Matchmaking in the cloud: a perfect marriage of sales and support

This paper describes why integrations of best-of-breed tools in the cloud will outperform standard all-in-one platforms. Cloud ecosystems that support the aggregation of superior software products will outclass traditional platforms that offer inferior products, however integrated. In other words, integrations of best-of-breed tools offer more to organizations and their customers than integrated suites of mediocre tools can. Simply put, SaaS is disrupting the traditional enterprise software market.

Today, intense focus on the customer is a fundamental way an organization can create what it wants most: customer satisfaction, loyalty, and increased business. Focusing on the customer means knowing them, understanding them, and responding to them. There's a vital place to do this: the front lines of sales and customer support. For an organization to be successful in this customer-centric climate, it must have the best tools available. These tools should provide easy access to key customer data throughout the entire customer lifecycle. With so much at stake in a fickle marketplace, it becomes clear that having the best products available — and not inferior offerings — is an absolute necessity.

The value of high-quality sales CRM software is obvious. The information captured within these systems, however, is primarily sales-centric. Therefore, the addition of customer support data represents a huge opportunity for increased awareness of customers. Together, the information captured by these two sources can provide organizations with the most complete view of customers possible. By seamless two-way integrations of best-of-breed tools in the cloud, an organization is primed for the best results: satisfied, loyal customers, and a thriving business.

How is this achieved? When an organization provides the best products available — and resists the urge to force customers into lesser solutions, as all-in-one platforms often do — customers feel well taken care of. That's the key component. Combining best-of-breed tools in the cloud delivers because by doing so, an organization demonstrates that it has the customer's best interests at heart.

'In the physical world scarcity is what leads to value. In the digital world abundance is what leads to value.'

— Fred Wilson, VC

Zendesk offers several CRM integrations, including Salesforce, SugarCRM, and Microsoft Dynamics.

Why integrations of best-of-breed outperform all-in-one

The debate is not new. The power of today's technology is. Terms, like the times, change. Since the dawn of web 2.0, even the term integration has been applied differently. Traditionally, integration has referred to multiple products within a legacy platform, such as Microsoft. Today, integration — or integrations — often refers to assembling different tools and solutions from multiple sources in the cloud.

Let's define our terms:

  • Best-of-breed: the best available product of its type for a specific purpose
  • All-in-one (aka platform): a set of products offered under one company umbrella

Best-of-breed vs. all-in-one

The ideal way to illustrate the benefits of combining best-of-breed tools versus an all-in-one approach is by looking at sales and support systems. Together, sales and support establish the front lines of an organization. They represent the voice of customers internally (by conveying customer interactions to appropriate departments), and the voice of organizations externally with timely, informed, and coordinated communications.

Creating a great customer experience is the focal point of today's leading companies.

Therefore, establishing a customer-centric vision and tactical strategy is essential, and technology plays a critical role in providing the infrastructure and tools to implement this vision. It must be foundational to a company's daily processes, which are anchored by sales and support.

81% of companies with strong capabilities and competencies for delivering customer experience excellence are outperforming their competition.

— Peppers & Rogers Group, 2009 Customer Experience Maturity Monitor

Without question, then, having the best products available for sales and customer support services and data is a must. And when these superior products are used in concert (see: School of Rock), with seamless integrations, the result is a huge win-win for organizations and their customers.

The above line is key: An ecosystem that employs several applications working together, fluidly. This is what delivers the best experience to customers. This is what will create customer satisfaction, influence product evangelism, and elevate the organizations that adopt this strategy: An ecosystem of integrated cloud solutions.

Still, some think that an all-in-one formula is the preferable option. They argue, why should we use another company if we can offer a product of our own? They champion the integration of products within their own systems (saying outside integrations are: A) expensive, and B) demanding) and believe keeping customers under one umbrella is better for the bottom line. Maybe. Or maybe not.

Consider: Does an all-in-one platform have the customer's best interests at heart?

'Companies must demonstrate, in everything they do, that they have their customer's best interest at heart.'

