Agoda + Zendesk: Connecting travel partners and employees with effective service
Singapore headquartered, digital travel platform Agoda (Nasdaq: BKNG) offers over 2.7 million properties worldwide and provides travelers easy access to flights, airport transfer and more. Agoda employs more than 4,800 staff in 32 markets, dedicated to leveraging best-in-class technology to make travel even easier. As a data-driven company, Agoda constantly leverages data to measure, test and refine its platform’s performance and usability to enhance customer, partners and employee experience. To effectively support its business of hotel bookings, holiday rentals, flights, and packages. Agoda needed a solution to serve the needs of its travel partners, as well as employees. Thanks to a brand new help desk, improved query routing, and deeper business insights, Agoda has seen partner satisfaction ratings soar, all while dramatically improving employee experience.
“Thanks to Zendesk, we know that all employee tickets are routed to the right places, according to different workflows or approval flows. Plus, we have all the data we need to know how well we’re serving our employees and how we can improve.”
Director of People Technology, Planning & Analytics - Agoda
“Zendesk enabled us to interact with our partners in more effective ways such as through chat, the help desk, and by connecting multiple email channels to the platform. Having full visibility on KPIs allows us to closely measure how successfully we communicate with our partners, and how well our platform performs.”
Senior Project Manager, Customer Experience Group - Agoda
Help center views
Agoda’s goal is to make travel booking easier, by unlocking accessibility through technology, connecting global travelers to all the services they need for a great trip–across accommodations, flights and more. Yet much of the real work goes on behind the scenes, ensuring partners such as hotels and airlines can always resolve queries promptly–and that employees have the support they need to provide excellent service.
“We used to rely on other communication tools, and we didn’t have full visibility on the progress of resolving questions or internal tracking actions,” begins Andrea Sebestyen, senior project manager, Customer Experience Group at Agoda. “What we needed was for all the relevant staff to have easy access to every interaction, every email, and phone call histories, be they from our travel partners or employees. This was important to ensure team members could be assigned cases in the event someone needed help or went on leave. We also needed insight into what kind of inquiries we receive, the outcomes of those issues, and how long resolutions take. We couldn’t do any of those things with our existing tools.”
Effective communication with valued partners
Having used Zendesk since 2016 for ticket routing only, Agoda began to explore the solution’s wider features – the company investigated ways to reduce agents’ workloads, accelerate resolutions, and help employees and partners better self-serve. Toward the end of 2020, it made a dramatic shift to a better way of working.
“For our Task Management team, one of the most critical things was streamlining and prioritizing communication with our partners to improve efficiency and case-handling times,” explains Sebestyen. “For this, Zendesk has been great. We now use automation extensively to reduce the workload on our agents. We also make use of macros, automating certain categories of internal escalations and reassignments, helping us further speed up resolutions with less effort.”
Agoda also now encourages partners to solve many of their issues independently via the help desk. “We’ve built a very good help center,” Sebestyen shares proudly. “We have hundreds of articles in eight languages and are adding 20 to 30 new articles every month.” The self-service solution has proven immensely popular. With more than 100,000 views in October 2021 alone, 88% of tickets are one-touch, while agents have achieved an average median first reply time of less than 24 hours. These results have led to higher partner satisfaction overall, with an average CSAT score of more than 90% between November 2020 and October 2021.
The travel digital platform leader also improves the service it provides to partners by analyzing the data it gathers with Zendesk’s reporting and analytics software. The team tracks information such as cases solved, resolution time, and satisfaction scores. “We’re constantly looking at our performance to gain feedback on our service quality. Every quarter, we do a deep dive into the data to better understand any issues and identify opportunities for improvement,” shares Sebestyen.
Improving the employee experience
Yet, it’s not just Agoda’s partners who are benefiting from the new solution. The company’s employees are also more empowered to perform at their best, increasing their efficiency and satisfaction in the workplace as a result. “Zendesk really supports us operationally by ensuring all employee tickets are routed to the right places, according to different workflows or approval flows,” highlights Roland Wang, director of people technology, Planning & Analytics at Agoda. “It also gives us complete data on the back end, enabling us to understand how well we’re serving our employees and how we can improve.”
Between November 2020 and September 2021, Agoda’s PeopleOps division – which manages internal communication and workflow – posted CSAT scores that averaged more than 92%. Help center views increased 45% over the same period, while agent productivity saw a rise of 40%.
Looking to the future
With travel starting to pick up once more, Agoda recognizes the need to continually optimize its internal processes and effectively manage volume spikes. Having seen how much Zendesk has improved daily operations, Agoda plans to further explore the solution’s full potential. Key future plans include looking deeper into the connection between tickets received and help center content use.
“We want to better understand the correlation between queries and answers so that we can optimize our content and agent service,” says Lynette Sarmiento, associate director of people technology, Planning & Analytics at Agoda. One way the company hopes to do this is by improving automation for its help center, reducing tickets for common queries that require minimal or no assistance by prioritizing self service. “We would like to improve this function in the future so that questions can be solved before submitting a request online,” says Sebestyen.
Agoda has gained a clearer understanding of how it wishes to leverage technology thanks to Zendesk. “Working together has been helpful as we are learning about industry best practices and how to truly get the most out of the solutions and systems we’re implementing,” says Sarmiento. “We now have a greater awareness of how other industries use these systems and where we stand among other players in the industry.”