Gorgias is a multi-channel helpdesk software that helps e-commerce merchants leverage support inquiries into sales. By managing all support tickets from one place and automating responses to frequent requests, Gorgias provides support agents with a unified view of their customers, so they can give better quicker service. In this interview, Gorgias Head Of BD and Partnerships Philippe Roireau discusses the advantages of a unified support platform and explains how to balance between automation and live customer support.
Please describe the story behind the company: What sparked the idea, and how has it evolved so far?
I am the head of business development and partnerships here at Gorgias. We are a helpdesk for e-commerce, serving over 4500 e-commerce brands. We help them manage all of their communication in one place that is tightly linked to their CMS platforms such as Shopify, Big Commerce, or Magento. We’re helping customer service agents become super agents by empowering them to process inquiries faster and more efficiently.
About 90% of our customers are Shopify stores, from direct-to-consumer brands or solopreneur that want to save a little bit of time every day, to organizations with hundreds of customer service agents. We’re giving them an interface to help manage communications with their customers at scale. It can be on different channels like Facebook, email, chat, or SMS, and all of that is aggregate into the workplace.
What are some typical use cases for Gorgias?
One use case example for Gorgias is when someone contacts your business to return an item they purchased. The customer service agent would get the request in Gorgias, and instead of having to log into different platforms to process the return, they can click only on one button that is linked to their return platform. So, even though we don’t do returns, we can enable it through our partner’s solution, which is embedded in our software.
Another use case is when a client replies to an automatically-generated SMS. SMS platforms today are great at sending outbound marketing messages, but they’re not so great at managing the communications back with the client. With Gorgias, all SMS communications can be routed through the customer service helpdesk for further handling.
Here’s a brief introduction to what Gorgias is all about:
What are some common mistakes with customer support automation, and how can they be avoided?
One of the most common mistakes people make when they try to automate customer support is deflecting tickets. Instead of having customer inquiries go to the customer service team, they’re trying to deflect them infinitely through FAQ articles and other types of bots that are not precise. So we’re fighting against that by trying to eliminate FAQ that is not relevant to customer inquiries or is not precise. We need to create more nimble, more accurate automation for customers.
There is a path to do automation correctly. We see today that the leading brands manage to automate about 20% of their customer service inquiries. 20% is the best you can achieve without sacrificing the quality of the interaction.
What kind of data do you collect, and what are you hoping to achieve from it?
Our mission is to provide businesses with the tools to achieve exceptional customer service. We collect all the data around the number of orders, the number of customers, and so on, but then it’s really about what we have that nobody else has, which is more linked to the performance of the customer service team. If a sale is driven after talking to customer support, we can assign it to the agent and give them credit for it. The big picture here is that we can prove to businesses and customer service leaders that they are generating sales. We want to empower those people and prove that even with automation, they are still relevant for the business because when it comes to online sales, customer service is key.
How has COVID-19 affected your business and customers?
We noticed a dip in revenues in the first couple of weeks of the COVID outbreak, when people were definitely worried and more cautious with their spending. But now, many of our customers are seeing a tremendous uptake of their product and it’s resulted in an equal amount of customer inquiries. Our customers have grown their volume by 40% pretty much overnight. As all businesses were shut down, the number of sales and customer service inquiries they were processing online resulted in a lot of pressure on their businesses. Since we’re a leading platform and ecosystem, our customer base has more than doubled within several months.
What would be your tips for companies who are undergoing a digital transformation as a result of COVID?
They should have been online six months ago already. Whether you’re an e-commerce business or a normal retailer, you need to have an online presence with the most modern tools which, today, are being led by Shopify and BigCommerce. Once you enter that ecosystem, you don’t need to develop all those tools in-house, so you can focus on having a great product and logistics that follow through.
When it comes to technology, there are out of the box technologies that you can deploy quickly. If your tech stack is not up to date it will hinder you, but it’s a relatively easy transition nowadays compared to five or ten years ago, where you still needed to develop some of those technologies yourself. Now that it’s all plug&play, anybody can do it without much technical knowledge, they just need to know what are the best tools for their needs. So my tip would be don’t wait! Be on Shopify or BigCommerce as soon as possible.
Which trends or technologies do you find to be particularly interesting these days?
One thing that we find interesting, as we discussed earlier, is chatbots. A couple of years ago when chatbots were coming up, they seemed like a promising solution, but now we see that most of them are not working so well as they’re not creating the type of customer experience that those bots were supposed to do. Instead, our approach gives the customer service agents superpowers by linking all the technologies together.
Many companies work on different pieces of the customer experience. What we want to do is aggregate all of the functionalities in one interface for the customer service agent, so they don’t have to shuffle across multiple platforms, because they have all of these technologies working together.
Having a strong API that partners can build into, and making sure that all those solutions can speak to one another even if they were developed by different companies is one of the key factors that are currently driving innovation and efficiency forward. Shopify is a great example of a company that accomplishes that because it allowed hundreds and thousands of small entrepreneurs to build upon their API successfully.
The future is all about those integrations and solutions I just mentioned. The more solutions can talk to one another and intertwine their features, the more seamless the experience will be for the user. There is not one business that can solve all of the issues on the front end or the post-purchase customer experience, but having technologies that speak to one another makes the possibilities endless.
For example, Recharge is a subscription software and Klaviyo is an email marketing software. If one of your clients cancels a subscription on Recharge, you can automatically enroll them in a Klaviyo email campaign to win them back. Having these kinds of integrations is essential for growing an online platform and competing against industry giants like Google and Amazon.