Remote Work Tips For Our New Normal

As someone who made the switch from the office to remote work pre-pandemic, I know the feeling of discombobulation when you first make the transition. The Envoy team has operated as a fully-distributed team since the company started so I had a good group of colleagues to reach out to for advice. With the coronavirus continuing to cause uncertainty and a reliance on remote work, I thought I would share some tips that have worked well for me.

Shower & Change Your Clothes

There’s a common misconception that showering and getting dressed for the day is optional when you’re working from home, and while that is an option, my advice in order to have the most focus is to do the opposite. Taking a shower, and getting dressed is a signal to your brain that your workday has started. 

Use a Good Communication Tool 

Having a communication tool is essential to successful communication and collaboration with a remote team. Our team uses Slack and we have various channels that help our team get the latest news and see the conversations that are happening amongst colleagues. One of the best parts of Slack is the ability to search for topics and get an answer immediately from a past conversation thread that you have may have missed. We also use Slack to promote a positive work culture. We have a #kudos channel where colleagues can publicly acknowledge a job well done.

Get Outside

Sometimes being at home for someone who isn’t used to working remotely can feel stifling. That’s why it’s important to walk outside for a short time each day to get some fresh air, de-stress, exercise, and in turn increase your productivity. A study by cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato that was published in Harvard Business Review found that people who go for a walk 4 times a week are able to think more creatively. Regular exercise is also important to stay healthy and keep your immune system strong.

Focus Your Workspace

Although it’s tempting to set up your office anywhere in your home, it’s important to designate a space that is quiet, free of any clutter, and ideally with a door so you can close yourself off to distractions. 

Acknowledge Everyone On Your Calls

If you’re in a remote meeting, sometimes it’s hard to know who exactly is attending the call, especially if attendees are not using a camera and there is a larger team in the room. It’s important to ask who is in attendance and ask each person to give a short introduction if it’s the first time you’re meeting. That way everyone feels involved, acknowledged, and engaged in the conversation.

Be flexible

With kids home, many of us are having to manage homeschool and work schedules and that can make things feel really overwhelming. Kids benefit from a routine so setting a daily schedule for them can make things feel less out of control. Another tip to avoid having to toggle between school and office work constantly is to set a daily schedule for when you’ll take work calls and when you’ll have time to support your kid’s needs, ideally half a day to each so that it feels like less hectic of a transition. And while routines are great, being flexible is the key to thriving in this new normal. 

Map Out Your Day

The hardest transition for me from the office to remote work is how quiet the day can feel. With no actual co-workers nearby (besides your children and spouse or partner), it can feel like you are less productive. However, because you might have fewer distractions than the office, you can actually get more work done. It is important to keep yourself on track. Creating a schedule for your day and the week ahead can keep you focused. Organize your schedule into 30-minute increments and add tasks to each increment to stay on track. At the end of the day, you’ll have a visual of how much you’ve accomplished.

 

Learn more about how we create the best customer experiences with Zendesk here

As part of the transition that we are going through in the US, many companies have transformed their in-person conferences to online webinars. Zendesk’s signature Relate event is now a webinar called “Relater”. Learn more about the March 24th event here

10 Tips to Consider in Evaluating Software For Your Business

The process of buying enterprise software can be stressful especially when you’re making a decision that will affect your business for the long-term. So why is this is such a difficult decision and why is it so important? 

Essentially, software evaluation is an assessment process to determine the software that will best meet your company’s expectations and needs, and be worth the financial investment. This decision is important because you want a software that can scale with your business and it can be difficult depending on the size and complexity of your organization. You want to ensure that you have captured all the possible requirements for now and in the future and that you’re thinking about how the new software will affect different parts of your organization. Knowing where to focus and how to balance the pros and cons can help you make the decision easier and faster. 

Our team has 10 tips for gaining clarity and ensuring a smooth transition when evaluating software. 

  1. Create your wishlist: Before you talk to a sales team, meet with your team internally and come up with a solution wish-list. This is the time to really uncover your current pain points as well as your vision of where you want to be in the future. After that, edit down to an internal list of hard requirements and nice-to-haves. Keep in mind that there may be features out there you haven’t thought of yet but this list will help you stay focused.

