“It was a pleasure to work with thyssenkrupp. Both sides have benefitted from this great collaboration thanks to straightforward and friendly communication. Leafworks is proud to support thyssenkrupp to improve its CX and achieve its digitalisation aims.”
CEO of Zendesk Implementation Partner, Leafworks
“I wanted to completely overhaul the way we communicate with customers. What we needed was an external platform that would bring our channels together, make everything more transparent and also make life easier for our employees.”
Head of Customer Service – thyssenkrupp Rasselstein GmbH
Number of tickets per month
Time per ticket
thyssenkrupp Rasselstein GmbH
High-quality packaging steel for customers in 80 countries
thyssenkrupp Rasselstein GmbH is a leading global provider of high-quality, precision-finish steel for cans and other packaging. At the company’s site in Andernach, Germany – the largest production facility of its kind in the world – it manufactures around 1.5 million tonnes of packaging steel every year.
2,400 employees serve around 400 customers in 80 countries across a wide range of markets – everything from manufacturers of food and pet food tins, to drinks and aerosol cans, containers for chemicals, crown cork bottle caps and screw caps. Expert teams in Service, Sales and Technical Customer Support complement the company’s product portfolio.
From order management to real customer service
Until three years ago, the customer service department, which was still called 'Order Management', provided support for everything from orders to invoices. The team acted as the go-to for any customer queries along the entire sales process, even handling tasks like transportation procurement. Email was the dominant channel and their most important tool was Microsoft Outlook.
They used the program to handle all types of customer queries and for a long time, it was considered suitable and efficient. But as volumes soared – in part due to the pandemic – Outlook struggled to keep up.
When Stephan Marzi stepped in as head of the customer service team, he started by collecting data about the time spent on individual processes in the department. This helped to build an accurate picture of the situation and laid the groundwork for possible solutions.
“Our analysis revealed two things: the first was that we needed a more professional setup for email correspondence because displaying everything in Outlook with all the side conversations was becoming unmanageable. The second was that we needed to digitalise our processes further to make them more flexible and efficient, and also to address the skills shortage more proactively,” Marzi explains.
Refocusing and widespread automation
Marzi’s first step was to reorganise the team, which saw the department renamed ‘Customer Service’. “We centralised and externalised any non-value-adding activities, and focused the department solely on responding to issues received directly from customers,” Marzi stresses. He also pushed ahead with both digitalisation and automation. Now thyssenkrupp Rasselstein could finally record orders automatically for about 55-60% of its customers using internal resources.
However, during this period it also became clear they would need an external solution to properly automate order entry for lots of smaller customers, who had wildly different requirements. For Marzi, this was a logical step: “I wanted to completely overhaul the way we communicate with customers. What we needed was an external platform that would bring our channels together, make everything more transparent and also make life easier for our employees.”
That wasn’t possible with Outlook alone because the software just didn’t have the right kind of options or features when it came to automatic responses.
All external communication via Zendesk
After a successful proof of concept, thyssenkrupp Rasselstein decided to move all communication from Outlook to Zendesk Support in April 2022. “We opted for Zendesk’s cloud-based platform because it’s where we saw the best chances to realise our customer service goals, namely digitalising, automating and enriching content-based information in tickets, and possibly even using a bot to handle tickets automatically.”. During a transition period that lasted several months, employees gradually migrated all of the company’s customer support processes over to Zendesk. All external communication has now been flowing through the platform since November 2022.
Once the migration was complete, Marzi soon noticed significant time gains in ticket processing. What’s more, the company’s processes are more transparent than ever thanks to capturing everything on Zendesk. It’s now much quicker to spot certain situations in customer service and make improvements. Processes are available much faster and knowledge can be shared more quickly.
The customer service team has really noticed the improvement in organising cover when someone's ill or on holiday. Marzi feels the clear overview of side conversations that Zendesk provides is especially helpful. “You can see everything that’s going on in a single view and it’s immediately clear what order events are in and how they relate to each other,” Marzi says.
Automations for email communication
thyssenkrupp Rasselstein also took advantage of new automation options for email communication, which incidentally still accounts for about 95% of the company’s contact with customers. The team is currently using 45 triggers and six automations. But this number is set to steadily increase as triggers and automations make manual steps obsolete. A great example is automatically requesting specific documents from customers: in cases like this, a certain ticket status can be made to fire a certain trigger, which in turn sends an email to the customer asking them to provide a document.
“At the moment, we’re setting up automations to handle common information-related tickets and escalate any tickets that exceed SLAs,” Marzi explains. The team has also set up email routing, with emails assigned to two different groups. The first looks after larger key account customers and mid-sized companies, whilst the second takes care of any smaller companies and businesses with special product requirements.
Marzi made a conscious decision not to route emails to individual team members, as each group has a better understanding of its contacts and can ensure that nobody is handling too much. It also helps reduce reply times. “We have a lot of traditional customers who are used to phone calls and classic one-on-one email conversations with a specific employee. For them, the catch-all email address is a small change but we’re confident it will be well received,” Marzi notes.
New digital communication channels
thyssenkrupp Rasselstein also wants to offer channels for a digital-first generation of customers. That’s why it’s using Microsoft Teams and offers a self-service platform – which was created internally – that provides simple answers to lots of questions and aims to reduce the number of emails the company receives. What’s more, it’s also using a chatbot that is integrated into the customer portal.
“When a customer talks to our bot, it generates a ticket in Zendesk. Answer Bot then automatically responds to the customer and requests information. After that, it sends this information to a customer service agent ready for a live chat. The process for live chat support is similar,” Marzi reveals.
Overall, customer service processes at thyssenkrupp Rasselstein have become significantly more efficient thanks to Zendesk. And although Marzi is happy with the improvements made so far, he’s already making plans for the future. “Over the past few months, we’ve successfully completed a complicated restructuring process that involved more than simply switching to Zendesk. For example, we also introduced a new production management system,” the Head of Customer Service points out.
“Now that we’ve finished this challenging implementation and adaptation phase, we want to achieve even more of our customer service goals, including integrating our telephone system with Zendesk. It would be great to integrate, for example, Microsoft Teams with Zendesk like Slack and use that for internal side conversations as well.”