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Primex gains visibility into its support operations with Zendesk

Primex's support operation upgrades its reporting, customer experience, and visibility switching from Salesforce to Zendesk.

“The visibility we have gained with Zendesk has just been the biggest game changer. We’ve been able to pass feedback from customers and partners to other internal teams to make sure that everyone knows what’s being said about Primex and about any of our products.”

Beth Frye

Project Manager at Primex


Primex NPS®


Avg. tickets/mo

29 mins

Primex First Reply Time Median

96 mins

AcuRite First Reply Time Median

After launching a consumer goods catalog in the early 1970s and only receiving two orders, Fred and Karen Koermer decided to try something different. Their time in Germany’s Black Forest, home of the world’s first cuckoo clock, inspired them to create a business that supplied hobbyists with what they needed to build and repair clocks. They named it Klockit and set about advertising in Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Handyman, and American Handyman. When the responses poured in, all 180 of them, the Koermers knew they’d arrived in a mature market in the nick of time.

In the roughly 50 years since, good timing has been a common but not exclusive specialty of the company, which is now Primex Family of Companies (PFOC). In 1973, it moved into the B2B space with Primex selling clock movements to clock manufacturers. By the late 1980s, it acquired Chaney, which owned AcuRite, bringing Primex into the B2C weather instruments space. In the past two decades, it has become one of the leading business solutions for critical notification, as well as environmental monitoring. More than 16,000 hospitals, schools, and private businesses rely on Primex and its sophisticated environmental monitoring to know when their timing is right, and when it needs a reset.

Prime time for an upgrade

Up until 2016, PFOC’s AcuRite and Primex brands were using Salesforce Cases to support its customers and business partners. Needing enhanced reporting and additional support functionality, PFOC looked for a new solution.

“With Salesforce, we couldn’t see how many tickets each agent had, what they were working on, how long it was taking them,” said Beth Frye, a project manager for Primex. Also trying was the fact that email and phone tickets had to be manually created, and if agents didn’t create them, the interaction wasn’t documented. “We were missing a lot of information,” Frye said. “Pulling reports was also difficult.”

AcuRite wanted a vendor with integrated chat support so tickets would be automatically created; this would give agents more time to answer calls so customers wouldn’t be kept waiting. Self-service options were also a must since Primex wanted to scale support by helping agents and end-users easily surface answers and troubleshoot common issues. For example, it knew that when people noticed that outdoor sensors were not connected to an indoor unit, all that was required was for the device’s batteries to be taken out and added back in.

AcuRite knew about Zendesk because the company’s IT team had been using it to support employees since 2011, when it moved off of LiveTime. Given the IT team’s success, AcuRite decided to implement Zendesk Support, Guide, Chat, and Talk in the second half of 2018. Primex was also looking for a new vendor, one that provided integrated phone support; it debuted Zendesk across its own external technical services team in November, just in time for one of the team’s busiest times of year: daylight savings.

Better partnerships

At the time of the Zendesk implementation, Primex was about to hit its busiest period and was in the midst of transitioning over to funnelling sales through channel partners. That meant that it needed to manage not just end-user tickets but projects with premier partners in Zendesk.

“We started managing actual project tickets for installations, orders, and training opportunities. These tickets are open sometimes for weeks and months,” Frye said. “Being able to track all of the information and get that cohesiveness between the different teams with the different platforms that we all use was really important.”

Both Acurite and Primex’s sales, services, and support teams would all need to be on the same page to make these projects successful. Both brands partnered with Zendesk’s Professional Services team to implement service level agreements, set up a custom Magento integration so agents had more business context, and define standard operating processes for using Zendesk and for communicating with teams that weren’t on Zendesk using Side Conversations.

20/20 vision

The biggest game changer has been the visibility and the improved customer experience that the company has gained. “We can offer more channels for the customer to reach us and have all of those channels flow into the same customer profile whether it be email, chat, social media, etc.,” said Adam Hipp, a Primex agent. “With Salesforce, we were only able to offer chat and email, and the chat functionality did not work very efficiently. Besides what we are already offering for channels, Zendesk has even more channels that we have yet to utilize.”

Both the AcuRite and Primex brands can see how much work each agent is doing and how long it is taking them. That data helps Primex forecast how many people it needs to support current and upcoming projects. The increased visibility also allows the support teams to surface customer and partner feedback to the relevant internal teams and to escalate issues faster when they are spotted.

Quick access to historical ticket information has improved agent productivity and the customer experience. “Being able to easily grab customer information without having to search through hierarchies in Salesforce to try to figure out where something is located has been a big help and a time-saver,” Frye said, adding that when people call in, they are less frustrated because agents have the information they need to help them right away.

It also hosts OneVue’s—Primex’s cloud-based monitoring and time-synchronization solution—help center content in Zendesk Guide, deflecting tickets by allowing customers to easily self-serve.

Moving the Primex and AcuRite brands over to Zendesk is part of the company’s overall strategy to become increasingly customer focused, which it hopes to achieve by empowering everyone at the company to make sure customers are not just helped, but heard as well.

Net Promoter and NPS are registered U.S. trademarks, and Net Promoter Score and Net Promoter System are service marks, of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc. and Fred Reichheld.