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How Nickel uses the Zendesk platform to achieve an NPS greater than 50

The strength of the neo-bank Nickel lies in its ability to adapt its customer service to deal with competition and meet growing needs. Learn more.

“Zendesk is one of the reasons for the success of our customer service. It is an easy-to-use tool for our advisors, making us more productive.”

Ilias El Basri

Head of Quality and Operations at Nickel



> 50



Number of emails

Opening a bank account in five minutes flat? Impossible. What if we told you that not only is it possible, but that you can do it with just one form of ID and a telephone, directly from your newsagents? This is what Nickel has been offering since 2014. This approach is successful as it is attracting over 30,000 new customers every month, all of whom open their account in one of the network’s 5,500 partner outlets. The strength of this neo-bank lies in its ability to adapt its customer service to deal with competition and meet growing needs. Figures don’t lie. Since Nickel has started using Zendesk, satisfaction rates are at an all-time high. Today, its NPS is over 50!

Nickel has become France’s third-largest banking network, and it continues to grow internally: whereas two years ago, the company had 80 employees, its headcount is now over 350. Nickel is now aiming to become France’s leading banking network, to reach 4 million customers and 10,000 points of sale in France, and to launch in 7 other European countries by 2024. In order to reach this target, Nickel is counting on one of its biggest strengths: a customer service department based in France that is easily contactable on two numbers, as well as by email, Twitter and Facebook.

Priority no. 1: customer experience

Ilias El Basri is in charge of optimising customer relations at Nickel. He explains that customer experience is a cornerstone of the company. Nickel has an NPS of 50, which is extremely high for a bank, and it intends to keep it that way!

“Our goal is to keep our NPS above 50. This rating is very important to us because these days, it is the main reason we acquire so many new customers. Word of mouth is crucial.” – Ilias El Basri,
Head of Quality and Operations

Nickel is striving to become number one in customer experience: “From our perspective, achieving this is simple. We need to remove all the obstacles currently affecting the customer experience by prioritising those which cause most frustration,” explains Ilias El Basri. Other areas for improvement have also been identified, including customer service waiting times and going paper-free. At the very core of Nickel’s DNA is the idea of an account for everyone – not just technophiles and digital natives. As part of its strategic plan and in addition to becoming number one in customer experience, Nickel has three main goals: firstly, to go international and ensure high-quality service, while growing in France and abroad. This is why the company wanted to create an internationally accessible platform using workflows that can be offered in all languages. The target is to be present in seven EU countries by 2024. The second goal is to speed up growth while managing costs, by developing a self-service system and improving the productivity and work value of its agents. The third goal is to simplify customers’ lives and to improve their experience by optimising their journey and incident-related communication.

“All our partners must be able to help us grow internationally, and Zendesk does exactly that. It is vital for us.”
– Ilias El Basri

To help the company grow, Nickel has chosen Zendesk CRM software for customer support and engagement, namely Support for ticketing; Guide, the smart knowledge base and self-service platform; and Explore for reporting and analysis. Teams have been attracted by how easy it is to get to grips with the platform, as well as with its scalability and its potential to be rolled out internationally. Moreover, Zendesk is very versatile and can be integrated with external tools available from the Marketplace, and Nickel needed an open platform to enable them to communicate via API. Nickel wants to make customers more independent in order to reduce the pressure on the customer service department. This is why staff rolled out Guide, a smart knowledge base to enable the creation of a tailor-made Help Centre. Guide is directly connected to the Zendesk platform, so that questions can be redirected and everything is centralized. The results were immediate – by setting up a contact form and developing a knowledge base, the number of emails was halved. This is a significant reduction and was also evident in the costs.

Adaptability and support from the Customer Success team

Zendesk also stands out from the competition thanks to its adaptability. “As a user, I can see how Zendesk is simple and versatile. It’s a multichannel platform that offers all available APIs” explains Ilias El Basri. “One really key aspect is that the Customer Success executive and her team are really responsive. Nickel is fast-moving, so this is perfect for us.”

The relationship between Zendesk and Nickel is, above all else, a partnership. Thanks to a solid understanding of their challenges, Zendesk helps its customers reach their goals.
By having a good understanding of their challenges, the Zendesk Sales and Customer Success teams support the Nickel teams over time to enable them to achieve their objectives, optimise their use of Zendesk, and obtain the highest level of customer satisfaction. Nickel also brought in Zendesk Professional Services teams for implementation. Thus, the Customer Success team carried out an audit, identified the needs and defined an optimisation plan, then, in a transparent manner, the Professional Services team helped Nickel to implement this plan providing training and guiding the administrators in the settings to be made or corrected.

