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Conversations as the core of the customer-business relationship – that seems to be child’s play.
But over time, many companies have deviated from this concept, especially as they grappled with implementing new technologies.
However, in a COVID-hit world, businesses need to get back to basics of conversation – customers expect to be spoken to quickly, easily, and 24/7, on their terms and on preferred channels.
This has led to a rise in customer experience management (CX) and customer relationship management (CRM). According to Grand View Research, Inc., the global CRM market was valued at US$52.4 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 13% between 2022 and 2030.
“The past few years have made it clear that digital is the front door, convenience is paramount, and relationships are anchored in conversation,” said Mikkel Svane, Zendesk CEO and Founder.
Zendesk is a 15-year-old public company headquartered in San Francisco and is one of a growing number of companies offering Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products centered around CRM and dialog CRM. The company hosted its annual Zendesk Relate event this week to announce its new products and discuss the new CRM normal.
“Customer service has become an integral part of customer relationships, going beyond traditional support,” said Svane of Zendesk Relate. “Human behaviors and patterns have changed forever since the world closed.”
relation to customers
Zendesk’s conversational CRM platform integrates front and back office functions. This enables the front office to provide support as well as a range of intelligent, real-time data services around customer engagement, explained Svane.
At Zendesk Relate, the company released several new tools delivered through its Sunshine platform.
These new features include conversation automation via bot technology, allowing businesses to extend automation to messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. It also allows businesses to build and train custom bots to solve common problems and use third-party data to match incoming customer questions with the most relevant answers.
Similarly, new advanced omnichannel routing capabilities automatically route conversations to the right agent and closely monitor performance, while conversation data orchestration connects processes with event data and custom logic tools. New analytics and custom reporting capabilities enable businesses to manage high volumes and analyze historical trends to improve staffing on customer and prospect channels of choice.
Zendesk has also added conversation channels to its Zendesk Sell platform, allowing sales teams to notify customers and automatically capture every interaction so they can be managed, tracked, and reported. This starts with a WhatApp integration, with bots for sale expected to launch in winter 2022.
Another feature introduced at Zendesk Relate is an agent home platform that allows agents to organize their caseloads, manage their days, and set their status.
The digital front door
Based on an annual CX survey conducted by Zendesk, 90% of customer engagements now take place online, Svane said. With COVID, “digital has become the DNA of our society,” he said. The online world has us measuring our lives with “new conversational paradigms”. Things will never be the same again.”
Svane described digital as the new, ubiquitous front door, adding that people have “zero patience and zero loyalty” and “no qualms” about moving on if a company isn’t interacting with them the way they want. “The way customers do business has changed forever,” he said.
Mike Gozzo, Zendesk’s senior vice president of product, agreed that customers “want you to know who they are, where they’ve been, and why they came to you.”
This means businesses need to be able to pick up where they last left off while solving new problems or questions and facilitating purchases or reservations. “You have to be able to solve that problem, to serve that need, however it arises, whenever it arises,” Gozzo said.
Stanley Black and Decker, a maker of industrial tools and homewares, has embraced this new reality by replacing its “fragmented network of support systems around the world” with the Zendesk platform, according to Orlando Gadea, global vice president of Customer experience transformation.
At Zendesk Relate, he said, “Being there when the customer needs you and where they need you is a very dynamic thing. These problems are extremely complex. The magic of this is that they have to be very complex for you as an organization. You have to absorb all the complexity. It has to work smoothly for the customer.”
Personalized experiences in hybrid work
But, Svane pointed out, personalized, timely service powered by data and automation isn’t just in the customer space — in today’s new norm of hybrid work environments, employees have new and different needs and expectations.
To address these issues, Zendesk has announced new features for its Zendesk Suite. The platform now includes tools around integrated self-service and case management. Simplified workflows and automation provide an integrated system for HR, finance, operations, IT, and other internal support teams. These also help eliminate repetition, friction and unnecessary administrative processes, while simplifying and improving employee access to information, resources and services, explained Gozzo. The platform also includes new tools to provide insight into trends and emerging issues.
Zendesk has partnered with Myndbend, SweetHawk, and EZOfficeInventory on this employee experience package.
Zendesk customer Virgin Pulse uses the platform to ensure members and employees receive accurate and timely responses across multiple channels, said Michael Pace, vice president of global member services.
The software company serves 14 million members in 190 countries. “But we believe that our people are the single most important driver that helps members succeed on their journey and achieve our business goals,” said Pace.
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