Keep customers happy with data-driven CX

Available On-Demand with Zendesk's Katherine Kelly & Anthony Okumura

Keeping customers happy is the name of the game in customer service – but what’s the best strategy to keep customers content?

Join Katherine Kelly, Director of Product Marketing at Zendesk, for an inside view on how the Zendesk Support Professional Plan can create a data-driven environment best fit for sustainable, positive customer service interactions for your business.

During this webinar we’ll discuss how to:

  • Increase customer satisfaction on nearly every interaction
  • Translate both positive and negative customer feedback into business intelligence
  • Turn your ticket data into actionable steps towards ticket deflection, smarter business rules and happier customers

You’ll also see feedback from customers already using the Professional Plan to upgrade their real world support operations.

Watch now!

Customer feedback: how to hear the voice of the customer

Customer feedback
Imagine you spend weeks researching and drafting and double-checking facts for a presentation, and when you finally think it’s ready and ask a colleague to “just take a look” she makes suggestions and asks questions that never even occurred to you.

Sound familiar? We’ve all been through this, either at work, school, or with a personal project. The same happens with the products and services our companies offer. Because we help build them, we know how we use them, how to combine their most complex features, and how we want to improve them. But, there are many ideas we haven’t thought of, that never occurred to us.

It’s not unusual for those on Customer Success teams or UX designers to receive customer requests and think, “How did it never occur to us to use our product for this?” Even if you work on a big team and each team member has a different use for your product, it’s impossible to cover all your customers’ use cases.

Because we immerse ourselves in our work, it’s hard to take a step back and see it with fresh eyes. That’s why customer feedback is so crucial. Listening to the difficulties they have with the products can help you to better understand how to improve your products and make customers happier.

About this guide

At Zendesk and Typeform, collecting and using customer feedback is an important part of how we do business and how we build great relationships with our customers. In this guest article from Typeform, we explain the processes used to collect, analyze, and use customer feedback to build better products. We'll cover:

  • 3 types of feedback: given, requested, and observed
  • How to make sense of it all
  • Sharing your customer feedback with your entire organization

Gartner: Plan Now for Critical Shifts in Customer Interaction Patterns

Hindsight may be 20/20, but foresight is what gets you ahead in business. Are you dedicating enough time and resources to staying proactive? Tomorrow’s innovations are going to be filled with new technology, and that technology presents new challenges for how organizations will connect with their customers.

Gartner recently published a report on the anticipated (and critical) shifts in customer interaction patterns that will be occurring over the next five years. They’ve highlighted how emerging technology will enhance customer self-service and how that will reduce the number of interactions that commonly take place with human service representatives. The report includes advice on how to prepare for the shift in customer behavior as virtual assistants, IVR, and chatbots become the norm.

Some of their key findings include:

■ By 2022, 72% of customer interactions will involve an emerging technology such as machine-learning applications, chatbots or mobile messaging, up from 11% in 2017.

■ Through 2022, application leaders will face the task of onboarding 12 immature but rapidly improving customer interaction channels for CRM.

■ Though the proportion of phone-based communication will drop from 41% to 12% of overall customer service interactions, a human agent will still be involved in 44% of all interactions.

Stay informed on the latest trends affecting the customer service industry. Read more about how customer behaviors will change with new technology in Gartner’s Plan Now for Critical Shifts in Customer Interaction Patterns.

Customer service glossary

The customer support business has its own vocabulary. Some of the words and phrases may be straightforward enough for newcomers to figure out, while the meanings of others can be unclear even to experienced leaders. To help ensure everyone can gain an accurate understanding of the language of the field, Zendesk has created this easy-to-use customer service glossary.

We picked these particular terms because of their prominence in our customer service guides:

  1. Customer Experience
  2. Agent Experience
  3. Agent Life Cycle

An agent is the support team member who is assigned service tickets and responsible for resolving customer requests. Agents may also interact directly with customers to address service requests via communication channels such as phone, email, chat, and social media.

Agent experience
Agent experience refers to the quality of interactions between support team members and the company employing them. It determines how satisfied agents are with their work and career paths, and has an impact on both their interactions with customers and the company’s bottom line. It also refers to the tools and processes that enable support agents to not only provide the kind of support customers love, but avoid providing the kind of frustrating experiences customer hate.

