“Aside from an exceptional product, customer experience always offers us the chance to make a difference in customers’ lives.”
Head of Operations at WhiteWall
“Zendesk Advanced AI has simplified the lives of our agents, particularly in challenging situations, and simultaneously reduced administrative costs.”
Head of Operations at WhiteWall
Number of agents
Net Promoter Score
One-touch resolution rate
Recognised as the best photo lab in the world
Quality and innovation are top priorities at WhiteWall; the company has been awarded the title of ‘Best Photo Lab’ in the world multiple times. WhiteWall produces photo art and murals in gallery-quality for customers all over the world from a base in Frechen near Cologne, Germany. Two thirds of the products produced are shipped internationally to one of the 50+ countries where WhiteWall pictures now grace walls in homes and businesses.
Founded in 2007, the photo lab has made a name for itself among artists and photographers around the world as a market leader in quality and award-winning innovation. This innovative spirit is reflected in the company’s approach to high-quality customer service. With the help of Zendesk, WhiteWall is able to balance artistic expertise with high-tech solutions in its customer service, as well as offering a range of products to suit diverse needs.
“For us, every picture that hangs perfectly on the wall and with which our customer is 100 percent satisfied is the best multiplier,” explains Bertram Lüdtke. As Head of Operations at WhiteWall Media Ltd, Bertram is responsible for all the photo lab’s customer-related processes – from the initial consultation to after-sales support. Together with a team of ten agents, he ensures customers around the world receive a perfect product.
WhiteWall offers B2C and B2B customers product options from a highly customisable array for both personal and professional environments. This approach requires a great deal of effort in technical implementation, but also in customer service – especially if, like the photo laboratory, you ship products up to the size of an average living room.
Stand-alone silos to a centralised omnichannel solution
WhiteWall recognised early on that such complex products require an exceptional customer experience and began using Zendesk in 2013. Bertram was primarily concerned with the lack of connection between the various channels. “Our aim is to map, document, and ensure transparency across all customer communication through Zendesk,” he explains. Previously, the company had separate systems for chat and phone. “Nothing was connected – everything was all over the place. The switch to Zendesk Suite was the answer that unified everything,” reflects Bertram.
The cloud-based omnichannel solution, browser-based ticket system, and flexible setup were the decisive factors that sparked his interest in moving to Zendesk; Bertram recognised the capabilities of the CX platform and potential for WhiteWall.
Today, the photo lab uses Zendesk as a central omnichannel solution to communicate across 100% of its customer channels, managing everything – not just customer service – through its CX software. This includes connecting several retail locations with other internal company departments, such as logistics, and linking the company's production system via Zendesk API. “If I think back to 2015, a lot has changed for us – we’ve come a long way,” says Bertram.
Advanced AI and messaging are shaping the future of CX
Today, the photo lab sees a future in bot-supported messaging and the ability to manage multiple messenger platforms in one channel. Telephone enquiries already make up less than 50% of customer contact now that self-service offerings like the Help Centre and FAQs are available. Lüdtke expects the future will bring a further shift in the volume of inquiries from telephone to text-based inquiries where AI can assist.
The company began working with artificial intelligence (AI) a few years ago with a Zendesk solution with bots and help centre, and took part in the early access program for Intelligent Triage and now uses the additional Zendesk Advanced AI functions. Zendesk AI helps WhiteWall to work effectively and efficiently with only ten support agents, successfully processing high ticket volumes of 6,000 to 12,000 requests per month worldwide, while achieving high customer satisfaction (80 - 85% CSAT).
Establishing a norm that doesn’t feel like the norm
With AI, a large volume of enquiries can be handled using predefined answers for common questions; for example, damages incurred during shipping. The challenge: the answers shouldn’t sound standardised. By using Zendesk AI, WhiteWall has successfully created a norm which, to customers, doesn’t feel like the norm. The company has replaced preconfigured text using macros with prompts.
“With Zendesk’s AI functionality, we’ve managed to create text that always reads a little differently, never sounding copy-and-pasted, and formulated more smoothly than an agent might have managed with a customised macro. All this, translated straight into the customer’s native language. For me, it means better quality and is exactly why we’re using Advanced AI,” explains Bertram.
Through the use of AI, WhiteWall has observed a reduction in response time by around 30 seconds, and as much as a 90-second decrease with its partner service. AI helps save time and money, especially when it comes to extensive enquiries where the service team has to write more complex responses.
The translation capabilities provide robust value for multilingual, international customer service. For example, French-language tickets can now be handled by any WhiteWall agent, not just those who speak French. That is powerful assistance when your customers are based in over 50 countries. The global integration of Zendesk has an additional benefit: more options when recruiting customer service agents.
Taking the employee experience to new levels with AI
An important driver in WhiteWall’s decision to integrate AI is providing its employees with optimal experiences on the job (EX). The photo lab has a highly complex onboarding process for customer service agents, so its support interface needs to be as clear and straightforward as possible. Using Zendesk to manage all channels centrally allows agents to focus on the core issues at hand more easily than in the past. “Zendesk Advanced AI has simplified the lives of our agents, particularly in challenging situations, and simultaneously reduced administrative costs,” says Bertram.
WhiteWall is committed to giving service agents plenty of autonomy and decision-making authority. To offer this level of expert Tier 1 support with the freedom to make decisions, agents require full-system access and a lot of functionality, allowing them to monitor the entire progress of a request without needing to escalate.
This approach eliminates the need for traditional Tier 2 support, which the company provides exclusively via technical escalations to team management and specialised experts from related departments. Thanks to the omnichannel approach and seamless documentation by Zendesk, all support agents can refer to conversations that customers have had in the past with the WhiteWall team.
Quality builds trust
WhiteWall defines outstanding customer service as customised and high-quality interactions without long waiting times, reliability and high standards whilst also being able to personalise responses to customers’ needs. The company has recognised that an exceptional customer experience (CX) builds trust, which leads to customer retention. Because WhiteWall offers its customers personalised and at-times evocative products, it’s particularly important for them to gain the trust of their customers.
“First and foremost, our foundation is a commitment to quality, which in turn builds trust. Customer service in particular needs to live up to this commitment. Aside from an exceptional product, customer experience always offers us the chance to make a difference in customers’ lives.”