Staples Canada pairs Zendesk with MaestroQA to empower agent success
Staples Canada wanted a new approach to its CX program that empowered agents to build solid relationships with clients, rather than approaching each incoming contact as merely transactional. The office supplies company turned to Zendesk and MaestroQA to help deliver the tools required to enable world-class customer service experiences. The result: a 3X increase in agent happiness and a 15% increase in customer satisfaction.
“Customer service can be a sales driver, not just a cost center. If leadership understands how valuable those conversations are and invests in the team, it can help customers become loyal, raving fans.”
“Passion is contagious. If agents come to work smiling, confident, and properly trained, all that positive energy translates into better customer service.”
Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada
Number of Employees
Customer Service Agents
First Call Resolution Percentage
Improvement in Agent Happiness
Staples Canada has become a go-to marketplace for office supplies and innovative design, printing, marketing, shipping, and tech services. After more than three decades in business, the Ontario-based company has a network of more than 300 stores across Canada that support entrepreneurs, teachers, parents, and students.
In 2017, a change in leadership led to a major shift in Staples Canada culture and philosophy. The new vision prioritized customer experience and partnerships over a more traditional, transactional approach focused on the bottom line.
When the pandemic drove an increase in remote work in 2020, Staples Canada doubled down on building relationships with its online customer base. Taking a white glove approach to these individuals and small businesses helped build loyalty, while giving agents the opportunity to cross-sell and upsell products that support home office setups.
In order to deliver world-class customer service in a remote-first environment, the company turned to Zendesk and MaestroQA tools. These cloud-based solutions enabled Staples Canada to improve its agent experience and enact its new quality assurance (QA) philosophy and coaching goals.
A new philosophy in action: Building partnerships
Staples Canada brought in Bonni Poch as a customer experience and training manager to help agents develop the soft skills required for relationship building.
“We evaluate agents through a partnership lens to see if they provide the correct information and create connections via their greeting and closing conversations. We’re concerned with customer experience, because great relationships ultimately guide the metrics,” says Poch.
As CEO at MaestroQA, Vasu Prathipati is also dedicated to improving agent processes. The company’s quality assurance software integrates seamlessly with Zendesk and helps support teams manage and coach their agents, thus driving customer loyalty and satisfaction.
“It’s no longer just about performance management, raises, and promotions. Quality experience and agent experience is driven by a philosophy of development and improvement,” says Prathipati. “Support teams live in a world of conversations, where bringing empathy can be game changing.”
Driving a 3X improvement in agent experience
Prior to implementing Zendesk, Staples Canada was using a legacy system which lacked ticketing and reporting features and was challenging to use. Now that 100 percent of support tickets are routed through Zendesk, the team has a true indicator of customer concerns and a wealth of valuable analytics at their fingertips.
Poch says, “Zendesk is very user-friendly. Simplifying the service process for agents enables them to get through tickets, calls, chats, and emails even faster.” Her goal is to drive higher first call resolutions so customers are satisfied and have no reason to call back.
Integrating Zendesk tools with MaestroQA gives agents a 360-degree view of customer interactions and automates tasks, so they can focus on conversations rather than clicking into multiple tools and getting distracted.
Efficiency and ease of use are crucial as Poch leads a team of five employees, five offshore auditors, and over 200 agents.
Poch’s advice to other support teams: “Get off the spreadsheet and onto a CX platform. Using Zendesk with MaestroQA provides more structure and consistency, which makes life so much easier for agents.”
Creating a positive feedback loop with coaching culture
Agents need to be engaged and take ownership of their performance to provide excellent customer service. To that end, Staples Canada has been using Maestro QA to build two-way communication between agents and managers.
The team implemented a screen capture feature to gain deeper insights into the agent process and offer strategic guidance.
“MaestroQA opened up a new world to agents. Managers can share reviews and provide coaching on a daily basis. It also allows managers to see how the team engages with feedback,” says Poch.
Now that agents are involved in collaborative coaching, the training process has improved. Incorporating new CX and QA solutions has empowered agents to help customers more effectively.
Streamlining rubrics to facilitate more audits
Changing the QA process at Staples Canada from a traditional approach to one focused on agent empowerment required Poch to demonstrate the value of increasing agent headcount and audit numbers. She explains, “It’s important to give agents the tools they need to succeed. That means getting buy-in to drive the Quality side, not just the Productivity Metrics side.” To promote quality service, Poch focused on improving the rubrics used to evaluate agents.
“The coaching tool in MaestroQA gives managers the opportunity to pull tickets and do extra audits for agents who need guidance. Now we can iterate rubrics faster than ever,” says Poch.
The team was originally only conducting one audit per week, or one audit per 500 to 600 tickets, which failed to give a full picture of agent performance. After rolling out MaestroQA software, the team reached a new peak of four audits per agent per week, equal to a five percent audit rate on all tickets.
Poch hopes to push that audit rate to 10 percent, or 1,200 audits per week during the company’s busy season.
Elevating CX with analytics and insights
Since implementing Zendesk, the Staples Canada support team can now pull reliable hard data for the first time and share relevant trends and customer issues with leadership and ecommerce partners.
For example, the Zendesk thumbs up/thumbs down feature allows customers to leave open-ended feedback on any survey question. Poch can then filter out negative tickets that are strictly related to process (not service), to get a more accurate view of agent performance.
Identifying CX gaps in agent performance helps Poch improve the support experience for agents and customers. Next she plans to roll out Zendesk’s Answer Bot, which includes NPS and CSAT surveys that can generate even more detailed metrics to show her team’s impact.
After creating an open feedback loop with agents, Staples Canada has seen an uptick in CSAT to 86 percent, up from the mid 70s. Similarly, the team boosted its NPS scores from the low 40s to the upper 60s.
Moving forward, Poch hopes to collect data and strategic insights that go beyond CSAT scores.
A roadmap for delivering world class service
With large competitors like Amazon and Walmart in the market, Staples Canada needs to ensure that its agents provide a positive customer experience.
Poch continues to raise the bar for success, measuring and scrutinizing quality scores to ensure a white glove experience. Recently, agents hit a target quality score of 90 percent, which motivated them to launch an even tougher rubric.
Bonni Poch has seen the results firsthand. “Customer service can be a sales driver, not just a cost center. If leadership understands how valuable those conversations are and invests in the team, it can help customers become loyal, raving fans.”