none of the applications were integrated,” recalls Conner.
That decentralized structure posed challenges in daily functioning and put the team at risk of losing valuable information when sales reps turned over, so a new solution was needed.
“The goal was to fully integrate all of our support services–chat, ticketing, and eventually phone–in the same application. When the sales team found out we were talking to Zendesk, they jumped on board and wanted it to be an investment for the whole organization,” adds Conner. “I did my due diligence researching vendors, and Zendesk had the best product.”
The team set to work implementing Zendesk Support for the customer service and credit departments, and rolling out Zendesk Sell CRM software for sales. Conner says, “One of our biggest accomplishments moving to Zendesk was integrating both platforms with our ERP system, so we’ve connected our customer information across the entire organization.”
The Mizuno website features a team sports uniform builder app that allows support agents to refer leads to sales reps. Likewise, sales reps can submit tickets directly into Zendesk on behalf of customers. Integrated CX tools are helping build stronger relationships and driving greater collaboration across the sales and support teams, which results in creating better customer experiences.
Greater visibility drives agent agility
A deciding factor in choosing Zendesk was the promise of more robust data. The Salesforce search function did not allow team members to track the type and number of queries received around specific products, such as a golf bag strap or glove. Given Mizuno’s large manufacturing presence assembling golf clubs, agents also needed easy access to information so they could respond quickly to questions about new orders.
Consolidating information in Zendesk made it possible to unify communications across various support groups and improve training methods. For example, Mizuno agents used to be trained to interact with either consumers or customers, and now they can do both.
“With Zendesk, we were able to blend the teams and bring both support inboxes for brick-and-mortar customers and consumers together,” notes Conner. “It makes agents more fluid and resourceful, and they know more about the business from both sides.”
The new system has already brought gains in efficiency and enabled Mizuno support teams to resolve 86 percent of queries with one touch. In the long run, having well rounded agents that can speak to both the business and the product side will lead to higher customer satisfaction and stronger brand connections.
Flexible support channels to fit customer needs
Seasonality has a significant impact on sales and support volume at Mizuno, especially during the winter holiday rush and in springtime when team sports ramp up. The day after the Masters Tournament, Mizuno support received a record 900 calls from golf fans, and one agent heroically handled 200 calls.
Mizuno customers also represent an array of athletic interests and user personas, each with their own communication styles and channel preferences. For example, golfers tend to use phone support because they can more easily discuss golf club specs. Runners are often more tech savvy and prefer using email or chat, while customers in team sports reach out across different channels.
The support team has learned to adapt their communication channels to fit the customers’ unique needs and handle fluctuations in volume. Since rolling out Zendesk in June 2022, Mizuno has been leveraging voice, email, and web forms, with plans to launch chat and social channels soon.
Powering plans for a winning future
With a robust tech stack in place, Mizuno is better positioned to introduce new features and capabilities to help drive efficiency. At the top of their to-do list: adding automation, building an external help center, and launching a bot for self-service.
The team also has plans to integrate review platforms with Zendesk and enhance data reporting to give agents more control over SLA tracking and other metrics. “Zendesk will save us time and solve the problem of having KPIs come from different places,” says Conner.
Best of all, Mizuno team members now have the tools and the know-how to put their CX strategies into practice–which is very empowering. In Conner’s book, that’s a major win. “With the previous platform, we had to rely on external partners to make changes and updates. With Zendesk, I can do the administration myself.”