HotDoc tames fast ticket growth with self service strategy
Founded in 2012, HotDoc is an Australian online medical services company connecting patients with doctors for better and faster medical care. When the pandemic hit, a surge of vaccine appointments expanded HotDoc’s patient base from 6 million to 8 million. The company’s shift to the new Zendesk Suite, along with increased self-service options, kept ticket volumes low and enabled HotDoc to build a new booking system with a full support model within 48 hours.
"Without the help of a really seamless tool and product like Zendesk, we wouldn't have been able to create a whole support strategy in 48 hours for 150 customers for a brand new product that we’ve only just built, while working remotely in the middle of a pandemic."
Support, Knowledge and Content Manager - HotDoc
"Last year, we saw a three-fold increase in the volume that we had coming through. A lot of that was deflected because of the automations that we've set up through Zendesk."
CX Support Team Leader - HotDoc
Number of agents
Increase in help center views
Monthly tickets solved
Increase in self-service ratio
In 2020, patient engagement platform HotDoc found itself at the right place at the right time. Since its founding in 2012, HotDoc has eased Australian healthcare’s accessibility problem by helping patients book medical appointments online, so they can reach specialists and medical help faster without risky exposure.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, with no vaccination in sight, it was imperative for people to get tested so the disease could be kept under control. The government asked for HotDoc’s help to run 150 respiratory clinics where people could come for a test. Given what was at stake, in only 48 hours, HotDoc built the entire support system using Zendesk-delivering the much-needed solution right on time.
Following this project’s success, the Australian government later entrusted HotDoc with scheduling appointments for the COVID-19 pandemic vaccination program. “From a utilization perspective, we went from 6 million to 10 million patients, all trying to make bookings for vaccinations,” says Agnes So, support, knowledge and content manager at HotDoc.
Today, over 9 million active patients use HotDoc’s website and app to access a network of over 25,000 listed practitioners in a broad variety of disciplines. Practices and practitioners also use HotDoc as an all-in-one solution to connect with new and existing patients. “We have the majority of the market share at this stage,” shares So.
Pivoting to self-service
With one out of every three Australian patients using their service, HotDoc’s agents should already have been overwhelmed by a massive number of tickets. Thanks to Zendesk, HotDoc continued to offer great customer support in spite of this unprecedented growth.
For starters, Zendesk Suite gives a team of 15 the capability to handle over 4,000 tickets per month, and make better use of other service channels as well, particularly low-cost self-service channels. “Over the last few years, we have really been focused on, ‘How do we improve our self-service game? How do we get people to help themselves?’” explains So.
HotDoc needed to consider the cost of each interaction against changing customer preference. “Our phone volume percentage has changed from 30-70 phone to email or web form; to now close to 50-50,” So explains. “It’s great for callers, but not great for us when it comes to scaling. What can we do with our tools to give people more options, that might still have a lower cost than phone?”
Taming the ticket tide
So and her team developed a self-service strategy based on Zendesk Suite’s products. Automation responds to predefined triggers in customers’ interactions, referring them to different components of the Suite—the Zendesk support product, or the Guide article library, among others.
“On any given month, the hits that we would get to our platform was just huge,” So recalls. “But we didn’t see a huge rise in the amount of tickets that we got from the patients—we had already put in place a lot of deflection and other ways in which we get people to self-service.”
Zendesk Guide is a key component of their deflection strategy. Starting from scratch, So’s team populated Guide’s article library with a comprehensive database of answers for users.
“We worked in a really structured way to review every article that we had, added to the articles, restructured all of the information architecture, and launched a new help center,” So recalls.
Empowering offshore training
In the months following the project, HotDocs’ help center began averaging 180,000-plus views in their articles month-on-month. The same time period saw significant improvements in self-service ratio—doubling from an average of 20 in 2021 to 40 by 2022, or more than three times the industry average.
“In March last year, we saw a three-fold increase in the ticket volume that we had coming through,” recalls Kasun Kanangama, HotDoc CX support team leader. “A lot of that was deflected because of the automations that we’ve set up through Zendesk.” Because of these efficiencies, the median first response time dropped from seven hours in early 2021 to three hours in early 2022.
Zendesk Guide also facilitated HotDoc’s offshore initiative, started at the end of 2021 to manage operating costs without compromising service quality. The meticulously-compiled guides accelerated the offshore team’s onboarding process.
“When you’re trying to roll new agents into a new platform, it can be very difficult for them to understand how to use it,” explains Aaron Sims, support team leader at HotDoc. “With Zendesk’s supporting guides, it was very easy for me to run our offshore team through WhatsApp. They actually were able to start actioning tickets within a couple of days.”
Gaining actionable data
The influx of users also forced the HotDoc team to examine how they were analyzing and sharing business information. The basic reporting tool could not keep up with the surge of data coming in from every channel, nor could it generate the kind of actionable insights that make a difference.
“With Zendesk Explore, building even just the most basic queries allows us to leverage information, to actually move how our business makes decisions about product,” So explains.
The company’s CX team used Explore to untangle issues caused by HotDoc’s integration with the Genie clinical software. “By setting up dashboards on Zendesk Explore, we’re actually able to hone in on why they are contacting us, and the parts that need the most focus,” Kanangama tells us. “It was such a powerful lever in getting things moving—a great way for us to show our stakeholders, ‘this is the problem, this is what needs to be fixed.’”
Today, Explore’s queries and dashboards are integrated into HotDoc’s management workflow. “We rely on the dashboards a lot—their monthly reports let us know whether we’re on track or off track,” So explains. “Explore has the flexibility to track exactly what you want, and have better conversations with the team about what we need to fix.”
Continuing the success story
So is confident that Zendesk will be a major part of the next phase—after all, much of their present-day capacity is founded on Zendesk Suite functionality.
“Zendesk was able to give us a platform where someone could come to me and say, ‘Hey, we’ve just signed a tender, we have to deliver this product in 48 hours, and it needs to have a full support model associated with it.’” Which is exactly what happened with HotDoc’s 150-clinic partnership with the Australian government. “That was actually one of the success stories we had in 2020—it actually won us the Customer Experience in a Crisis Award at Australia’s CX Awards,” So recalls.
At this stage of growth, HotDoc stands at a crossroads—having consolidated operations with Zendesk, HotDoc now plans to focus on patient care and adapt even more of their services to medical practices of different sizes. “We’re in a different stage of growth,” So explains. “What else can we do to kickstart other ways in which customers can get value from the platform?”
With that in mind, HotDoc is looking to open more channels for better customer engagement, such as community chat. “With Zendesk, we’ve got so much to do but none of it seems impossible,” So concludes.