  2. Use the Software: There is nothing better than actually testing out and seeing the software live to understand if it will be a good fit for your team. Many SaaS vendors offer free trials or online demos. Sign up and take advantage of the free trial period. Make sure to ask your salesperson to show you the software in a live demo. Ask questions as you go along and keep detailed notes. Keep that checklist in mind to see which demo most aligns with your “must-haves.”

  3. Decision Makers & Users: Before you go down the rabbit hole of vendor evaluation, it’s important to know who in your organization is the ultimate decision-maker. Does this software purchase need to go through legal or security approvals? Who is signing the contract? Legal and security reviews can take time and may require special documentation (SOC-2 or GDPR compliance). Understand your internal approval process first so you can get a good handle on what you may need early and so your purchase is in line with any budgetary cycles. Additionally, who is your primary user? Will the tool be for internal employees or external customers? What kind of experience will this software provide? Make sure you know who the end-user is that will be using the software the most.

  4. Cost: In Enterprise software, there are both recurring and one-time costs. SaaS software is typically licensed for a given period of time billable at regular intervals. When speaking with your sales team, ask how billing is handled and it’s frequency. Are your costs locked in for the contract period or beyond? What if you need to make a change in the future or add or remove users or features? This is an area where vendors may have the flexibility to get you a better rate for signing on to a longer-term or locking down a feature set.

  5. Implementation: How easy is the software to implement? Ask about implementation approaches and if professional services are available. Does the vendor offer services in-house or have partners you can reach out to? Enterprise software is built to be flexible and support many organization types but most organizations want the software to be as customized as possible to fit their organizational needs. Implementation of new software also has a learning curve, no matter how experienced you are with the software. When you “don’t know what you don’t know”, investing early to get trained and configured will set you up for success down the road. Getting expert assistance early can help you start to see the return on investment earlier.

  6. Plan for Growth: Your business is likely to change over the next 2 to 4 years and once you are up and running, how will this software grow with you? What do the training and documentation look like for future updates? Does the software scale with your business. Are you able to adopt new features easily? Do your other systems integrate well and how does the software fit in your overall tech environment?

  7. Timelines: Be realistic about how fast you can move. Plan out a realistic timeline to gather requirements, demo options, get sign off from stakeholders and decision-makers, and once you make a decision, make sure to bake in the right amount of time for implementation and change management throughout the rollout of the new software.

  8. Define Success: What does success look like after the implementation internally and externally? Examples of success metrics include usage, cost, engagement, and efficiency. Does the software help save you time and money? Are employees engaged and using the software?

  9. Talk to existing clients: Towards the end of the process of evaluation, you are most likely talking to an account executive at each of your software vendors. The best way to determine if a software is a good fit is to talk to companies that have used the software previously ideally in a similar industry. Ask your sales representative to set up an introduction so you can ask specific questions. If you are in a larger metropolitan area, there may be industry meetups or vendor-sponsored happy hours where you can mingle with existing and prospective customers.

  10. Consider Your Customer: How will this ultimately benefit your customer in addition to your business? All of this work to select and implement a new software solution comes down to creating a better experience for customers and end-users. Consider the customer’s must-haves in addition to internal goals.

 

Interested in our services? We help customers get the most out of Zendesk. Learn more about us here.

 

How to Merge Brands & Synchronize CX with Zendesk

When two of the world’s most recognized fine watch brands Citizen and Bulova merged, each having very distinctive identities in the market with unique designs and technologies, it became necessary to streamline the way their customer service team operated. Customer support agents needed to easily access all customer data across the brands in one place to continue to deliver a flawless customer experience.  

While Zendesk was the ideal software solution, the Citizen and Bulova teams needed additional resources to customize the software, implement the system the way they envisioned, and train their internal teams. Envoy’s Zendesk experts were brought in as an extension of the team, leading them through the creation of a holistic solution. The Envoy team built a custom sidebar app using Zendesk Sunshine, a flexible CRM platform on AWS, that now allows Citizen and Bulova agents to easily retrieve all order information across brands and have their customer data at their fingertips in one panel. Citizen and Bulova now have the tools that aggregate customer data across brands and provide a complete picture of each customer to seamlessly track and resolve customer service requests in a unified way.

