Customer support offers the promise of a productive and valuable link between companies and their customers; however, in many cases, it becomes a frustrating and less than ideal experience for all involved. This is the space in which the aptly-named Zendesk has proven itself as a solution for bringing harmony and efficiency to every aspect of customer service. They have met with overwhelming success, thanks in no small part to the quirkiness and fun they promote in their product and their culture.
In their own words, “Zendesk helps bring customers and organizations closer together. Communication is the key to happy relationships between organizations and their customers, and Zendesk makes conversations with customers easier and more productive.”
Their core business and core vision are one and the same. It may be easy to get bogged down in thinking that customer service is all about business, but Zendesk has made it clear that at its core, customer service is about relationships. The most important thing to Zendesk is “helping its users make their relationships with their own customers more meaningful, personal and productive.” We spoke to Shoko Yanagisawa, Senior Manager, Program Management, and Tom Newton, International Online Advertisement Associate, to find out more.
How do they do it?
“We have a beautifully simple customer support platform, that allows companies to provide great customer service and support. It scales easily and integrates with other services. It makes proactive customer service not just an ideal, but an easily attainable reality.”
Simplicity, flexibility, scalability, and proactive engagement; herein lies the heart of Zendesk’s service. But as they provide a service to customer service providers themselves, they’re faced with the challenge of constantly keeping up with demands from both their own customers and their customer’s customers. Still, they maintain a very impressive user experience, and a beautiful simplicity. How? By updating, launching, listening, and repeating – everything is based on the customer’s needs.
“We listen to our customer’s opinions, and we constantly focus on making the product better: this means daily deploys for smaller updates and weekly deploys for larger updates. This agility gives us the ability to take feedback from customers, be it from support or other channels, and implement it in a very responsive manner.”
Since 2012 they have jumped from 25k customers to 115k, in 140 different countries, and they now have over 2000 employees.
“One part was being highly aware of customer expectations, then releasing updates and features based on that, listening for further feedback, and improving again. But perhaps a larger reason we’ve done well is that the software was born in response to difficult to use, difficult to implement, slow to update (and expensive!) legacy support systems. Zendesk is an alternative in every way: light, easy to deploy, easy to use, reasonably priced. It improves not only the experience of the end-user, but also that of the support agent providing the support. Every interaction becomes an opportunity for actionable feedback and insights.”
The market has also grown with the product. A lot of B2B purchases now have more of a B2C feel. Businesses have more flexibility in browsing, trialling and buying. It’s a very different environment from what it was only a few years ago.
How does Zendesk keep communication efficient and transparent with such rapid growth?
“We have very proactive communication on the part of our CEO, Mikkel Svane; he conducts monthly ‘Town Hall’ meetings — company-wide meetings that are broadcast live to all of our international offices. The recordings are also shared internally afterward. In these meetings the company’s leadership shares its current focus and any pressing matters as well as more personal updates such as employee marriages, new babies (dubbed ‘Zen-Babies’), etc. Mikkel’s energy, positivity, and transparency is very present in these meetings and sets the tone for a company culture which encourages communication, transparency and passion. Add to that the personal culture everyone brings to Zendesk, and you have a fun and motivating workplace.”
“We also use a number of internal communication tools, Yammer, Box, Flowdock… but mostly we use Zendesk itself. It’s very useful for communicating across departments. For example, if the marketing team needs something from the web-team, they can just create a ticket where every aspect of the request can be tracked and taken care of. The same is true for HR, IT, Accounting… basically any internal department. Zendesk helps us stay together.”
So a company with a focus on communication and transparency. How have they taken advantage of Sansan, and honestly, what do they think?
“We appreciate how quickly Sansan was able to take our feedback and turn it into a new feature. We were looking for a seamless Google-contact syncing option which wasn’t initially available with Sansan. When we suggested an update on your end, you came back with the update within a week. And on that note, especially in the US, being able to use your service more flexibly to scan business cards and add them to existing contact lists, or syncing with other contact software, would be a major advantage.
For example, our CEO’s assistant previously was paying 30 dollars a month to get 150 business cards scanned. She had to package the cards up, mail them off, wait for the data transcription and then wait to get the physical copies of the cards back. This seems to be a pretty common trend in the US.
The Sansan scanner cut the whole process down to a day or two. Once she scanned the cards and got a confirmation that they had been transcribed, she could log in through the web-portal and download the CSV to add them to our CEO’s Google contacts.”
And how about improvements?
“Increased language support would be huge. Business cards, especially those of large international corporations, come is all sorts of languages. Having the ability to transcribe card content in other languages could expand a possible user base in the US.
And another suggestion would be some sort of integration with LinkedIn. Many US sales teams use LinkedIn to research and find connections to clients and develop relationships, so a combination of that with Sansan’s scanning and sharing could give you a more complete picture of your team’s connections. Some sort of integration between Sansan and LinkedIn would really make Sansan a much more powerful tool in the US. And moving forward, you could leverage the fact that Sansan is cloud-based and integrate with existing tools for even more usability.”
And where do you want to see Sansan in the future?
“I think, in addition to more integration, I’d love to see a more intuitive interface so that it will hopefully be a part of our daily business life – just like we are carrying iPhones, we would carry around Sansan to do business!”
The Interviewees: Tom Newton, International Online Advertisement Associate, & Shoko Yanagisawa, Senior Manager, Program Management, from Zendesk