01 Why go omnichannel?
Consumers have grown increasingly accustomed to having their information shared across different channels, as long as it results in better service.
They want, and expect, their conversations to flow seamlessly between channels. When interacting with customer service, they wish to be able to begin communication in one channel and, if needed, later follow up or finish in another without having to repeat themselves. Keeping the context of a conversation consistent leads to a better customer experience.
That's exactly what omnichannel is: a solution that integrates channels to provide a consistent customer experience. It allows customers to reach you in whichever way is best for them—web, mobile app, email, voice or chat—and easily continue the dialogue across every channel.
The Zendesk Customer Service Benchmark has recognised performance improvements when Support, Guide, Talk and Chat are used together for omnichannel support.
Compared to companies that do not take an integrated omnichannel approach, omnichannel companies benefit from:
faster reply times
faster resolution times
shorter requester waiting time during business hours
The Suite is a solution you can use to create an omnichannel customer service experience, but choosing it doesn't mean that you are automatically set up for omnichannel support.
For a successful implementation and roll-out, you need a deployment strategy.
02 Crafting a deployment strategy
An effective deployment strategy requires that you think about how to use The Suite products together in a way that makes sense for your business, customers and agents.
It's important to fully understand the complexity and urgency of the service you offer, as well as the ways in which your customers will wish to engage with your business.
Focus on how to offer your customers the right channel at the right time (see figure 1).
Let's say your company sells clothing. Many of your customers may have time-sensitive questions about delivery, sizes or returns. Those are topics probably best addressed through self-service, a quick live chat, or an SMS text message.
That's an example of the channels you'll wish to emphasise in your deployment strategy. It's dependent on your industry and the products you provide. If you provide something more complex, such as a financial instrument like an annuity, you may wish to focus on phone support or face-to-face conversations via a video integration.
Regardless of your industry or the products/services you provide, there are important questions to answer when building a deployment strategy:
- • Which support channels are your customers engaging with?
- • How do you get most of your tickets? Emails, phone calls or some other channel?
- • What's your ideal mix of channels?
- • How will channels be staffed?
- • How will agents be trained?
- • What's the agent workflow for switching between channels?
- • How do you provide both reactive and proactive support?
- • Is your customer support outsourced? Is it being moved in-house?
- • Are you planning to discontinue other systems? How will you migrate information from those systems?
- • Will third parties be involved?
- • How will knowledge sharing be conducted?
Ultimately, your deployment strategy should be clearly defined and detailed as your roll out these channels to your customers. This may require the creation of new processes and input from additional stakeholders, so be prepared to involve different people in your company to answer all your questions. A holistic approach to planning an omnichannel deployment is critical; it will help you develop a realistic timeline, identify dependencies, and avoid mistakes. Once you have a deployment strategy, it's a good idea to have key stakeholders sign off before moving forward.
Deploying with a phased approach
The majority of our customers find success with a phased roll-out of The Suite. This is a calculated roll-out that gives agents and admins the opportunity to learn the basics and nuances of each product and channel.
Of course, your own deployment strategy should be suitable to the specific needs of your organisation. Your familiarity with some of these products or channels will probably influence your preparations and eventual roll-out. The Suite allows you to prioritise specific channels for your own business needs.
We recommend the following phased approach:
1. Set up Support
All Zendesk products are designed to work with Support, rather than by themselves as standalone products. Essentially, Support provides the foundation of your omnichannel customer service. Set-up involves adding agents and administrators, assigning roles, and establishing business rules for managing ticket workflows within The Suite.
2. Set-up Guide
We recommend setting up a Guide knowledge base right away for collecting internal knowledge from your agents and adding helpful FAQs. A Help Centre can deflect tickets away from your agents and allow them to focus their attention on more complicated support requests. Over time, you can continue to revise and optimise your content with various collaboration tools and insights.
3. Set up a “targeted” roll-out for Chat and Talk
Since live channels require agents who are fully and immediately available, you can test Chat and Talk with targeted support. That might mean offering live chat during key points in the customer's journey or making outbound phone calls for particularly difficult requests. This gives you time to determine if you are adequately staffed and to estimate the metrics that constitute success. When you're ready, you can fine-tune with advanced configuration options and conduct a full roll-out of Chat and Talk
By deploying The Suite via a phased approach, you allow yourself enough time to:
- • Learn about each product in The Suite.
