Zendesk Support helps Twilio keep things simple for their customers

Needing a help desk software solution that offered flexibilty and support, Twilio selected Zendesk Support to power its customer service.

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Twilio is a cloud-based communications company that provides its 40,000 customers—a mix of developers and non-developers—with basic building blocks for building voice and text messaging capabilities into their web apps, regardless of their level of technical experience.

Most of Twilio’s customers begin with trial credit and then start hacking away. It is only when they have built something useful that they decide to invest more in Twilio. So it is critical that the company’s support team helps all of its customers building something as quickly and seamlessly as possible, otherwise it’s a bad reflection on how easy Twilio is to use.

“Only when our customers have built something will they decide to use us for bigger parts of their actual business. This is why we have support agents on the weekends and always make sure that a developer is on support duty. It’s a key piece of our sales retention strategy,” said Renee Chu, Manager of Support.

Twilio wanted to make sure its help desk solution offered the same flexibility and reliability it provides as a cloud-based company. This is one of the reasons why they chose Zendesk Support, and have continued using it since November 2008.

“We’re a high-growth web-based company and we knew that email wasn’t going to be a scalable way to respond and keep track of our support requests. We wanted a system especially designed for customer support,” Chu said. “Because Zendesk Support is cloud-based, we don’t have to install something and reference a certain number, and that’s important because our evangelists are based all over the country.”

Most of Twilio’s customers ask very technical questions, which is why their support team has a unique structure. A designated support team is on duty around the clock, and additional licenses allow engineers to jump in as needed.

In the past, Twilio’s customer support manager would manually look at every ticket in the queue and individually assign each ticket to the right person on the team, based on their availability and their knowledge. “That approach was good when we were really small, but this way of handling tickets doesn’t scale,” Chu said.

With Support, the team began using triggers to customize and automate workflows and direct tickets to the right people, dependent on their area of expertise. Agents also have views, or customized inboxes for their tickets, to ensure they never lose track of the requests assigned to them, and to enable them to easily respond in a timely manner.

“Triggers are also a great tool to surface high priority tickets,” Chu said. They use triggers to reopen tickets, to check in on a ticket, and to alert them when a customer writes back. “We love the flexibility that Zendesk Support gives us to automate processes in the background, while keeping everything simple for our customers.”

Twilio also uses keyboard shortcuts to access and apply macros to FAQs or to simply change ticket fields of a support request.

A really important function of Twilio’s customer support team is funneling feedback from customers to the product team. Tags have proved to be invaluable to this end. “Whenever there’s a ticket with really valuable product feedback, agents will insert a tag related to product feedback and write a brief one sentence summary in a custom ticket field. All these tickets then get surfaced in a report that we download to a CSV file and later share with the product team. It’s just a really easy way to consolidate feedback and give the product team information they can easily digest,” Chu explained.

She concluded, “We are a super technical team and we want to keep it that way, so having a really smart customer support platform is important.”

“Without Zendesk Support we would be unable to provide the quality of support to keep our customers happy and loyal.”

– Renee Chu Manager of Customer Support at Twilio

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