M+E Connections

Zendesk AI Introduced at Relate Conference

Zendesk used its flagship global conference, Relate, on May 10 in San Francisco to introduce Zendesk AI, an intelligence layer that the company said makes personalized, efficient and more empathetic customer experiences (CX) accessible for all companies.

Zendesk AI “combines decades of Zendesk’s unique data and insights with new AI technologies, including the company’s proprietary models, as well as large language models (LLMs),” it said in a news release.

During the keynote presentation, Tom Eggemeier, Zendesk CEO, told attendees and those viewing remotely: “We’re in an environment of rapid change.”

In the past couple of months, he’s “heard four consistent themes” from customers, partners and other CEOs, he said.

First, “customer service and loyalty [are] back on the top of the CEO agenda” because it is much easier to keep existing loyal customers than to acquire new customers, he said.

The second them has been “macroeconomic headwinds,” which he noted is pretty much “like corporate speak” for “the economy sucks.” Additionally, budgets will be challenged in 2023 and 2024, he noted.

Fourth, everybody is wondering how they should think about AI, big data and privacy, he pointed out.

“AI has been hyped for the past 10 years,” when it was largely just “rules masquerading as AI,” he said.

However, he added: “We are actually at an inflection point. It’s no longer the hype cycle.”

He predicted that “AI is going to transform how you deliver service to your customers and your employees, along with big data and conversations, and if you don’t disrupt your business with AI, “one of your competitors will disrupt you” instead.

Zendesk predicted that 18 billion tickets and trillions of data points informing bots and generative AI will help every business deliver superior customer experiences.

Zendesk AI, available now, “will help companies instantly improve service experiences, save time, better understand their customers, and create seamless interactions,” the company said. “The solution continues to learn over time, is fast to deploy, easy to use, and immediately adds value without the need for large teams of developers or months of implementation time.”

More than 90% of Zendesk customers already use AI within Zendesk, and “we are building on this great foundation with new solutions that any business can use immediately,” according to Eggemeier. “AI has significant benefits for agents, admins and businesses that want to deliver the best customer experience, and Zendesk AI will help them instantly see tangible value in cost savings and thousands of hours a month in gained productivity,” he said in a statement.

Citing the 2023 Zendesk CX Trends Report, the firm said customers have high expectations for AI but business leaders say their organizations have yet to achieve cost savings and improved efficiency.

Zendesk AI, however, “allows companies to instantly infuse intelligence into every part of the service experience, resulting in smarter conversations that quickly resolve issues,” the company said.

The technology was “built on the world’s largest CX-specific dataset [and] continuously learns from every customer interaction and allows companies to better assist customers,” the company said.

New capabilities announced by Zendesk include advanced bots, AI-powered agent assistance; and “intelligent triage” that the company explained “uses intent detection, language detection and sentiment analysis to “create powerful intelligent workflows that get smarter over time, classify incoming customer requests and allow teams to power workflows based on these insights.”

Zendesk recently announced a partnership with OpenAI and, at the conference, unveiled new features that it said “leverage the power of generative AI,” including “response rephrasing and tone shift, which helps agents craft clearer and thoughtful responses to customers.”

Zendesk also said at the conference that it expanded partnerships with Meta and Shopify to help businesses “adopt a human-first mindset in customer conversations,” and unveiled Conversational Commerce, which it said was “designed to connect brands with shoppers throughout” their CX “journey in order to provide direct support, marketing, and sales all from within a conversation.”