Vimeo + Zendesk: Building a custom solution
Vimeo knew they needed a unique solution that could be as elastic as they grew. Using the Zendesk apps framework and Zendesk Sunshine, they created innovative custom apps that make it easier to offer efficient, specialized support
“One of the most magical things about Vimeo is how much of an influence our support team has been able to have on our product over time.”Suri Ratnatunga Sr. Director, Community + Support at Vimeo
“With live video, when something goes wrong you really need somebody right there,” she said. “When they’re on their live video settings page, the Zendesk Chat widget appears and they can just open the widget right there and talk to an agent if they need help.”Suri Ratnatunga Sr. Director, Community + Support at Vimeo
Software & Services
New York City
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Since its founding in 2004, Vimeo has been at the forefront of the video industry, empowering video creators with the tools and technology they need to succeed with video.
In 2007, it became the first site to support HD playback. By 2013, Vimeo had introduced Vimeo on Demand, an open marketplace that enables creators to sell their videos directly to their audiences through the site. 2017 brought the launch of 360 video, live streaming, a new CEO and a refocused creator-first strategy—and the momentum continues. Most recently, the company launched a major brand campaign to showcase the wide array of tools and services available on the platform for video creators.
If Vimeo provides creators with the community and tools they need, it should come as no surprise that the company also empowers its support agents with everything they need to scale through each new product launch—including giving support a voice in product development to ensure that Vimeo remains customer-centric as it grows.
The search for a scalable, flexible solution
Cameron Dunn, Vimeo’s head of community operations, began using Vimeo as a consumer to watch videos. “I was on Vimeo for about six years before I worked for Vimeo,” he said. “A bunch of people using the site became internet friends, so it moved from URL to IRL. I truly got my internship with Vimeo through those relationships.”
Dunn has now worked at Vimeo for seven years, alongside Sr. Community Operations Engineer Zena Hirsch, who started at Vimeo about the same time. Together they’ve witnessed not only Vimeo’s evolution, the building of a support team built from the ground up.
Sr. Director of Community and Support Suri Ratnatunga explained, “There was no operations team when Cameron joined Vimeo. There weren’t engineers on support when Zena joined. Once the needs of the team grew, they were able to grow into those roles.”
As the team grew, the limits of it’s prior solution with Desk.com started to show. Initially, Vimeo’s engineering team developed a number of custom features to improve agent workflows. However, these customizations ended up leaving Vimeo on a legacy version of the tool. Frustrated, the team knew they needed a solution that could be as elastic as their growing company, and one that could be customized to fit Vimeo’s unique support needs. It evaluated new options and chose Zendesk Support in 2015.
“We do a lot to capture information about our users and to build comfortable workflows for our agents,” explained Dunn. But at a certain point, he admitted, “I think we were hitting some walls.”
“The Zendesk apps framework was my draw to Zendesk when we were making that decision,” Hirsch added, “I was advocating for that.”
Four years later, Vimeo has a full team of agents serving the 90 million creators who use Vimeo to host and share their work. Ratnatunga’s team fields about 25,000 tickets each month, and Hirsch has developed a host of innovative custom apps to make their jobs easier. The most visible of these is a sidebar app in the agent view that they call “Rap Box.” This app provides a way for Vimeo’s support agents to see comprehensive user information from Vimeo’s platform from within a ticket.
Rap Box allows agents to see critical information like a user’s membership type, subscription renewal date, and the number of videos on their account.
Rap Box falls in line with Vimeo’s “one fewer click” philosophy around the customer experience. It also highlights the potential for innovation when support teams are allocated the resources they need, such as a dedicated support engineer like Hirsch.
Supporting Livestream: phone support when you need it most
Vimeo’s move into live video was an exciting moment for its users and signalled a new era for the platform. It also changed the paradigm for Vimeo’s support—live streaming meant that users would need real-time help. Still, at the outset it was unclear how prominent streaming would become.
Vimeo opted to initially offer support through Zendesk Chat. As a premium-only feature, Ratnatunga and her team wanted to ensure continued and consistent top-notch service to paid live video users.
“With live video, when something goes wrong you really need somebody right there,” she said. “When they’re on their live video settings page, the Zendesk Chat widget appears and they can just open the widget right there and talk to an agent if they need help.”