— MAi Research

In today's environment, an all-in-one approach seems more concerned with corralling customers and keeping them contained than offering the best products and services available. Think back to Fred Wilson's quote. In the digital world, abundance is paramount. A philosophy based on scarcity or rigidity will not win the day.

With today's premiums on customer satisfaction so high, there's little chance these customers will remain loyal for the long term using lower-quality products — especially when superior products exist everywhere on the market.

And, because integrations between companies are more seamless than ever (with constantly updating and elegant APIs, SOA, etc.) worries about costs, maintenance, and usability are quickly becoming worries of the past.

The logic of integrations

Here's a simple analogy: A carpenter loads his tool belt with the best tools he knows. He doesn't care if his hammer is the same make as his screwdriver, what he cares about is having the best tools for the job.

The same logic can be applied to integrations of superior tools in the SaaS cloud. By employing the best available tools'such as the highest quality sales and customer service software on the market — a company, like a carpenter, equips itself to deliver an outstanding customer experience.

What's more, when an organization puts its customers first by combining best-of-breed tools — and not trying to force all-in-one solutions — customers put them first because they're so satisfied and delighted with the service and support they receive. When this happens, business thrives.

The best-of-breed: sales CRM

A sales CRM — a web-based customer relationship management (CRM) system — provides a great way to manage the relationships an organization has with its customers and prospects. A sales CRM enables a company to have detailed information about customer accounts in a centralized platform, and provides great value for the sales and marketing teams by:

  • Tracking from lead to close: capturing sales data in one place at every stage
  • Providing a view of customers: a picture of histories and sales interactions
  • Maintaining customer data: accounts, contacts, records, opportunities, etc.

Consider the last part of the sales cycle: closing a deal. It's a fragile step. A small error or miscommunication could threaten the deal's life. When salespeople know more about their customers, when they have access to detailed, real-time customer data, the process flows more smoothly and is much less prone to errors. Without the right information, a salesperson can be caught off guard.

Companies put huge effort and resources into every step of the sales cycle, from establishing leads to closing sales. For each step, it's critical that sales teams have as complete a view as possible of their customers. A sales CRM gives salespeople ready access to detailed customer information which helps them craft sales strategies that address clear needs based on what they know about their customers.

A sales CRM provides great sales data. It's built for that purpose. However, other key data exists. Without question, the more pertinent and rich customer data accessible the better, and nowhere within an organization is the opportunity to enhance the sales CRM data stronger than within customer service with customer support data. A salesperson will greatly enhance awareness of his customers and their interactions by incorporating another source — customer service data — into his sales CRM.

Another source of customer data

Another source of customer data comes from customer support interactions. Just imagine the awkwardness of an interaction between a salesperson and a customer when the customer has submitted multiple support requests — and the salesperson has no idea. What if a deal is ready to close and the salesperson isn't aware that problems have occurred? A customer will surely be turned off by an attempt to move forward. He'll feel ignored and, worse still, he'll assume his problems aren't known about.

This casts doubt on the level of communication within an organization as a whole, and creates serious customer dissatisfaction. The message would be: salespeople are only interested in closing deals and don't have the customer's best interests at heart.

This kind of situation can be avoided by making sure all needed and necessary information is available. The ability to deliver an exceptional customer experience and build lasting customer relationships will soar when integrations of best-of-breed sales CRM and customer service software are utilized. This is how to best serve the customer.

The best-of-breed: customer service software

Customer service software should transform how organizations engage with their customers. It must be:

  • Easy to set up and easy to get started
  • Intuitive and straightforward
  • Focused on one thing: delivering exceptional customer support to customers

This should include:

  • Easy-to-use ticket management: Customer service teams need a tool that's built for customer engagement. It needs to be intuitive, with a beautiful and smart user interface that surfaces the information the agent needs and predicts their next-best action. Also, smart ticket management features should make delivering excellent customer service easy.
  • Multi-channel: Meet customers where they are. E-mail, chat, phone, social media, community — every communication channel — needs to be available. Communicate with customers via their preferred channel — it's that simple.
  • Self-service: Provide knowledge bases and communities. Make it easy to navigate and powerfully helpful. Allow customers to engage with each other and share opinions — to help each other — and provide an easy means to do so.
  • Best practice workflows: Best practice workflows are built in, and should include automated notifications to customer and agent, for example, and be customizable. This includes the ability to set different SLAs (service level agreements), ease of sharing and escalating tickets, and options to collaborate on tickets and issues.

