Sentral elevates customer experience with powerful integrations
Sentral is a network of flexible-stay communities redefining the way people live, travel, and work. The modern multifamily operator has assembled world-class partners in technology, hospitality, and real estate to support its fast-growing business. Sentral leverages robust APIs and customizations in Zendesk to create a seamless experience, improving first-reply response times by 82 percent.
“We conducted a thorough vendor analysis of 10 to 15 customer support platforms. We scored each one based on our requirements and use cases. Zendesk had the winning formula, supported by price, customizability, and robust APIs.”
“Zendesk reporting gives us the data we need to learn about our customers. Collecting all that data in one platform is going to help us grow our company and improve the guest experience.”
9 U. S. cities
Decrease in first reply time
Decrease in full resolution time
Today an unprecedented number of Americans are seeking a flexible lifestyle with the freedom to live, travel and work in different cities. Sentral meets this demand, and exceeds expectations by merging the best aspects of the hospitality industry with the best of multifamily. The fast-growing company enables residents and guests to stay in amenity-rich buildings in some of the nation’s most desired cities (including Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami and Nashville) for flexible lengths of stay–from 12 months to one night, and everything in between.
Sentral’s network of urban residential communities is inspiring a new generation of jetsetters, dreamers, and entrepreneurs. Guests and residents can enjoy all the comforts of a luxury living space with premier amenities such as rooftop pools, fitness centers, and theaters.
Creating a seamless customer experience is key to Sentral’s success, which is why the company is focused on optimizing its digital platform to support its global network of users.
“Today’s tech-driven landscape includes multiple avenues for placing inventory and getting people to lease or stay at your locations,” explains Matt Castoro, Sentral’s director of product development, communications and operations. “The opportunity–and challenge–for Sentral is integrating with different company assets to ensure the team can provide a consistent experience for all customers, regardless of where they book or lease, or for how long they decide to stay.”
On top of meeting digital challenges, the company always keeps its unique audience in mind. Sentral customers expect a certain level of service, and in order to meet that level of service the team needs to ensure quick turn-arounds in response to customer inquiries and requests.
A centralized platform is a CX dream come true
Finding the right customer service platform involved careful research. “We conducted a thorough vendor analysis of 10 to 15 customer support platforms,” says Castoro. “We scored each one based on our requirements and use cases. Zendesk had the winning formula, supported by price, customizability and robust APIs.”
One of Sentral’s top priorities was establishing an omnichannel system. “Our goal with Zendesk was to consolidate all of our communication channels into one customer support platform,” explains Castoro. “That gives our community and offsite team members an easy way to handle customer service tickets, whether using SMS, email, telephone, live chat, or messaging.”
Flexibility was also crucial. “Zendesk’s APIs are well documented and very comprehensive, making it easy to integrate with our internal tech stack,” says Castoro.
Cate Dennis, Sentral’s hospitality manager, was equally enthusiastic about gaining a centralized workspace. “We appreciate having all the information we need on one screen. That’s a huge win for us and was a big reason for choosing Zendesk.”
Reducing first reply time by 82% with streamlined ticketing
Sentral primarily uses Zendesk for managing customer requests and inquiries sent via email or text. The hospitality team uses the platform to support guest communication, while the community teams utilize Zendesk to manage resident and guest communications. All team members use Zendesk for internal support questions.
Since deploying Zendesk, the Sentral team has seen an 82 percent decrease in first reply time and a 58 percent decrease in resolution time.
Those numbers reflect Castoro’s experience. “Part of maintaining our excellent reputation scores is managing multiple customer support channels in an efficient way,” he says. “Zendesk makes it easy to queue up customer requests, notify agents, and order tickets based on our customer service priorities.”
Efficiency is essential because Sentral’s ticket queue is filled with requests from various customers across multiple channels: prospects, residents, guests, email, text, OTAs (online travel agencies), and more. Zendesk supports cross-community communication between residents, guests, and team members, all across a single platform.
Partnering with travel and booking platforms to provide seamless experiences
Sentral launched a custom integration with a leading booking platform, explains Castoro. “These integrations are about improving our team members’ support capabilities through a seamless, consistent experience across all our communities, booking channels, and communication modalities.”
According to Dennis, “The integration will create a continuous conversation in Zendesk that looks just like it would on the booking platforms, so it will be easier for our team members to deliver a smoother, faster customer experience.”
Looking ahead, Castoro hopes to build a dashboard to highlight efficiencies gained from these integrations. Collecting data would help prove out the integration to other hotel booking partners and encourage future collaborations. The objective is to create custom integrations with all of Sentral’s booking partners–improving the customer experience for Sentral partners as well as guests.
Honing the help center for ticket deflections
With a remote workforce in different time zones, Sentral found it essential to create an external and internal help center. “Using Zendesk, we built an internal knowledge base to empower agents to both help customers and learn from other team members,” says Castoro. “Now agents can go directly to the help center or submit a request to internal subject matter experts for more information. We track those requests to identify where more documentation is needed, so it provides internal ticket deflection.”
Castoro also sees an opportunity to merge external channels with the help desk. “We’d like to bring voice into Zendesk to create better ticket classification. Then we can direct customers to help center articles, or push them to a form of asynchronous communication, such as text. Our goal is to provide customers with answers faster and more efficiently.”
A promising future with apps and integrations
Sentral is just getting started as a Zendesk customer, so opportunities abound. “We have so many plans to grow the Zendesk platform to enhance our customer experience and team member experience with customizations,” says Dennis.
For starters, Sentral will launch a mobile app for residents in 2023, featuring Zendesk messaging to provide “anytime availability.” Sentral is also building out a data hub with information on customers, reservations, and properties, which will make it easier to update customer profiles in Zendesk while providing more visibility and data sharing access. Castoro says, “Adding data integrations for marketing, sales, and guest relations will help empower our agents to better serve our customers by providing levels of pertinent data right in Zendesk.”