Agent life cycle
An agent life cycle describes all of a customer support agent’s interactions with the company employing them, from the time of recruitment for the job through the end of the agent’s tenure. This encompasses the sourcing, screening, and hiring process as well as measuring and evaluating performance and developing career paths. For companies, the time and resources invested in the agent life cycle can have an impact on the quality of customer service, satisfaction with an individual interaction, and the lifetime value of a customer.

Benchmarking is a comparison of agent or team performance against the performance of peers or competitors. It can also be used to compare the current and past performance of the same agent or team. Benchmarking helps in assessing a relative position versus the competition, and in developing plans to maintain or improve on that position.

Business hours
Business hours are the days and times that a company’s customers can access agents for support. Though customers may consider 24/7 support ideal, a company can set business hours based on regional demand by looking at its customer types, available support channels, and customer feedback. This data provides insights into a company’s optimal hours for agent staffing.

Business process outsourcing
Business process outsourcing, or BPO, involves assigning responsibility for a function or operation to an external party. A growing company can use this strategy to maintain service standards and meet an increased demand for support as its business expands. BPO options include onshore (same country), near shore (same hemisphere), offshore (any location in the world with lower labor costs), and virtual or home-based operations.

Business rules
Business rules refer to automations, triggers, and macros that automate operational workflows such as routing or escalating tickets to the right departments and agents.

Change management
Change management is the process of overseeing and implementing change within a company. These could be organizational changes or shifts in procedure or technology. Effective change management employs processes, tools, and techniques that minimize disruptions to productivity and promote acceptance and adoption of the change.

Customer experience
Customer experience describes a customer’s relationship with a company over the duration of their interactions. Evaluating the customer experience enables a company to better meet customer expectations and increase satisfaction and retention. Evidence shows that customers today expect consistency in the quality of their interactions with a company and to be able set the terms of these interactions at all times.

Customer journey mapping
Customer journey mapping involves documenting the steps a customer takes in interacting with a company. Companies can use this tool to better understand the customer experience, identify areas for improvement, and increase customer satisfaction.

Customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction, or CSAT, is a metric that measures a customer’s immediate happiness with a company’s service as well as a customer’s overall loyalty. CSAT is determined using data collected from a clear and simple survey sent to a customer soon after an interaction with a company is complete. Companies can use this transactional metric to fine-tune service and track the effect of new customer support measures.

Customer segments
Customer segments are groupings of customers who share a common need or characteristic. A company’s customer base might be divided into segments according to location, industry, product usage, organization size, revenue, or any other meaningful distinction. Creating these segments allows a company to tailor its approach and interactions to the specific needs of each group of customers.

Escalation management
Escalation management involves identifying tickets that call for extra attention and routing them to the appropriate agents to provide the support. Effective escalation management ensures high-priority and difficult tickets can be handled and resolved quickly and capably, leading to more efficient operations and happier customers.

Feedback loop
A feedback loop is a mechanism enabling customers to communicate with a company about their individual service experiences and how they think the organization can improve. A closed feedback loop allows the company to collect and learn from the customer input, take necessary action, and communicate this follow-up directly to the customer.

First reply time
First reply time is a calculation of the number of minutes that pass between ticket creation and the first publicly visible agent comment on that ticket. Companies know that customers do not like to wait, leading to a clear correlation between a low first reply time and high customer satisfaction.

Knowledge base
A knowledge base is an organized online repository of information that serves as a resource for customers and agents seeking answers to common questions and issues. A knowledge base often complements a company help desk and can include articles, news, product information, and answers to frequently asked questions. Maintaining a knowledge base saves a company time and money by eliminating the need to respond to the same questions repeatedly and encouraging community members to interact with each other. One-to-many solution resources like this can compel customer traffic to deepen community participation and facilitate many-to-many operational gains.

Knowledge-centered service
Developed by the Consortium for Service Innovation™, Knowledge-Centered Service, or KCS®, is a method of empowering agents to capture new information and expand the company’s collective knowledge. It is based on the principle that agents are best equipped to create the knowledge base and evidence that they are more likely to capture information when given the responsibility. KCS incorporates content guidelines and quality measures to assist agents in developing useful knowledge to enhance customer service.

