Zendesk Wants to Be Everywhere Customer Interactions Happen

By Michael Carney , written on August 17, 2012

From The News Desk

It’s been a busy summer for online customer service platform provider Zendesk. The four-year-old startup is making it near impossible for companies to find an excuse not to use its product. In the last two months, it has rolled out 11 fully localized versions of its product and has added out integrations with Hootsuite, Facebook messenger, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Today, Zendesk announced its availability in the Google Apps Marketplace. With this Google Apps integration, the service now supports SingleSign-on with Google OpenID, allowing users to log-into both Google Apps and Zendesk simultaneously.

The new integrations are all about broad availability. Customer service events can happen anywhere within the physical and digital world. By better integrating Zendesk into the existing workflow and tools used by customer service departments, the company hopes to remove as many obstacles as possible for its more than 20,000 customers, which include Adobe, Sony, Zappos, OpenTable, Groupon, Dropbox, Yammer, Four Seasons Resorts, and even the UK government.

“The nature of customer service is changing,” says Zendesk COO Zack Urlocker. “It seems like on a monthly basis we hear of a Fortune 500 company having a major customer service SNAFU, often with extreme repercussions.”

Zendesk creates and tracks individual service tickets for each customer interaction. Each ticket can be assigned an appropriate priority level, include social media and chat communication histories, and be assigned to specific team members.

For example, when Zendesk users come across a Twitter or Facebook posts requiring special attention, the Hootsuite app plugin allows users to create tickets directly without changing programs, while including Twitter conversation history or Facebook comments.

The newly localized versions of Zendesk allow global companies to automatically detect the language of an inbound customer request and direct that case to the appropriate support agent. The software can take this a step further by automatically sending a templated response with the right language dynamically inserted. Through its clients, Zendesk interacts with and supports more than 70 million consumers in 140 countries.

Finally, the company also rolled out a Search Analytics feature that provides insights about “silent users.” These are 36 percent of online consumers who prefer to find their own answers rather than speaking to a customer service representative. Zendesk allows its client companies to identify and understand these one-way customer service interactions, including when and why they fail.

Zendesk is not without competition. The cloud customer service space is littered with providers including, Uservoice, h2desk, TenderApp, CharmHQ, Assistly, and even Accel-backed upstart Freshdesk. The race on to provide the most simple yet ubiquitous platform for managing customer interactions wherever they occur.

Zendesk has raised a total of $25.5 million to date over four rounds of financing from Matrix Partners, Benchmark Capital, Charles River Ventures, and various angels.

In a recent study, Zendesk revealed that bad customer service cost major economies around the world $338 billion annually. Closer to home, 82% of Americans report having stopped doing business with a company because of poor customer service with the average value of each lost relationship calculated to be $289.

In the same report, it revealed that companies which are able to resolve issues in less than ten hours average greater than 90% satisfaction ratings -- although this is an ambitious request considering average response times of 23.6 hours.

The key to these fast resolutions? Effectively offering multiple channels for customers to reach a company such as Facebook, Twitter, Email, Online Chat, Self-Serve Forums, and FAQ. Always available tools like Zendesk are what make juggling these seemingly endless platforms feasible.