- • Set up The Suite products in a way that makes sense for your company.
- • Train agents to use The Suite products.
- • Test your set-up before making the channels live for your customers.
03 Rolling out The Suite
Once planning is complete, it will be time to set up your Zendesk products for the roll-out.
With The Suite, agents and administrators are enabled to immediately access four products - Support, Guide, Chat and Talk. That gives them a lot to work with.
The first step with The Suite is always to get Support up and running. From there, you can tailor the omnichannel experience to the needs of your company and customers. That might mean making live chat available right away, having your agents ready at the phones, or working out your self-service offerings.
We'll break down each product and share the 5 critical steps for getting started with each one:
A roll-out with The Suite always starts with Zendesk Support. It's where every support request becomes a ticket, no matter if a customer shoots an email, sends a text, calls, tweets, or leaves a post on your Facebook wall. Tickets capture the customer's initial request and all subsequent conversations along the way.
Support is where users are added and managed, roles are defined and assigned, and ticket fields are created and customised. Here's where you decide how your organisation will work internally and how they'll stay efficient via automations and macros. You can add all sorts of extensions to help customers contact your organisation and improve how your agents respond.
Here are 5 steps for getting started with Support:
- Get your agents and administrators ready: Agents and administrators only need to be added once to Support. From there, they can be enabled to use the other Suite products. This is done direct from the agent's profile. You can also add them to groups and create the business schedules and user fields they will use.
- Assign roles: Zendesk products include a number of user roles that are key to managing the people who generate support requests and those who resolve them. Each user's role is defined when they are added, although you can change a user's role as needed.
- Create your workflow: Skills-based routing allows you to set up and assign skills to your agents, so that the right ticket goes to the right agent. Automations are time-based actions that can automatically update tickets and send notifications. Triggers are similar, but are event-based (such as receiving a reply from a customer). You should also establish service level agreements (SLAs), agent views and agent macros.
- Prepare to launch: When you're ready to launch, the last steps are to import your end users, forward your email, and embed the Web Widget.
Guide provides your customers with a complete self-service support option and empowers agents to better help them. Using Guide, you can create a knowledge base which includes:
- • A branded customer-facing Help Centre for self-service
- • A community for customer collaboration and additional support
- • A customer portal, where customers can manage their tickets and content contributions
Customers can use the information in the knowledge base or turn to the community (if enabled) for answers. If they can't find an answer, they can submit a request to an agent. Agents can also utilise the knowledge base if they need help solving a ticket. Help content can be managed and delivered in multiple languages, emphasised across large teams, and improved by leveraging AI-powered tools.
Here are 5 steps for getting started with Guide:
- Set Guide roles and permissions: Agents are Guide viewers by default and can be upgraded to Guide managers from Zendesk Support. You can customise which articles are visible to which users as well.
- Brand and customise your Help Centre: Make your knowledge base match your company’s branding and tone, and build multiple help centres for different products.
- Create content: Create content for help articles, which can be optimised with tools like Content Cues and reach a wider audience with help from Answer Bot.
- Configure the Knowledge Capture app: Make it easier for agents to capture information and share that knowledge right from the ticket interface.
- Create a community for end users: Build an admin-moderated community space for your customers to communicate and share issues, solutions and ideas.
By enabling real-time support on websites and mobile apps, Chat frequently results in high rates of customer satisfaction (CSAT). Customers can easily create a new support request by initiating a chat session; many can even be resolved within that session. Live chat can be utilised to enhance the customer experience, or it can be focused on increasing conversions.
To start using live chat right away, you must first install it in Support. An agent’s permissions for Chat can be managed direct from their profile in Support. Once installed, there’s a lot that can be done with Chat: determine when it’s initiated, choose the location of the Web Widget, manage the volume of end-users, and much more.
Here are 5 steps for getting started with Chat:
- Add chat agents and departments: Designate agents who will engage in live chat and organise them into departments. Departments (which are different from groups in Support) organise your chat agents so that customers can be directed to the agent best equipped to help them.
- Configure chat settings and triggers: Build a workflow and escalation path, and create triggers to set up event-based automations.
