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From villas to vehicles: Subito keeps buyers and sellers happy with Zendesk

Learn how Subito manages over 30K tickets a month and builds its email base to 21M recipients using The Zendesk Suite.

“Without Zendesk, I would be at only 60 percent of where I am now because so much of our work would be manual and slow. Now we can do the same things much faster.”

Roberto La Rosa

Head of CX Customer Care at Subito


Agents and Light Agents


Avg. monthly tickets


Improvement in CSAT w/ Zendesk



Whether you’re an avid cyclist looking to save a few Euros on an ultralight Bianchi Specialissima road bike before a cycling tour of Piedmont or you’re in the market to purchase a village (that’s right, an entire town in picturesque Apulia), your search will likely begin and end on Italy’s premier classifieds platform: Subito.

Founded in Milan in 2007, Subito may feature exotic items such as historic buildings that have stood for centuries alongside slick Ducati motorcycles, but for many of its 9 million visitors each month, Subito offers a destination for deals on everyday items. “We have a widely varied customer base,” explained Roberto La Rosa, head of customer care for Subito. “You have someone that is ready to buy or sell a €60,000 boat, and at the same time you have someone that is trying to buy an iPhone for €20.”

That huge variation in customers and the large volume of transactions results in nearly 30,000 support tickets per month submitted across the company’s email, chat, and social media channels, web forms, and even through comments left in the Google and Apple stores. To manage this influx of requests—and give its support team the visibility it needs to provide great service—Subito turns to Zendesk.

Subito’s investment in customer service began in earnest in 2015, when the site’s parent company, the SCHIBSTED Media Group, adopted Zendesk’s omnichannel solution for its dedicated customer care team. For La Rosa, who came aboard during that period, it was not unlike “changing the tires on a fast car while it’s moving.”

The first step in the process was to address Subito’s need to understand its customer care flow—who was contacting the company and what were some of the common issues?—while also measuring how its team performed over time. “My main mission was to give to the company visibility into why people were contacting us,” La Rosa said. “Zendesk made a huge difference.”

Adopting Zendesk soon translated into measurable performance improvements. Implementing Chat increased Subito’s first-contact resolution rate from 40 to 87 percent and the company’s customer satisfaction (CSAT) rating shot up from 46 percent to 90 percent. It’s simple for customers to get answers and provide feedback via the “thumbs up, thumbs down” rating system, La Rosa said. “Italians are chatty,” he explained. “We like to talk, and we like to use our hands when we do. So we decided to use this way to allow people to share feedback.”

Customer feedback is fielded by La Rosa’s Customer Happiness Center team of 30 (up more than fourfold from its original seven members), split between an in-house team in Milan and a provider in Bucharest, Romania. Constructed for flexibility, the Customer Happiness Center team features some part-timers who can step up when support requests spike. Advocates are hired for their empathy and ability to approach issues with a problem-solving mindset. All advocates are encouraged to be involved with making improvements and to represent the customer voice throughout the company.

“When we hire an advocate, we say that 20 percent of their time should be spent delighting our customers,” La Rosa said. “80 percent is to help us create a better product and read through the lines.”

One key way that the Subito team builds a better product is by using Zendesk to collaborate on tickets across departments. For example, when a customer reaches out about a potentially prohibited item, advocates send the ticket to the content and safety department, whose members then share comments as light agents. Meanwhile, the company also uses problem and incident tickets to track bugs and communicate suggestions to the company. All of these efforts generate a ‘Voice of the Customer’ program that is shared company-wide to ensure every employee understands what’s working—and what customers want.

“When a new product comes out in Italy—for example, electronic cigarettes—there’s no editorial rule for that,” La Rosa said. “So we are the ones asked by the customer if they can publish them or not. Instead of our advocates going offline to write an email to the content and safety department, we create escalations in Zendesk, with up to 20% time savings in the process.”

Staff members also serve as single point of contact for particular areas, such as creating reports that gauge team effectiveness or managing Subito’s self-service content. Previously, the company used an outdated CMS populated by outsourced content, but since adopting Zendesk Guide, Subito has curated an internal knowledge base while optimising external-facing articles. Now relevant information is surfaced to customers based on search terms.

“One of our issues was that the outsourcer had the information and there was not any internal documentation,” La Rosa said. “So the first thing was to get that information back and create an internal knowledge base.”

Advocates are able to build out and optimise self-service content on their own, with no external assistance, and the team collaborates with Subito’s marketing department to ensure that product messaging is on-brand. The collaboration goes both ways—for example, by harnessing customer feedback through Zendesk, advocates helped the marketing team increase its direct outbound email base from 1 million to 21 million recipients. A side benefit of that, La Rosa said, is fewer tickets stemming from confusing messaging.

That’s not the only area where advocates have put customer feedback to good use. When advocates noticed a trend of customers reaching out about confusing messaging regarding refunds, they were able to communicate that data to the finance department. “I went to the finance department and worked with them on an SLA that customers will have their refunds in seven days,” La Rosa said. “That allowed us to improve our first contact resolution rate.”

One of the most important services advocates perform is identifying and removing fraudulent posts, which pose an existential threat to Subito, a platform where trust is a vital commodity. When customers do find themselves victim to fraud—a problem that no online classifieds site can eliminate entirely—it’s up to well-trained advocates to use Zendesk to turn those tough conversations with unhappy customers into positive interactions.

“When I hire people, it is very important to have people with good emotional intelligence,” La Rosa said. “They can make the difference between whether or not a customer uses our site again.”