I’ve long said that one of the key benefits of cloud applications is the ability of vendors to aggregate and anonymize data from their users, and to offer this anonymized aggregated data back to users who can then derive insights from comparisons between themselves and other vendors. It’s an area fraught with concerns about commercial differentiation and privacy issues but it’s also one of massive opportunity. probably the number one poster child for this sort of service is FreshBooks who offers their customers a regular report card contrasting their performance over a number of areas with that of other organizations.
Zendesk (see disclosure) is introducing an analytics tool, that enables users to understand their “silent customers” – those customers who may never interact with a support agent but rather use self-service content to resolve their issues. These silent customers have a wealth of data that is generally hidden from the organization but, if exposed, can inform and advise the organization’s customer service strategy. A new Search Analytics feature on the reporting dashboard within Zendesk delivers metrics to organizations that allow them to optimize their customer service. Zendesk customers can see how their customers are using self-service content, where they run into problems, and when they give up.
Another thing Zendesk is doing is publishing a customer satisfaction index. While this isn’t an ideal way to deliver this data (I’d really like these sort of insights to be delivered within the actual application to Zendesk users) it is a good development nonetheless. Zendesk’s Customer Satisfaction Index delivers a periodic measure of customer satisfaction by collecting data from more than 15000 companies across 137 countries. This collective pool of Zendesk users serves an estimated 65 million consumers.
Zendesk has delivered a global benchmark that delivers aggregated results for customers having interactions with service departments. Zendesk then takes that data and slices and dices it extensively across industry sectors, geographies and company size. There are some fascinating insights that Zendesk delivers such as; the customers of middle sized customers are least satisfied with the customer service they receive. Zendesk assumes that is because while small businesses still demonstrate personal service, and larger businesses have the resources to introduce well thought out customer-service systems. Mid sized businesses display the worst of both world in this regard – too big to be personal, too small to do it right.
As an aside, and in a fit of patriotic chest-thumping, Zendesk tells that NZ comes out top with 96% satisfaction, but that the number of customers using is not enough to make it statistically reliable. Oh well, I’ll take what I can get…
Anyway, from its analysis, Zendesk has developed a formula which states that;
Customer satisfaction = Scale * Efficiency * Quality
Or in other words bigger companies that deliver high quality support over a large scale have the highest levels of customer satisfaction, Zendesk measures these factors on the number of tickets (scale), the time to first response (efficiency) and the percentage of tickets actually resolved (quality).
All this is interesting, and somewhat obvious, but it’s the development of best practices that companies can actually use with which Zendesk hopes to move the dial on customer service. To this end Zendesk advises three particular strategies;
- Deliver immediate response. Respond as quickly as possible to customer enquiries to obtain the highest levels of customer satisfaction
- Be where your customers are. Multi channel delivers higher levels of satisfaction – Twitter, Facebook, Phone, Email or chat are all valid ways for customer interaction to occur
- Let customers serve themselves. Self-service not only reduces support costs, Zendesk’s analysis has found that businesses that provide rich self-service on their support site gain higher customer satisfaction ratings than those that do not
The benchmark report is a very useful document, of course in an ideal world Zendesk would serve up highly tailored suggestions directly within their application to allow customer satisfaction to be enhanced. At the moment it take an analysis of a businesses own customer metrics, alongside a study of the benchmark report and some work developing improvement strategies to really move the dial. The future of services like this is to encapsulate that entire process within the application itself.
I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops over time.
(Cross-posted @ The Diversity Blog – SaaS, Cloud & Business Strategy)