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This Fine Tuning session is about Scaling your Zendesk, including:
- Auditing, organizing, and prioritizing your Zendesk
- Creating a blueprint for your Zendesk
- Considering a tiered approach to support
Jordan Brower was the first Customer Success Manager to join Zendesk and has been with the company for over two years. He thrives on helping customers strategically solve problems and enabling them to autonomously administer their Zendesk.
See all the Fine Tuning series discussions .
Scaling your Zendesk
If you’ve been using Zendesk for two months or two years, you know working tickets as an agent is a breeze. For Zendesk administrators, the task of configuring your Zendesk for now- and later, can be more challenging.
This Fine Tuning session is dedicated to helping you strategize, so your Zendesk is ready for the big leagues. The three sections in today’s session will present you with the key questions to ask yourself when scaling your Zendesk, and offer pro tips that may even teach the Zendesk experts out there a new trick or two.
Part 1: Do I know my own Zendesk? Audit, Organize, and Prioritize.
One of the most common things I hear my customers say before they scale is “I don’t know what this _____ does.” This can mean an Automation, a Trigger, an email notification, or really anything related to your configuration. There are some customers out there who don’t completely understand their workflow. *sigh*
As simple as Zendesk is to use, it won’t run itself- and you must pay attention to what’s under the hood of your configuration before you can scale appropriately. Here are some things to think about to help you get to know your Zendesk better (and as a result, your customers) before going big.
Look at your fires : The pain points with your workflow are the best place to start. Our Director of Customer Advocacy, Ben Collet, once said, “Inherit all that has come before, then paint yourself in a corner.” Wise words, and applied to Zendesk, the lesson we can take from this is that it’s important to be self aware of your setup’s weaknesses to create positive, scaled change.
Short and sweet, whether you set up your workflow or inherited it...it’s important to explore each of the workflow paths your customers and your agents might encounter.
How do you identify these fires?
A good place to start is to create a test ticket and experience the ticket lifecycle from a customers’ perspective. Also follow its’ path internally to see if it lives up to the expectations you’re setting for the future. Once you see and feel what your own customers do, you’ll quickly be able to identify pain points from these experiences, and start to identify ways to improve your processes.
You could even use Insights (Professional and Enterprise) too. Are tickets assigned to a certain group that don’t seem to get resolved? Is your first reply time hours above the benchmark for your industry? Your workflow, and metrics to support it are within your line of sight.
Look at your fires, extinguish them, and build a path to move forward.
Know your Business Rules and what they do : Auditing your Triggers is a great place to start; here’s a good article to help mitigate conflicting ones: https://support.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/203663906-Best-practices-Avoiding-conflicting-triggers .
Further, audit by going through each Trigger to decide what is necessary, and what is dispensable. You’ll find you can deactivate some, and delete others altogether, making for a much cleaner Zendesk.
Once you’ve completed your audit, organize your Triggers into sections based on their actions (Triggers that notify, assign, escalate, etc.). An organized Zendesk is essential to scale, especially for those of you out there with hundreds (you know who you are) of Triggers. Customers that have this many Triggers will tell you they do this.
Repeat this audit for Automations to make sure your only active Automations are those which you want firing on tickets. Deactivate or delete others. Additionally, for our Enterprise customers we have Business Rule Analysis , which will help you identify the relationship between your Triggers, Automations, Macros, and your Tags and Ticket Fields. For example, if you wanted to find out how a Tag was applied to a ticket, Business Rule Analysis will do the trick.
Improve your use of Macros: Do you have too many? Which Macros are used for escalation, and which are used for surfacing frequently referenced articles? Identify repeat scenarios and build logic to support them, and then filter out/restrict other Macros to specific groups to make them easier to find.
Speaking of easy to find - Did you know that you can nest Macros, as well as ticket fields ? With Macros, you’ll simply use the double colon logic in the title of the Macros, and voila!
Another great way to improve Macro usage is to take an inventory of Macros usage by associating unique tags with each macro, then a run a report on the tag usage in Insights. For example, at Zendesk...we use the Macro ID number (that’s right, each Macro has an ID number which is present in the URL). When a Macro is created, we make sure one of the actions is to apply the Macro ID. That way, whenever a ticket has a specific Macro applied, we can always trace which Macro was used via the Macro ID tag.
Evaluate your views : If you don’t like the clutter of default views, you can deactivate them to make room for more valuable views. Create meaningful views for Groups and SLA’s that will help your agents work more effectively. The larger your Zendesk gets, the more important it is to keep your views impactful and well thought out. And remember, your agents can create their own personal views to help their own efficiency and keep their eyes on the tickets that are most important to them, too (use sparingly, rule of thumb is around 3-5 personal views).
Check out this link to help you use Views to manage your ticket workflow .
