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June 19, 2018

Zendesk: The Future of Customer Experience - Key Lessons

In June 2018, Zendesk held an event called “The Future of Customer Experience”, focused on product best practices and customer experience industry hot topics. Zendesk powers support at Cutover and our Head of DevOps, Nick Kyrke-Smith and Senior Engineer Gordon Kirkland attended. Across all the great keynotes, case studies and product sessions, the event offered lots of key learning that we’d love to share with you.


1. Follow the principles of delivering a great customer experience

The CEO of Zendesk, Mikkel Svane, gave the opening keynote, entitled “Don’t be a distraction. Simply deliver.” He outlined three principles of good delivery on customer experience:

1. Don't lose the thread                                                                                                                                      

Mikkel highlighted the importance of ensuring that customers have a seamless transition when switching between modes of communication. It’s vital for customers to be able to move easily between different features and components of your product to maintain an excellent customer experience.

2. Do what you say you'll do                                                                                                     

Provide your customers with exactly what you said you would. Transparency around service delivery and consistently meeting customer expectations are key to maintaining the trust of your buyers.

3. Get ahead of your customers                                                                                             

Continually develop your product around the next needs and wants of your customers, before they’ve even realized these requirements. Don’t just develop the next logical product: look for unmet needs or unsolved problems among current and prospective customers, to develop your product in a way that addresses the next problem.


2. Create products that people love to interact with

The next key lesson came from David Mattin from TrendWatching, in his keynote “The Future of Consumerism.” He spoke about various trends across personalization, including this home assistant from Gatebox Labs, as well as emphasizing how important it is for customers that products be forgiving by design. A forgiving design improves customer experience because the user can usually rectify small errors they make and continue using the product without intervention. This also reduces support volumes, freeing up time for your staff to provide even more value.

Heather Gibson, Brand Experience Director of AllSaints, discussed the personalization theme further. She discussed the place of personality within a brand, how customers engage with personality and how brands can develop their own character.

An interesting statistic came out of the breakout session “Self-Service and AI to scale in a direct-to-consumer world” with Ioannis Savvidis from Trivago and Jason Maynard from Zendesk. Self-service functionality is moving into channels, such as chat and help widgets and windows, and with good reason: 76% of people prefer self-service options. Automated self-service bots remove the need for a first-line support function, meaning that people can help themselves while your staff are freed up for other valuable work.


3. Create processes that prioritize the customer

A panel discussion, “Modernizing the customer experience”, with Nick Williams (Gousto), Fred Gehrke (Taxify), Martin Broz (Slido) and Geraldine De Boisse (Bulb), continued the theme of self-service. They also discussed support processes, highlighting how important it is for agents to have autonomy when problem-solving for customers. When support teams have autonomy, they are empowered to solve problems without the need to stick to a script, as well as being free to help without needing permission from managerial staff.

Continuing the human empowerment theme, Geraldine De Boisse described an approach within Bulb that drives towards them automating anything manual and humanizing everything that is relational. Humans are essential for where you need empathy for your customers.

In the same discussion, Martin Broz emphasized the benefits of a close relationship between support and product teams. With support agents able to provide feedback directly to product teams, product development can benefit hugely from additional customer direction.

Another panel discussion, “The Future of CX from a Customer Viewpoint”, with David Rowan (WIRED), Edmund Read (Just Eat), Jeff Titterton (Zendesk) and Spencer Hudson (GHD) highlighted these final thoughts within the process theme:

  1. People are valuable. They need to be supported by great tools.
  2. Kill friction: remove every point of friction within the customer journey to facilitate positive and continuous interaction.
  3. Assume an experience-oriented mindset ahead of a systems-oriented mindset.


Thanks, Zendesk for a really great and valuable event. It was interesting to hear wider discussion around the relationship between human and machine activity, as well as gain lots of good insight into how we can all better serve our customers.

Madz Wakefield
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