Zendesk today announced expanded capabilities to its service-first CRM solutions that help companies provide real-time support across messaging channels on web, social, and mobile. A key enabler of these capabilities is a strategic partnership — among the first of its kind — with WhatsApp that empowers companies to immediately engage with customers, share information and respond to questions across WhatsApp, and Facebook’s other messaging services on Messenger and Instagram as well.

As customers rapidly shift to messaging as a primary way to communicate with friends, family, and businesses, over 34,000 forward-thinking Zendesk customers have already shown strong demand for Facebook’s messaging channels by adding WhatsApp and/or Messenger to their support offerings. According to insights from research by Zendesk and ESG, companies with the best customer experiences (CX) invest in offering more channels to their customers, with CX-focused organisations showing they are much more likely to have embraced messaging apps (89 percent) and social media (87 percent) than their competitors.

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“Businesses today need to meet their customers where they want to be met – and that’s increasingly through messaging. More than 175 million people already message a business account on WhatsApp every day to ask questions and get helpful information, and as more conversations shift online during the ongoing pandemic, messaging tools can help businesses of all sizes increase their efficiency and improve customer satisfaction,” said Matt Idema, Chief Operating Officer at WhatsApp. “Through this partnership with Zendesk, we’ll help many more medium-sized businesses get started using messaging to communicate with their customers in a matter of minutes and build new features to make WhatsApp the best way to get business done.”

“There are significant shifts in the ways customers are choosing to interact with businesses – most notably a 50 percent surge in usage of messaging channels over the first half of 2020. We are committed to helping businesses embrace the trends that are here to stay,” said Adrian McDermott, President of Products, Zendesk. “The new Zendesk messaging capabilities, automated workflows and customisation features are helping our customers provide conversational experiences that flow seamlessly across channels and devices while remaining engaging, personal and contextual. Our partnership with WhatsApp and Facebook, which provides Zendesk business customers access to simple API tools to connect with their customers on WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, is integral to this evolution.”

The partnership enables companies to easily engage and quickly respond to customers through WhatsApp, and Facebook’s other messaging services on Messenger and Instagram as well. These customer engagements can include engaging with followers, assisting with social commerce transactions, solving customer service issues and more.

Messaging conversations flow into the unified agent workspace so a support team can manage and respond to customers over any channel, all from a single place, and with complete history and context of the conversation – meaning customers are less frustrated and do not have to repeat themselves.

In order to scale conversations across multiple channels, brands can automate common question and answer conversations and build AI-powered workflows powered by Answer Bot to deflect common questions and request information when it needs to be escalated to a live agent. Using Zendesk’s self-service tools, support teams can easily create specific topics and answers within Zendesk, without needing to tap into developer resources.

For example, a retail company can offer support on frequently asked questions such as store locations, payment options, shipping and returns. When customers visit the retailer’s website, they will be greeted by a customised bot for that company that allows them to quickly choose from a number of options in order to get an instant answer. If the question requires agent assistance, the retailer’s bot escalates the inquiry to a live messaging channel.