Understand Your Customers : Evaluate and map your customer experience before you go big. Do you understand what your customers’ needs really are? Do you employ User and Organization fields? Have you created an experience that guides your customer, and asks the right questions using ticket fields and ticket forms, or even conditional fields? If you do you’ll increase overall resolution time, efficiency, and ultimately have a more productive support organization.
Put yourself in the customer's shoes, and make sure you (and your customers) have clear paths to communicate the information needed- the first time they submit their ticket.
Volume : Could you handle ten times your current demand, if there was a sudden influx today? What about 100 times the demand? Are you ready for one and not the other? Decide how you want to scale. Do you need to maintain a level of personal support? Can you incorporate more automated responses for low hanging fruit? When your ticket volume doubles or triples, what kinds of staffing uptick will you need/be approved for? Anticipate these things, and then plan ahead for the next phase.
Need justification for more headcount to meet your new scaled demands? Check out this staffing calculator we’ve whipped up to help out.
Consider your metrics : How will your KPI’s change in 6 months? 12 months? Will you measure efficiency differently when you have 500 more tickets/day? Consider the metrics you’re currently measuring and what new things you may need to measure as your Zendesk grows. Do you need to drill in and understand if your VIP customers are still getting VIP support? This can mean creating new ticket, user, or organization fields to help streamline escalations via Macros or Automations, then building new reports or editing existing ones to encapsulate new processes or workflow.
I’d love to hear from any customers who have tips to help keep their Zendesk organized! Leave a comment below to get the conversation started.
Part 2: Does my Zendesk have a blueprint?
Buildings have blueprints. The desk you’re sitting at probably came with instructions that included an inventory of parts and assembly steps. Whether there’s a reorganization at your company that results in a new Zendesk admin or you’re adding 50 agents for the holidays, creating a blueprint for your Zendesk will prepare you for sudden changes, help to onboard new agents, and prepare you for surges in ticket volumes.
Documenting your workflow and support processes is helpful for all Zendesk configurations, but it is a must for scaling support teams.
Here are some items to consider when documenting your blueprint, and a couple of articles to get the wheels turning if you need help creating some of these processes before putting it all down on paper:
- Workflow : Document the lifecycle of a ticket. Remember to build a structure that allows for small and large volume at the same time. Here’s a sample recipe for a change management IT workflow.
- Escalation paths : What happens when you have an urgent issue affecting all your customers at the same time? Am I adding complexity?
- SLAs: This one's a biggie. How do you monitor your SLAs? Are you using Zendesk's native SLA functionality? Do other people in your support organization know this? Check out this article to learn more.
- Admins and backups: Who is in charge when you’re not there? If you’re providing global support, who are your regional leads? This should all be documented.
- Business hours : How do you respond after the sun goes down? Does your support follow the sun? Did you know you can setup your Zendesk to follow the sun so tickets are automatically reassigned to the next region/group?
- Metrics : Who is responsible for the creation and maintenance of your reports? Are you using Insights?
My most successful customers take ownership of their own configuration and document it using tools like Word, Gliffy, or LucidCharts. What tool you use is less important, just make sure it’s transparent, that you share it, and others in your company know where to find it. That way, when you’re on vacation in Thailand, you don’t have to leave the beach when your support gets hit with an email overload 10x the usual volume. Your backup(s) will have your documented plan in place, ready to take on the extra bulk.
If you feel comfortable doing so, I invite you to comment below with sample workflow documents or “playbooks” that you employ at your own company.
Part 3: To tier your support organization, or not to tier?
That is the question. Should your support team work in tiers? If you’re tiered, you’re positioning yourself for efficiency and volume.
At Zendesk we get this one a lot. Our support team has three tiers. 80% of tickets are solved in T1 (who spend anywhere from 1-10 minutes on the ticket) and 20% in T2 (who spend 11-30 minutes on tickets). Only 6% of all our tickets escalate to Tier 3, and our T3 advocates spend an avg. of 1hr and 30 mins on tickets. We solve approximately 4000 tickets per week. We are fully operable at scale and our customer satisfaction ratings show it.
Here’s what you should think about if you’re considering expanding from one group to multi-tiers:
- Tickets that have to be escalated to more than one agent in the same group are suspect. If you find yourself doing this, ask yourself why one person from the same group can handle the ticket, but someone else cannot?
- Tickets that have two or more agent escalations will not translate at scale. Tiered escalations are more prevalent with scaled configurations.
- Do you have a triage manager? If you’re thinking about tiering your support structure, consider having one for each tier. This will allow you to assign tickets at the appropriate tier to the agent best suited for the ticket based on their bandwidth and availability.
- Tiers have even more technical compliments to help optimize the flow of each of the chains. This can mean more complex Triggers, Automations, and Macros that can help to escalate from tier to tier and support your new, scaled workflow. As you continue to grow, they may require maintenance to accommodate new demand, more agents, or groups. If this sounds too daunting of a task, tiers may not be for you.
Share with us how you tier your support teams! What criteria do you use to escalate from tier to tier? Do you have generalists or specialists?
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