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Raleigh, North Carolina: a city whose streets are lined with leafy Oaks, and where the good folks over at Bandwidth had a novel idea. Why not launch a mobile phone that could harness the power of the Internet?
This revolutionary question led to the birth of Republic Wireless, and in 2011 the company began selling Android-based smartphones engineered to work natively on WiFi. When WiFi isn’t available the phone switches over to a nationwide cellular network. Monthly plans cost a fraction of those from traditional cell carriers and, what’s more, there’s no contract.
If the decision to switch sounds like a no-brainer, that’s because “it really is,” said Josh Smith, Republic Wireless’ Process Improvement Manager. “We try and unlock value for the user, and pass the cost savings on.”
“We’re legitimately disrupting the market and are seeing really positive results,” added Jon Keane, Director of Customer Support.
Yet there are bound to be challenges when the competition is a lineup of industry giants. So far, Republic is seeing high adoption rates from both millennials and an older, tech-savvy crowd, as well as a number of people using a smartphone for the very first time. From a support perspective, this broad customer base requires agents to be agile enough to handle a wide spectrum of inquiries that are of varying technical complexity. They must also keep up with the demand from a steadily growing user base, propelled largely through word-of-mouth evangelism.
Republic Wireless’ Director of Operations Technology, Sean Rivers, led the charge to adopt Zendesk Support in March of 2013. Their previous ticketing system made task management difficult. “The experience for our agents and our customers was not optimal. We were finding that we were losing a lot of tickets,” he admitted. “It was difficult to maintain an ongoing conversation.”
That’s because every interaction was treated as a single, isolated event, and it was hard to see when a customer replied or reopened a ticket. Rivers wanted a tool that allowed for ongoing dialogue, as well as one that would allow them to affordably scale as they expand. They also needed to reduce their backlog and high time to resolution rates.
After implementing Support, they saw a 90 percent improvement in time to first contact, and their actual response time per ticket moved from between 35-40 hours to 1-2 hours. Not surprisingly, their CSAT increased as time to first contact decreased—from the mid-60s to upwards of 90 percent. In fact, customer satisfaction has been so high over the past year that they now consider anything under 85 percent low.
Another key reason Republic Wireless chose Zendesk Support was for the many integrations already available, as well as for Zendesk’s flexible, open APIs.
“We’re a two monitor shop,” Rivers explained. “We have Zendesk Support, and we have Salesforce, as well as our own tools that our agents have to navigate, and so the real estate on their screens is extremely important. The more we can bring things together onto a single screen, the better off we are, and the faster we can help customers.”
Republic Wireless uses Support for Salesforce integration to link customer and ticket data, Insights for real-time analytics, TymeShift for time tracking, and have also built their own APIs to bring data from internal systems into Supprt and to export ticket data out to their data warehouse.
“On the agent side, integrations make their job a lot easier, especially when we’re pulling data into tickets about customers from Salesforce and other systems,” said Smith. “As a business, integrations have helped us get a lot smarter about what we’re doing in tickets, and when. The analytics piece is really helpful—things like Insights, and extracting ticket data to our data warehouse—allows us to make better decisions.”
“There’s a significant weight placed on how we handle support,” Keane added. “We’re empowered to think outside the box and take care of customers in ways that I can’t imagine are typical. We really try and offer a service that’s above and beyond.”
Agents are able to consider each customer’s needs and make decisions—and sometimes exceptions—to ensure a positive outcome. This empowerment also leads to happier agents. “Our turnover here is incredibly low, and I think one of the contributing factors is that agents are challenged to think about how they can actually help customers,” said Keane.
On an average day, they handle as many as 600 tickets, and after product launches or other events, they receive upward of 1,000 emails per day.
With Zendesk Support’s powerful reporting, Republic Wireless could make better, more informed decisions.
This is where Support’s triggers and automations help out. Tickets are now handled at the right priority and by the right group, and Smith, Keane, and Rivers appreciate being able to make changes to the system without reliance on development. “If marketing comes to us and says, we’re sending out thousands of emails in the next hour,” Smith explained, “we can go into Support and make adjustments for the volume on our own.”
Rivers said, “Zendesk Support is flexible enough, and easy enough to use, that we can have agents go in and manage the queues in the way we think is most effective, based on our current ticket volume. We can look at our influx of tickets and segment them so they can be handled appropriately. That’s huge for us.”
“The thing that’s great about Zendesk Support is that it’s straightforward. It allows us to manage support and ensures we’re taking care of our customers.”