I was lucky to score an invite to Zendesk's Relate Live user conference in New York last month.
This was my first software user conference, though I was assured by conference leader Sarah Stealey Reed that this wasn't an ordinary experience. The event focused on relationships first, software second.
Zendesk's President of Products, Adrian McDermott, made this crystal clear when he described the convoluted process for adding a security certificate to a website.
"This only works for two technical people having a nerdgasm."
The Zendesk approach is to take something that may be a 22-step process and simplify it down to the push of a button.
McDermott explained that the typical Zendesk customer is a Director of Customer Support. That customer is trying to help her customers, not spend time grappling with technology.
"Our challenge as builders is helping her get that job done," said McDermott.
I've seen this first hand, since many of my clients use Zendesk's customer service software. For instance, legal practice management software provider Clio used Zendesk's built-in survey feature to increase survey responses by 600 percent in just two months.
Another example is Zendesk's Answer Bot, an automated tool that helps customers find self-service resources and avoid contacting a company for support. The major benefit is this frees up agents to focus on helping customers who really need a human.
Omnichannel is another opportunity to make service simple.
Many companies manage various customer service channels such as email, chat, and phone in different silos. If you contact a company via one channel such as email, you'll have to tell your story all over again if you move to another channel such as chat.
Zendesk is putting the customer at the center of all those interactions so it becomes a seamless experience from both the customer and support agent's point of view. This removes a barrier to having a human-to-human conversation.
Mikkel Svane, Zendesk's co-founder and CEO, described the need to keep things simple in his opening remarks.
Svane acknowledged it is sometimes difficult to keep things simple as the Zendesk platform grows and more features are added. For instance, people could signup for Zendesk and configure the software on their own when it was first launched.
Now, laments Svane, we need customers to call us because it's become more complicated.
That's where Zendesk's customer service vision comes into play.
The emphasis is on people and relationships when you contact Zendesk for support. The idea is to connect Zendesk users with a helpful, empathetic support representative who can understand the customer's needs and help them achieve their goals.
The company's elite service culture is why I profiled Zendesk in The Service Culture Handbook, where you can read about how Zendesk developed its vision in Chapter 12.