August 12, 2020

Data and personalization: Zendesk’s approach to customer experience

In a digital world with a growing amount of providers, apps and channels, offering a personalized experience is key to standing out in the market.

Zendesk, one of the leading CX companies, was a pioneer in developing solutions that help brands better connect with their customers. For many years, they’ve been touting the importance of personalization and always putting the customer first. 

Recently, Everton Alves, Aivo's CRO, sat down with Luiz Antunes, Head of Solution Consultant and Strategy at Zendesk.

In an Aivo Next episode, they discussed personalization, intelligent and proactive use of customer data, omnichannel solutions and consumers today.

Below are highlights from their conversation.

New expectations from customers 

What differences do you see with consumers today?

In the last few years, we’ve seen the emergence of native digital companies. They developed distinct business models and ended up being the first game changers or disruptors in the market.

They’ve really changed the customer experience with the help of technology. And now that consumers have this kind of experience, they're not going to accept anything less. They already have a set standard, which in turn increases expectation.

Today, that makes customers value the quality of service much more, not just the product by itself, and so time also plays a fundamental role.

What industries are adjusting the best to this new type of consumer? 

The financial market and the transport industry are understanding this new behavior.

However, it still seems to be a relatively new concept in the region. Instead, international markets like the US and Asia are transforming a little faster. This is clearly because there's fiercer competition.

How do you identify yourself as a customer?

I’m demanding and very critical. I won’t think twice before cancelling something if I don't like the service. I want an extremely smooth experience.

A little while ago, I had an interesting situation happening to me once.. I had bought something from an online marketplace and paid a certain price. That night, I got an offer: an ad for the very same product I’d already bought but at a much lower price. Go figure. And so frustrating!

How much does this marketplace know about the consumer? How could they not know I’d already bought that product? And that I paid more for it!

It’s really important for companies to know their customers, that interactions are associated to avoid mistakes.

The key is in personalization

How can companies improve data usage in order to enhance user experience?

Mainly, the mass of data that companies have on customers has to be turned into valuable and useful information for decision making.

Right now we have a huge volume, plus data history. That’s why all that information has to be captured, and then we have to work hard to develop insights that let us analyze that history.

This means not only using the data but also working with it, applying it in business areas, leveraging it in the company and developing automated machine learning engines in order to learn from them.

A recent survey found that 52% of people would stop buying from a brand if they don’t get personalized service. What do you think about this? How can data be obtained to continue personalizing customer experience?

I’m not surprised. It has to do with being treated as a person, not as a protocol.

There’s some research regarding data protection that now has a great impact on personalization. It says that more than 80% of customers allow their data to be used in exchange for a better experience.

Data is an important supply these days, and something must be given to customers in order to get the opt-in. And customers on their end understand that experience is an important supply as well.

Related article: Personalization and empathy: 4 ways to implement them in CX

To what extent is it morally and ethically possible to anticipate and know user data?

I think there are some important factors.

On the one hand, the provider must have their customer’s approval, and this is even required by law.

On the other, everything depends on the point of customer interaction. It’s not just about collecting data, but also about trying to understand the customer so you can determine the type of interaction they want.

For example, if you know your customer prefers voice interaction from their feedback, are you going to contact them over WhatsApp or SMS? If so, it's going to be pretty hard to connect. The customer chooses the way to interact and the channel, not the provider.

I don’t like getting a ton of ads about something I only searched for one time. That shows they don’t know their customers, they only want to overload them with information.

Omnichannel solutions as a strategy

How are omnichannel solutions handled at Zendesk?

As I said before, the customer chooses the channel. They get to decide how to interact with a brand. That’s the reality.

What can't happen is that channels are left disconnected. So many times, customers share information with the company when they contact customer service, but when the agent answers, that information is missing and everything has to be repeated again. This causes unnecessary annoyance and directly affects the customer satisfaction level.

Companies have to pay more attention to that. First, they shouldn't implement a channel just because. It has to make sense for the company’s strategy.

And then, they have to encourage customers to use it. Regardless of the chosen channel, the company has to guarantee that if they're offering it, it’s because communication will be completely smooth.

The same thing happens with bots. They have to be part of the process and the collected information must be valuable when there’s a transfer to a human agent.

A lot of times at Aivo we’re asked what channel should be used. And what we say is that the best channel is the one the customer likes.

Exactly. I see many companies trying to decrease the use of the voice channel.

But for this, you need a systematic integration so that customers can be served through chat, whether chatbot or human chat.

It’s best to look always at the whole cycle. Not just the customer journey itself, but the journey within the systematic cycle of communication and support.

Related article: Omnichannel Customer Service: Why is it important?

Regarding the market, there’s a recent survey that says that for 2020, 85% of customers will prioritize service quality over product price. Do you agree?

I agree. Zendesk also conducted a different survey saying that more than 60% of our customers would change brands due to a bad experience.

Every customer has their own needs based on their social status, demographics and more. But they'll always look for the best service according to their circumstances.

I think customers aren't just going to change providers, but they'll also start movements. Some brands turn into evangelists and end up being cults. An example of this is Apple and other brands, even in Brazil.

The tech industry has grown a lot based on this. What do you think about how technology will keep impacting customer behavior and CX in the upcoming years?

A lot of studies say that up until 2019 we were in the digital age or information age, and that now we’re moving into the conversation age. This would be the sum of data plus interactions.

In that sense, I think these two factors will have a big impact on consumers: omnichannel solutions and conversation, plus the issue of accessibility and ease of use with AI-related technologies.

How are you personalizing your experience?

As Everton and Luiz put it, personalizing the experience is the key to treat your customer like a real person and not as a protocol.

What other initiatives are you taking to personalize your CX?

If you'd like to learn more about our solutions and our integration with Zendesk, please don't hesitate to schedule a demo with one of our representatives.

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