Powerful customer service software impacts how organizations engage with their customers. It captures vital information and facilitates good communication. Given the importance an organization has for both sales CRM and customer service software, the optimal solution should combine the best tools on the market for both, via seamless, two-way integrations. By doing so, the essential customer information required for an organization's long-term success is available within both applications.

Integrations — a perfect match

Bringing best-of-breed sales and customer service tools together enables full visibility into customer interactions. No time is spent looking for more information, it's right there. Salespeople and customer service people can focus on their main responsibility: providing an exceptional customer experience.

Customer service agents want the tools and information needed to answer questions and resolve problems on the spot, in the first interaction. This makes them excellent at their jobs, and ensures customer satisfaction. Plus, when customer service agents have a view into sales CRM data, customers get the sense that they are dealing with a single organization that knows them and cares about their concerns — holistically.

When two customers call in with an identical customer service issue, an agent can focus and adapt the service he gives each customer based on pertinent data learned from the sales CRM. He can see one customer is involved in a lengthy sales process, and the other has had no further contact with the company since the initial product purchase. This greatly informs and enhances the quality of the interaction and service.

If a company has the ability to see all interactions associated with a customer account at every point in the customer lifecycle, salespeople, agents and other users can make more intelligent decisions on how to approach and engage with each customer. Therefore, it makes sense to integrate sales CRM with agile, smart and convenient customer service software to gain magnified visibility into customers.

The perfect match, made in the cloud

When an organization wishes to build a thriving business it must employ the best software tools available. Today, a customer-focused approach is essential to an organization's success, and technology helps create what's wanted most: customer satisfaction, loyalty, and increased business. This can be achieved on the front lines of sales and customer support with software products that provide easy access to all customer data and interactions throughout the entire customer lifecycle.

Many organizations use a sales CRM to capture sales information and manage accounts, but only specific types of information flow through these systems. By adding another tool to handle and track customer support interactions, another major source of information is now available. Together, these two systems can help organizations bridge gaps from sales to support, and provide more complete views of customers and their important interactions. These organizations are then poised to engage every customer based on specific needs. This will not only satisfy customers, this will delight them.

By seamless two-way integrations of best-of-breed tools, the best sales CRM can be amplified by the best customer service software. Customer support agents can access sales CRM customer data from within the customer service platform, and salespeople can access customer support data from within the sales CRM platform. By implementing both tools, an organization gets the best of both worlds.

Customer case study: School of Rock

When a new school opens, School of Rock delivers a suite of best-of-breed tools to get started and open its doors to students. School of Rock needed a customer service platform that not only fit this toolkit, but also delivered a great end-user experience while at the same time giving agents a system to be more effective. After evaluating several customer service platforms, School of Rock added Zendesk to its ecosystem that includes Google Apps, NetSuite, Box, and other cloud solutions.

With Zendesk, School of Rock has seen the following results:

  • FRANCHISEE SATISFACTION RATING: 95%
  • TICKET VOLUME REDUCTION: 42% decrease in number of tickets, from 378 tickets in March 2012 to 219 tickets in September 2012
  • COST SAVINGS: 66% reduction in billable help desk hours from February 2012 to September 2012
  • CUSTOMER NET PROMOTER SCORE: 63
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Online Retailers Have a Lot to Lose

Given the fact that online spending has jumped from $29.7 billion in 2007 to a whopping $38 billion in 2011, it's clear that customers are embracing the online shopping experience faster than ever before (with no signs of that embracement waning — possibly ever). With that growth comes a steady stream of customer support requests, issues, and the like, and a customer base that's become deftly skilled at venting their customer support woes to their peers. For online retailers, having a bulletproof support strategy in place can no longer be an after thought.