Lifetime value
Lifetime value is a measure of the projected revenue a customer will generate for a company over the entirety of their relationship. Increasing customer satisfaction has been shown to have a positive influence on lifetime value.

Multichannel support
Multichannel support involves giving customers multiple ways to contact a company for assistance, based on their preferences. These support channels can include phone, email, online information, text, social media such as Facebook and Twitter, chat, and SMS messaging. Multichannel support enables customers to choose different methods at different times, based on their need and convenience, and contributes to both customer satisfaction and the overall customer experience.

Net promoter score
Net promoter score, or NPS, is a metric developed to predict a customer’s loyalty toward a company. An NPS score is typically determined by collecting data from a simple survey that asks customers how likely they would be to recommend the company to someone else, using a scale of 1 to 10. Studies link a high NPS score to long-term business growth.

Quality assurance
Quality assurance is the process of monitoring and maintaining a predetermined customer support standard. This process defines the appropriate level of service, sets expectations for agents, and helps in measuring performance. Quality assurance methods include email, chat, and call monitoring; contact scoring based on the support standard; and regular feedback to agents.

Self-service most frequently refers to when customers independently access information and resolve issues rather than interact with a company’s agent or submit a request for support. Self-service can also benefit a company internally, helping agents find information easily and resolve customer issues quickly.

Self-service ratio
The self-service ratio compares the number of help center views with the number of tickets submitted to agents. This measure helps determine how readily customers are able to find information on their own, by going to the help center rather than needing to submit a ticket. A company can use a self-service ratio to understand whether users feel empowered to serve themselves, when new content is needed for the knowledge base, or whether business changes may account for customer behavior.

Service-level agreements
A service-level agreement is the standard a company and customer set as the target for a support team’s average ticket response and resolution times. Service-level agreements give a team a predetermined level of support to maintain, enable tracking of performance against goals, and help a company both deliver predictable service and meet obligations to customers.

Subject-matter experts
Subject-matter experts are support team members who have deep knowledge of a particular product, topic, or technology. These experts serve as a valuable source of information and support to agents and others on the team, and are often responsible for creating and updating knowledge-base content.

Support operations
The support operation represents the entire team responsible for providing, measuring, and improving customer service. A support operation may include several job functions in addition to a general customer service agent, including workforce management, training, quality assurance, customer relationship management, specialist agent, and analyst.

Support ticket
A support ticket provides a means of communication about a customer request, tracking the actions taken from the time it is created through its resolution. A ticket can be generated via a variety of support channels and captures the pertinent details about the request.

Ticket routing
Ticket routing is a process used to determine which agent on a support team will resolve a customer request. Assignments can be based on skill level, how long an agent has gone without a ticket, prioritizing the most important tickets, or routing to the agent or group best suited to resolve the particular ticket. These ticket-routing strategies help support teams stay organized and deliver high-quality customer service.

Ticket volume
Ticket volume represents the number of tickets created on a regular basis and is a measure of the scale of a support organization.

Tiered support
Tiered support involves organizing agents according to the types of tickets assigned to them. Doing this helps a company manage the support workflow, including ticket escalation. Tiered support often has three levels with Tier 1 made up of generalists who handle basic requests, Tier 2 requiring agents with a higher level of technical knowledge, and Tier 3 consisting of specialists who can respond to complex issues.

Gartner Magic Quadrant
Note: The 2016 Gartner report referenced below is no longer available for complimentary download. But good news: the 2017 Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center is now available.

Effectively serving today’s social, digital, and mobile customers requires a customer-centric mindset—but that alone is not enough. You also need the right processes and technologies to consistently pull off a great customer experience.

In a new report, Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center 2016, Gartner examines the global market for customer service and support applications for organizations with CECs as large as 20,000+ agents.

In the 2016 report, Gartner moved Zendesk into the Leader quadrant, and we’d like to thank our 75,000 customers for that move. We believe that it was their selection of Zendesk over more-complex legacy vendors—plus our product innovations over the last year (like Satisfaction Prediction and Advanced Voice)—that propelled us into the Leader quadrant.

And while we don’t like to brag, we are proud to be named a Leader: a modern choice that gives organizations a competitive advantage by providing the agility to scale, evolve, and innovate in customer service.

The Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center 2016 report is available for complimentary download for a limited time. Read the full report to learn:

Gartner's 2015 Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center

  • How Gartner views the current ecosystem of CEC technologies
  • Considerations for businesses looking to implement CEC technologies
  • Vendor capabilities for addressing the needs of today’s CECs
  • How Gartner analysts compare Zendesk to other technologies

The Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center 2016 provides valuable information for business leaders seeking technology solutions for this critical part of the business.

Note: The 2016 Gartner report is no longer available for complimentary download. But good news: the 2017 Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center is now available.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from Zendesk.

Customer service: turning transactions into relationships

Customer service has never been easy. Over the years it has only become more complex and demanding. Every person has different needs and wants you to meet them all. Some want access to information so they can help themselves. Others need a little hand-holding as you work with them to navigate a new product or service. Some customers even have different customer service channel preferences depending on their inquiry or mindset.

The people who support your customers—agents—are human too. They have their own ways of learning and communicating, and their own unique career aspirations to be developed and cultivated.

All of the above present myriad challenges, none of which have quick and easy solutions, and all of which must be solved if you want to provide great customer service.

And you do want to provide great customer service, because doing so leads to loyal, satisfied customer who tell their friends, family, and coworkers to do business with you. The result: Your company will move away from only caring about transactions—a nearsighted approach to business that focuses on the immediate—and towards caring about relationships, which focus on the full lifetime value of a customer.

But how can you achieve this?
Software is necessary for providing great customer service, but it’s merely a tool that enables your customer engagement strategy. The best tool in the world won’t help you provide great support if you aren’t committed to doing so. That’s because the best support is human support, and learning to provide that will be the biggest differentiator between you and the competition.

Zendesk believes that excellent customer service must focus on the customer experience, the agent experience, and the agent lifecycle. Each of these three pillars are the foundation of strong and long-lasting customer service. That's why we worked with customer service experts to create three guides, one for each pillar, to help customer service leaders like you help your agents provide great support.

The 3 pillars of customer service
First, we want to share with you the basic tenets of each pillar:

Customer experience
Customers are the reason we’re all here, so we must first and foremost try to look at everything through their perspective. Different departments frequently disagree on the right approach for important decisions such as how to best provide customers access to important information. Your sales department might have thoughts about how to do this, the product team has another idea, and marketing might want it done a completely different way.

But what’s best for the customer? What will provide the customer with the best possible experience?

Customer experience focuses on improving the way customers interact with your business. It’s one thing to talk about being customer centric, but doing so means putting the needs of the customer front and center, even when it’s at the expense of people within the company. Taking this approach might lead to some hard-fought internal decisions, but customer service isn’t easy, remember?

The thing for everyone to keep in mind is this: If you provide a negative experience to a customer, not only will they likely tell their friends and colleagues, they will abandon you for a competitor. This is bad for everyone, including departments who might wish you’d do things their way. The good news is that the opposite is also true: provide positive experiences and customers will tell others about and choose you over the competition, time after time. When this happens, anyone who advocated against the customer-centric approach will quickly forget they weren’t always in favor of it.

Overview: The Customer Experience guide will show you how to build processes and infrastructures that enable you to always put the customer first, building and constantly improving experiences for them.

Agent life cycle
No matter the type of business, customer service agents are very often the first people to interact with customers and prospects. Not only that, they’re usually the people who interact with customers more than anyone else. In that regard, they are the face and ambassadors of the brand. Every single interaction with a customer represents an opportunity to either create a brand loyalist or someone who will never do business with you again.

All of which is to say this: Customer service agents are very, very important for the success of your company. Time, energy, and resources must be dedicated to hiring, training, developing, and retaining the best possible talent to fill all the various roles in this department.

The way your business treats its agents can have a direct impact on how they interact with your customers, which in turn impacts the bottom line. Happy agents will not only provide a better customer experience, but also stay with your organization longer.

Overview: The Agent Life Cycle guide takes the long view of your customer service agents, showing you how to do everything from finding and training them, to developing their skills and value as they grow into more advanced positions within your organization.

