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Spoonflower ups efficiency and self-service with smart integrations

Spoonflower is a leading marketplace for print-on-demand wallpaper, home decor and premium fabrics. A seamless integration between Zendesk and Forethought helped the company enhance its customer support with more efficient ticketing, a bot to increase ticket deflection and better data reporting. With those improvements, the team has been able to achieve a CSAT as high as 93% and position customer service as a revenue generator.

“We haven’t needed to look elsewhere or switch to a different tool because if there’s anything that we don’t have or can’t do with Zendesk, there’s an add-on like Forethought or Lessonly that we can easily integrate.”

Jennifer Spanos

Senior Manager, Business Operations and Strategy at Spoonflower

“Our revenue per user is higher when a customer is chatting with us versus browsing the site on their own. And, our conversion rate in chat is nine times higher than the standard conversion rate for customers using the site.”

Michelle Swart

Zendesk Administrator and Data Analyst at Spoonflower

Company Headquarters

Durham, North Carolina





Company founded



Average CSAT


One-touch tickets


Ticket deflection rate


Chat vs standard conversion rate

For anyone who’s dreamed of designing and printing their own wallpaper, home decor or fabrics, Spoonflower is a creative wonderland. The global ecommerce marketplace offers more than 1 million designs created by independent artists all over the world – and every pattern can be turned into print-on-demand products.

Over the past 15 years, the Spoonflower community has blossomed to 3.3 million creatives (and counting) who value the company’s commitment to sustainable practices and entrepreneurial self-expression. That user base has only continued growing since Spoonflower was acquired by Shutterfly in 2021.

Delivering CX to diverse groups with unique needs

Michelle Swart has spent a decade working at Spoonflower and understands what it takes to create a positive customer experience for all kinds of users. “We have artists uploading designs to the site and participating in design challenges. We have people shopping on the marketplace, buying wallpaper or home decor. And, we have people making custom things for themselves”, Swart explains. “We also have a lot of B2B customers, like interior designers and individual sellers on Etsy or Amazon Marketplace that make clothes and other items with our fabrics.”

“As a customer service department, we have to be able to handle all of these diverse groups with their own unique needs”, says Swart, who now serves as a Zendesk administrator and data analyst. “I think about my role as connecting all the pieces. I’m connecting customers and their feedback with agents and making their lives easier, and then bringing that all back to the business to improve our products and our business.”

A Zendesk customer since 2012, Spoonflower handles around 22,000 support tickets each month. To get the job done, four customer service teams leverage Zendesk Suite Enterprise across chat, email, web form, voice (call back), SMS (text) and social channels, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. While sales and account management rely on Zendesk Sell CRM software, there are also Zendesk seats available for active use in accounting, HR and marketing, and for visibility purposes in engineering.


Forethought integration for triage and self-service

Like many businesses, Spoonflower hit a turning point during the pandemic and realised the need for even greater functionality across its CX system. Must-have features included automated ticketing to help reduce resolution time and an integrated knowledge base for better self-service.

“We were looking for a tool that would help with more triage and tagging options. After finding Forethought, we uncovered a lot more tools that we were unaware of”, explains Jennifer Spanos, Business Operations and Strategy Manager at Spoonflower.

By integrating Zendesk with Forethought, the team was able to replace manual ticketing processes with more streamlined workflows. Every query comes into the Forethought bot first, and if the issue is not resolved there or the customer wants to speak with an agent, a transfer is made to Zendesk chat. Agents use Forethought’s Solve and Triage tools for urgent tickets, such as order cancellations or issues that need to be resolved before an order prints.

“We’ve been using the Forethought Assist Tool to help agents fill in the blanks, and the bot to surface help centerarticles”, Spanos says. “The bot can summarise, pick out the right pieces and give the customer an answer, which has been really helpful for handling simple queries.”

Ticket deflection and tagging for smoother operations

With a stronger ticketing system in place, the team could focus on improving service speed. “Our efficiency starts with ticket deflection, having a robust help centre and using Forethought”, shares Swart. “From there, we balance efficiency and achieving one-touch tickets. Our goal is to anticipate the customer’s follow-up questions, so we provide agents with a lot of training and product knowledge.” The new approach has helped drive a one-touch resolution rate of 85%.

Forethought also functions as a preliminary tagging tool, so agents can track product quality issues and get better insights on how many customers are having the same problem. “I did a big project a year ago to streamline all our forms and make tagging more efficient”, Swart says. “Then we can report back to different departments and see where we can make tweaks and simplify things, which deflects more tickets in the future.”

“If there’s a technical issue on the website, we’re able to funnel those tickets into view for our technical support team to monitor”, adds Swart. The team also shares CX data with employees on the company’s factory side, so they can determine if a recurring issue is being caused by human error or a specific machine.


CX as a revenue generator

Swart champions the improvements the team has made with CX upgrades and sees even more opportunities with live chat. “Our revenue per user is higher when a customer is chatting with us versus browsing the site on their own. And, our conversion rate in chat is nine times higher than the standard conversion rate for customers using the site.” Better support experiences have also helped maintain the team’s high CSAT scores, at times reaching 93%.

Reporting such gains to upper management goes a long way to position CX as more than a cost centre. “As a customer service department, we definitely strive to bring added value to the brand, as well as drive revenue”, Swart adds. “We were able to do that successfully, and now Spoonflower’s leadership has come to expect that from our team.”

Flexible support, no coding needed

As someone with an art school education, Swart has found Zendesk surprisingly easy to use. “Having the flexibility to get things done ourselves is key. I don’t have a computer engineering background. As the Zendesk administrator, I don’t need to know how to code stuff to make a robust workspace for our agents that works for them as individuals.”

Spoonflower’s enhanced system is empowering users every step of the way. In Swart’s experience, “basically everything is possible in Zendesk. You can customise things exactly how you need them and iterate on new ideas that may differ from how a typical customer service team might operate. Especially in the Apps Marketplace, you can find all sorts of tools to streamline the agent workspace”.


Balancing human-centered support with smart tools

Implementing powerful CX solutions is allowing the Spoonflower team to grow and evolve. “We haven’t needed to look elsewhere or switch to a different tool because if there’s anything that we don’t have or can’t do with Zendesk, there’s an add-on like Forethought or Lessonly that we can easily integrate”, notes Spanos.

Integrations with Lessonly and Salesforce Customer 360 suite have helped create a workspace for agents with everything they need in one place. And, the Proactive Campaigns add-on in Zendesk Support allows the customer service team to send proactive messages on a smaller scale than what’s typically done in the marketing department.

A stronger tech stack gives Spoonflower a springboard to move away from the more traditional, reactive support model. “We want to maintain our high quality customer support, and we want team members to feel comfortable in their roles”, says Spanos. “Moving towards more proactive support, getting answers to the customer when they need it, giving agents lots of tools and providing them autonomy–it all helps agents be more productive.”

Ultimately, the Spoonflower team is focused on balancing human-centered support with intelligent features. “We will continue to invest in our people as well as technology, specifically in all of the AI options that are coming to the forefront”, adds Spanos. “We want to make sure that we’re using the technology in a smart way, but also using our people in a smart way. We don’t want our valuable team members to be replaced by technology.”