Last month, I wrote an article called Actually, Every Company Is A Big Data Company in which I postulated that simply by the act of collecting data as an artifact of doing business, every company is in the Big Data business.
Zendesk is putting this idea into practice, releasing a new feature today called Zendesk Insights that purports to give its customers a deeper understanding of their customer interactions, using data culled from simply working with the Zendesk service. But it wants to take it a step further, by helping customers understand and change behavior to improve customer service over time.
Sam Boonin, who is VP of products at Zendesk, describes his company as a cloud-customer service tool that generates customer support tickets online through interactions with customers on email, social channels, chat and phone. He points out that the product has always provided some reporting capabilities, but the new Insights product provides access to much more detailed information.
Boonin said Zendesk has always seen itself as a data company, and as if to prove it rattles off some numbers: 40K customers, supporting 300M end customers, generating over 10B ticket events to date. That’s a lot of data, and as they break this down, it gives Zendesk insight into customer support issues by industry — and now it wants to provide a similar deeper level of insight for each individual customer.
“We’ve been providing reporting for years. Now, we’ve opened up a firehose to customers in terms of data they can access,” he explained. He says this new tool gives them access to pre-built dashboards that provide insights based on their industry, so if your industry average customer satisfaction score is 85 and yours is 80, you need to work on improving that.
Boonin sees this as a differentiator from competitors, whom he claimed only provide operational reporting, whereas Insights provides operational and behavioral data, thereby giving Zendesk an advantage, at least in his view.
Boonin says the customer can see more than the fact that there is a problem (or not) with Insights. It also lets customers dig into the data and find out why they are seeing what they are seeing and that can enable them to fix problems in the system.
The new product will be integrated into the Plus and Enterprise products.
And what’s interesting is that Zendesk is creating a product from the data that is generated as part of doing business, by the act of using the service. The data has always been there, but Zendesk has recognized the power of this type of information and made it into a product, making them not only a cloud company, but a data company too. And I suspect we will see more vendors doing something similar to surface their data more easily for customers in the future.
It’s worth noting that Zendesk also publishes a a quarterly report called The Zendesk Customer Service Benchmark, based on the data they collect from their service. In this case, they are just providing it as a type of content marketing to showcase their expertise, but Insights is an attempt to use the data as part of the core product offering.
“We’re creating a generation of data analysts inside customer service departments, allowing them to measure operations and behaviors,” Boonin said.
That might be a bit of hyperbole on his part, but the tool clearly gives detailed insights into customer service actitivies and that should prove to be valuable as companies try to gain an edge by delivering superior customer support.