Zendesk Goes Beyond Customer Service to Proactive Sales Engagement

Zendesk's Explore and Connect services are designed to improve a company's sales and support relationship with customers by analyzing all customer touch points.

Zendesk Sales Support

Zendesk, best known for its namesake cloud customer support software, is branching out with two new services: Zendesk Explore, which includes an analytics engine that functions across all of Zendesk's products and can analyze data from all customer touch points, and Zendesk Connect, which combines historical data with individual customer actions and other digital interactions, such as with websites and mobile applications.

"Our motivation for this is customers want a single seamless experience with the company," Adrian McDermott, Zendesk's senior vice president of product development, told eWEEK. Sales and marketing solutions, he notd, often are siloed in ways that make it difficult to get a clear or comprehensive view of customer needs.

Zendesk aims to help companies avoid marketing to the wrong people at the wrong time. For example, someone stuck at the airport because of a canceled flight isn't likely in the mood to get an online promotion for vacation getaway tickets from the same airline that stranded him or her thousands of miles from home.

"Your relationship to the brand is linear. There should be a continuous logical flow from a support call and products you may have already purchased to whatever the next message is. Organizations tend not to have a collective memory of the customer experience, and we want to fix what's broken," said McDermott.

Zendesk has offered analytics for its customer support products since 2010, including recordings of customer conversations with tech and customer support. McDermott noted customers wanted to connect that customer data to their CRM systems or other services, such as Google Analytics.

Zendesk Explore incorporates technology the company gained with last year's acquisition of Business Intelligence data integration company BIME Analytics, which offers dozens of data connectors that let users aggregate data from multiple sources including Salesforce, CSV, Excel and Google Analytics.

McDermott describes it as "BI for everyman" that's easy to use and doesn't require users to synchronize large amounts of data" such as an entire sales force automation system, just the sources they're interested in. "That's incredibly useful for customer success and support and the marketing professional who is not a full-time data analyst," said McDermott.

Zendesk Connect is designed to help companies more effectively engage with customers proactively based on an historical record of their actions online and with mobile apps. For example, a company might use Connect to head off a potential product support issue by alerting a customer to new features or options or recommend relevant products and services based on their past interactions and sales history.

"With Connect and Explore you see the people you want to target, create a call-to-action and you're done without having to talk to a bunch of people to get what you need," said McDermott. "We want people to better engage with customers, this toolset will help a lot."

In addition to Connect and Explore, the Zendesk family of services includes Zendesk Support for tracking, prioritizing and solving customer support issues; Zendesk Help Center, a self-service online destination with articles, interactive forums and online communities; Zendesk Chat, interactive customer service via chat sessions; Zendesk Talk, offering phone support and call center software; and Zendesk Message, designed to engage customers on their favorite messaging apps.

Connect and Explore are currently in beta with the final release scheduled for early in 2017. McDermott said Zendesk has more than 80,000 customers, and web support widgets powered by Zendesk are embedded into 30 percent of the top million websites.

David Needle

David Needle

Based in Silicon Valley, veteran technology reporter David Needle covers mobile, bi g data, and social media among other topics. He was formerly News Editor at Infoworld, Editor of Computer Currents...