Want to learn more? Read the detailed customer success story on the Zendesk blog.

Interested in our technical services? Contact us at info@goenvoy.co

5 Questions to Consider when Creating Your Zendesk Guide Help Center

Zendesk Guide is one of many great customer support products Zendesk offers. It serves as a smart knowledge base and helps tap into the institutional knowledge of your organization. It allows customers to get better self-service and agents to see a faster resolution — a win-win. With Guide, you can quickly build a customizable help center, online community, and customer service portal and can easily match your brand with Guide’s out of the box drag and drop tools that don’t require additional development work.

With a clear project plan, defined goals, and strong communication on your team, branding your help center is a breeze. Whether you’re going it alone, have a team, or you’re hiring outside help, we’ve provided some questions to consider to make the process go smoothly. If you’re deciding whether to use the out of the box Zendesk solution or create a help center that requires more design and development time, these 5 questions can help you organize your thoughts and make the process easier.

  1. VISION: What kind of help center are you creating and why? If you have a clear idea for how you want your help center to look and what you want it to do, the rest will come together easily. Based on your goals, think about the content that will motivate your end-user to act. If you’re selling products, for example, then people may want to see shipping or order details more prominently. Consider making a list of content and prioritizing each piece based on the end user’s time. What do you want them to see first? The order in which you present your information and the type of content you present will form your user experience.

  2. GOALS: What will your help center help you achieve? You might want to deflect tickets or create a place for your customers to feel like they can ask any question and get an answer quickly from other community members. You might also just be looking to cut customer service costs by giving your end-user information they need without making a call or emailing you. Having a clear definition of what you’re trying to achieve is crucial for a successful launch.

  3. TARGET AUDIENCE: Who will be using your help center? You might have more than one audience you’re speaking to. You might want users or customers who are logged in to see different content than non-logged in users. The user experience that is best for employees finding answers to their IT questions will be different than a cosmetic product company that wants its customers to find shipping answers fast.

  4. INSPIRATION: Are there any help centers that you’re inspired by that you or your web design team could use for reference? If you’re struggling to figure out what you need, look at your competition and similar industries first. For custom help centers that have already been created with Zendesk, check out this Pinterest page for inspiration.

  5. PROJECT MANAGEMENT: What is your timeline, budget, and who will be helping you manage this project? If you have team members who are already knowledgeable about Zendesk, this is a great place to start. Even better, if you have resources on your team that can help with design or development, you should be all set to create your help center vision and bring it to life.

 

If you’re still undecided on whether you should use the standard theme Zendesk offers vs. doing a custom theme, here is a great article showing the differences. Once you’ve outlined what your goals and needs are, consider whether it makes sense to own it yourself or get some additional support from Zendesk experts. Review your internal resources and whether they have time to take on more work. You’ll need someone to help with project management and if you’re doing a custom theme, you’ll need help with design and development. If someone on your team is also already familiar or has a good grasp of content strategy and user experience design, that’s also a plus.

 

Need some more guidance on your Zendesk Guide help center? Contact our friendly team who will be happy to answer your questions. 

Have more detailed questions on getting started with your help center? Check out Zendesk’s extensive and helpful documentation here.

How Envoy Uses Sunshine, Zendesk’s Flexible CRM Platform

Creating the best experiences for customers is a struggle that’s on the top of the agenda for many customer-oriented organizations. 87% of customers believe that businesses need to have flawless customer experience. Customers are informed and empowered while businesses aren’t always able to keep up with their expectations. And with customer data spread out across disparate systems, important information about who customers are and what they want isn’t often accessible all in one place.

At Envoy, we need to build apps at a rate that is as fast as our customers. That’s why we turned to Zendesk Sunshine, which combines the flexibility of AWS public cloud infrastructure with the agility of an open-standards based development framework. Our developers found that they could build apps three times faster than before, and utilize data in ways that best suit an organization. Sunshine allowed us to access and aggregate all of our important data.

In a recent blog post for Zendesk, Envoy’s director of marketing, Kasia Wood, shares the details of saving time and creating greater efficiencies in serving our customers using Sunshine.

