Zendesk updates focus on customer service AI ‘ticket triage’

In its latest quarterly update, users of cloud customer services company Zendesk are getting new features that stemmed from its acquisition of Cleverly.AI, as well as deeper integration into Zoom and Slack.

Cleverly, which was acquired by Zendesk in August 2021, was founded by Cristina Fonseca, who also co-founded Talkdesk, a popular call center as a service. Zendesk integrated Cleverly AI smart triage, which prioritizes service tickets, and Smart Assistant, a panel for call center agents that feeds live suggestions to resolve incoming customer calls based on AI contextual analysis.

Intelligent sorting flags events—the problems customers are communicating with—and analyzes the feelings of each caller. Understanding the complexity and urgency of calls helps determine where to direct the call and to whom it is directed, whether it be automated self-service, rising to the level of a human agent or even a specialist who can handle specific issues such as issuing refunds.

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Zendesk has so far focused on retail and e-commerce for smart sorting, with more industries to follow. Fonseca — now vice president of products at Zendesk — said smart sorting comes with 313 pre-configured service events, such as refunds, returns, and billing disputes geared toward retail and e-commerce.

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“It’s pretty stupid that 2022 is going to be, and companies are being asked to train machines to recognize refund requests and keep track of orders,” Fonseca said. “Since the early days of Cleverly, we’ve built an event catalog that’s pretty much everything that could end up in your customer service process, and we’ve pre-trained the models for that.”

Smart Assist finds content that can help set up an agent for a conversation, and also analyzes a caller’s feelings – alerting agents that they may be disturbed, for example – from the content of texts, chats or emails that lead to a customer incoming call.

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“Being able to leverage AI in key customer service and call center operations is a no-brainer, and it’s something we don’t see enough companies using yet,” said Shelly Kramer, principal analyst and co-founder of Futurum Research. “[Zendesk deploys] AI helps agents focus on high-revenue, mission-critical responses and discover sensitive information for security and compliance purposes. Artificial intelligence that guides agents to real time, and better next responses makes the job an ongoing learning experience, which we know is something employees want.”

Zendesk-Zoom integration screenshot
Zendesk’s Zoom integration, a free installation, is available for all plans.

Updated mobile app, integrations

Zendesk has also updated its mobile app. The update was made necessary by the fact that more agents are working in mobile environments, said John Anyano, senior vice president of CRM products at Zendesk. Besides, Zendesk has updated its presence feature to understand agent availability in remote working scenarios and give managers visibility into their distributed teams.

“A supervisor who might have used to be on the call center floor — now sitting in their guest room — can get an idea of ​​how many agents are online, in what mode, and manage which channel,” Anyano said. “We have real-time supervisory and operational management capabilities. We also have a historical review of what agents have been doing at any given time.”

Zendesk has also added Zoom video and Zoom Phone integration, as well as Slack direct messaging features for customers who subscribe to these products. Anyo said Zendesk users can use video for the service with Zoom integration, and can also create service tickets from within Zoom and Slack without switching apps. Zendesk previously enabled Microsoft Teams messaging as well.

In Zendesk’s roadmap are future tools that enable administrators – who are not front-line agents and usually don’t answer customer questions themselves – to track and index answers to agents that best solve frequently asked questions, which in turn helps fine-tune the recommendation algorithm.

Also coming are smart triage features that will help train new agents on the tasks the call center needs the most helpful solving, as well as integration with the Zendesk Answer Bot.

Don Fluckinger covers enterprise content management, customer relationship management, marketing automation, e-commerce, customer service, and enabling technologies for the TechTarget Editorial.

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