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Foursquare leverages self-service to serve more customers, faster

Learn how Foursquare auto-solves repetitive questions as quickly as possible with macros inside Zendesk Support.

“We would not have been able to scale customer service without Zendesk Support.”

– Tracey Churray

Director of Customer Service at Foursquare


Self-service-to-ticket ratio







Tracey Churray has accomplished what most heads of customer service only dream about. As support director at Foursquare, she helped build a system with a self-service-to-ticket ratio of 32 to 1.

Instead of emailing a support request, people who use Foursquare are able to answer questions themselves by using Zendesk’s Support-powered, Foursquare-branded help centre.

This achievement is all the more impressive given Foursquare’s growth since it launched in 2009. Today, more than 50 million people worldwide have signed up for Foursquare to keep up with and meet friends. In 2012, the company began offering advertising tools to the 1.6 million merchants who already use the service to connect with customers.

The Foursquare Team

Churray said one of the secrets to maintaining a 95 per cent customer satisfaction rate is providing different flavours of support for users and for advertisers. The brand voice for users tends to be more fun, informal and lighthearted, while advertisers prefer a more professional voice. No matter the audience, a speedy response is essential.

“Our users typically have simple questions like, How do I reset my password?” Churray explained. It makes sense to auto-solve those kinds of questions as quickly as possible. For example, many of Foursquare’s advertising products are relatively new, creating more complex help requests. And while the self-service ratio is a bit lower, the resolution time is longer. But retailers, like ordinary users, still appreciate a shorter wait.

In the early years, Foursquare handled customer service through its enterprise email system. But as the company grew, it needed a customer support product that could scale. It selected Zendesk Support for its ease of use and the business insights it provided.

“We would not have been able to scale support without Zendesk’s Support product,” Churray said. The launch of Foursquare’s advertising service highlighted Zendesk Support’s value. Every week, someone on support meets the product manager for advertising to provide insights on how retailers are using the service, and to review any problems they are encountering.

Other customer support executives are sometimes surprised by how much support Foursquare is able to provide with so few resources. Churray’s team is made up of just two full-time customer service representatives and a small team of interns who rotate through the company every four months. Training new sets of interns “sometimes makes me feel like I’m living in the movie Groundhog Day,” Churray laughed. She said she maintains extremely high levels of satisfaction, despite the regular staff changes, by customising the interns’ view of Zendesk Support.

When interns first start at Foursquare, they are trained on solving a specific type of problem each day. Churray does this with a set of ticket views. Each intern focuses on one view per day. As they rotate through the views, they eventually learn all the major types of requests.

This smart use of resources is reflected in all support metrics and the ratio of forum views to tickets, which translates into a whopping 97 per cent self-service success rate. Churray is proud of the number, and she has a plan to make it even more impressive. When users do ask for help, Churray’s team is currently able to auto-solve 50 per cent of the tickets. By taking advantage of the capabilities Zendesk Support offers for smart personalisation, Churray believes she can raise that to 70 per cent.

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