And there's no time like the holidays to really prove that point. For most organizations, the holidays are the true test of any company's support team. The best way to prep: figure out just exactly what customers expect out of online support.

Online Retailers Have a Lot to Lose

One face of the brand customer support

Streamlining and improving the customer service experience has been proven to increase profits for retailers.1 Simply reducing first response time, however, is not enough to gain competitive advantage towards increasing profits. Customer service must be seamless across all communication vehicles where customer interactions and feedback occur. This meets the customer wherever they are and provides 'one face of the brand' to customers needing support.

This 'one face of the brand' approach to support enables retailers to further increase their profitability. For example, an issue that is resolved within 24 hours, at the first point of contact — something more likely to occur when all customer communication vehicles are in-sync — can be up to 170% less costly than an issue that takes 48 hours to resolve.2

This, then, is the new customer service imperative for retailers:

  • Create a seamless customer service experience
  • Meet the customer wherever they are and when they choose
  • Resolve customer service issues quickly

Improving the Customer Service Experience Increases Profits

Time to resolution has been a key benchmark for retail customer service and, as we will see, the explosion of social media and online communication vehicles has complicated the delivery of fast time to resolution. This matters, because there is evidence that 'best in class' resolution time across a variety of customer communication vehicles (phone, email, online communities, Twitter, Facebook, and similar) and at store sites can increase retail profits.3

Faster issue resolution reduces costs significantly. For example, an issue that is resolved within 24 hours, at the first point of contact — something more likely to occur when all customer communication vehicles are in-sync — can be up to 170% less costly than an issue that takes 48 hours to resolve.

Faster Issue Resolution Impacts Important Sources of Future Business

If your customers experience 'best in class' issue resolution time no matter what their communication vehicle may be, they feel valued by the brand. However, if your customers experience slower issue resolution time when phoning your company's e-commerce support line compared to, say, direct messaging your company's Twitter stream, this inconsistency fractures the customer experience.

'An issue that is resolved within 24 hours, at the first point of contact'something more likely to occur when all customer communication vehicles are in-sync — can be up to 170% less costly than an issue that takes 48 hours to resolve.?

Further, it may be hard to tell where this break occurs — aggregate resolution time data may look fine relative to retail benchmarks. If even one of your customer communication vehicles' support response is noticeably slower or inconsistent in resolution time compared to others, your brand may be damaged long before your data shows there is an issue. Without a seamless 'one face of the brand' experience in support, you may be losing profitable customers now and in the future and not know it.4

'One Face of the Brand' Support Enables Companies to Adapt to Change

The explosive proliferation of customer communication vehicles not only poses a challenge to retailers seeking to create a seamless customer service experience, this proliferation represents potential silos within companies. If your retail organization is like many others, there may be one department responsible for monitoring Twitter and Facebook interactions with the brand, another for front-line response to inbound (email and phone) support requests, and a third that monitors online communities for issues with products.5 This means that each group is potentially unaware of recent support issues for that customer, creating a customer satisfaction risk for the retailer.

For example, even a single issue may cross multiple vehicles:

  • A customer sends an email requesting support on an issue
  • Retailer follow-up starts with email and continues to phone
  • When the customer is online later that day, they use chat to check the progress of their issue, and tweet to their social circle about their support experience

Streamlining retail customer service to create 'one face of the brand' for customers drives collaboration across departments and divisional silos. This collaboration puts the customer at the center of shared efforts, speeding time to resolution while increasing cross-silo agility within an organization. That said, if the approaches to collaboration are not easily deployed across multiple communication vehicles, the customer experience suffers. Enabling retailers to be able to rapidly adapt to an unpredictable future is just one way in which 'one face of the brand' support initiatives have positive impacts far beyond customer service.

'One Face of the Brand' Empowers Customers While Reducing Support Costs

If we map the path of a typical retail support ticket, we see many points where 'one face of the brand' support can empower customers while reducing costs.

