Grove boosts operational efficiency with Zendesk AI
As a Certified B Corporation, Grove Collaborative is at the forefront of sustainable business practices that are good for people and the planet. The company’s customer service team follows a similar philosophy of innovation as early adopters of new CX technology. Grove has been a long-time user of Zendesk bots and now with Advanced AI, the company aims to enhance operational efficiency while providing more personalised service to its online customers.
“The most important reason to start AI with Zendesk is I was able to implement AI immediately without any developer support. The fact that we can just switch it on is something we never thought possible.”
Community Happiness Systems Manager at Grove Collaborative
“The primary reason for embracing AI is we’d like to do as much as possible with limited resources to improve our operational efficiency.”
Community Happiness Systems Manager at Grove Collaborative
San Francisco, California
Average monthly tickets
Started using Zendesk
Grove Collaborative sells more than 200 brands of cleaning, wellness and everyday essentials to its customer base of more than 1.2 million online shoppers. In addition to its own brands, Grove also stocks products from eco-friendly brands like Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, Method and Stasher.
As a Certified B Corporation, Grove is committed to social, environmental and community wellbeing. Every brand on its ‘shelves’ has met rigorous standards for efficacy, ingredients and ethics criteria. Additionally, Grove is the world’s first plastic-neutral retailer and is also a carbon-neutral business.
Innovation is in Grove’s DNA
Providing exceptional customer service to more than 1.2 million customers is no easy feat. Which is why the Grove customer happiness team is continually seeking out CX innovations to drive efficiencies in helping customers.
So when Zendesk opened up its early access programme for Advanced AI, the Grove team leapt at the opportunity to test new AI features such as intelligent triage and intelligence in the context panel.
“The primary reason for embracing AI is we’d like to do as much as possible with limited resources to improve our operational efficiency”, explains Aashley Malsbury, Community Happiness Systems Manager at Grove Collaborative.
“The most important reason to start AI with Zendesk is I was able to implement AI immediately without any developer support. The fact that we can just switch it on is something we never thought possible”, says Malsbury.
While Grove is in the early stages of implementing advanced AI capabilities, Malsbury sees the potential in using AI to eliminate manual work for agents. One example that AI can help the Grove team with is intelligent triage–capturing request types in advance of assigning tickets to agents. Previously, this task was being done manually.
Prioritising personalisation in customer service
A key priority at Grove is offering personalised conversational service. The strategy is to automate as much as possible, while also keeping humans – both agents and customers – in the customer service flow.
CX efficiency is not about deflecting customer contact but rather enhancing it, according to Malsbury. “Our goal is to talk to customers”, says Malsbury. “We want to hear from them because it allows for a much better experience on their end.”
Malsbury says the Grove support team works diligently to personalise every single response. “We like to use the services and the features that are available up to the point that it still allows for human interaction”, explains Malsbury. “When I think of making use of Zendesk AI or messaging, it’s to provide the agent with as much information as possible to quickly handle the customer’s request.”
Messaging is a real game changer
A Zendesk customer since 2014, Grove offers a number of channels to meet customer service needs, such as email, mobile app, web, social and phone. Malsbury keeps an eye on traffic to ensure that customers are receiving fast service.
“Getting an answer quickly from customer service is very important to our customers so we really prioritise the SLA for first reply time”, says Malsbury. However, the live chat channel was very unpredictable, spiking at random times. For example, a glitch on the company’s website could send chat volumes skyrocketing. The erratic volumes made accurate staffing difficult. So, Grove turned to Zendesk messaging to better control inbound traffic on chat.
“Messaging was a real game changer for us. Chat volumes have dropped more than 80% and have remained relatively flat since implementing Zendesk messaging”, says Malsbury. “Plus, the messaging channel retains the conversation history so there is no need to start all over again with a customer if a chat gets disconnected for some reason.”
Thankfully, the shift to messaging from chat lessened the demand for agents at a crucial time, as the CX team experienced staff reductions. But productivity and efficiency gains from messaging and automations have allowed Grove to handle the changes. Impressively, the CX team has managed to maintain its 95% CSAT score despite fewer staff.
AI content cues enhance self-service
Additionally, the Zendesk bot allows Grove to present help centre articles to customers while they wait for an agent to come on the line. Many customers go ahead and self-serve if they find the answer they need for simple requests such as return labels or an update on their order. If not, their ticket is still in the queue to engage with an agent.
“Having that ability to present those self-service options has increased customer engagement with our help centre and given us a much better idea of what people are searching for and what types of information are actually needed there”, says Malsbury.
The Grove team is also experimenting with Zendesk AI’s content cues feature to identify both top performing and underperforming help centre articles. Identifying the top-performing content makes it easy to ensure the content is up-to-date. Identifying underperforming content gives you the opportunity to either improve or archive articles that are no longer relevant.
Delighting customers made easy with Zendesk
The customer service team at Grove never stops innovating. Recently, they took advantage of how easy it is to set up business rules in Zendesk and added a thank you gift when customers rate their experience with the company. A trigger email is sent that allows customers to claim their free gift.
“We’ve seen a bump in business from customers who place another order after receiving a free gift,” shares Malsbury. “It’s fun to find little ways to innovate and create more opportunities to engage with the customer and show our value to the company.”
The Grove CX team is looking to the future with anticipation of reaping the benefits of advanced AI technologies. “Zendesk has had some really big improvements like AI and messaging that had been on the roadmap for a while,” concludes Malsbury. “It’s exciting to see it all come to fruition.”