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Enterprise customers growing on the back of omnichannel strategy: KT Prasad, Zendesk

Enterprise customers growing on the back of omnichannel strategy: KT Prasad, Zendesk
KT Prasad

Customer support platform Zendesk launched two new products today as part of its push into conversational business and community support. 

The company announced the launch of Sunshine Conversations that helps businesses integrate customer conversation across social media channels. 

The second product, Gather, provides a peer-to-peer platform where customers can engage with others and company experts for guidance beyond the scope of customer support agents.

In August 2018, the company integrated Zendesk support with WhatsApp business solutions to reach out to the chat app’s users. The company started with the integration with Facebook messenger four years back and also has an integration with Apple business chat.

The small and medium business (SMB)-focused company has a customer base of 145,000 paid accounts and provides service and support in over 30 languages. The company works with the likes of Uber, Slack, Shopify and Airbnb. India continues to be the company’s fastest-growing market in the Asia Pacific region.

The company disclosed a data breach dating back to 2016 on Wednesday, which impacted 10,000 Zendesk support and chat accounts.

In an interview with TechCircle, KT Prasad, country sales director, Zendesk India, said while the company’s bread and butter continue to be SMBs, the company has seen an uptick in enterprise customers focused on the omnichannel strategy for customer support.

Edited excerpts:

What was the vision for launching an integrated platform for all social media customer interactions?

Our new launch Sunshine Conversation provides an open and flexible CRM platform. The idea was to connect business and consumer data so that an agent can have empowering conversations with the customer. The future of the business is to engage consumers around messages. Conversation with customers on the social media platform is beneficial for businesses as well since the tonality is different from that of a phone or email. 

How are social media chats different from other customer interactions? 

These are persistent chats where you might have spoken to the customer months back but you know the context. Also, customers send an email and it is difficult to know when they might receive the response. Chat provides instant gratification and a single agent can talk to four to five customers at a time.

In 2014, we had acquired Singapore-based Zopium which is now called Zendesk Chat and is our live product. It is a part of our omnichannel offering.

How does Sunshine Conversation tie-in with your acquisition of Smooch in May?

In May this year, we acquired Canadian startup Smooch which is a pioneer in conversational API. That accelerated our path for launching the product. It leverages the Smooch platform and can integrate social, bot and artificial intelligence (AI) for a meaningful customer conversation. When the agent plugs into the events section, it displays all customer interactions including email, WhatsApp etc so that he has a context of these conversations across different channels.

How does the Gather platform help customer interactions?

Gather helps us bring down the turnaround time. If an agent does not have the answers to a customer query, he looks up the knowledge base which is a guide created by the AI and machine learning (ML) we deploy and can be pulled out by the answer bot we have developed. 

If more specific details are required, Gather provides a community where subject experts, other customers might have had a similar discussion. Gather allows for moderated conversations and surfaces the most relevant content to users.

Can you give us an idea of what kind of companies are using these products? Is the mix limited to SMBs?

The crowdfunding platform Milaap uses our Sunshine Conversation product extensively. ITC Foods is a part of our WhatsApp business integration where they are looking to engage with customers on a dedicated number printed at the back of the package.

While SMBs continue to be our main stream of revenue, enterprise customers accounted for close to 40% of our Q3 revenue.

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