Accelerating sales cycles and support with Zendesk and Tray.io
Outreach meets critical SLAs and provides robust self-service as it scales—learn why the company switched to Zendesk.
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Sales speaker Mark Hunter once said, “It’s not about having the right opportunities—it’s about handling the opportunities right.”
That, in a nutshell, is what Outreach enables its customers to do.
For many salespeople, efficiently handling opportunities is easier said than done. Managing prospect data, scheduling meetings, and communicating logistics all takes time away from the important stuff: cultivating relationships. Outreach’s sales engagement platform solves this by improving communication workflows and easily surfacing prospects from Salesforce, returning valuable time back to salespeople.
Outreach also strives to create streamlined experiences for its employees. It uses Tray, a Zendesk Partner, to connect data across multiple back-end systems. This, in turn, helps boost customer retention and improves the customer experience. Tray connects Outreach with JIRA, for example, and with the company’s customer service solution—which is now Zendesk.
A few years back, Outreach realized it needed a solution that would keep pace with the company’s outstanding customer growth. It needed visibility into ticket status and easy-to-use reporting, so that it could improve response times.
After careful research and side-by-side testing against Desk.com, Outreach selected Zendesk Support, Chat, and Guide. Ultimately, Andrew Kinzer said, the team chose Zendesk because of its instantaneous message-sending, customizable and multi-brand knowledge base, better infrastructure, and robust chat functionality.
“Zendesk will facilitate the growth we’re experiencing now and in the future, while helping us retain our reputation as a software company with unparalleled responsiveness with customers,” Kinzer said. “It will equip us to continue to be ‘uncomfortably close’ with our customers.”
That level of responsiveness is part of Outreach’s cultural ethos, but is made possible on the logistical front thanks to the seamless integration of Zendesk, Salesforce, and Outreach’s own platform—all connected by Tray. For example, when a new ticket is generated in Zendesk to add seats to an account, the system looks up the metadata in Salesforce to see if an open invoice needs to be resolved and automatically adds an internal comment to the ticket for the agent to review.
By identifying this kind of useful information and catching what otherwise might fall through the cracks, Outreach can ensure that account managers stay informed about support tickets lodged by clients due for renewal, thus reducing churn. Instead of agents having to, say, manually look up subscription dates, the system automatically flags accounts set to expire in 90 days and notifies the correct customer success representative.
Beyond helping agents and account managers serve customers better, Outreach is able to easily direct tickets to specific engineering teams since it uses Zendesk and JIRA together to track bugs. “That’s been really helpful for our engineering teams, because then they can go in and access the tickets and say, ‘Wow, that’s really not the way that this should be acting,’” said Ruth Frantz, director of technical support. “It gives them more real-time customer feedback.”
That proactive approach extends to how Outreach set up its support organization. The company went with a three-tiered support model to help reduce stress for its team members, who, Frantz said, often felt overwhelmed by seeing all tickets in a single bucket. “It also gives the team opportunities for upward movement in their career,” she said. “Everyone starts in tier one, really learns the ropes. The further up they get, the closer they get to work with engineering—so there’s a lot of incentive to learn more.”
All of this enables Outreach to meet critical SLA requirements, such as a 60- to 90-second chat response time for premium support customers, and a one-hour first response time for email tickets—goals the company hits at an impressive rate of 98 percent. The integration with Tray also plays a key role in meeting these metrics, said Dan Ahmadi, Outreach’s demand generation director. He described a workflow set up through Tray: When a ticket comes in to Zendesk from an organization that has premium chat, or premium support, it gets routed through Tray and dropped into a Slack channel that notifies all on-duty agents.
It turns out that live chat is customers’ preferred method of contacting Outreach—hence the need for quick response times. “We heard loud and clear that our customers wanted a more real-time way of getting in touch with us,” Frantz said. Since Zendesk Chat is integrated with Support and Salesforce, all relevant customer information is readily available.
To encourage ticket deflection and customer self service, the company runs through its knowledge base regularly to update content, adding about 10 new articles per month that cover new product features. As the company scales, Outreach has focused on a crowdsourcing model for generating and revising knowledge content using the Zendesk Knowledge Capture app. “The knowledge base is great,” Frantz said, adding that it gets about 30,000 hits a month.
Outreach also uses Skilljar for a lot of its training videos hosted on Outreach University. Skilljar built a customized app that allows the team to see, in the Zendesk ticket view, whether a customer has attended any trainings or watched a video. This provides additional context for agents, but also can flag when a training video is leaving viewers with questions.
Other key features and functionality Outreach uses include conditional fields and Hide Ticket Fields, to keep the left side of Zendesk Support uncluttered, and Bump Bump Solve to auto-prompt customers who need to respond to tickets in pending status. “That’s been a really key piece for my tier one team,” Frantz said, as it’s eliminated an otherwise a time-consuming, manual process. Customers, in turn, appreciate that the majority of tickets can be answered in one touch, without a follow-up response required.
Having a single omnichannel experience for agents has made for a more effective support organization. “For me, it’s that my agents don’t have to go back in and ask five questions that we already have answers to in all of our different platforms,” Frantz said. “The last thing I want to do when I email someone is have them say, ‘Oh, OK, what company are you from? When was your start date? What permission should you have?’ That’s a huge waste of time to our customers, who are just trying to get their daily work done.”
Underpinning it all has been Zendesk’s focus on being a trusted partner for Outreach. “My experience has been great,” Frantz said. “I can’t say enough about our customer success manager, Tessa. She’s been incredibly helpful just getting us up and running and answering questions about our account.”
“Zendesk is the top of the market. I’ve had the opportunity to switch to Salesforce, to all sorts of other things, and I’ve really wanted to stick with Zendesk.”
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