The subsequent transition to phone support was more a matter of consolidation. Acquiring live video pioneer Livestream left Vimeo with two separate Zendesk instances and phone support through Mitel.
“Last year, Cameron and Zena worked very hard to migrate Livestream support into one Zendesk instance and also improve the support workflows with Zendesk Talk,” Ratnatunga explained. Through Mitel, agents would answer calls without any information about the customer. Livestream’s original call center system also forced agents to manually create tickets during or after they talked to clients. The move to Zendesk Talk allowed the team to streamline both of these processes by surfacing customer information and automatically creating a ticket. Vimeo also assigns a unique PIN to every Livestream Enterprise customer, which they need to access the gated phone support line. Hirsch developed a script that takes the PIN and looks up the user that called into Zendesk Talk’s IVR system, making that user’s information available to agents in Talk as soon as they pick up the phone.
“It was rewarding to work closely with the Livestream support team to extend some of our resources to make their lives a little easier, including using Zendesk the way that we do.”
Working to optimize phone support was new to both Dunn and Hirsch. “We were able to launch this new system, with Talk, that’s worked pretty well since launch,” Ratnatunga added. “That’s priceless.”
Bringing Sunshine to support
Hirsch and Dunn continue looking for ways to advance Vimeo’s customer support—and to make agents’ jobs easier—at pace with the technology available, including leveraging the Zendesk Sunshine CRM platform.
Vimeo’s support team needed a way to scale their support operations with additional products and services to handle new ticket categories, teams, and routing rules. Vimeo chose Sunshine for its flexibility and time-to-value, and built a custom app and robust hierarchy of 100s of ticket categories in a matter of weeks. As a result, Vimeo was able to classify and escalate tickets to specialists more accurately, and get unparalleled insight into the quality of specialist support.
Using Zendesk Sunshine, they created an app called SSAT (specialist satisfaction) that allowed Support Specialists to grade the relevancy and quality of the escalation sent to them. This allowed Vimeo to better understand the workflows of their Specialists and make changes where needed.
“Our product changes a lot, especially as we grow the team and acquire other teams. The ways in which we support people and the channels where we support people also change a lot, but ideally our agents don’t have to change the way they work very often,” Dunn said. “Our specialists who receive cases escalated from other agents can rate that escalation and note whether it went to the right person or included thorough information,” Dunn explained. Those ratings used to be housed in an external data store, but now are now stored in custom objects, using Zendesk Sunshine. The SSAT rating links to the person and ticket rated, and an external script pulls the ratings and drops them into CSV files each week for managers to review.
Vimeo also uses Sunshine Events to manage the customer journey, capturing data from third-party systems such as Salesforce and Shopify to give agents the insights they need (email activity, order activity, marketing campaigns, etc.) to streamline customer interactions.
“It’s been amazing working with the documentation and community of other admins who are as excited as I am about building custom things for their agents,” Dunn said.
A self-sustaining support team
Vimeo’s support team plays an integral role in product development. “Before any product launch, members of our team will be looped in to look at early designs, anticipate pain points, and mention feature requests that they’ve heard that could be included in a redesign or in a new feature,” Ratnatunga said.
A couple weeks after each launch, the support team sends a report to key stakeholders to share how users are receiving the new feature or product, and to track any pain points or issues that are resulting in tickets.
That shared focus has made Zendesk a flexible solution for other teams at Vimeo, too, including the IT team, which manages its own instance. Company-wide, though, Zendesk enables internal collaboration. The sales team has access as light agents, and the security, project management, and design teams all access Zendesk to gain insight into customers. “That’s what omnichannel means to me,” Dunn said. “It’s that there’s something we can give to every group internally.”
“The real core value at the center of all this is that we want to be a self-sustaining support team,” Ratnatunga said. “That’s why we have our own engineer. Can we build what we need, when we need it?”
Partnering with Zendesk
Over time, some of what Vimeo has built for its agents is now available within Zendesk. “If we haven’t attempted something yet, I’d like to do it through Zendesk,” Dunn said. “When we moved to Talk, it was nice to be omnichannel, but also nice to be brand loyal.”
Ratnatunga added, “There’s a lot of alignment between Zendesk and Vimeo. We look at what’s on the Zendesk product roadmap and there are sometimes things we’ve known were important to build for agents. There’s a lot of alignment philosophically around how we can empower agents to give the best support possible, how we can keep them super-focused on the user.”
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