Customers are empowered first in ways that avoid — the need for a support ticket'through more access to intuitive, self-service support. Self-service tools not only empower customers, self-service tools typically reduce support costs and resolution time.6 If the customer doesn't find what they need, 1:1 support through a preferred communication channel can then be provided.

Under the 'one face of the brand' approach to support, the development and management of customer communities, FAQs, knowledge bases, and online tutorials may cross internal departments and divisions. As discussed earlier, this increase in internal collaboration results in a more agile retail organization, one where the customer is the focal center of collaboration efforts.

Creating a Retail Customer Service Scorecard

Your business has likely been measuring aspects of customer service. It may even have been scoring those measurements against industry standards and survey data about your peers. Despite that, your current scoring processes are likely different across departments and divisions. To start transforming disparate, disconnected support silos into 'one face of the brand' for seamless support and better outcomes, you need a new, company-wide Retail Customer Service Scorecard. The following five steps can help you do exactly that:

  1. Benchmark time to resolution across each current customer communication vehicle, and set regular, future benchmarking efforts
  2. Benchmark current support costs and project future pipeline from loyalty/referral business to identify the financial impact of 'one face of the brand' improvements
  3. Identify 'communication vehicle gaps' where your customers gather but where you don't have a formal support mechanism; add these to your 'one face of the brand' support plan.
  4. Empower an internal 'customer service excellence' team that owns cross-department and cross-division collaboration on customer service.
  5. Assess current support platforms and tools and evaluate whether they are flexible enough to adapt to rapid change.

Key Platform Considerations for Customer Service

The fifth action item above is key to ensuring your people have the right technology as they begin the process of creating a seamless, 'one face of the brand' support experience. To reduce the impact that constraints in IT resources may have on these initiatives, look for highly adaptable support platforms that can be rapidly implemented regardless of IT resource constraints.

Some attributes to consider are:

  • SaaS and Cloud platforms, to enable rapid deployment no matter what the legacy system environment may be.
  • Subscription-based licensing, to reduce up-front costs and speed adoption throughout the business.
  • Scalability that enables 'elastic customer service,'adapting to spikes in peak demand seamlessly.
  • Native connectivity across all major customer communication vehicles.
  • Ongoing research and development to rapidly adapt to future, unforeseeable changes to customer communication vehicles.

Conclusion

The explosive proliferation of customer communication vehicles, and their unforeseeable future transformations, makes it ever more challenging to be wherever your customers are, ready to support them while providing a seamless brand experience. These unpredictable technological changes, however, offer rare opportunities to increase competitive advantage and profit from customer service.

By using technology to enable seamless cross-department and cross-division collaboration on customer service, retailers can transform a fragmented brand experience into 'one face of the brand' for customers. This will reduce first response time, improve customer satisfaction, and increase brand loyalty/referrals — all imperatives for retail brands seeking a competitive advantage and increased revenue.

Is it important to reduce the risk that, due to support issues, your best customers may switch to a competitor this year? Is it imperative for future revenue to grow brand loyalty and referrals? If so, it's time to take action. Take steps now to ensure seamless 'one face of the brand' support; those retailers who fail to act quickly will lose business to their more agile competition.

About a Best-of-Breed Solution

As we've seen, slow response and resolution times pose significant challenges for retail profits and growth. In fact, they are the #1 leading indicators for poor customer satisfaction. To improve profits through improved first response time, you need a cloud-based customer service platform, one that invests in continuous innovation to enable 'one face of the brand' support experiences no matter what the future brings. One example of such a platform is Zendesk.

Zendesk not only provides the platform and connectivity needed to rapidly enable 'one face of the brand' experiences, it offers an easy-to-use, radically fast interface. This will improve your agents' productivity, allowing them to better focus on your customers. Further, with robust reporting and analytics, Zendesk enables key metrics to bridge the gaps between departmental silos, helping your teams work together to make workflow improvements and increase efficiencies across the board.

