Products

ANALYSIS

Zoho Desk Pairs People and Bots

customer service agent in a call center

As an analyst, I am a generalist — you almost must be unless you’re Paul Greenberg, who captures and manages a hellacious amount of data about nearly every company in the space. Hat’s off to my buddy Paul!

I take a different approach, trying to understand and define industry needs first and evaluating how various vendors meet them. There’s some flexibility in this approach, and it is needed because it leaves room for two different vendors to approach the same solution from different directions. This method isn’t the only way to get the job done. It just works for me.

I say all this because I am impressed with Zoho Desk, a service desk solution that I’ve been looking at since Zoho announced the new version just before the holidays. That timing was not propitious, shall we say, as holiday cheer might have drowned out a lot of news. At any rate, since I am a generalist, I won’t say that Zoho is unique in Desk’s functions because I don’t have Paul’s memory.

Blended Conversations

One thing that impresses me, and might be a thing in the greater industry, is the linkage between service agents and bots in Zoho Desk.

Regardless of the business process, Desk manages the uber-process dishing manual and transactional tasks to bots while leaving agents free to do the hard stuff.

The result is greater agent productivity and happier customers because these so-called blended conversations drive solutions and keep waiting times minuscule.

If Desk’s only calling card were blended conversations, it would be worth an evaluation. But the newest version announced last month contains several enhancements that can add significantly to the experience of all stakeholders — agents and employees alike. It’s built on top of Zoho’s Instant Messaging Framework and Guided Conversations, a low code builder for self-service experiences.

Zoho builds instant messaging into virtually all its applications, so there’s no need for an agent to exit and use another product to get a quick answer. Also, by enabling Guided Conversations for self-service, Desk eliminates one of the fundamental challenges of doing it yourself — you don’t know what you don’t know, so how are you supposed to help yourself?

By using the builder to block out the steps in many obvious and some not-so-obvious service situations, a vendor can continue guiding a customer toward a solution no matter what. Also, because it’s a low-code environment, it’s relatively simple to continue adding to the sophistication of a service.

But back to the stakeholders.

Accessibility Updates and Affordability

I’ve not seen the attention Zoho pays to making its products accessible to users with different needs anywhere else. Zoho’s overhaul of Desk demonstrates the company’s biggest efforts toward improving access that I have seen.

The updates include support for cognitive and dyslexia challenges, visual impairments like astigmatism, and customization for color blindness, among others. I never even considered improvements like that, even though I have astigmatism and my wife taught kids with dyslexia for many years.

All of this is very impressive in a time of tight labor markets because it expands the field of available hires. The global industry continues to deliver outstanding new product solutions, which means we’ll need advanced and high-powered service for the indefinite future. Did I mention low cost too? Zoho Desk prices start at $7 per user per month.

So more than 20 years into the CRM revolution, this is an appropriate time to look forward and back. We still don’t have flying cars — thank goodness (all I can think of is sky-rage at rush hour) — but we’re making nice progress in customer service. We’re a long way from dropped calls and interminable wait times.

Denis Pombriant

Denis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry analyst, strategist, writer and speaker. His new book, You Can't Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer, is also available there. Email Denis.

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