Udacity + Zendesk: Best-in-class with the metrics to prove it

In 2020, Udacity achieved the ultimate customer support goal—adapting to a dramatic increase in traffic while improving CSAT. Through Zendesk's Enterprise Suite, Udacity drove award-winning customer service improvements including a 75% drop in first response time and a big ROI.

Udacity

“We were able to go to leadership and say ‘we can handle this growth, we can scale, and we can still deliver an exceptional student experience while saving you money’.”

Denielle Booth

Global Manager of Student Support at Udacity

“Zendesk set us up for success, empowering us to scale to meet the increase in volume without jeopardizing the quality of support customers received.”

Denielle Booth

Global Manager of Student Support at Udacity

75% drop

First response time

+28%

Improvement in resolution time

88%

CSAT

Lifelong learners come to Udacity to learn the skills they need, to land the jobs they want, and build the futures they deserve. Through its talent transformation platform, Udacity provides online learning opportunities with a human touch. For Udacity, offering best-in-class service is key for the success of its students and the long-term growth of its subscription service. This means getting students unstuck as fast as possible, making sure help is there whenever they need it. To achieve this, they offer a Zendesk-powered, award-winning, omnichannel customer experience that meets students wherever they are.

Saving money, improving CSAT at a 2x volume

When the events of 2020 sent the world into lockdown, Udacity saw an uptick in new student registrations. To support the increased demand for new learning opportunities, they ran a large, successful marketing campaign. The drastic increase in their customer base translated into a spike in the number of customer support inquiries. Denielle Booth, Udacity’s global manager of student support explained how Zendesk empowered her team to respond with ease to the dramatic spike in traffic. “Zendesk set us up for success, empowering us to scale to meet the increase in volume without jeopardizing the quality of support customers received. In fact, although the volume of traffic doubled we were able to improve our CSAT from 84 to the industry standard of 88 percent without expanding the team, saving us at least $240,000 in headcount.”

The whole experience was a huge win for Denielle and her team. “We were able to go to leadership and say ‘we can handle this growth, we can scale, and we can still deliver an exceptional student experience while saving you money’.”

Udacity online course screenshot

Shaping a bright future

Udacity’s mission is to train the world’s workforce in the careers of the future. The same future-focused approach applies to their business strategy, too. Udacity has paid close attention to the trends playing out within their industry, enabling them to not only plan for the future but also drive innovation. They needed a partner with the same mindset, headed in the same direction.

“We chose to go with Zendesk not just based on what we needed in the next few months, but based on our strategies for the next year or two and the ability to set up workflows that can scale”, Denielle explained. “Our research showed that social media messaging and self-service are the future of customer service. Zendesk is one of the very few vendors that’s already scaling up to support that trend. They know what they’re doing and they care about service innovation. If we, as Udacity, want to talk about being best-in-class in our industry we want to make sure anyone we partner with is aligned with that goal.”

By moving to Zendesk’s new feature-rich, future-ready Enterprise Suite, Udacity has set itself up for long term success. “With exciting additional features such as Messaging, we are able to expand our student connections and have incorporated this functionality into our long term vision and strategy.”

Omnichannel support and self-service give Udacity a competitive edge

The mantra at Udacity is ‘students first’. For Denielle, that means providing omnichannel support that quickly gets students the solutions they need, while addressing the cultural diversity that characterizes Udacity’s global customer base.

Moving to Zendesk’s Enterprise Suite gave her team the tools they needed to make that vision a reality by increasing their support offering to new channels. Of those offerings, Chat has been a big differentiator, setting Udacity apart from its key competitors.

“We’re a subscription learning service, so there’s an element of time sensitivity. We want to unblock learners quickly so they can continue enjoying the benefits of their subscription. Being able to talk to someone via Chat whenever they need to is a key part of our seamless customer experience strategy.”

As part of that strategy, Udacity has invested in their self-service offering, developing multi-brand, content-rich help centers and leveraging Zendesk’s Answer Bot tech partner, ADA. The customer support team boasts a unique structure to support this commitment to a seamless self-service experience. “We have a Tier Zero team and a dedicated knowledge base manager that’s focused just on self-service, keeping help center content up to date,” Denielle said. At Udacity, the team writing the help center articles are as crucial as the team that answers emails.

This investment has paid off. “Our rich, regularly updated content in Guide is picked up by AnswerBot. Insights we’re getting from that gave us the business case we needed to partner up with ADA. I would say that hand-in-hand, chat and guide have had the biggest impact on customer experience.”

Udacity Support Center

Investing in the customer experience pays off

Denielle and her team continually test, iterate, and refine their service offering. “We use data from Zendesk to develop macros and automations based on data points such as our top ticket drivers. Then we create tags to help us track, optimize, and streamline based on the data.”

The resulting time savings and increased ticket visibility has driven big performance improvements across the team. Over the last year, first response times have dropped by 75 percent and the number of tickets resolved within 24 hours has increased from 47 to 75 percent.

The ability to customize, test, and optimize results in better customer experience and better customer relationships. This has been a key pillar of Denielle’s business case for the roll out of the Enterprise Suite. “The return on investment in Customer Experience is not only about the license fee, but all the tangential costs associated with poor customer relationships. With Zendesk we can align rich customer service data with broader business insights.”

Setting up, extracting, and analyzing that data hasn’t required any specialist engineering resource. “Zendesk lives up to its commitment to self-service. Its help center is full of resources for entry level and advanced users. I’ve never had to pay for training, even when it came to the more advanced configurations. Everything I needed was on the community forums and help center. Being able to test things out in Sandbox was great—it meant I could play around with settings without breaking anything in production.”

The proof is in the industry awards

The improvements that Udacity’s customer support team have achieved through Zendesk have been recognized by the wider industry with three prestigious awards. The Business Intelligence Group named Udacity the Organization of the Year for Excellence in Customer Service and Denielle Booth the Manager of the Year in the same category. The team also won the American Business Awards Bronze Stevie Award. “We would not have received those without being able to demonstrate the impact we’ve had and the efficiencies we’ve made as a customer service department with Zendesk”, said Denielle.