Zendesk is a leader in cloud-based customer service software. It has a proven record of scalability and 99.9% uptime, which means companies like Groupon, Gilt Groupe, and ModCloth can rely on Zendesk as a partner through growth and change. If you're ready to increase retail profits by improving your customer service experience, consider adding Zendesk to your short-list for evaluation.

'Zendesk gives our support team a lot of freedom to operate in a way that best serves our customers. The real benefit has been the immeasurable benefits — the improved agent experience, greater transparency of information, simpler workflow operations, and improved sense of agent ownership over customer issues.'
-Gilt Groupe

FOOTNOTES

1'Using data on the top performing Web retailers in the U.S. based on their online annual sales, we show that the extent of retailers' efforts in online customer service...is positively linked to customer satisfaction, which in turn is positively related to the retailers' online sales performance. [Author's emphasis.] In addition to directly increasing the revenue, our results indicate that customer service...can also indirectly improve the retailers' financial performance. Specifically, customer service management impacts the sales performance via the average ticket amount...' ?The Effect of Customer Service and Content Management on Online Retail Sales Performance: The Mediating Role of Customer Satisfaction, — Ayanso, A., K. Lertwachara, and N. Thongpapanl (2011), AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction (3) 3, pp. 156-169.

2 'If we make some assumptions about the cost of handling complaints, we can start to see the financial impact that customer service failure has on organisations working in these sectors. Organisations often estimate that a complaint which is handled at the first point of contact costs between £2.50 and £51. That cost rises as complaints take longer to resolve and involve more points of contact. [Author's emphasis.] As shown in the table [see research here for table details], we have worked on the basis of representative cost estimates which we believe to be conservative.' UK Institute of Customer Service, UK Customer Satisfaction Index 2011, http://www.instituteofcustomerservice.com/1711-7752/ UK-Customer-Satisfaction-Index-July-2011-executive-summary.html.

3 Ibid.

4 'One common element among all countries: poor customer service has a major impact on enterprises worldwide, directly resulting in lost revenue. In virtually every country, customers ended at least one relationship per year due to poor service. [Author's emphasis.] Across all countries surveyed, about 7 in 10 consumers have ended a relationship. The vast majority of lost revenue results in defections to a competitor.' Genysys (with Greenfield Online and DataMonitor/Ovum Analysts), 'The Cost of Poor Customer Service,' http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/122502/.

5 '[I]t has been projected that 45% of all contact companies have with their customers occur over the telephone, 45% happen via online means (Web site, e-mail, etc.), just 5% occur face-to-face, and the remaining 5% via other means. This movement away from face-to-face contact toward online and technology-mediated methods has implications both for selecting technologies and for managing personnel who provide customer service in these high-tech environments. With the introduction of new communication media and expanded customer touch-points, the characteristics of an effective customer service process/system are experiencing significant change. [Author's emphasis.]' Froehle, Craig M., 'Service Personnel, Technology, and Their Interaction in Influencing Customer Satisfaction,' Decision Sciences, Vol. 37, No. 1, February 2006.

6 Andrews, Doreen C., and Karla N. Haworth, 'Online Customer Service Chat: Usability and Sociability Issues,' Journal of Internet Marketing, March 2002, Vol. 2, No. 1. http://www.arraydev.com/commerce/ jim/0203-01.htm

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The Customer Service and Social Media Revolution

Customer service organizations face increasing amounts of pressure to deliver better service over a broader range of channels including the Web, email, and phone. Customers expect to get service at any time of the day or night and assume that customer service teams will maintain a complete history of all interactions.

More recently, the social network boom has created a new revolution in customer service. The reach and immediacy of Twitter, Facebook and, now, Google+ has made the voice of the customer an extremely powerful force. Bad customer experiences can quickly snowball into online customer uprisings leading to PR disasters.

In addition, the proliferation of smartphones and tablets has raised customer expectations for timely response. Customers now expect to reach companies from anywhere, at anytime, and through any device that they choose such as iPads, iPhones, and Blackberry and Android smartphones. While it used to be expected that customer inquiries would be answered in a couple days, now customers expect answers in hours, if not minutes.

