For one of the online stores I manage, SmithCorona.com, we face the difficult situation of offering support from two geographic locations. We also provide multi-channel support by leveraging proactive live chat, email, and a 1-800 phone number. To say the least keeping track of customer support cases can be a challenge. I have found Desk.com (previously Assistly, acquired by Salesforce) an essential tool in the quest to conquer this beast.
For anyone who is trying to use a remote or outsourced support team, Desk.com provides some great features. The Saas platform provides an online portal where agents can login to keep track of support cases, assign cases to each other, and track progress. Our agent in Cleveland, OH can work cases in the morning hours and then pass time sensitive issues on in the afternoon. Our representative in Rocky Mountains can followup later in the day. On the other hand, our Colorado agents can pass technical cases back to our manufacturing facility in OH for resolution. This could easily extend across international borders (I’ll try it soon, I’m sure). The case platform is straightforward and takes a computer savvy new hire just a few hours to become a power user. These features are shared by Zen Desk and other competitors, so they aren’t a Desk.com competitive advantage. On to that…
What distinguishes Desk.com for me is its integration with SnapEngage chat software and the community support center it provides. When a customer chats with an agent, the chat transcript is logged as a new case inside Desk. If during the transcript the user gave the agent contact information, that information is also automatically logged into Desk. Integrations are key when it comes to case software because the software is only as good as the information put into it. The more that can be done automatically, the more powerful the tool. We also have a phone switch that sends our support email a audio file of all voice mails. Each voice mail automatically opens a new case in Desk.
For SmithCorona.com I felt it was key to have a robust engine for the external customer support pages. Desk.com allows you to tie your case agents directly into a platform where they can answer public questions and write articles on common issues. This is all available via a robust search engine. After only a couple weeks, our two agents have built the foundation of a knowledge base where customers can self service. Desk.com does allow you to customize the look and feel to some extent, with an additional upgrade you can have full control of the look.
Desk.com runs $49 per agent, per month. It seems pricey but Desk.com does give you one free agent and the option of paying $1 per hour for “flex agents”. I use this flex option for myself and one other manager. When it comes down to it our four person team can all use the service for less than $100 per month.