Zoho Desk already has achieved 45% year-over-year growth for the past five years while serving more than 100,000 businesses around the world, but it continues to launch innovative tools to enhance customer experiences. The newest Zoho Desk capabilities include Blended Conversations, a seamless combination of human-driven and bot-powered conversational service experiences, as well as refinements to the user interface to bolster accessibility.
What Is Zoho Desk?
The anchor application in the Zoho Corporation’s customer service platform, Zoho Desk is a customizable, web-based help desk software that lets users efficiently manage customer support activities. The platform offers the convenience of omnichannel communication to help customers with their issues while comfortably switching between channels as needed. The platform also enables service agents to thoughtfully assist customers by combining context, data, knowledge, intelligence and actions within a simple modular interface.
Much of the Zoho Desk platform is dedicated to self-service. It offers a powerful multi-lingual service including content such as help articles, FAQs and a full-service user community that facilitates peer-to-peer knowledge sharing – all to help teams scale their service experiences. The platform also features everything from single-step rule-based automation to full-process orchestration involving multiple business functions.
To help users track the metrics they truly care about, Zoho Desk also offers a robust analytics engine. In addition to referencing the dozens of default dashboards and reports that are on the platform, business users can create custom dashboards and reports so they can monitor the metrics that matter to their specific organizations. The platform even connects with the Zoho Analytics platform, which enables cross-functional intelligence by combining data from other teams such as sales, marketing and fulfillment.
The Zoho Desk platform is programmable and extensible across areas like data, workflows and interfaces. It even offers experiences across no-code, low code and pro-code extensibility.
Who Uses Zoho Desk?
Zoho Desk is used by more than 100,000 businesses around the world. The ideal customer is a lower-mid, mid-market or enterprise segment company with between 250 and 5,000 employees, although the product also serves larger organizations. In most cases, there is a strong mandate for transforming the organization’s customer experience, as well as its overall digital experience.
Most Zoho Desk customers want to address managing their omnichannel service experiences. In the past, many companies had to purchase different software products to manage each channel in order to have a presence in all the possible channels their customers might demand. However, the actual experience across the various channels could be drastically different when using multiple products.
Other Zoho Desk customers use the software to scale low-touch experiences via automation, self-service and AI. In this case, Zoho Desk delivers value with its simple customization across its automation capabilities, as well as with AI and self-service capabilities.
Zoho Desk customers also use the platform to integrate service with the rest of the organization, including business functions like sales, fulfillment and commerce. Since Zoho already offers a suite of apps for each of these functions, customers benefit from the seamless integration.
Zoho Desk also attracts businesses that serve customers around the world thanks to its multilingual service experiences. The feature is growing in importance as companies move to expand their global footprints. With Zoho Desk, they quickly can offer localized service in a specific language or relating to specific cultural experiences.
Zoho Desk isn’t strictly for customer service teams, either. Users include teams from human resources, payroll, legal, travel, marketing and even the founder’s desk.
Zoho Desk New Capabilities
The newest Zoho Desk developments enable customer service agents to improve engagement and deliver high-value customer experiences, removing the guesswork for agents and minimizing friction that often results in poor customer experiences.
Conversational service is now preferred by customers around the world. Unlike email, instant messaging provides the satisfaction of having a finite conversation within a finite amount of time. And unlike the telephone, it’s less demanding and allows even introverted people to communicate comfortably. Implementing messaging as a customer service channel, however, has some practical difficulties for businesses since it’s tricky to scale because of complexity, and it requires a large team since it often results in high volumes of requests.
While bots can be useful in addressing these and other challenges, customers generally hate the impersonal experience they get when engaging with a bot in conversation. Usually, bots are designed to run through an entire flow independently without working alongside human agents, vastly limiting their usefulness to customers in many situations. Humans might be great at connecting with customers with empathy and taking control of complex situations, while bots are better at collecting data, managing complex workflows and performing transactional tasks at any scale. If only a platform offered the best of both worlds.
Zoho Desk’s new Blended Conversations feature allows customer service agents to deliver the best experience in the moment by delegating the majority of manual and transactional tasks to bots, while remaining in control of the overall service experience.
“During these challenging economic times, the best companies are doubling down on customer retention while simultaneously trying to do more with less,” said Mani Vembu, Chief Operating Officer, Zoho. “Great service experiences address this by forming the bedrock of sustainability through economic downturns. Blended Conversations in Zoho Desk addresses exactly this outcome by cleverly combining human and bot agents while also reducing friction, frustration, and costs-to-serve.”
