TechBytes with Shawna Wolverton, EVP at Zendesk

TechBytes with Shawna Wolverton, EVP at Zendesk

Customer engagement tactics and targeting activities have changed completely in the last 3 months. How much has contextual agent communication evolved in these months?

We’re seeing what were once primarily offline businesses pivot to totally online, and shifting large support teams to remote working. Agents need virtual access to the people, information and tools that give them the ability to collaborate seamlessly and efficiently in order to make sure they keep giving customers the same level of service they need and expect. Customers the past few months are increasingly turning to messaging, chat, social media, and texting to contact businesses, and context is more important than ever. Agents need solutions that give them a complete and comprehensive view of the customer across all channels and the ability to respond on the channel that makes the most sense for each conversation, Zendesk’s agent workspace allows this to happen seamlessly.

What are some of the unique Zendesk features, tools/ add-ons specifically added to improve omnichannel agent experience? 

We continue to see interactions become more conversational and more centered around messaging, but with new channels constantly emerging, it’s hard for companies to keep up and provide a consistent experience. We’ve added capabilities to help companies have a single view of all channels their customers are on with fast, real-time updates powered by Sunshine Conversations. We offer an easy, efficient way for agents to switch between channels and have better conversations with customers. features a unified conversational flow for agents and out-of-the-box solutions to integrate social messaging. So far, we’ve heard very positive reviews of our omnichannel agent workspace from Support customers.

Hear it from the Pro: “What is the future of agent experience?” 

We’ve seen a tremendous spike in the volume of customer interactions and support requests across channels such as chat, social media messaging (Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter DM) and native messaging over the past few months. For example, WhatsApp use has increased 148 percent since late February — the highest of any channel for contacting customer service — and this holds true across all regions, even North America, where it traditionally has a smaller footprint. During a crisis, customers are using the channels that offer the most convenience and that they’re most comfortable with. This trend was emerging before the pandemic, and now we are seeing businesses accelerate their adoption of messaging to handle the influx of customer demand. We are not only imagining, but working to build a future in which agents are using both social and native messaging to have immediate and ongoing communications with customers.

How can flexible CRM platforms such as Sunshine deliver higher ROI from other tools in the marketing, sales and enterprise communication stacks?

Zendesk Sunshine is powerful because it is open and flexible. Built on AWS (Amazon Web Services), Sunshine enables companies to connect and understand all their customer data which empowers them to personalize customer experiences. The CRM platform allows customers to easily integrate their existing tech stack, enabling them to leverage their existing technology investments and future-proof for imminent changes in the apps and technologies that their team wants to deploy. Additionally, Sunshine has an extensive application ecosystem with over 950 apps.

Zendesk has become a very productive engagement suite for many users. What are the new features you have added to help customers tackle the immediate impact of the pandemic?

In response to these widespread service disruptions and increasingly unpredictable ticket volumes, we launched a Remote Support Bundle with free resources and software solutions for new and existing customers. The tool was designed to help distributed teams stay connected and make fast, informed and empowered decisions that provide their customers with the help they need. The tool was used by many customers and we expect we will continue to see a spike in usage of technology that helps companies operate efficiently remotely like collaboration tools.

Can you share a message to all CX agents who are working tirelessly during the pandemic?

Throughout all of these unprecedented changes, customer service has remained the first touchpoint with agents being the unsung heroes keeping businesses going. Despite a rapid influx of tickets on a global scale, agents have quickly adapted and remained focused on being there for customers during an extremely challenging time. We see agents doing incredible work and are committed to delivering the reliability, scalability and flexibility that they need to get their job done.

Shawna has over 20 years experience in enterprise software product management. She recently joined Zendesk as the SVP of Product after a fantastic adventure in “new space” as the Chief Product Officer at Planet.

Previously, Shawna spent 14 years at Salesforce, joining the organization as the first localization manager and leaving as an SVP of Platform product. There she was responsible for the leading the declarative platform team and worked closely with the user experience design and research team on the ground up renovation of the Salesforce user interface Lightning project.

zendesk logoZendesk is a CRM company that builds support, sales, and customer engagement software designed to foster better customer relationships. From large enterprises to startups, we believe that powerful, innovative customer experience should be within reach for every company, no matter the size, industry or ambition. Zendesk serves more than 150,000 customers across hundreds of industries in over 30 languages.

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