Agent experience
In contrast to the big picture challenges of hiring and training agents, agent experience focuses on the day-to-day challenges of their typical workload. This includes everything from resolving support queries to writing knowledge-base articles to improving operational efficiencies. These tasks might not seem as inspiring as the work of building meaningful relationships with customers, but the agent experience is foundational to that work.

Customers want support to be human and personal, but they also want it to be fast and efficient. Agent experience focuses on improving the way agents interact with customers.

To effectively meet customers’ needs, support agents must be set up for success. That means making an up-front investment in tools and processes that enable support agents to not only provide the kind of support customers love, but avoid providing the kind of frustrating experiences customer hate.

Overview: The Agent Experience guide shows you how to setup your agents for success, and help them avoid the typical pitfalls of customer service, like taking to long to respond to a request of support or making customer repeat their issue to multiple agents.

One size does not fit all
No two companies are the same.

Within each of the three pillars lives an entire spectrum of strengths and weaknesses that will be specific to each organization. Maybe you’ve made a heavy investment in the customer experience but haven’t had the time to focus on your agents. Or maybe you’ve finally figured out how to onboard agents and have build satisfying career roadmaps for them, but still aren’t doing everything you can to keep your customers satisfied.

We’ve broken everything down into three segments:

High growth
As a high-growth support organization, something is clearly working. The support you provide resonates with your customers. But the demands are increasing. Time and time again you’re asked to do more, straining your support team and threatening your ability to not just maintain the same level of quality, but improve it.

Achieving scale
As a support organization looking to achieve scale, you have matured to the point that you are able to deliver quality support to an ever-increasing number of customers. You know that you are able to meet those needs, but as the company moves to another level of success, the deluge of customer interactions is just around the corner. As your support structure and strategies currently stand, you know there is no way to meet future demand without finding a way to scale and maintain a high level of quality.

Driving efficiency
As a support organization looking to drive efficiency, you have effectively overcome the challenges that typically plague less mature support organizations. You have a robust team with specialized roles that provides high-quality support. Even though you're experiencing great success, you can’t shake the nagging feeling that things could be much better. Maybe the support provided from a newly opened international office isn’t performing as well as you’d like, or change management still feels like it did during the startup days. As your support structure and strategies currently stand, you know you can’t rest on past successes, but instead must find a way to improve even further.

As stated at the beginning, customer service is hard. While Zendesk can’t make it easy (any software company that claims it can should be met with serious skepticism), we can make it easier. But we know from experience that software is a tool, and tools are only half the answer. The other answer lies in the people using them. That includes everyone from the agents who interact with customers to the designers who create experiences for them.

And Zendesk is here to help with that side of the equation too.

It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

Why CX, Why Now?

Transforming customer experience (CX) is more important than ever. But despite growing interest in the discipline, most companies have a long way to go to accelerate their CX efforts.

Join Maxie Schmidt, principal analyst at Forrester and Roshni Sondhi, director of customer success at Zendesk, and learn:

  • What drives the urgency to invest in CX.
  • How great CX drives business results.
  • How to get buy-in and share the business benefits of CX.

Watch this on-demand webinar now and get access to Forrester’s full report, “Why CX, Why Now”.

Maxie Schmidt is principal analyst in Forrester’s CX research team and lead Forrester’s research on CX measurement and customer feedback programs.

Roshni Sondhi is director of customer success at Zendesk and has spent over the last 10 years partnering with various companies on how to effectively plan and execute against a customer experience strategy.

How to Deliver Better Customer Service This Year

Watch our recent webinar, featuring Forrester analyst Kate Leggett, that will offer concrete ways to assess your current customer service team and capabilities to find opportunities to improve. Learn how to gain executive buy-in, build stakeholder consensus, manage agents more effectively, and select the right technology to create loyal customer experiences.

Watch Now!

VP, Principal Analyst Serving Application Development & Delivery Professional. Kate is a leading expert on customer relationship management (CRM) and customer service strategies, maturity, benchmarking, governance, and ROI. She is an accomplished public speaker and frequently presents at industry events such as CRM Evolution. She has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine, and industry publications such as CRM Magazine, KM World, and Destination CRM.

2017 retail and ecommerce customer service trends

In the ever-competitive field of retail and ecommerce, customer support experience can be the difference between earning a loyal customer or an abandoned shopping cart.

