Instacart opts for Zendesk to deliver support across six teams

Instacart was choosy when shopping for an innovative CX partner that could handle two distinct customer bases. Zendesk worked so well, Instacart used it to support a third group: internal employees. Now, the company handles 175K+ tickets per month, while generating higher customer satisfaction and retention.

“The concept of a shared ticketing system is valuable for every piece of a support organization. Almost all our customer and shopper communications, HR, Payroll, and IT now go through Zendesk Support.”

Jeremy Flanagan

Customer Ops Project Lead of Tools ที่ Instacart

“It’s paramount for us to be able to build exactly what we need. Zendesk provides a vast collection of integrations and opportunities for customization as part of our subscription.”

Jeremy Flanagan

Customer Ops Project Lead of Tools ที่ Instacart


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Instacart, a same-day grocery delivery service based in San Francisco, is revolutionizing the way we’ve grocery shopped for the past 50 years. Their mission: to build the best way for people everywhere in the world to shop for groceries.

Instacart connects customers with personal shoppers who shop and deliver groceries from local stores—saving customers from long lines and crowded produce sections on a Sunday afternoon. Instacart even allows customers to mix and match items from multiple stores in one order. Ordering is easy through their app, or online, and customers can use the company’s help center to answer general questions or to connect to live help.

Supporting two different groups

From a service perspective, Instacart needs to support both customers and shoppers, and thus needed a system with robust customizability that would allow them to segment their two user bases within the same tool.

...the transparency and flexibility allows Instacart to capture the voice of the customer, dig deeper into satisfaction ratings, and make informed changes at the product or policy level...Agility, data visibility at Instacart Jeremy Flanagan, Customer Ops Project Lead of Tools at Instacart, said the team explored a number of options before choosing Zendesk Support. Flanagan is responsible for the tools used by the Happiness team, and also works as a liaison between the Customer Ops and Product teams. To that end, when comparing potential systems, it was crucial for Instacart to be able to integrate their customer service solution with custom tools to incorporate their rich multi-user data.

“For Instacart, when helping customers, it’s important to know contact information, recent order information, and coupon and credit balance,” Flanagan explained. “On the other hand, when helping shoppers, it’s important to know what type of shopper they are, and if their status is active or dormant.”

Everything depends on knowing your customers

Before he moved into his current position, Flanagan spent time working as a shopper delivering orders in the field, as well as a Happiness agent, supporting those same shoppers. This gave him the unique perspective of having experienced both sides of the relationship. The more context an agent has about a shopper or customer, the easier that customer or shopper support experience is. In the same vein, all Instacart employees work a full shopping shift periodically.

Thus, Instacart’s ability to bring data about each user into their Zendesk view was the ultimate deal-maker. “We have almost every piece of relevant data coming in on the ticket based on the user,” said Flanagan. Not only does this information help the team to route requests appropriately, it also improves the agent experience—as well as their efficiency—because they don’t have to switch between systems as often.

Custom building with Zendesk

“It’s paramount for us to be able to build exactly what we need. Zendesk provides a vast collection of integrations and opportunities for customization as part of our subscription.” Flanagan said. As part of the effort to create a customized support experience, Instacart engaged Zendesk’s customer success organization for guidance.

“Having a dedicated CSE has been one of the best experiences yet in our relationship with Zendesk,” Flanagan said. “Jeff has been our on-call expert and has dramatically opened our eyes to the capabilities of the product. He also helped spearhead some major initiatives to scale and improve our support structures. If we’re looking at ROI, his impact is definitely a large percentage of that!”

Many of the integrations and apps the team uses help increase productivity, and their efficient app deployment is powered by AWS. One of the team’s favorite apps is Zendesk’s Five Most Recent app, which shows agents the last five tickets a user has submitted. “It’s always helpful to gain more context around a user’s past support requests,” said Flanagan.

Delivering great support in high volume

Whether a customer or personal shopper calls, emails, or uses social media to contact Instacart, the team has everything they need to prioritize tickets and quickly resolve issues. Given the nature of their business, and how frequently we all need groceries, the team’s volume remains high. Voice calls make up the lion’s share, and the team handles between 15,000 to 20,000 calls a week. Email volume is also consistently high, at an average of 20,000 contacts per week.

Just as Instacart recognized that they could use Zendesk Support to provide service to two distinct customer bases, they also rolled out dedicated internal instances to better support their employee base. The Human Resources, Payroll, and IT teams also use Support to handle issues or answer questions for full- and part-time employees.

No matter the usage, the transparency and flexibility of Zendesk Support allows Instacart to capture the voice of the customer and dig deep into changes in satisfaction to discover the root cause and make changes at the product or policy level, or to ramp up agent training in specific areas. It also allows them to collect positive feedback so that they know what’s working well, and can build on their successes.

“Since we’re a data-driven organization, the use of custom fields and tagging has been really wonderful. We can pull in every piece of Zendesk data into our internal database—furthermore, we can slice and slice that data, and join it with internal data to create an extraordinarily vivid picture of the customer journey,” Flanagan said.