Article

What everyone should know about integrated phone support

By Amanda Roosa, Senior Associate, Content Marketing, @mandyroosa

Published July 13, 2020
Last modified July 24, 2020

Even in the age of email, social media, and whatever new support channel is just around the corner, customers still want the option to call a support agent. Whether it’s to resolve complex support issues or to receive personalized service, many people appreciate companies that make the investment in providing quality support over the phone.

Being able to call a company for support is what most customers expect, but what does phone support look like if you’re a small company—or a tech giant? What about anywhere in between? Whether you’re just getting started with your phone support solution or are an advanced operator, read on to find out the right approach to phone support for your team.

Getting started

First, ask yourself, if you don’t offer phone support just yet, are your customers asking you for phone support? Pay attention to feedback and surveys, and if customers are asking for phone support then it’s important to be where your customers are. If you’re ready to take action but you need to get up and running quickly, you’ll need a call center solution that has everything in it, right out of the box.

For teams just starting out with phone support, it’s important to remember that in today’s age of omnichannel support, it’s crucial to be able to keep track of calls and to know if that caller has engaged with your business across other channels, like email or chat. When customers engage with businesses, many use a variety of channels in a single interaction. For example, say a customer needs to troubleshoot a technical issue and they start with a chat or an email.

Oftentimes, if a customer doesn't get the answer they need quickly enough, they will escalate to a phone call. Yet, customers don’t want to have to repeat themselves—in order for that to happen, your call center solution needs to be robust enough to keep the customer context easily accessible. Effortlessly combined voice and digital interactions have become second nature for customers and it's essential that voice is connected with other channels to make it easy to have those fluid conversations. When looking for an out of the box phone solution, make sure it has key features like the following:

  • Phone number availability (either new or ones able to port over)
  • An integrated omnichannel experience that can create and update tickets
  • Easy setup with IVR (Interactive Voice Response), business hours, voicemail, and routing
  • Ability to customize with apps to fit your needs (i.e. recording downloads, redaction and transcription, and Quality Assurance).

For growing teams who need the easiest way to get started with simple phone support software in an omnichannel context, check out Zendesk Talk out of the box.

Use what you have

If you already offer phone support, ask yourself: do you use your own phone lines or a call center solution, and is your current solution working for you? If not, what problems do you have? If you’re not sure what could be working better, try surveying your agents to find out what bothers them about the phone support they use. Then survey your customers to see what they think could be better.

If you haven’t integrated your phone support with your CRM yet, you could be facing the following challenges:

  1. Too much manual work

    Answering calls in one system and having to enter tickets in another just adds to the amount of work your agents have to do. Integrating voice with the rest of your channels (or CRM) can help mitigate that manual work so your agents can focus on more complex customer problems.

  2. Lack of customer context

    If you’re using separate systems, oftentimes agents don’t know who customers are, what they've purchased, or have insight into their previous interactions with the company. This can impact productivity and CSAT.

  3. Siloed data

    Multiple systems often means siloed data, which makes it difficult to have visibility across all support operations and even more difficult to know how and where to improve.

Integrating your phone support with your CRM will empower your agents to work as effectively as possible so they can better serve your customers. Zendesk has opened up integrations to an ecosystem of over 90 partners who have built CTI connectors that are available in the Zendesk apps marketplace. These integrations enable:

  • Embedded call console in Zendesk, to give your agents a single omnichannel interface
  • Customer context agents need to handle every call, without switching systems from Zendesk as their CRM
  • The ability to extend your voice capabilities—no matter how sophisticated your phone support operations are

With Talk Partner Edition, you can choose the call center software that’s right for you and integrate it with Zendesk to deliver the best customer experience across any channel.

Seamlessly integrated: Speak their language

Phone support can be expensive when it comes to agent time—however, with integrated insights you can better understand how to staff, how many calls agents take, and how ticket volume from your phone channel compares to other channels. You can also have the benefit of full customer history, automatic ticket creation, call recording, and other time-saving tools. When agents can provide phone support from the same platform they use to manage all other channels, agents can focus on resolving issues instead of workflow.

Unfortunately, most companies don’t have an integrated phone support solution. Most agents can’t track calls or multiple customer touchpoints. Agents have to manually create a separate ticket and often answer the phone with zero customer context.

Gain visibility

Take Zendesk customer Adslot for example. Adslot is a media-trading platform working to connect a global community of media buyers and sellers. Part of Adslot’s plan for scaling the company’s support was to allow clients to get in touch over the phone. Unfortunately, Adslot’s existing phone system wasn’t up to the job since they “had no visibility into how many calls were being generated and no context around what the calls were about”.

After the media-trading platform made the jump to Zendesk Talk, they were able to better manage day-to-day support operations. “Setup was really easy,” Vanessa Holden of Adlost said, “and we love how a call just rolls off into a ticket.” With Talk data running through Support analytics, Holden can keep an eye on how the team is performing and how well they’re managing their backlog. “I find the agent activity reports really useful,” she said. “They give me better visibility into the team and how they’re performing, especially when looking at the teams’ satisfaction ratings. If we get a bad satisfaction rating, we go through a debrief with the team and look at what went wrong and ask, how do we fix this in the future? That to us is really important. Zendesk Talk allows us to have vision all the time, anytime, into our phone support data.”

Increase CSAT

When Limebike, a dock free bike-share company, expanded from its initial two national markets in under six months, they saw ticket volume shoot up from 1,500 to 8,000 tickets in the span of just one month. Active in more than 50 markets worldwide, 68% of the company’s ticket volume consists of SMS text messaging and phone calls.

“When you’re scaling rapidly, it’s important that all your communication channels are connected. We wanted to have email and phone in one place, see stats and get feedback from customers, and to be able to share that out to the team and to each city we serve,” explained Lakeysha Hayes, domestic and international customer service manager at LimeBike.

The desire for a unified omnichannel system led LimeBike to adopt Zendesk Support and Zendesk Talk for customer support. “Having strong customer service is one of our competitive advantages. That is how we have been able to win hearts and markets,” Hayes said. LimeBike shares its customer satisfaction data for the cities it serves—across the board, on average, the team earns a 93 percent CSAT rating. “I cannot imagine doing this with information in multiple systems,” Hayes said. “There’s just no way we’d be successful. Having everything centralized is definitely the number-one thing that helps our team.”

Upwork, the world’s largest online marketplace for freelancers, also wanted a more unified omnichannel system. It was important to Upwork to use an integrated omnichannel solution so that they could provide a seamless support experience—not only to end-users but also to the freelancers providing the support. Each support channel offered—email, live chat, phone, and a self-service help center—creates tickets in Zendesk Support. In addition to Support, Upwork uses Zendesk Guide for its help center, Zendesk Chat for live chat, and Zendesk’s integration with NICE inContact for phone support.

“One of the biggest benefits is that everything is centralized,” said Joe Wang, Upwork’s director of customer experience. “Agents can go to just one source and look at all the history with a customer instead of having to check three different places. By putting everything together, we can improve our productivity and performance.”

Winning hearts through the power of conversation

A phone conversation is a powerful way to solve a problem—even in the age of email and social media. When customers get help over the phone, agents can resolve complex issues faster and deliver personalized support. The Zendesk Benchmark report shows that tickets handled through live chat channels like phone and chat see higher CSAT, fewer re-opens, and faster first resolution times.

Zendesk Talk connects a voice channel into Zendesk’s omnichannel solution - allowing agents to easily pick up the conversation from any channel and resolve complex issues faster. With full customer history, automatic ticket creation, and call recording, agents can focus on conversations instead of workflow, ultimately increasing CSAT.

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