Zendesk: COVID-19 Has Only Increased the Need for Consistent Customer Experiences

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for media providers to quickly adapt in order to keep up with changing consumer expectations and the players who are doing this and providing consistent customer experiences are reaping the benefits, according to Zendesk.

“It’s really been quite amazing to see the impact” that COVID-19 “has had on traditional media players,” Joe Jorczak, head of Media & Entertainment Go-To-Market Strategy at Zendesk, said during a May 27 presentation at the Hollywood Innovation and Transformation Summit (HITS) Live event.

“It’s been really impressive to see the rise of messaging and chat,” he said during the presentation “How COVID is Changing Customer Experience in the Entertainment Space.” He added: “We know that that’s been going on for a while, and [the pandemic] has really just accelerated that transformation.”

The customer service software firm does a customer experience (CX) benchmark study each year, based on all the traffic coming through the Zendesk platform and he pointed to some of the findings from its most recent one.

“Companies that are using WhatsApp and chat and social media as channels for engaging with their customers have just seen huge spikes in volume and support — and that’s really become a de facto way that customers want to engage with the brands that service them,” he noted.

Email has increased also, but phone use for support “has seen a drop-off — it’s really not how customers want to engage,” he said.

Meanwhile, it has been “challenging with all of the remote work or work from home policies that companies have had to put in place and not having the infrastructure set up, and that’s resulted in tremendously long wait times” for customer service, he said. “So that’s something that we recognize is a challenge for customers to adapt to — and it’s something that can definitely be overcome with the right application of technology,” he pointed out.

Gaming requests were already high, “but it’s gone up even more dramatically” in recent months, he said, noting remote work and learning have also risen. The number of requests for customer service in gaming have gone up 66%, he said.

“What this just reinforces as well is that customers are looking to self-serve,” he said, explaining data showed that, “given the option, if the information is there and they’re able to address their own problems, they’d rather not wait on hold, waiting for a chat session or for a telephone call — they want to be able to do it themselves.” Upwards of 75% of customers, given the option, would rather self-serve, based on its data, he noted.

Customer service requests, meanwhile, are up 63% since the start of the crisis and some sectors are still seeing requests increasing, while others have dropped, according to Zendesk. Grocery, remote work and learning, gaming, food delivery and e-commerce customers, in particular, are more interested in finding answers themselves, according to Zendesk.

Companies in this sector are also leaning more on artificial intelligence (AI) than ever before and resolutions using answer bots are up 84%, according to Zendesk.

When it comes to the support experience today, however, “the challenge for a lot of companies is it’s still disjointed,” Jorczak said. “You have customers one side, you’ve got your teams on the other and there is a multitude of steps that still have to take place in order for those transactions and those requests and those experiences to be delivered effectively,” he noted.

One key issue is that “what we’re seeing today with our customers” is that “data is still siloed,” he said, explaining: “You’ve got purchase history and payment information, support history and subscription data and innumerable other data points often all living in different systems…. It’s still a challenge to bring all that data together in one place…. The companies that have done that well have seen really dramatic improvement in overall support experiences.”

However, “with all of this information out there, all the different methods for customers to communicate with you, pulling it all together into a cohesive whole is still the biggest challenge,” he told viewers.

And the companies that are “facing these challenges today and are really addressing them today are the ones who are going to recognize and realize the benefits down the road,” he said.

There are five new focus areas for media and entertainment companies today, according to Zendesk:

  1. Delivering easier self-service.
  2. Making it conversational.
  3. Using AI + bots in customer service
  4. Supporting remote teams.
  5. Being flexible in this environment that is rapidly changing.

It is important to provide: Seamless 24/7 omnichannel support; maintain engagement with in-context assistance; and harness audience profiles for personalized service, according to the company.

When it comes to making support conversational, the company said it is important to: Meet customers where they are with most popular messaging applications; enable new experiences including conversational commerce; and maintain an ongoing dialog with customers, with context and recommendations built-in.

When it comes to empowering customers at scale with self-service and AI, it is important to: Enable customers to resolve common questions on their own; provide intelligent answers for end-users and agents; and resolve tickets faster to deliver the best experience, according to Zendesk.

In supporting remote teams, Zendesk said it is important to: Arm agents with a unified view of the customer for faster resolution; automate tasks for better agent productivity; and grow team expertise with a unified knowledge base and easy knowledge capture.

Another important thing for organizations to consider, Jorczak said: “Agent morale and employee morale,” which are “so critical during these times.”

Organizations should “get started right away” on enhancing their customer experience capabilities, he said, adding: “If I had to give guidance on which to prioritize, I would say start with the self-service experience, layering in the bot capability and then also looking at how to make that conversational.”

To deliver better experiences, the keys are “meeting customers where they are, identifying those opportunities to streamline communication and think about the experience end-to-end, so that way providing information, resources and knowledge from the very beginning of the experience or journey with your brand all the way through, when things break and then when obviously they want to renew and expand and then recommend to friends,” he said, concluding:  “We’re seeing that today and we think more companies have the ability to do that today to help navigate the current crisis.”

Click here for the presentation slide deck.

The May 27 HITS Live event tackled the quickly shifting IT needs of studios, networks and media service providers, along with how M&E vendors are stepping up to meet those needs. The all-live, virtual, global conference allowed for real-time Q&A, one-on-one chats with other attendees, and more.

HITS Live was presented by Microsoft Azure, with sponsorship by RSG Media, Signiant, Tape Ark, Whip Media Group, Zendesk, Eluvio, Sony, Avanade, 5th Kind, Tamr, EIDR and the Trusted Partner Network (TPN). The event is produced by the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) and the Hollywood IT Society (HITS), in association with the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA) and the Smart Content Council.

For more information, click here.