It’s the little things—how a small business can offer big support

Published August 27, 2014
Last modified August 27, 2014

WHO YOU ARE: The Small Business

Small businesses are all about performing with grace under pressure. There’s a lot of pressure—having to attract new customers, scale with growth, tackle operational and regulatory challenges, retain employees, and provide health care. Your margins are narrow, you’re learning as you go, fighting the good fight against the competition on a daily basis. Some days it feels like you’re taking two steps forward and one step back.


People often expect better service from a small business, and this might be why they choose you over the tech giants or big box stores. Yet you can only drop your prices so low, and you’re trying to do so many things, tasks that larger companies have specialized positions for. The line between growth and survival is sometimes thinner than you’d like to admit. That’s why it’s imperative to keep things lean as you expand. The top-down directive has to be: Do more with less. But how?

On the support side, agents are often caught between doing what’s best for the customer, and what’s best for the business. Should agents work faster and automate more, or should they take their time to make a customer happy? It often feels like there's rarely enough time or resources to do both. As you grow, you notice that quality, first reply times, and both agent and customer satisfaction begins to slide in the wrong direction.


It only takes a few tools to make your customers happy—when they’re the right tools. Zendesk allows you to provide multi-channel support and, whether you’re using Zendesk as your CRM or integrating with another one, you're able to keep agents working in a single tool, on a single screen. Still, as in life, it's the small things that can make a big difference. Shaving even 10 seconds from the time it takes an agent to resolve an issue can give your support team, over the course of a day or week, more time to invest in the customer experience.

Here's a few apps that can help you do this:

User Data
The more context agents have about a customer, the more tailored their responses can be. The User Data app allows you to select the user fields you’d like to display in Zendesk right next to the ticket.

Answer Suggestion
If you’ve spent the time building out articles in your Help Center, the Answer Suggestion app is a great way to quickly surface articles that are relevant to a ticket’s subject. Agents can click into suggested articles to view them, or perform a search directly from the ticket, and then drag-and-drop the article into the ticket response.

Ticket to Help Center
Think of the Ticket to Help Center app like a hack for authoring articles for your Help Center. It’s sometimes hard for agents to carve out the time to build up the knowledge base, but this app allows them to select an existing ticket comment, edit the HTML version of it, and post it to your Help Center.

Five Most Recent
It’s hard to remember every interaction you’ve had with a customer, but the Five Most Recent app can help. The app displays the five most recent tickets submitted by that customer so that you’re armed with a bit more context.

Google+ Hangouts
Make it easier for your team to collaborate by bringing Google+ Hangouts into Zendesk, allowing agents to video chat in real-time.

Sidebar Search
Use the Sidebar Search to search your Zendesk for tickets, comments, users, organizations, and topics. This search functionality allows agents to quickly find information they need to resolve tickets more efficiently. Agents can filter by status, assignee, and by date ranges. Search suggestions are also offered based on a ticket’s subject and custom ticket fields.

Tag Locker
Tags are really useful, but can be hard to keep track of. Once you introduce human error in the form of typos or variations on tags, your workflows and reports are impacted. Tag Locker keeps your tags clean and manageable by restricting which tags agents can apply to tickets.

Time Tracking
Trying to get a better handle on how long agents are spending on each Zendesk ticket? The Time Tracking app makes managing your team’s performance easier. By reporting on time spent, you’ll know exactly what’s draining team resources and identify areas to focus making improvements.

The Cheerleader app is a quick way to boost morale and have a little fun. You’ll get a message of encouragement (e.g., “I honestly don’t know how we would do without you.”) with every new ticket. (Side note: if fun is what you’re looking for, you might also want to check out the Chuck Norris app. Really, has software ever been this cool?)

SurveyMonkey Create
With the SurveyMonkey Create app, you can easily send surveys to targeted segments of customers, right from Zendesk. This is an easy way to engage customers and gain valuable feedback about your products or services.

We’ve got more customer service tips for small businesses, as well as quarterly webinars to help you stay up-to-date with what’s new in Zendesk. To learn more about Zendesk Apps, check out our upcoming Zendesk Deep Dive.  

This is part of a series focused on extending Zendesk to meet your company’s most fundamental needs. Check back next month to see what apps or integrations we recommend for the retail industry.

In previous installments we covered:
The Contact Center
The Midsize Business
The SaaS Company