7 Customer Experience Trends Brands Must Embrace to Get Ahead of the Competition

Customer experience is becoming a race and competition is fierce! But what exactly is customer experience and why should your business care? It’s the impression you leave with your customers that affects how they think of your brand across every stage of their customer journey. Today, “89% of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience – up from just 36% in 2010.”

Customers hold all the power because it is so easy for them to communicate with brands across many channels, from email and social media to live chat. Just one bad experience with your product or customer service can quickly trigger a loss of customers to your competition. Your customers are comparing you to the best experiences they’ve had, even with large customer-centric brands like Amazon, Uber and Airbnb.

With over 125,000 clients in 160 countries, Zendesk is a leader in helping brands create the best customer experience. Our team attended Zendesk’s 2019 Showcase event in Dallas and pulled together 7 insights on the latest customer trends.

  1. Customers are fast, informed and more empowered. Businesses are “slow, disconnected, and powerless.” Mark Woolen, SVP of Product & Platform Marketing at Zendesk, shared that with multiple disjointed systems, most businesses are not empowered to give a good customer experience. That’s where customer platforms that are open and flexible can help businesses keep up with growing customer expectations and connect all the dots of the customer journey.

  2. Customer experience, empathy and social impact are major differentiators. According to market research from Tiffany Apczynski, VP of Social Impact & Public Policy at Zendesk, customer service “is THE job for the next decade.” Hiring of contact center agents will grow by 36% for brands to deliver on their customer-first vision. Customers want knowledgeable agents and agents strive to have friendly customers. On top of this, people also want to feel good about a purchase and will buy from brands that make a difference in the world. That’s where empathy comes in. Beyond just growing the bottom line, businesses are expected to be agents of change and companies that display humanity will rise to the top.

  3. Leveraging technology to create a personal touch is becoming more important. Keynote speaker Erin Foster, Head of Creative at Bumble, shared that just because technology makes our lives easier doesn’t mean it should make experiences feel less personal. Interactions should feel human, like you’re talking to “me”. Operating as an authentic human, getting into the mind of the customer in all interactions and avoiding scripted responses in the age of technology are all ways to differentiate yourself from your competition. It is increasingly important to keep that personal connection as your company grows.

    4. Customer service needs to feel on brand and authentic. For Sam Goff, Guest Services Director at Magnolia, “treating one million like they’re one” is the Magnolia brand’s number one goal. The “guests” who call our customer service line feel like they know Chip and Joanna. The brand exudes Southern hospitality and represents values of inspiration, empathy and authenticity. Magnolia customer service agents even have a budget allowance for sending customers a gift card in order to “surprise and delight” them when things aren’t quite as expected with their product order.


  4. Brands are strategizing on how to best support customers’ needs. 87% of customers believe that businesses need to have flawless customer experience. Chris “Chilly” Wilson, Director of Customer Experience at WPEngine, shared an example of putting proactive support into practice. As a digital experience platform that serves 90,000 customers in 140 countries, they noticed that they had a 98% CSAT in chat. The organization decided to drive a majority of its traffic to chat for customers who wanted it 24/7. They learned to intercept incoming volume in a way that the customer liked best. By finding something small, repeatable, and measuring the business value, WPEngine was able to think ahead and anticipate a customer need to optimize the customer experience.

  5. Data is the new oil. Companies are refining customer data to inform marketing strategy. Martin Doettling, GM & VP of Analytics at Zendesk, discussed our data-driven world and how it impacts CX leaders. Analytics tools allow you to take control of your customer data and make strategic, data-driven decisions. Customer service interactions produce a ton of data. Clive Humby, Mathematician & architect of Tesco’s Clubcard said, “Data is the new oil. It’s valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used.”

  6. 81% of customers will switch to another brand because of bad customer service. In addition to flawless service, customers expect integrated, omnichannel support. When calling customer service, they want the agent to know that they had emailed a question two days ago. By relying on your unique organizational culture and data, experimenting with the integration of channels that work best for your customer, and empowering the customer to self-solve their issue, your organization can form the best strategies to achieve the highest customer satisfaction.

 

Interested in optimizing your customer experience? Learn more about Zendesk products here.

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