Optimising its user experience using Zendesk has seen inriver’s stickiness scores soar
By maximising its use of Zendesk technology, inriver has improved its self-service channels for customers, boosted repeat visits to its Community, and improved customer satisfaction – all while growing quickly in an unprecedented market.
As we saw it, Zendesk’s three main strengths over other CRM platforms are the omnichannel presence, the ease of getting started, and the collaborative possibilities around working with many stakeholders.”
Number of offices
Annual saving from community
E-commerce has been on the rise for several years, but was, of course, given a huge boost during the various COVID lockdowns when physical stores were forced to shut. However, selling across channels, scaling to new marketplaces, and driving revenue amidst increased global competition in a crowded e-commerce world has been tough. To help solve this challenge, inriver has built a digital-first, Product Information Management (PIM) solution.
Headquartered in Malmö, Sweden, with a presence in the Netherlands, UK, Germany, Philippines, and the US, inriver’s rapidly growing team is on a mission to provide e-commerce and product marketing teams with a single PIM platform that will help drive revenue through better product information. Product information has become an organization’s most valuable asset, however, there are millions of assets used to sell products now. Essentially, PIM is a foundational hub that enables inriver’s customers to effectively market and sell their products by telling compelling brand stories that will spark an emotional connection with users at scale.
Once a customer implements inriver’s solution, the services team is then laser focused on delivering the best possible customer experience for them. Utilising a digital-first strategy, the point of contact is predominantly through the inriver Community, which is an online hub for product support, knowledge sharing, best practices, and networking.
inriver relies on using Zendesk’s Support Suite to enable the Community and its expanding functionality. “Zendesk is at the forefront but also the foundation of inriver’s customer experience. It’s the tool that allows us to execute on our digital-first strategy,” explains Maria Bolmstedt, inriver’s VP of Global Services.
Ramping up support
Today, the inriver support team consists of ten agents, made up of Application Support Engineers and Customer Support Agents, based out of the US and Sweden. However, when Bolmstedt joined inriver three years ago, there wasn’t a dedicated support team at all.
“My first priority when joining inriver, was to start building a support team and while Zendesk was being used, the company was not getting maximum value out of the technology – it was just being used to keep track of tickets,” she explains.
Having used Zendesk in previous roles and knowing the benefits, Bolmstedt chose to continue the relationship. The key advantage for her was that Zendesk prioritises the user experience. It also allows for collaboration on tickets, which is crucial, as both inriver’s customers and partners – who do most of the customer implementations and so are heavily involved in support – use the platform.
“As we saw it, Zendesk’s three main strengths over other CRM platforms are the omnichannel presence, the ease of getting started, and the collaborative possibilities around working with many stakeholders,” she describes.
Having made the decision to stay with Zendesk, inriver reimplemented it completely, which Bolmstedt describes as a quick and easy process. This involved moving the current, static inriver Community into Zendesk community software. This was an important first step in having a digital- first strategy as Community is the main channel for support, alongside Live Chat, and web widget. Any resulting tickets are then picked up by an agent who works at resolving them.
“Our support set-up does not operate a funnel model. Instead, the agent who picks up the ticket will drive that ticket to resolution. There are always exceptions, but the agent normally retains ownership and secures the knowledge transfer. However, the goal is really to help the customer find that knowledge themselves in the Community because while we are not available 24/7, the Community is always there,” she says.
In order for customers and partners to find value in the Community and use it to solve any issues or queries, Bolmstedt and her team worked hard at populating it.
“When we relaunched the new Zendesk Community, I set a goal for the team that in three months we wanted there to be 700 articles in the knowledge base. They managed to pull it off and following a big company-wide launch event, we saw the number of users triple, and we’ve managed to keep them there,” she says.
All about customer experience
According to Bolmstedt, how much time an agent spends resolving a ticket is important but less relevant than providing the best possible customer experience, and this includes making it really easy for customers to find answers in the Community.
“We have a strong focus on driving knowledge in the Community and using knowledge to solve customer issues and queries. Our internal knowledge capture goal is 85%, meaning that 85% of all tickets either must link to an article or an article has to be created from it. We’ve just passed 80% but considering we started much lower than that, the support team has done a really good job,” she says.
Stickiness is key
A key metric to measure success is the stickiness of the Community in terms of repeat visits, as this shows the value that users find there. To date there are over 5,000 Community members. Having already tripled the number of users to the Community, inriver is continuing to work at pushing up the stickiness. According to Bolmstedt, from July 2020 to June 2021, there were a total of 299.879 Community views. If 1% of that figure had been tickets, it means that inriver deflected 2999 tickets. This resulted in a huge time and resources saving. If a ticket costs around €90 to serve, depending on its complexity, the value of the Community in deflecting tickets is around €269,910 a year. More importantly, it also means that the users were able to quickly find the answers to almost 3000 questions, without having to wait for someone to provide them with that answer.
“Deflection is really hard to measure, so instead we measure our self-service score, which is normally between 12 and 15. In other words, if the score is 14 out of 15 visits, only one ends up as a ticket,” explains Bolmstedt.
In terms of measuring customer experience and especially the initial response, inriver’s customer satisfaction (CSAT) score has seen an impressive rise over the past couple of years. Three years ago, when Bolmstedt initiated the reimplementation of Zendesk, it was just above 80%. However, in the last two years, it has consistently been above 90%, and normally sits between 92% and 95%.
“Good metrics for us include pushing up the number of articles in the Community, increasing the number of active users in the Community, keeping a high CSAT score and a good initial response – and then also, of course, getting them to return on a regular basis i.e. the stickiness,” she says.
Partnering for success
“That's where Zendesk brings the most value. It’s a platform that will help us grow and at the same time, provides a really great user experience.” Maria Bolmstedt, VP of Global Services at inriver Inriver is a company that is growing quickly and having Zendesk as its foundation for support is helping them to scale quickly and easily. As the company grows, Zendesk’s platform enables inriver’s support team to service more customers whilst still using the same amount of internal resources.
“That’s where Zendesk brings the most value. It’s a platform that will help us grow and at the same time, provides a really great user experience,” says Bolmstedt.
Having had to reimplement its support platform, especially considering the company’s digital-first strategy, has taken teamwork. Bolmstedt attributes a large part of their success to Zendesk’s software. and the great partnership it has developed with Zendesk’s customer support team.
As she says, “When we started using Zendesk we obviously needed help and we always found a resource, whether that was in the forums or taking part in user training or sessions, where we could sit and develop together with other users, supervised by somebody from Zendesk. These resources and more have been incredibly helpful for us.”