How are Blended Conversations useful to Zoho Desk business users?
For example, if a customer wants to manage an e-commerce order, they quickly can initiate a conversation with the business right from an IM app like WhatsApp, and a bot collects basic details about what the customer needs. It assesses the need and routes the conversation to the appropriate human agent. If the need is purely transactional, the bot initiates its own self-service workflow and continues the conversation. It can verify the customer’s identity, and authenticate the actions the customer performs.
If, however, the customer’s need is not transactional, or if it’s a complicated need that involves multiple tasks, the customer can choose to speak with a human agent. The human agent can take charge of a complex situation and break it down into simpler actionable items for the customer. Human agents also are better suited to manage tense or adverse situations that require demonstrations of patience or empathy.
With Blended Conversations, the human agent can refer to the bots during the conversation and delegate specific responsibilities to them. Once the bot provides its response or fulfills its responsibility, it sends the conversation back to the human agent.
“The agent could call in a commerce bot, which helps the customer change the quantity of their order. Or they could also call on a PCI compliant payments bot, which helps the customer change their payment method or apply a coupon,” says Zoho CX Evangelist Vinay Kumaar, “Or they could also use a scheduling bot, which is connected to the ERP or the fulfillment system of the organization so that the customer can choose a date and time that’s convenient for them for delivery.”
Instant Messaging Framework
The beauty of Blended Conversations isn’t only on the surface of Zoho Desk, as it extends under the hood. Zoho’s new instant messaging framework allows brands to integrate the service platform with any IM service. Zoho IM is a communication messaging framework that powers all of the messaging capabilities across Zoho’s CX offerings.
The IM framework is designed to help brands connect any messaging service they use, including WhatsApp Telegram, Instagram, WeChat and more, with Zoho, manage all of the connections from a single place and use the connections across the CX platform. If the customer wants to integrate an IM app that isn’t already serviced, they can do so using the same IM framework.
DIY Self Service Builder
Zoho GC, or guided conversations, is a no-code and low-code self-service builder that allows businesses from any customer-facing team to build powerful self-service workflows. These workflows then can be reused anywhere in the customer journey. They also can be triggered automatically or manually from within an IM conversation.
“We believe that GC will greatly simplify the process of creating self-service capabilities and experiences,” says Kumaar. “It also will make it easy to embed them in channels and connect them with the rest of the technology stack to enable full journey self-service.”
First and foremost, Zoho GC is a visually intuitive builder. It’s designed for business users, not just IT teams. Zoho expects business users to take a much larger role in everyday platform management with its new tools.
Zoho has also refined the business user interface of the entire Zoho Desk platform, making it faster and simpler to use. Specifically, Zoho has designed the software to be more accessible to users with different needs. By identifying various challenges that a disabled user might confront, the company was able to consult experts for solutions. The result is enhanced accessibility options such as animation controls for users with seizure disorders, as well as a host of other challenges such as cognitive and dyslexia challenges, visual impairments including astigmatism and color blindness.
“This makes the software itself more accessible to the end customer,” says Kumaar. “It’s a first baby step in the direction of accessibility. We hope to make more giant strides in the future, and not just with service but for all of Zoho’s service offerings.”
Zoho Desk Pricing
Zoho Desk starts at $14 per user, per month, billed annually for the standard edition. Customers can opt to upgrade as far as the enterprise edition, which costs $40 per user, per month, billed annually. A new pricing tier, the express edition, is priced at $7 per user, per month, billed annually to help startups and small businesses grow with a service platform.
By combining the power of bot-building software with instant messaging integrations, Zoho Desk’s Blended Conversations promises to blend human-driven instant messaging conversations with powerful bot capabilities on a single-graphical user interface.
“We built a number of pioneering software pieces over the years, kept it simple for businesses of all sizes, not just for a specific segment or a specific size, and we have remained true to our roots,” says Kumaar. “With this specific release, we believe that no other vendor offers something like Blended Conversations in an experience that’s so simple to build, deploy and maintain. We’re really excited about the potential of Blended Conversations, and we aim to keep delivering this level of value to our customers. In all our releases, even in the future.”
More in: Customer Satisfaction, Zoho Corporation