Six months ago I promised to write a post answering the question under the last post of the great series of Knowledge Management Roundtables (the full list is here). Today I am happy to publish this post and share the essence of my many-year Zendesk consulting experience with the Community. I would like if more people use this approach to make their Zendesk and customer support experience even better :)
There are the following sections in my post:
- 'Approach' or 'No approach'
- The secret weapon
- Customer Lifecycle and Customer Journey(s)
- Customer Journey inside Zendesk
'Approach' or 'No approach'
The approach I am presenting below can be used by everyone, but it is more valuable in the following cases:
- Initial setup of Zendesk – when you have to organize your fresh-started support instance right and systematically from the very beginning;
- Scaling existing Zendesk setup – when you have to reorganize/optimize your mature and 'complicated' support environment.
In both cases, Zendesk admin (manager) is being enforced to do many things in different parts of Zendesk (incl. Support, Chat, Guide, Explore/Insights, etc). Doing them in a structured way allows avoiding occasional, unsystematic changes leading to chaos in the future (especially when you are fast growing or a big company already). This also happens when Zendesk admins change or many admins are managing Zendesk with their own different approaches. 'No approach' means that one day you will cry and ask 'What's going on in our Zendesk!?' – and nobody will answer clearly why you have what you have now.
The secret weapon
The 'secret weapon' of my approach to Zendesk setup and management is Customer Journey idea. This is not my personal know-how – the idea was already known before I was even born. Historically the Customer Journey idea was invented somewhere in the early 1990s in marketing. This idea was an organic result of the modern business transformation guided by the imperatives of the customer service and customer experience quality.
Today this idea is widely used by most professionals from IT (web and mobile development), sales and advertising, CX management and analytics. In this case, the Customer Journey idea is used as a common client-centric language for both internal (!) and external (!) communications. I think this is the only way to be truly customer-centric – when you seriously think and talk like your customers do.
The idea of Customer Journey is systematically reflected in the methodology known as Customer Journey Mapping (CJM). 'Mapping' means a broad set of research methods and management tools for analyzing existing and designing ideal customer experience (some examples of maps are here). Having well-structured Customer Journey Map allows you to create the structured and really customer-centric workflows in your Zendesk (and beyond too). The advantage of using СJ idea is that it mimics the real-world experience and by default is transparent for both customers and employees (it means it is easy to learn!).
Customer journey mapping is the process of tracking and describing all the experiences that customers have as they encounter a service or set of services, taking into account not only what happens to them, but also their responses to their experiences.
Customer Lifecycle and Customer Journey(s)
On the highest level, this methodology relies on the idea of the customer lifecycle – a well-known sequence of stages from the brand awareness to the advocacy / leaving. Below you can see the general example of the customer lifecycle which applies to many businesses (it is about the physical products consumption case). You may have different stages for different products, but the idea is to follow the same approach of presenting the typical customer's relationships history all the time.
Picture 1. Customer lifecycle example
On next deeper levels, we have more detailed step-by-step customer journeys (micro-cycles) reflecting the real-world scenarios of how customers interact with the business on different lifecycle stages via different touchpoints (offline and online 'interfaces'). In the end, this may be a very complex multi-level system (map), but in my practice, I rarely use more than 3 levels of categorization to avoid intransparency of the final setup (first of all of tickets categorization system).
Picture 2. Customer journeys (simplified ecommerce example for 2-level detalization)
Customer Journey inside Zendesk
When I'm setting up or scaling Zendesk I always try to implement the idea of Customer Journey in Zendesk. It serves as a leading methodology for organizing service workflows and knowledge assets (HC articles, macros/shortcuts) – along with the whole customer support journey (yes, there is its own journey on the support stage!) and inside all parts of you support environment (= in different Zendesk products).
I am often asked – why to include non-support stages inside Zendesk (support system!). The answer is simple – you may be asked about everything by your customers. Yes, about 80% of tickets are support requests, but ideally, tickets categorization should cover the whole customer experience environment (to be holistic). Or you can have a big bucket 'Other' with many unsorted tickets.
This is what I call the unified (or holistic) approach for Zendesk setup and management. Again, this approach helps you to design the holistic customer service system along the whole customer support journey. As a result, your Zendesk becomes not just 'support' system, but pretends to be one of the leading customer experience systems in the company (along with call center or physical touchpoints).
The holistic approach covering the steps of the customer support journey looks like this (table view).
And the same thing in a visual mode.
Picture 3. The holistic approach for Zendesk setup
The same set of principles and specific mapped Journeys is being implemented in different Zendesk products building the closed loop of customer service and customer experience management process – that's so easy and efficient!
In this post, I've tried to show you why Customer Journey is a great 'tool' for organizing your support workflows and technologies (Zendesk or any other system) in a really customer-centric and productive way. Let me know if you're interested in reading the next posts about implementing CJ idea in different parts of Zendesk (with your votes and comments). I am happy to share practical examples and tips.