REA Group + Zendesk: Customer insights drive service and product innovation
In 2018, REA Group set out to align its customer care efforts with its commitment to streamlined property experiences. With a strong focus on developing self-service capabilities, the brand has cut its average ticket resolution time by more than 90% in two years, with just one in eleven inquiries now requiring human support. This has empowered agents to focus on more meaningful customer communications. As a result, REA’s agent engagement and happiness has increased from 76% to 91%.
“Zendesk is an integral part of our operational excellence and service strategy. It’s the source of truth for us to identify our customers' pain-points and improve our performance. That’s where our customer and team insights come together. It’s where we can measure and see what’s going on in real-time, enabling us to rapidly address any areas where pain-points are identified or where performance is slipping.”
“Zendesk enables us to bring all the people involved in providing services to customers in any way, shape, or form onto one platform. It gives us that one comprehensive source of data and enables us to see what's going on with our customers and the work we're doing holistically.”
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Reduction in average ticket resolution time
Ratio of self-service vs agent resolutions
REA Group’s vision is to change the way the world experiences property. To achieve this, the company developed a competitive digital product that took it from a Melbourne start-up in 1995 to the worldwide corporate it is today. At present, it manages more than 20 brands supporting consumers and businesses across the property lifecycle ranging from property advertising, financial services, and property data insights. However, their largest audience is tens of millions of consumers who scour realestate.com.au every month to research and transact on properties.
As the business evolved, limitations in the legacy systems meant an alternative was needed to support the company’s diverse customer-base. “What REA Group lacked was insight into customer pain points and feedback as well as a usable history of interactions. We were strong in technology and sales, but we needed support to serve our customers better and more efficiently,” says Tim Sulzberger, Service Design and Innovation Manager at REA Grou
Self-service based on quality content and easy access
To increase its customer service capabilities and insights, REA Group built a customer operations team in 2018. The company selected Zendesk to unify its many communication channels into a single platform.
Today, the team uses Zendesk for its omnichannel and knowledge intelligence needs across email, phone, live chat and help center channels. Its focus on self-service functionality and analytics has radically increased. “Our customer success executive worked closely with us to assess our needs and how we could get the most out of the platform. This inspired us to develop our self-service capabilities by improving the help center and investing in the web chat capability and Answer Bot,” says Sulzberger.
When REA Group entered a period of hyper-growth in 2019, the new self-service integrations proved to be an integral support system, shares Sulzberger. “We were essentially prepared. A booming customer-base means an increasing number of inquiries. But, thanks to Zendesk, we’ve been able to keep scaling without having to hire and train countless new people. Instead, we saw self-service usage triple in three years, with a 40% increase in just 12 months alone,” he says.
With quality content at its core, REA’s help center features more than 800 articles. More than 100,000 visitors use the site every month to access information and resolve general inquiries. Within three years, the help center’s self-service ratio—the ratio of help center views to tickets raised—has increased from 4:1 to 11:1. Sulzberger credits Zendesk’s help center for REA’s successful self-service capability as the team is now able to meet customer needs more proactively. “Zendesk lets frontline teams strategically produce and publish information efficiently. It has enabled us to provide comfort to our customers in crises such as bushfires, floods and pandemics with speed and accuracy—delivering insight right there when the customer is searching for it,” he shares.
To ensure the help center content reaches the people who need it, when they need it, REA has integrated it with Zendesk’s live chat capabilities across all of REA’s web properties. “As customers browse our portals, they can request information right in the context they need on the page they are on,” shares Sulzberger. He adds, “When a customer asks a question in the chat window, the Answer Bot will retrieve relevant information from the Help Center or pass it on to a human agent.”
A rewarding change with resolution times improved by 90%
REA Group’s customers, agents and internal teams have all experienced great results from Zendesk. “Our previous self-service efforts intercepted one in four tickets. Today, an agent will only need to respond to one in every eleven customers,” Sulzberger shares. This means REA’s customers now enjoy faster resolutions with the ability to self-serve at any time of the day and an average resolution time of 1.4 hours—a 90% improvement since 2018.
With many customer inquiries being supported by the help center and web chat, the company’s agents are freed up to solve more complex issues and develop more human-centered relationships. “This brings meaning and creates value in their work. As a result, we have also seen an increase in staff engagement and agent happiness from 76% to 91% since 2019,” says Sulzberger.
The self-service concept at REA Group has also benefited its 2,800 employees in resolving work inquiries. Using Zendesk Guide, the company created an internal knowledge base with answers to the most common questions asked by its employees. When an employee asks a question in the internal communications channel, the Answer Bot proactively suggests the most relevant content from the Help Center. This allows them to find solutions at any time without disrupting their workflow.
Insights driving service innovation
“Zendesk’s reporting capabilities through Explore provide a timely and accurate view of our workloads and let us allocate resources to specific needs. We can also support our internal teams by automating processes and providing better visibility of customer cases to help them manage projects better. Some of these include sales and operations, contract processing, credit application, and more. We are also able to see the various touch points customers have made with REA, which enables us to track performance across various customer care areas and quickly address issues proactively,” says Priya Chakraborty, Fulfillment & Onboarding Lead at REA Group.
“Three years ago, we really focused on achieving good CSAT scores. As we used disparate systems, we didn’t have a single end-to-end view of what’s going on in other areas such as our resolution and first response times,” adds Sulzberger. “So much time was spent on escalating customer issues to the support team and stakeholders sharing feedback if things weren’t working well. Since we’ve implemented Zendesk, we’ve not seen any of that,” he says.
Looking ahead, REA Group is committed to continuously enhance its customer experience. In fact, the company recently set up an internal customer success team. To improve processes and ensure REA’s customers get the most out of what the group offers, the team partnered with its Zendesk Customer Success executive for coaching and mentoring sessions. “We love seeing Zendesk introduce new features but also appreciate the value we get from our partnership and relationship with the team. Through them, we’ve connected with other industry peers who are going through similar customer challenges and have been able to learn from and contribute to that community,” emphasizes Sulzberger.
He adds, “As millions of people visit our property portals every month, our goal is to make it an effortless journey for our business customers and consumers alike. We believe that it’s not just the solutions we implement, but also the strong partnerships we have that will enable us to deliver customer support that aligns with REA Group’s commitment to seamless experiences.”