Standing out from the crowd with proactive live chat support

By Ted Smith

Published November 12, 2015
Last modified November 12, 2015

Print Syndicate proves that you can be serious without being too serious. Whether you want to make a political statement or tell the world that you’re a foodie, a cat-lover, video game nerd or you just to bring a sense of humor to your gym clothes, their in-house designs combine truths about what you love and believe in with what’s trending in pop culture.

Kevin Zyskowski, head of customer experience, has been with Print Syndicate since June 2015. Before Print Syndicate he ran operations for several large call centers in the financial services industry. His support team at Print Syndicate is still relatively small (at 18 associates) but, much like the company, growing at a nice clip. In just a few months, they’ve rolled out the full gamut of channels across each of their brands: Human, Activate Apparel, and Merica Made. Truly multi-channel, the team can be reached via email, social media, Zendesk Chat, their help center, and by phone with Zendesk Talk. It’s exciting times, and we were eager to sit down and learn more about what Print Syndicate does, and how they do it so swell.

Each Print Syndicate brand has a strong identity. They’re not trying to appeal to everyone. How does your team handle that?
At Print Syndicate, we're in the business of self-expression. It's about being able to express yourself in a unique way daily, if you choose. We're trying to reach unique niches of people and bring them together, and also to allow them to express their interests via apparel, home goods or other types of accessories. Some of it is a little edgy. For example, there’s a “cat Jesus” in our Human brand. It’s Jesus’ body with a cat face, so it’s definitely edgy. Some people are definitely not going to get us, but that’s okay.

Print Syndicate implemented Zendesk products about the same time you started. How was support handled before the Zendesk family of products and why the change?
Support had been outsourced to a local team who were using Freshdesk. We moved all that in-house for a couple weeks while our Zendesk channels were being built and configured. My predecessor was very keen on the power of Zendesk products vs. other tools and wanted more of the omnichannel capabilities that Zendesk has. I think it’s really well integrated and, from the agent perspective, it really is omnichannel, the way everything becomes a ticket. I also love that Zendesk is very consistent and very reliable. That’s huge and one advantage, now that I think about it, over Freshdesk.

What did your team think of the switch to Zendesk products from Freshdesk?
For about the first week they were resistant to the change, which is always the case, but now even the toughest critics are adamant about the ease of working with Zendesk products, and about the visibility they now have into customer information.

It sounds like things are going well. What are some of your biggest support challenges today?
This question is hard to answer, having come from a larger call center environment where there were so many challenges around the systems and lack of integration between systems. These days I feel like a kid in a candy store. I feel like I can do pretty much whatever I want to do, and very easily. With Zendesk, there’s really not a lot of limitation—it’s your own creativity that is going to limit you. I just feel like you all offer a lot of bang for our buck. Our challenges are really just to continue to improve, to continue to set expectations for excellence, and continue to coach my associates.

Do you view support as a competitive differentiator? How do you ensure that it is?
Yes, we absolutely do. Our founder does as well. At Print Syndicate I’ve been adamant that, as we create our service structure from the ground up, we don’t put procedures in place just to do it. Having some freedom allows us to differentiate. I try to coach my associates that they have the power to treat each customer like their favorite person in the world—or at least to imagine the customer as a favorite athlete or actress, someone they’d be excited to talk to. However they would respond to that person, do that for everyone.

Live chat is also a differentiator for us. Zendesk Chat is very much part of the buying moment so, from an e-commerce perspective, we’re able to be very proactive with triggers. We can understand when someone is having difficulty and to intercept that and educate them, and to give confidence where they need it. The results are amazing. I wouldn’t use the words ‘sales’ or ‘sell’ but when I look at the Google Analytics, the average dollar amount per chat that we’re making is crazy. The team basically pays for itself in the first 30 minutes of each day. Typically by 3pm-4pm in the afternoon, we have chatted with 15 percent or more of the people that have purchased, which is amazing because we’re only running 4 people on chat. It’s really just a powerful weapon.

Wow, that’s phenomenal. So what’s next on the support horizon?
We plan to extend our support hours, purely to extend chat because of the sales impact I just mentioned. I’m excited that we’ll have more people to help out folks shopping at night. We’re also implementing a Voice of the Customer program, and I rely on the reporting from Zendesk. I’ve shown some of my friends who are still at the large finance institutions I came from reports that they would need a team of 12 analysts to do what I did in 2 hours. Zendesk products are powerful reporting tools, and when presenting to other areas of the organization, it looks good. Now with Zendesk reporting we can very clearly see the relationship between high satisfaction and response times.

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