The thought leadership and partnership we’ve received from our relationship with Zendesk has helped us take our service delivery to the next level.
Global Director of Customer Support - Cleverbridge
Tickets per Week
Avg Full Resolution Time
Ticket Deflection with Guide
It was the Sunday night before Thanksgiving in 2014, a time when most were focused on travel and turkey, not the short work week that lay ahead. But at cleverbridge, a global e-commerce company, employees were preparing to switch on the company’s new customer service software. Already deep into one of its busiest seasons, cleverbridge wanted the new software in place before the holiday rush began.
There was no need to worry, however; the transition went smoothly. “We were able to get everybody onboard, trained, and using the system within a couple days,” recalled Joe Schnaufer, global director of customer support.
Just a few weeks earlier, cleverbridge had selected Zendesk Support after a meticulous search for the right customer service software provider. That process covered 18 companies, including Salesforce, Freshdesk, and Parature, but it wasn’t until late in the search that Zendesk entered the picture.
Up to that point, cleverbridge had been using a bare-bones system for handling customer service emails, one that lacked ticketing, analytics, and reporting tools. Given the complex nature of the business, supporting both software publishers on the B2B side, and end users on the B2C side, Schnaufer realized the company needed a robust solution that would enable its 162 agents to provide truly proactive service. Having taken the lead on the search, Schnaufer and his team created a complex checklist matrix based on recommendations in the Gartner Magic Quadrant.
“In a very short period of time—like three days—Zendesk came in and delivered a presentation to tell us why they should be invited to the dance,” Schnaufer said. “Zendesk made the shortlist from a criteria perspective, did a fine job on the RFP response, and made the final three.”
Besides needing to support seven languages and an average of 10,000 tickets per week, the system had to be simple to use so that cleverbridge agents could ramp-up quickly during a challenging time of year.
“We generally do about 100 tickets per rep per day, so a friendly, easy-to-use UI was a requirement at the top of the list,” said Edisa Denic, director of customer service. “One of the reasons Zendesk Support really stood out was how easy it is to use, and how easy it was to train our representatives.”
In addition to Zendesk’s fast, hands-on approach to training cleverbridge agents, Schnaufer said that cost, scalability, and customization ultimately tipped the scales in Zendesk’s favor. An agile system is crucial for a business like cleverbridge, with customer service agents based around the globe, from Chicago to Cologne.
“I remember people from Zendesk getting in the trenches, wanting to sit with our agents to really see what they were up against,” Schnaufer said. “It was very purposeful, and it helped the agents make a very big change from a system that they may not have liked but were comfortable with, to a system that was entirely new.”
He also saw that there was opportunity to better serve both customers and agents with a knowledge management center so that all customers, clients and end users would have access to information when the support team wasn’t online.
“We’re not a traditional support organization that’s ‘24x7xhurricane proof’,” Schnaufer explained. “We do close our doors for 12 hours a day, so we needed to be able to elevate the experience by enabling our customers and B2B clients to access the information they need.”
Using Zendesk Guide to create a help center, cleverbridge struck a delicate balance of managing growth without disproportionate expansion of its customer service organization. In fact, Schnaufer’s team has been able to achieve a 24 percent ticket deflection rate by offering self-service.
To add another layer of service, cleverbridge began to set and track differentiated service level agreements (SLAs) for its clients. With these in place, the client management team has been able to earn and maintain a 99 percent SLA adherence rate.
“We appreciate being able to have visibility and transparency to results, which allows for more effective use of resources, allowing us to deliver the level of service or responsiveness we want to deliver to our clients,” Schnaufer said.
To that end, Support’s Multibrand feature has also enabled the company to separate the end user and client management teams into different queues, while maintaining communication between the two, including the ability to exchange tickets. “We don’t need two different instances,” Denic said. “If a ticket needs to be switched between the two, we’re still able to move it and simplify that communication flow.”
Since implementation, Zendesk’s ecosystem of free apps has been another win for cleverbridge. The team has leveraged apps and integrations like Harvest, Tickler, and Quickie to gauge which help center pages customers viewed before submitting tickets, as well as to manage workflows, track ticket resolution times, and more. Schnaufer said the company has also built its own data analytics solution, Board, using Zendesk’s APIs as a springboard for development.
“We’re able to move data that we collect in the Support Center, our phone system, and other financial data into an internal tool called Board so that we can create scaling measurements such as the cost per contact, per ticket, and per channel,” Schnaufer said. “It’s helping us to deliver more effective performance management, forecasting, and analysis of our business—how it’s performing against our expectations, what’s changing. We’re looking at the reasons people are contacting us, and how they generate tickets by region and language.”
“We’ve reduced costs approximately 20 to 25 percent in our support organization year-over-year, even as we’re growing,” Schnaufer said. “The strategic reason for implementing a tool was to be able to say, ‘We know our business over a five-year span is going to grow 50 percent.’ We don’t want to increase our staff at the same rate, and that’s where we’ve been able to see some of the scaling improvements.”
To help keep cleverbridge in step with their strategic goals, Schnaufer and his leadership team work with Zendesk’s customer success organization and perform quarterly business reviews. “Zendesk’s value as a provider has really elevated based on those meetings. The Zendesk team always searches for new ways to help us leverage our service delivery—thinking through what we need, not just what’s new and available. It feels like a true partnership.”