As is often the case, tech-savvy startups are the first to embrace new technologies and communication channels. Larger, more traditional organizations are now finding that they need to develop new customer service strategies or else smaller, more nimble organizations may leave them in the dust and take their customers with them.

The exciting part of this ever-changing environment is that these new pressures have lead to both innovation and disruption in customer service.

Customer Service Goes Social

When traditional customer service software was developed, the pressures of supporting new and multiple online channels just didnt exist; the products were never designed to accommodate input from social media or run on mobile devices. As companies using these traditional solutions look to update their customer service software infrastructure to keep up with new channels, many realize that they cannot afford to expend 6-12 months to customize their current help desk solution if it were, indeed, even possible.

As a result, many companies are making the move to cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions. These have proven to be the fastest and most cost-effective alternative to updating on-premise packages. More importantly, these new cloud-based solutions are specifically designed for multi-channel customer service.

As an example, lets take a look at Twitter as a channel. Studies by Edison Research have indicated that 19% of Twitter users seek customer service via Tweets. With more than 200 million users, this means 38,000,000 customers are seeking service via Twitter. Modern customer service solutions have made this manageable by allowing companies to create custom searches for their brand names and product names on Twitter. When a problem is encountered, the Tweet can be immediately converted into a customer service ticket, known as a Twicket, in this case. The Twicket then can be assigned to the most appropriate person in the company to respond. That response can then be sent as a Tweet or a direct message.

Customer Service Goes Mobile

On the hardware side, customers and employees do more and more on mobile devices than ever before. In fact, the mobile revolution seems like an unstoppable force with more than 5.3 billion mobile subscribers worldwide (by the way, thats 77 percent of the worlds population).

Today the mobile consumer and the mobile workforce are rapidly converging. Whether officially sanctioned or not, many customer service employees already make use of their smart phones, iPads, and personal accounts like Twitter and Facebook to solve their customers' problems because these channels make their jobs easier.

Being able to access customer service systems from anywhere frees services teams from their desks. It allows them to respond to and escalate customer inquiries from anyplace at any time. As a result, response times go down and customer satisfaction goes through the roof. Time and time again, we see examples of customers who are delighted to get timely responses from inquiries whether theyre over the web, email, or Twitter. What matters is that youre taking care of the customer faster than ever before. In todays increasingly connected world, that wins customer loyalty and creates a huge competitive advantage.

Multiple Channels, Unified Tools

However, the more customer service channels a company supports, the more challenging it can be to effectively track and respond to customer inquiries. In addition, every new channel has the potential to create confusion for both customer service agents and customers. For example, one customer service agent may respond to a customer via email while another is communicating over Twitter. It can create the classic problem of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing.

To avoid these issues, companies need all their channels to feed into a central help desk with a unified set of business processes. While requests may arrive in different ways, the organization should strive for consistency across channels. This will reduce an overlap of efforts, ensure consistent responses, and simplify the management of the customer service team.

That is exactly how the new generation of help desk solutions are designed. In fact, they can truly provide the fastest way to a great customer experience because they are easy to set up, funnel interactions from multiple channels into a single place, and improve the efficiency of customer service agents.

Conclusion

Todays companies are faced with the challenge of having to deliver customer service across a wide variety of channels such as email, the Web, social media, and mobile devices; its not just about having a call center or FAX machine anymore. By supporting these channels, customer service organization have an amazing opportunity to deliver a truly memorable customer experience with the right processes and tools in place. If the last update you made to your customer service organizations was the addition of a support@ email address, it is probably time to seriously reassess your customer service strategy. Happy customers are loyal customers who not only keep coming back for more, but also spread the word about your company and products.

About Zendesk

Zendesk is the proven cloud-based help desk software that is the fastest way to enable great customer service in rapidly growing companies. Zendesk is so easy to use, it's loved by support teams and their customers worldwide. More than 30,000 organizations including Adobe, MSNBC, Sony, and Groupon, trust Zendesk with their most valuable asset: their customers. Now, organizations can deliver exceptional support across the web, email, and social media.

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