Utila Dive Center drives more sales with Zendesk messaging
Using Zendesk as a sales and CRM tool, Utila Dive Center empowers its small yet dedicated team to create more efficient and personalized customer experiences. Since rolling out messaging on the mobile app and using macros to automate social channels, the company saw a 25% increase in core product sales and a massive 75% increase in close rate.
“Our close rate on sales has gone through the roof, increasing at least 75 percent. It’s a massive improvement, just based on the fact that we can respond quicker and nothing gets missed because it all goes through messaging.”
“We’re using Zendesk as a centralized platform to receive messages via WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and email all in one place, to contact customers, and to manage our sales pipeline.”
After traveling throughout Central America and the Caribbean, a small group of diving enthusiasts and PADI instructors decided to channel their passion into a new business offering scuba diving instructions to visitors on the island of Utila, Honduras. Since launching in 1991, Utila Dive Center has grown and evolved into a full-service dive operation that caters to beginners, technical divers, environmentalists, and resort divers alike.
The team of instructors, divemasters, boat captains, biologists, managers, housekeepers, and support staff are dedicated to providing the highest quality diving experiences, while treating their customers as lifelong members of the Utila Dive Center family. It’s that commitment to superior service, expertise, and enthusiasm that keeps divers and students coming back. In fact, more professionals choose to do their training with Utila Dive Center than any other facility in Central America, and 80 to 90 percent of their Divemasters and Instructor candidates are referred by ‘word of mouth.’
Zendesk as a sales and CRM tool
One of the key figures helping Utila Dive Center buoy its status as a market leader is Manny Lagos. As executive manager, he oversees the company’s finances while also managing the reservation process and a majority of sales. Lagos also helped Utila Dive Center adapt the Zendesk Suite Team as the company’s primary sales and CRM tool, which proved transformational for the small team.
Three employees (two for sales, one for itineraries) now leverage Zendesk for messaging, voice, and the Support mobile app. “We’re using Zendesk as a centralized platform to receive messages via WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and email all in one place, to contact customers and to manage our sales pipeline,” says Lagos. Integrating with Asana helps the team handle the sales end, while they run all support communication through Zendesk on the CRM side.
Streamlining communication on all channels
Before Zendesk, Utila Dive Center relied on a shared email inbox and Word documents with different templates for response emails. There was no quick reply function on social channels either, so the team created sticky notes for various booking scenarios. “Copying and pasting into an email is quicker than writing, but it’s 10 seconds versus the 2 seconds that it takes in Zendesk,” adds Lagos. “Those seconds add up when you’re dealing with 40 or 50 inquiries a day. It certainly was not as efficient.”
Lagos realized the team needed to modernize its approach to match customer trends. “Over the last couple of years our volume of leads dramatically increased. As more people started using social platforms for messaging, managing those conversations became more challenging.”
After searching for a CRM that could integrate with multiple social platforms, the team disqualified 10 or 15 contenders. “We trialed several systems and Zendesk was the only one that consistently created new tickets when integrating with different social channels. It was the easiest to customize and gave us the ability to add marketplace apps,” recalls Lagos. The platform’s reliability and flexibility ultimately won out over Salesforce and HubSpot. “Zendesk was quick to get up and running, and we got a lot of quick responses and support on the training side.”
Seamless connections to social messaging
One of the primary motivations for moving to Zendesk was connecting sales activity to the social channels. Prior to using an omnichannel solution, the team occasionally lost track of conversations because a customer might book a dive via email and then send a message via social messaging to make changes to their reservation. Not having a way to link those conversations created delays on the service side.
Now that Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are set up as channels within Zendesk messaging, all tickets are consolidated. Having a unified customer view is extremely valuable, because all of Utila Dive Center’s core lead generating activity is driven through social media.
“Being able to merge multiple tickets or conversations from an individual and see it all on one platform has been a major benefit. Everyone has access to the entire conversation history, which helps us reply quickly and keeps us all on the same page, so nothing slips through the cracks,” says Lagos.
Macros go with the flow and drive sales
Utila Dive Center added macros to automate most of the ticketing process, from the first customer engagement to the closing feedback. Only two people handle reservation sales, so automation allows them to manage conversations on every channel with the same level of efficiency and customization.
As queries come in, they develop preloaded messages based on the dates and the specific product or training requested. “We’ve created around 120 comment description macros that let us answer the most typically asked questions and drive them through a script pipeline,” explains Lagos. Automating those quick replies helps engage prospects and customers more seamlessly and reduces the burden on the sales team.
“We’re having so much more success now that our acquisition strategy is to guide people through channels that are faster, like Messaging on Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. It’s easier to manage a natural conversation on social media versus email, and less chance of it going to spam,” notes Lagos. “We’re seeing a higher close rate on social media than on emails, and WhatsApp is the highest performing social channel by far.”
Automated messaging has enabled Utila Dive Center to capture more of the market, answer more queries, and scale their operations. In addition to seeing a 25 percent lift in sales, “Our close rate has gone through the roof, increasing at least 75 percent,” Lagos says. “It’s a massive improvement, just based on the fact that we can respond quicker and nothing gets missed because it all goes through messaging.”
Going mobile boosts efficiency
Now the team uses messaging within the Zendesk Support mobile app, which Lagos compares to having the desktop version on his phone. “It’s been a seamless transition because the macros are working the exact same way, the tickets and notifications come in at the same time. Everything works exactly the way we want it to,” he says. “That gives me a lot more liberty, especially since I travel a lot, to manage the sales process from my phone. It’s fantastic.”
No longer tied to a desk, Lagos can optimize his day by getting a jump on leads that come in via messaging, responding faster, and focusing on things that matter at the locations he manages. “I’m able to send messages in an easy way and trust that they’re being delivered.”
“Managing the conversations through Zendesk has helped us cater the experience after each sale and create a much better customer experience overall,” adds Lagos. So it’s not surprising that the volume of customer reviews has swelled since launching Zendesk. “We’re getting more reviews per course, and I believe that’s because we’ve included a feedback part of the experience that is much easier to send. Now it’s tied to Asana, so I just pull up a ticket, press a button, and send a macro. It’s super easy.”
Future growth and personalization
Next, Lagos hopes to enable an automatic confirmation email that would be sent prior to the scheduled dive, prompting the customer to provide their itinerary and arrival time. While pulling basic information from the contact form, it would still allow him to answer personally and use time-saving macros.
“We’re operating on a global scale, but we like to give the impression that we’re a small operation because people want a personalized experience. We’ve always tried to avoid becoming too automated, because we want it to feel like they’re talking to a real person, especially on the sales side.”
The team values Zendesk as a tool that makes them more efficient, provides greater customer context, and helps build lifetime value for customers. “I wish I had been using Zendesk a long time ago,” shares Lagos. “The big thing for me was thinking that we couldn’t benefit from it because we were too small. People think CRMs are something for a Fortune 500 company. I discovered that it can be used at a small scale and create a lot of growth.”