Join Daryl Unger, director of customer experience at Plated, a fast-growing leader in the subscription-economy, and Josh Frank, product marketing manager at Zendesk, to learn more about delivering a customer-centric service experience to meet the evolving expectations of today’s retail customers.

During this webinar we discuss:

  • How Plated’s world-class customer service experience contributes directly to the company’s growth.
  • How you too can deliver a seamless service experience that both improves customer satisfaction and increases sales conversion rates.
  • 2017 trends in retail customer service and staying one step ahead of customer expectations.

Watch now!

Daryl Unger is the director of customer experience at Plated, a fast-growing leader in the subscription-economy, that delivers chef-designed recipes to cook at home. Daryl is a business operations industry veteran. He has over 13 years experience defining better customer experiences across many industries, as well as both start-ups and large companies.

Josh Frank is a product marketing manager at Zendesk where he leads go-to-market activities for Zendesk’s products. He is passionate about helping companies build better relationships with their customers.

Zendesk research: analytics

analyticsHigh usage of analytics in customer service pays off: companies that depend more on analytics reports are shown to perform better than those who don’t. These metrics, which gauge important indicators like customer satisfaction and related efficiency factors, can help companies identify their successes as well as areas of improvement. How else can companies take a data-driven approach to customer service? This Zendesk research report explores:

  • Benchmark metrics for customer satisfaction
  • Results of high usage of analytics versus low usage
  • Rankings of the most data-driven industries

Download the full report for full details and insights

If you're a fan of metrics, analytics, and other things with numbers in them, visit the Zendesk Benchmark page to see how your customer support stacks up against the competition.

Zendesk research: retail and the holidays

retail and the holidaysThe holiday season does not bear good tidings for the retail industry’s customer satisfaction scores. As end-of-the-year shopping brings an influx of new customers, many companies struggle to keep up with the accompanying increase of service and support tickets. With retail customer satisfaction falling 6 percentage points this quarter, what are the reasons behind this seasonal dip in satisfaction? This Zendesk research report explores:

  • Year-to-year effects of seasonality
  • Ticket volume and agent workload during the holiday season
  • Benchmark metrics for customer satisfaction
  • How some retailers maintain high customer satisfaction when things get busy

Download the full report for full details and insights

If you're a fan of metrics, analytics, and other things with numbers in them, visit the Zendesk Benchmark page to see how your customer support stacks up against the competition.

Zendesk research: customer satisfaction

customer satisfactionCustomer satisfaction is a metric that measures how satisfied a customer was with a single support interaction. It seems like a simple thing, but there are a surprising number of factors that can impact whether a customer feels the interaction was negative or positive, and ultimately if they'll do business with you again. This Zendesk research report takes a closer look at customer satisfaction, including the:

  • Impact of first reply time
  • Customer’s use of various support channels
  • Correlation of customer tenure and customer satisfaction
  • Benchmark metrics for customer satisfaction

Download the full report for full details and insights

If you're a fan of metrics, analytics, and other things with numbers in them, visit the Zendesk Benchmark page to see how your customer support stacks up against the competition.

Zendesk research: customer self-service

customer self-serviceThe popularity of customer self-service is growing faster than ever. Increasingly, consumers are turning to their mobile devices to help themselves, leading to a decrease in direct interactions with brands and their support agents. As a result, companies are realizing that this trend toward self-service is not only cost-effective, but also leading to higher customer satisfaction scores. So how can companies increase the efficiency of their self-service? This Zendesk research report explores:

  • Self-service scores, a way to measure the impact of self-service offerings
  • The rise of the mobile consumer
  • Benchmark metrics for customer satisfaction
    Download the full report for full details and insights

    If you're a fan of metrics, analytics, and other things with numbers in them, visit the Zendesk Benchmark page to see how your customer support stacks up against the competition.

Zendesk research: operational benchmarking

operational benchmarking Operational benchmarking has a long history in business: It’s natural for companies to want to compare themselves to other businesses to give context and meaning to their own performance—and to understand where opportunities for growth and improvement exist. But frequently, similarities among companies in the same industry are merely superficial and don’t offer a meaningful point of comparison for benchmarking customer service performance.

