Looking for a customer service solution? Consider Zendesk

I began looking at Zendesk  two or three weeks ago and, due to a busy schedule, did not complete checking the product out until recently.   Here are a few of my thoughts on the solution and why I feel it is worth your time to check out.

Could you give us a little background on Zendesk?

While I would love to, Robert Scoble just did a great video interview with the company’s CEO and founder.  The interview is worth watching, check it out.

Alright, you cheated, any other general product info before the review?

No…..  Alright, just kidding.  The company claims to have thousands of customers ranging from SAP to the Denver Broncos football team and they have done a nice job of posting several case studies on their website.

I am impressed with the price of the product, with three pricing options that should work for most companies.

  • Solo.  This is a good starter option priced at $9/month.
    • Support is limited to the Zendesk customer community but this is probably reasonable for a small company with only one support engineer.
  • Regular.  For the slightly smaller team you can begin using the product at a cost of  $39/month for 3 agents with a cost of $19/month for each additional agent.
    • The support option is slightly better at this level with community and Zendesk support included during normal business hours.  
    • The inclusion of non-community support is useful but I am skeptical that it is worth the extra cost.  A team of 5 could buy the Solo option for $45/month but would pay $77/month if they went with the Regular pricing option.
  • Plus+.  Teams of any size should consider skipping the Regular option, which I consider somewhat extraneous, and go straight to the Plus+ option.  The option provides backup, reporting, views management, security capabilities and more.
    • The support options improve significantly as you now have support available by phone or email 24 hours a day for the five standard business days.

Getting started

It is easy to get started with Zendesk, just navigate to the sign-up page, enter your name, e-mail address, and password, you are then off to the races.  You will receive an e-mail in a few minutes explaining how to login and get started with your new help desk.  Logging in brings you to an informative page with pointers to get started.  My favorite part, however, is the Zendesk Buddha.

Come on, any product with the courage to put an image of buddha with a phone headset on is alright by me.  While buddist might be offended I feel the Buddha was a fairly laid back and helpful guy.  I suspect he would probably get a chuckle from it.

Note that you can create a sandbox environment, a playground, within which you can play with the look and feel of your site. This is one of the most common problems with systems that allow customization, you rarely have a place to test them out.  Zendesk eliminates this problem.  The downside, which is minor but worth noting, is that you must copy/paste changes made in the sandbox to your main production site, there is no automatic push/merge process available today.  However, I have been told that this is on the roadmap.

Alright, you’ve hinted at customization, tell us more…

Basic customization is extremely simple.  This includes customizing the header, background, and sidebar colors, uploading a logo for your header (and defining the URL that it navigates to), defining your Favicon.  Your Favicon, if you do not know, is the image that shows up in the location window (and tabs in IE), for your site.  For example, my site shows a picture of me.

The more advanced users can add one of several included widgets to add more customization.  You can easily insert JavaScript, custom HTML and CSS, to pages, customizing the product to your heart’s content.

Zendesk has also done a good job of making it easy to customize SLAs, e-mail triggers, and define basic business rules.  Rules range from sending e-mails to setting priorities, changing assignments, sending notifications.  This workflow creation (Automation) is straight-forward and an average user should have no problem creating rules.  For example, do you want to escalate the priority of a ticket and tell the support lead when a ticket was opened 2 hours ago and has not been updated in those 2 hours.  Easy.

Integration with other systems?

Yes, Zendesk has an API available for those of you that want to take your solution to the next level.  They have also integrated with multiple CRM solutions including Salesforce, BatchBook, Highrise, and Tactile CRM.

While it is cliche I feel that Zendesk has done an excellent job of making the easy stuff easy and the hard stuff doable.  I have no problem recommending this as one of the solutions that should be on any company’s short list when evaluating help desk solutions.


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