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Stay agile and innovative but keep expenses in check

In view of a possible recession, business leaders are having to make tough choices. But it's possible to slow both spending and hiring without sacrificing quality or scale.

By Shelagh Glaser, CFO, Zendesk

Last updated November 30, 2022

Interest rates are rising, the housing market is slowing and according to the Consumer Price Index report released on 12 October, inflation is increasing at the fastest rate in 40 years in the US. Prices for everything excluding food and energy climbed 6.6% over the year up to the end of September.

With the ongoing war in Ukraine and rising energy costs, the economic picture across the world is just a bleak. “Global economic activity is experiencing a broad-based and sharper-than-expected slowdown, with inflation higher than seen in several decades” the International Monetary Fund said in a report released on 11 October.

Provide personalised service without spending more

Globally, many organisations may have to slow spending for a variety of reasons. But spending less doesn't have to translate into loss. Nevertheless, for companies that historically view areas like customer service as a cost centre, this can be a particular challenge. But it’s also a good opportunity to ensure you’re making the most out of your existing support system.

When you can’t add headcount, automations aren’t just “nice to have” – they're a critical tool. And when you offer customers omnichannel, conversational service, your CX agents can provide a personalised response – fast.

Enabling automations like chatbots and self-service pages will help keep expenses in check, too. You can also deploy an extendable platform that connects to your existing tech stack with APIs, webhooks and an application framework. This allows you to continue providing personal and customised services without spreading resources too thinly.

Reduce costs while increasing customer satisfaction

Founded in 2004, Virgin Pulse is the world’s largest cloud-based employee well-being solution. Serving 14 million members in 190 countries, the app helps businesses promote a healthy lifestyle for their employees with health coaching, medical and condition management, well-being engagement and digital health interventions.

Facing double-digit annual growth, Virgin Pulse needed to improve efficiency with its self-service options.

“We decided to invest time and resources into improving our support site, which is powered by Zendesk and home to all of our external FAQs, and the results have been absolutely phenomenal” says Michael Pace, Senior Director of Global Member Services at Virgin Pulse.

Virgin Pulse now serves millions more customers – a 2.5x improvement of its human-to-FAQ-view ratio. And this increase in service happened without affecting the Member Services budget.

“If we hadn't implemented the self-service strategy, we would probably have had to increase our budget another 25% to 30% over what we spend today to handle the increased volumes” Pace explains.

Virgin Pulse not only stayed within budget but also enjoyed a six percentage point increase in CSAT.

Increase productivity without compromising high-quality service

LUSH is an international beauty retailer known for its fair-trade practices, sustainability credentials and cruelty-free cosmetics. Founded in the UK in 1995 as a shop featuring cosmetics made from fresh fruits and vegetables, LUSH now operates almost a thousand stores in 49 countries.

In 2016, LUSH partnered with Zendesk to standardise its business processes and digital offerings. That year – right before the holiday shopping season – LUSH also replatformed its website.

“It was the busiest Christmas the digital team ever had”, Naomi Rankin, LUSH’s Global CX Manager, explains. “Having Zendesk as a stable force at that point meant we could identify any potential customer issues and quickly get those rectified.”

With those strategic changes, LUSH saw a 50% increase in productivity while saving $208,387 in cost efficiency. The customer experience improved too, surging to a CSAT score of 91.8% – well above the industry average – even with a 60% increase in tickets during COVID.

“While we’re now a global business with a thousand shops, we want to perpetuate that feeling that we’re your friends, and if you come to us we have the time to listen to you and find a resolution” says Rankin.

Take action during a downturn

If you’re having to slow spending, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice exceptional CX. Review your current customer experience strategy and take the necessary steps to improve efficiency. It will help both your agents and your bottom line.