In this Zendesk Research report, we address this shortfall through a cluster analysis that reveals four types of customer service operations— and within those, 12 distinct clusters, each characterized by a unique operational pattern. Each cluster is defined by workload, strategy, and resources, as well as a typical level of support performance that the component companies can be expected to achieve.

The four types are:

  1. Relationship Builders: These small teams provide a personal customer experience that customers love.
  2. Masters of Complexity: Driven by detailed support requests, these companies have sophisticated customer service operations.
  3. Late Bloomers: With an unbalanced approach to support, these companies have yet to realize their full potential.
  4. Captains of Scale: These teams set the gold standard of customer support operations.

Read the full report to find out where you fit and what you need to focus on to improve

If you're a fan of metrics, analytics, and other things with numbers in them, visit the Zendesk Benchmark page to see how your customer support stacks up against the competition.

Zendesk research: live chat

Live ChatThe popularity of live chat for customer service is rising fast. Increasingly, consumers turn to live chat when shopping online, and a growing number of consumers say it is their preferred way to engage with support. So how can companies use live chat to transform the way they engage with customers? This Zendesk research report explores:

  • Benchmark metrics for live chat
  • How live chat changes customer engagement
  • The characteristics of a great live chat experience
  • What to consider when staffing for live chat

Download the full report for full details and insights.

If you're a fan of metrics, analytics, and other things with numbers in them, visit the Zendesk Benchmark page to see how your customer support stacks up against the competition.

Zendesk research: Net Promoter Score® (NPS)

Net Promoter ScoreNet Promoter Score (NPS®), helps companies measure customer loyalty by asking a simple question: how likely are you to recommend our brand to a friend or colleague? This report looks at 103,000 NPS responses across multiple industries, and reveals what a good NPS number looks like and the type of customer feedback a company can draw from sending an NPS survey. In this report learn:

  • How to best initiate NPS surveys
  • What lessons can be learned from the findings
  • How to analyze qualitative feedback
  • The difference between Net Promoter Score and customer satisfaction

Read the full report for these and more insights

Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score, and NPS are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc. and Fred Reichheld.

If you're a fan of metrics, analytics, and other things with numbers in them, visit the Zendesk Benchmark page to see how your customer support stacks up against the competition.

Zendesk research: behavioral cues

behavioral cuesIn this report, we take a closer look at behavioral cues of customers and agents to better understand how these correlate with increased or decreased customer satisfaction. We attempt to move beyond typical metrics like first reply time and explore the often overlooked components of support interactions, such as what words like “sorry,” “please,” and “thank you” by agents can have on customer satisfaction.

This report also examines:

  • Valediction: Do interactions with the sign off “Best Wishes,” in comparison to “Best Regards,” “Cheers” and “Yours Sincerely,” have a lower customer satisfaction score?
  • Word count: Can a wordier request for help in an online form leads to lower customer satisfaction? How about email?
  • Email address: Are customers with Yahoo email addresses more difficult to please than Gmail users?

Read the full report to learn more insights and how they might be used to improve the service you provide

If you're a fan of metrics, analytics, and other things with numbers in them, visit the Zendesk Benchmark page to see how your customer support stacks up against the competition.

Customer engagement with agile customer care

Every interaction with a customer provides companies with an opportunity to not only provide a great experience, but to gather insights that can be used to improve processes and provide an even better customer experience. Agile customer care enables companies to use customer insights to improve:

  • Self-service options
  • Internal processes
  • Customer experiences

Learn more about agile customer care, read the report: Happy customers, happy bottom line

Top customer experience with agile customer care

Customers have more options than ever before. So any company looking to build long-term relationships, and not just single transactions, must invest in providing the best possible customer experience. Agile customer care enables support teams to increase productivity, improve efficiency, and reduce training by:

  • Resolve customer issues more quickly
  • Deploy agents more efficiently
  • Onboard and train new agents with fewer resources

Learn more about agile customer care, read the report: Happy customers, happy bottom line

Increase revenue with agile customer care

Some companies look at customer service as a drain on resources. As a result, customer service is a department that is often hobbled by a lack of resources. But it shouldn't be this way. When the proper investment is made in hiring and training great agents, building out top notch operations, and improving collaboration across departments, companies can see support for what it really is: a competitive differentiator that can lead to increased revenue.