- Create shortcuts: Create “canned responses” for a variety of different scenarios, including greetings, queries in different languages, responses to frequently asked questions, and links to the Help Centre.
- Configure the Web Widget (instead of the Chat widget): You don’t need both the Chat widget and the Web Widget with The Suite. The Web Widget is preferable because it allows customers to access multiple channels from the same place.
- Activate chat analytics: Analytics gives you a bird’s eye view of your success metrics for chat, including the chat rating, average waiting time, average chat duration, and agents logged in and serving.
Many customers appreciate it when companies make an investment to provide quality support over the phone. Zendesk Talk allows teams to deliver phone support from the same platform they use to manage all other customer conversations.
For the best audio quality with Zendesk Talk, ensure that you have optimised your network environment and selected the right hardware. You’ll need a Zendesk Talk number, which can either be brand new or a port of an existing number (available for most local or toll-free numbers in the USA or Canada; porting capabilities are being added for more countries). You’ll then be able to route incoming calls direct to agent groups or use an IVR. You can also continue fine-tuning your Talk set-up with real-time reporting and historical dashboards.
Here are 5 steps for getting started with Talk:
- Add Talk numbers: Choose a new Talk number, or use an existing phone number to port over to Zendesk Talk. You can also forward calls to your new Talk number.
- Configure basic Talk settings: Decide on the optimal queue size and waiting times.
- Create greetings: Create customised greetings (or use the default greetings) and assign them to specific numbers.
- Configure IVR and routing: Set up an interactive voice response (IVR) phone tree, or simply route incoming calls to agent groups.
- Get familiar with the Talk dashboard: See where you can analyse call activity, account call data and agent activity.
Staffing your channels
As a business leader, there are considerations to make when staffing your channels. Do you have a dedicated model where you can ask agents to focus on a specific area? Or a shared model where agents are empowered to staff multiple channels?
The shared model enables agents to have greater agility in the way they approach your business. On the other hand, the dedicated model enables specialists for specific channels and may be more efficient in your organisation.
Larger teams with larger customer bases generally have more dedicated agents. Smaller teams usually opt for more of a blended or shared model that’s optimised for agility. But of course, none of this is set in stone. Agents in dedicated models may have to leverage other channels to deal with escalation, capacity issues, and even for greater agent satisfaction (with the variety provided to them).
04 Going live & maximising the value of The Suite
Getting the most value out of The Suite centres round ticket workflow and giving your customers a seamless experience.
That means thinking about how the products can be used together.
Let’s look at an example using Support and Talk:
- 1 Your support organisation receives calls outside business hours.
- 2 Through Support, you can designate a group of agents who will respond to calls via Talk.
- 3 Then, you can create business rules that route calls to available agents based on your scheduled business hours.
Perhaps there are agents in a different region that the call can be routed to, or you can create a trigger to prioritise those tickets in Support when business hours resume. The Suite can accommodate a multitude of situations and solutions.
Here are a couple more examples:
- • Tickets coming to and from Talk, Chat and Guide are affected by the business rules designated in Support, where they can be automatically routed based on your ticket workflows. For example, an urgent question from a live chat can receive higher priority than a ticket that comes in from Guide.
- • You can create customised triggers based on your customers’ preferences. Say a customer leaves a Talk voicemail during non-operating hours: a Support ticket will be created and the customer receives an email to let them know their request was received. But your customers may prefer a reply from the channel of their choosing. A custom trigger can send an email only after you try to reach them a few times by phone first.
Going live with your channels
Before you roll out The Suite to your customers, think about how they get your contact information. Do they perform a general search that brings them to your website or Help Centre? Once they are there, do they search for a support email or phone number? Where is your contact information located?
This matters because if a customer starts a conversation in one channel and finishes it in another, you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for them to switch channels (especially if it’s from your website or Help Centre).
The Web Widget is perfect for this
It’s an important tool for providing customers with an omnichannel customer support experience. It can be added to any of your web properties to give customers quick access to your available support. From the Web Widget, customers can access the Help Centre to request a call from an agent, chat immediately with a live agent, or fill in a form to be contacted in the future.
For offering live chat with The Suite, we recommend preferring the Web Widget to the Chat Widget. Customers can still initiate a chat if they wish, or they can choose a support option that’s more appropriate for their enquiry.