“Nickel regularly takes part in workshops, which gives us an opportunity to meet other Zendesk customers and share tips on how to make the most of the tool.”
– Anne-Laure Dorize,
Head of Training and Quality at Nickel

Zendesk also helps Nickel to work out the best practices to adopt. Last summer, Nickel and Zendesk jointly led an audit on how Nickel was using the platform, in order to completely rework it. During the process, Zendesk proved itself to be accessible and responsive.

A number of areas for improvement were identified, namely the need to merge the two parts of the platform that Nickel was using, so that tickets could be followed from start to finish. Another change was a transition to natural conversation, made possible by Support, which centralises all customer interactions, so that a question and its resolution can be followed on the same ticket. We no longer need to sift through customer conversation history! Forms are now also being used more efficiently, with one item per question category, which consists of classification fields. As a result, an entry for each request is guaranteed, and the data is organised according to classification fields which make it easier to analyse. As well as the addition of SLAs, a lot of work was done to optimise both the views, as everyone was able to see all activity, and the macros, thanks to an update of the Zendesk tree structure. In terms of content, the blog and the FAQs were merged to make customer experience more fluid. Now, questions, comments and actions taken by users are centralised in one place, thanks to the Guide function. However, newsagents are also Nickel customers. This is why, as part of the B2B service, Nickel has set up “SOS newsagents”. The aim is to deal with questions from professionals, incidents and urgent queries through a help desk, and to offer a Nickel-approved management space at the point of sale.

“Zendesk helped us through the reworking process with a dedicated team who were ready to assist us in technical areas. Within our day-to-day operations, we also have monthly chats with Maud to discuss optimisation, amongst other things.”
– Anne-Laure Dorize


Since July 2017, Nickel has been a part of the BNP Paribas group, which had faith in the young business and allowed them the opportunity to manage this project completely independently – something that has been key to Nickel’s success. Within its strategic plan, Nickel independently organised workshops between July and August 2019 to rethink all areas of the company. In total, half of all employees took part in the project and, as a result, a number of ideas were raised. As well as being an important aspect of training, the new strategic plan brought two things to light. Firstly, the desire to consider a semi-fixed and more balanced schedule. Secondly, the need to adapt customer organisation every six months.

“In total, there are five different departments within Nickel that use Zendesk: customer management, IT, sales, compliance and marketing.”
– Anne-Laure Dorize

Each body has its own contact, who specified a requirement and the parameters to be considered. One project manager coordinates all bodies. At the same time, an IT team takes care of the configurations and an advisor takes care of the “resetting”. Nickel, more concerned with operational matters, makes the final adjustments to formulae and workflows. At least five different departments use Zendesk on a daily basis: customer service, sales, IT, (internally, to deal with incidents), compliance and marketing (which takes care of updating the Help Centre).

Our results speak for themselves

The success of the partnership between Nickel and Zendesk is evident in the figures: the number of emails is down by 50% and the NPS has reached an incredible 50. The latter is especially noteworthy, as most traditional banks have an NPS around 0, or even in the negative. Not to mention Nickel’s greatest achievement: a CSAT of 95%. Nickel is also aiming to achieve “zero friction” when it comes to customer experience, which is why it follows the churn and attrition indicators so closely – especially to find reasons for dissatisfaction, so that they are able to understand and rectify the product or customer experience. Other key KPIs include the quality of service, the cost of customer service, the REX and financial viability. The audit and optimisation measures have also enabled increased productivity and provided more free time for agents, as the number of easily resolved emails and calls has been reduced thanks to the self-service system and Guide. As a result, advisors are freed up to deal with more complex questions, thus providing real added value, although finding a resolution to these queries does take more time. Nickel agents receive initial training for 15 days, which is split between operational processes and hands on experience, and then the training continues with an emphasis on efficiency… and well-being! It doesn’t stop there for Nickel’s customer service teams! As well as working on these strategic challenges, they also look at the possibility of setting up a chat, bots (email and chat) and visual IVRs, so they can innovate further and retain their customers by offering an exceptional customer experience.

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