Thanks to agile customer care, more and more companies are reaping the benefits of investing in great support.

Learn more about agile customer care, read the report: Happy customers, happy bottom line

Gartner examines customer experience innovation for 2017

Bad decisions are, well, bad. Yet, it can be difficult to make good decisions without the right information. That’s why analytics are important—they enable you to make educated changes to your organization, rather than changes based on opinions.

The use of customer analytics to improve the customer experience has become an area of increasing focus for organizations. According to Gartner, “By 2020, more than 40% of all data analytics projects will relate to an aspect of customer experience.”

To distinguish your organization from others, the use of data to improve how your customers interact with your company is crucial. Gartner’s Survey Analysis: Customer Experience Innovation 2017—AI Now on the CX Map explores the customer experience projects of numerous organizations, as well as what makes them successful.

Gartner’s report discusses:

  • New and Continuing CX Improvement Projects in 2016
  • Projects With the Biggest Impact on Customer Experience in 2016
  • CX Projects Planned for 2017
  • Customer Experience Technology Investment Increases for 2017
  • Customer Analytics Priorities for 2017
  • Plans for Emerging Technologies in Customer-Experience-Related Projects
  • Measuring the ROI of CX Improvement Projects

To learn more about the customer analytics technology customers are investing in, access a complimentary copy of Gartner’s report Survey Analysis: Customer Experience Innovation 2017—AI Now on the CX Map for a limited time.

Survey Analysis: Customer Experience Innovation 2017—AI Now on the CX Map, N. Ingelbrecht, O. Huang.

The full report is no longer available for complimentary download. You can read more about the leaders in customer experience innovation in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center 2017.

Gartner: Knowledge Management Will Transform CRM Customer Service

Knowledge management can make or break your organization’s customer service. Not only can it impact productivity and profit, it can also affect customer and agent satisfaction.

But what exactly is knowledge management? According to Gartner, knowledge management is “a discipline that emphasizes an integrated approach to managing an enterprise’s knowledge assets: the information available to an enterprise about its “best practices,” critical business processes and operating environment.”

Proper knowledge management and self-service can help:

  • Reduce support costs
  • Improve your company’s ability to answer customer questions
  • Increase customer satisfaction

According to Gartner, “Improved delivery of contextual knowledge to an employee or customer reduces a provider’s time to answer by 20% to 80%, raising competency and satisfaction.” In this report, Gartner covers the impacts of good knowledge management as well as KM recommendations, such as how to focus on people and processes.

Download Gartner’s Knowledge Management Will Transform CRM Customer Service and learn how to create a knowledge management culture within your organization.

Knowledge Management Will Transform CRM Customer Service, M. Maoz, 9 November 2016.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

In good company: Expand support beyond customer service

Supporting today’s customers requires an “all hands on deck” approach. Customer service is no longer siloed from the rest of the company—or at least it shouldn’t be.

Today, customer service is more proactive, engaging, and transparent than ever before and providing that kind of support requires input and assistance from other customer-facing teams. Whether it’s sales, billing, professional services, customer success, marketing, or a product development team, each team has a hand in interacting with the customer, and the more you can capture all those interactions in the same place, the more cohesive the customer experience.

Learn why Zendesk customers have added additional teams to their instance of Zendesk Support, and what their customers and support teams have gained as a result.

From Cost Center to Profit Center: the Potential ROI of Zendesk

Our 30 minute webinar discusses The Total Economic Impact™ of Zendesk, a December 2016 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Zendesk that examines the costs and benefits of Zendesk. Among other important findings, the report reveals that Zendesk can have an ROI of 365% over three years.

This webinar also features a guest from New Balance, a Zendesk customer who participated in the study.

Learn how Zendesk's benefits outweighed costs in the following areas:

● Increased agent productivity
● Deflected customer interactions
● Improved agent experience and retention
● Avoided maintenance costs of previous platform

Ian JacobsIan Jacobs serves customer service application professionals. With a focus on the digital transformation of customer service, he is an expert in contact centers and. His research keeps a sharp focus on both customer experience and agent experience issues. Ian is an award-winning columnist, is regularly quoted in major global publications, and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences.