Customer Operations
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June 26, 2022

CS Ops Can Do Better Than Simple Zendesk Integrations & APIs

6
Tomer Suarez
Co-Founder & CEO, Interai

CS operations managers who wish to integrate back office systems and customer data into Zendesk are in for a surprise. Even with the immense effort required to create Salesforce, Kustomer, or Zendesk API integrations, you end up with static data, in an inflexible, high maintenance solution which doesn’t add much value in the long run. Instead, there is a much faster, simpler and more powerful way to empower CS agents with actionable data, logic, and workflows while also enabling maximum flexibility for managers so they can move as fast with the business. 

CS Ops now have the opportunity to unleash an equivalent of the Biological Big Bang and bring their company into the future. It's like going from very simple clusters of cells to the astounding array of intelligent life forms we’re familiar with today. In CS terms - from simple customer attributes to real customer intelligence - a real revolution.

The CS Ops’ Goal: Data Integration, Visibility, and Actionable Next-Steps

Consumers today want exceptional personalized service, and when they don’t get it we see increased churn. Naturally, CX leaders turn to their CS Ops managers for tooling that will help agents clear out tickets more efficiently, while improving Customer Satisfaction (CSAT).

CS agents need to be able to quickly understand who the customer they’re interacting with is and what’s their situation, without sifting through piles of customer data trying to make sense of it. They need more data integrated intelligently into Zendesk (where they ‘live’), amplified with live situational guidance, and the tools to provide a delightful experience that instantly improves retention and boosts LTV

For CS Ops this means providing not one but three solutions:

  1. Integrating scattered customer data into Zendesk
  2. Building logic and workflows based on this data to assist agents in giving the best, most personalized service
  3. Providing visibility of customer journeys and trends that enables fast learning and iteration

The challenge begins with integrations. Although companies are generating increasingly more data about their customers’ history, status and activity, most of it is dispersed across multiple disparate systems (not to mention different screens). To create a single and actionable customer overview, CS Ops need to expose APIs, pull data from all these systems, and integrate it intelligently into Zendesk.

Back Office Systems Are Barriers for Zendesk Data Integration

Be it insurance or health services, deliveries or consumer products, most companies have homegrown back office systems that did a great job of taking them from inception to hyper-growth. But when the time comes to integrate back office customer data with service platforms, like Zendesk, and ‘take-off’ - their homegrown systems are holding them back.

Source: Harvard Business Review

Because each homegrown system is as unique as the company it serves, CS Ops have to groom their very own inhouse Zendesk developer to create these integrations. Unfortunately, until CS becomes a profit center, CS is not prioritized and R&D resources are hard to come by. When a Zendesk integration project is finally allocated resources, the project needs to be spec'd out, design docs written up, and approvals given. This is tedious and time consuming, and will only help once, because what CS really needs is continuous support and flexibility

The other option would be hiring a 3rd party Zendesk Integration Partner to help. In this case the business will be tied to an external consultant for every new insight, tweak, or change once the ball starts rolling. Not ideal.

Why ‘Just’ Funneling Data Into Zendesk Is Limited and Limiting

Internal R&D-led Zendesk integration projects usually fall short of their potential. They are limited by the original decisions regarding which data points to integrate and which customer analytics to calculate (e.g., LTV). These decisions are, of course, limited by the resources and time allocated, as well as the expertise of the integration architect, and more often than not yield nothing but a simple, static display of data.

Most Zendesk integration projects just move simple data points around, from one system to another; no logic or workflow built, no insight generated, no smart actions suggested. One of our customers, a large financial institute, managed to present their agents with data on loan status, loan type, and payment status, but couldn’t provide them with any relevant or intelligent course-of-action that could save an unhappy customer right there or prevent a predictable callback. 

A common mistake is over-funneling of data which does more harm than good. Pulling hoards of data from multiple systems onto the CS agent’s screen with dozens of tabs serve only to drown the agent. That critical piece of information–the one that will preempt another inbound ticket two months down the line–is on tab #13 where the agent will never find it. 

It is very hard for an agent to find new compound insights in the heat of an interaction, and even the most motivated of agents will still have to revert to the back office systems for more data, rendering the integration project basically ineffective. 

What happens if an integration is actually decent? Zendesk APIs exposed, back office data funneled, SOPs defined, and customer satisfaction rising. Now, realizing that there are more hidden insights and more creative action to be offered, CS leadership wants to gain visibility into customer journeys and trends, investigate them, and grow. In most cases, internal integration projects provide little to no analytics or dashboards. Without a dynamic no-developer-needed system like interai, CS Ops are stuck until R&D or analyst resources are allocated again. Good luck with that…

A True CS Intelligence Layer Holds Unlimited Potential

The alternative is going beyond limited Zendesk integrations, be they internal or by a 3rd party, and empowering agents with a powerful and dynamic intelligence layer that enhances Zendesk. To paraphrase Tolkein - one layer to rule them all. 

Such customer service intelligence platforms, now emerging as off-the-shelf products, provide agents with insights that are relevant and contextual to the live call. In real-time, they understand who the inbound customer is, produce all available ‘signals’ about them by executing logic paths (like segmentation, playbooks, client health stats, etc.), and surface these to assist the agent, while also generating analytics and predictions for managers.

Agents aren’t expected to go in search of data, and are instead given everything they need to know about–and can do for–the customer on the line. This allows CS agents and the company to recognize high-value customers, understand churn-risk in real time, and act to mitigate churn right then and there. 

But truly effective customer intelligence not only handles the inbound ticket, it also suggests proactive action to be taken in order to solve multiple future issues under the same account and eliminate customer recontacting or worse – churning. Powerful systems will go even further to suggest personalized offers and real-time upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

The best thing about these intelligence platforms is that they also give managers flexibility to learn and adapt CS on the go. Right now, most businesses only have inbound ticket breakdown and manual, retrospect QA. With AI driven CS behavioral analytics and the tools to create new SOPs to address upcoming trends and issues in minutes, managers can steer the ship in real-time, not just plan a route. 

Because these intelligence layers, like interai, do not store or integrate data, but only sit on top of existing systems, the result is a total transformation of CS into an efficient retention and revenue generation engine with no changes to personnel or tooling. CSAT improves, retention rises, efficiency of the CS org climbs and profit generation from inbound CS tickets (yes, inbound) becomes a reality.

Example CS playbook advanced analytics dashboard from inter.ai

CS Ops Can Set CS Free and Become Super-Heroes in Their Organizations

The future of Zendesk integrations will require no integrations at all, and as such - no limits. They will not be inflexible solutions built using expensive R&D resources, but rather dynamic and intelligent solutions owned by the experts – the CS team. The new era of CS intelligence platforms is already here and offers lightning-fast deployment with minimal effort (zero internal development), and a rapid Time To Value (TTV). 

Valuable R&D resources that are allocated to CS can now be redirected to working on the company’s core product(s), while CS managers can finally be set free to envision and create the playbooks and delightful CX of the future.

Instead of traditional, limited integration projects, CS Ops can become super-heroes who unlock immense value by choosing intelligence over integration.

Interai is that intelligence. 

If you haven’t seen an interai DEMO, Get One Here

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