SMC + Zendesk: Streamlining customer support into a single, global solution

In order to streamline all customer inquiries into a global platform, SMC built a multi-language, enterprise-grade experience for its customers powered by Zendesk. After just four months, the global original equipment manufacturer (OEM) had fully implemented Zendesk across nine countries and will see a projected total annual benefit of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

SMC Corporation

“In just four months, the SMC team implemented Zendesk across nine countries, none of which had been using Zendesk previously. In this launch, we implemented support in 10 languages, impacting 130,000 end-users.”

Patrizia Eberhart

Team leader business systems of global IT at SMC Corporation

“Time-to-cash absolutely improves with Zendesk; with faster resolution times, SMC fulfills and invoices orders more quickly. ”

Robin Rodriguez

Global manager of platform and service delivery at SMC Corporation

Products used

Industry

Manufacturing

Founded

1959

Headquarters

Tokyo, Japan

Employees

20,000+

Offices

500 sales offices in 83 countries and regions worldwide

1000+

Number of agents

4 months

Time to implementation

15+

Languages supported

Since its founding in 1959, SMC has been a leader in the manufacturing industry. With a 32 percent global market share of sales, SMC’s products are recognized across the industrial-automation space. Their parts help Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) in such diverse industries as food packaging, automotive, semiconductors, and more, build machines that are then used by companies like Nestlé and Unilever.

SMC operates a traditional B2B manufacturing model. In addition to using Zendesk to process orders, their inside sales team uses it to support their customer’s technical product inquiries around things like building new or optimizing existing machines with SMC parts. They also support their customer’s customers who operate these machines and often have questions around spare parts, for example.

Until 2020, SMC operated as an international company with individual, independently run offices in 83 countries. Recently, the global manufacturer created its first global department: the Global IT team.

“As SMC transitioned from operating as an international organization to a global company with global standards, we identified opportunity areas to improve our efficiency. As the first order of business, we mobilized SMC’s Global IT team to centralize our customer communications,” said Mike Loggins, global VP of Information Technology.

Moving quickly to streamline global communications

After its operations went global, the SMC team needed a solution that would allow them to manage orders in a reliable, streamlined manner. With a portfolio of over 700,000 parts, SMC was looking for an enterprise-grade solution to manage its extensive offerings and global customer base.

The SMC USA IT team was already relying on Zendesk to manage customer and sales requests, but other groups were relying on similar tools, shared inboxes, or even separate Zendesk deployments. A single, unified solution was needed.

“Prior to centralizing Zendesk, agents were missing the whole picture when communicating with customers. Agents were unable to see the full history of customer interactions or seamlessly coordinate with other departments on a customer inquiry,” said Patrizia Eberhart, SMC’s team leader business systems of global IT.

SMC turned to Zendesk as part of its go-to market for a global customer and agent experience. Their ability to support SMC’s multilingual customers as well as provide access to high-quality support and region-specific training stood out to the Global IT team. Also, Zendesk’s flexibility and ease of implementation ensured SMC would be able to move promptly.

“In just four months, the SMC team implemented Zendesk across nine countries, none of which had previously been using Zendesk. In this launch, we implemented support in 10 languages, impacting 130,000 end-users. The launch was a huge win for our team in the effort to centralize our customer support into a global solution,” said Eberhart.

With Zendesk’s cloud-based solution, agents are connected wherever they are working, whether in-office or from their desk at home. “Zendesk really furthers our business continuity, disaster recovery plans, and capabilities,” explained Robin Rodriguez, global manager of platform and service delivery at SMC.

Improving efficiency with a 360-degree view of the customer

By streamlining customer inquiries into one platform, multiple agents are now able to coordinate their actions on a single request.

“Prior to Zendesk, agents had to keep track of up to six email chains for a single order. Having the whole conversation in one ticket is a huge time-saver for our agents,” said Eberhart. Additionally, by implementing Zendesk’s help center, SMC enabled customers to serve themselves, reducing ticket volume and phone calls overall.

In fact, these efficiency gains allowed the SMC Switzerland team to reduce agent headcount by one-fourth. With Zendesk, the team can understand the full context of a ticket at a glance, requiring less back-and-forth communication and reducing errors, and quickly provide the customer with a solution.

“Time-to-cash absolutely improves with Zendesk; with faster resolution times, SMC fulfills and invoices orders more quickly,” said Rodriguez.

Refining processes beyond the production line

Unifying customer inquiries also means the team can identify trends in tickets–whether due to a customer, product, or question–and adjust their workflows accordingly. With unified, global reporting, the team is better equipped to compare and analyze areas of operational improvement.

“Like many large manufacturers, SMC is committed to finding ways to reduce waste and improve our operations. Zendesk helps us continuously improve and refine our customer experience processes with analytics, triggers, and automation,” said Rodriguez.

By leveraging Zendesk, the SMC global IT team can react to changing needs and help customers far more efficiently.

Empowering teams to innovate and improve

As agents get more comfortable using the Zendesk platform, the SMC Global IT team has seen its employees imagining, inventing, and proposing workflows within Zendesk.

“In previous systems, teams didn’t have the ability to improve workflows meaningfully. Zendesk enables our team to identify areas of improvement and empowers them to improve operational processes for the organization as a whole,” said Rodriguez.

By unlocking the symbiotic relationship between operations and customer relationships, SMC’s Global IT team continues to identify new opportunities for improved efficiency.

“As SMC continues to grow and consolidate its global opportunities, we want to make sure we apply processes to ensure a consistent and reliable global customer experience,” said Rodriguez.

SMC’s long-term vision standardizes service processes globally, allowing customers to get help whenever they need it, not just according to their time zone. With Zendesk, SMC continues to solidify its place in the manufacturing space not only as product innovators but as trailblazers in excellent customer experience.