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COVID-19: How Is Zendesk Holding Up?

Zendesk, a service-first CRM company builds support, sales, and customer engagement software designed to foster better customer relationships. The CIO shares Zendesk's prerogative on the pandemic, and also what are their upcoming plans...

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It’s not a secret that the outbreak of the pandemic has been affecting people and industries on a large scale, yet leading corporations have been mustering courage and devising solutions to suggest the way forward, and make sure that business remains unhindered.

In a detailed e-interaction with Express Computer’s Gairika Mitra, Colleen Berube, Chief Information Officer, Zendesk shares her bit on the way forward.

Edited excerpts:

What lessons is the crisis opening up for brands in the near future?  

The COVID-19 pandemic is dramatically changing how we interact with each other. Every industry is going through a major transformation and the world post-COVID-19 will be quite different than what we knew before.   

Our latest Benchmark Snapshot Report summarizes how recent events have affected 23,000 companies powering their support operations using Zendesk.

As the situation continues to unfold, three key takeaways stand out. First, customers are increasingly turning to the fastest, most convenient channels to resolve their issues amid the crisis. Zendesk saw significant spikes in the use of chat (+46%), web and mobile app messaging (+32%) and social media (+24%).

With these channels, not only are customers able to get their answers in real-time, such channels also allow them to control the flow of a conversation based on their own schedule. 

Second, technology and automation play a critical role in effectively coordinating responses to customers – the number of support requests handled using Artificial Intelligence (AI) increased to 55% in the month of March alone. Implementing AI, therefore, helps alleviate the pressure off agents and allows customers to find what they need, as soon as they need it. 

Finally, despite the recent events and increased ticket volume, global customer satisfaction scores (CSAT) have actually increased by 1.2% since the beginning of March. So perhaps the silver lining is that customers may be more forgiving in times of crisis. 

Is it time that big corporations should revisit their WFH policies and adopt new technologies to deal with customers?

Absolutely. COVID-19 is causing massive disruption within the workforce, resulting in millions of employees working from home and having limited access to certain resources and technologies. This pandemic has already catalyzed important changes for companies all over the world and that will undoubtedly continue as we begin to return to a new normal. 

For example, at Zendesk we’ve increased our self-service capabilities and made materials more user-friendly and easily accessible for our employees. We have implemented this into our long-term strategy, so even when employees return to the office, they will still be able to self-serve and access information they need in real-time.

Does a Work From Home policy involve challenges with it? (Both Zendesk and Customer POV) 

Working remotely does involve challenges, especially when it happens at the scale we are currently witnessing. The major challenges are for teams to connect and collaborate as seamlessly (and securely) as they do when working in the office.

Even in an unprecedented situation like this, we find that the basics of team dynamics hold true. Our remote managers and employees are actively working on fostering open communication, including praise and constructive feedback. Our emphasis has been on performance and delivery. We have also been providing opportunities to coach and fill gaps in training. Ultimately, we have found that a virtual team has the potential to run like a well-oiled machine.

During such problematic times, how is Zendesk ensuring that business continues as usual?
Our two main priorities are helping our customers and meeting their rapidly changing needs while ensuring that our employees remain safe and productive. Our business continuity team meets regularly – at first daily in active crisis management mode to keep a pulse on virus updates and impacts to health and safety of our employees, customers, partners and community. We’re working hard to ensure employees have transparent, frequent communication, and that they are set up to successfully work remotely.

Being a cloud-based solution, Zendesk can be accessed anytime from anywhere. Hence, our customers are able to continue providing support to their customers even if they are working from home. 

Beyond that, we’ve invested heavily in building a robust infrastructure to ensure a high-level of consistent reliability.  

Lastly, how is Zendesk managing its daily operations while working remotely?

Our Business Continuity plan, which was created for situations such as this, is designed to allow Zendesk services and business operations to function optimally during these kinds of adverse situations. 

Specifically, as the situation has evolved, Zendesk has implemented the following to ensure that we maintain daily operations:

  • 24/7 global monitoring of impacts related to the COVID-19
  • Frequent COVID-19 health, safety, and business continuity response team communications since January 27, 2020
  • First daily, now weekly business continuity strategy meetings
  • A temporary focus on virtual events, such as the APAC Virtual Showcase coming up on May 13 and Relater on March 24th, instead of in-person events and conferences
  • Implementation of mandatory travel restrictions and work-from-home for all global Zendesk offices
  • Validation of the capacity of significant partners that support our day-to-day ability to maintain a remote workforce

At the end of the day, we continue to build for growth and scale and we can all come out of this crisis with a more strategic approach to working globally. We know that at some point we will begin to shift toward recovery, and we will be ready.

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