1,500+ CX professionals and enthusiasts gathered in San Francisco’s beautiful Fairmont hotel for one of the biggest global customer experience conferences – Zendesk Relate 18. This three day CX frenzy (Nov 12 – 14) was packed with exciting announcements, great events, educational tracks, and some sweet after parties. Here is our breakdown and key takeaways from the talks we found most insightful at this year’s Zendesk Relate 18.


Zendesk Sunshine. Zendesk Sell. Zendesk Explore.

Zendesk announced three new exciting products at their conference; Zendesk Sunshine (CRM), Zendesk Sell (sales automation), and Zendesk Explore (analytics). Zendesk launched Sunshine to give companies the ability to create a more complete picture of their customers and get a better and more current idea of the customer’s relationship to the business. Zendesk Sell was launched to enhance productivity, processes and pipeline visibility for sales teams, while providing a seamless flow of information between support and sales on the Sunshine CRM platform, so there is a single “conversation” with customers and better alignment between teams. Zendesk makes it clear they are aiming to be a complete customer experience platform and are pushing into some heavy competition with the likes of Salesforce and Microsoft, so it will be exciting to see how Zendesk’s new product line disrupts the industry.

The Changing Role of the CIO

CIOs and their technology teams play a bigger role in customer experience than ever before. Rapidly changing tech stacks and evolving business processes have forced CIOs to focus on future-proofing their customer-centric operations. Tom Kaiser, COO of Zendesk, pointed out that CIOs used to purchase software with the idea the organization would use it for 10 years. Organizations are now assuming 2-3 years before evaluating alternative solutions. Because of this, organizations are now replacing 10-15% of their total tech stack EVERY 12-24 months. If this is the case, iPaaS is essential because it gives you the speed and agility to change your processes to accommodate new technology.

Another reason an iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) platform is great for a constantly evolving tech stack is because an iPaaS platform, like Azuqua, has pre-built connectors for applications so if you add a new application to your stack, it’s as easy as authenticating your account and you’re ready to start building. No code and no wading through a quagmire of API documentation.

What Women Leaders Bring to the Contact Center

Azuqua customer Stephanie Dorman from Mediaocean was joined by a stellar cast of women to shed light on the impact women leaders have in the contact center (i.e. how they bring emotional connectivity to their organizations, think about the business holistically, and manage diverse customers and teams). Because of the nature of contact centers, support agents need to be able to handle emotion, but that’s only one aspect of the job. Now leaders in these roles are constantly focused on and asking: how do we make this more efficient, how do we give customers a better experience? With contact centers being home to such a “rich, complex environment” that intersects people, processes, and technology, these questions have become more difficult to answer. But thanks to new technologies such as AI, chatbots, and SaaS integration, we are seeing improved processes and elevated customer experiences.

One of the many aspects women bring to the contact center is their ability to look at the entire picture that encapsulates customer support, all the way from people to processes. This is something that Stephanie Dorman excels at. When Mediaocean underwent a corporate acquisition, they switched from Zendesk to Salesforce which overwhelmed their workers, broke their processes, and slowed down time-to-resolution for support tickets, resulting in unhappy customers.

Dorman, and a vast majority of the support team, concluded that they needed to switch back to Zendesk while still making use of Salesforce for managing contacts. In order to make the switch back to Zendesk while still using Salesforce, she needed to ensure that it would not result in disconnected contacts, a loss of account hierarchy and product information, or any duplicate or mismatched records. To do this, they looked at SaaS integration in order to sync important information from Zendesk to Salesforce and vice versa. Dorman listened to her fellow employees, and after looking at the data, they successfully made the switch back to Zendesk and saw employee satisfaction grow by 40 points, and customer satisfaction grow to 98%. Being able to look at the whole picture objectively helped her answer some key questions that brought their team back to Zendesk, boosting productivity.

Check out the webinar and/or use case.

Connected Customer Experiences with Zendesk & Azuqua

Salesforce reports that 80% of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services. But how do you build that great customer experience? It begins with connectivity. From pre-sales to post, your customer needs to be connected at each stage so that your team is armed with the information they need to effectively and efficiently support your customers. Typically this notion is referred to as a “single source of truth” or “Customer 360” — making sure that each team, no matter where the customer is in their journey, has the data they need to make it as contextualized as possible.

We demoed this idea of the connected customer at Zendesk Relate – a perfect venue to talk about CX. Patrick O’Leary from Azuqua and Azuqua customer Dave Kaminsky from Qumulo took the stage at the Expo Hall. Dave, a CSM at Qumulo who has gone all-in on streamlining and automating business processes for their rapidly growing business with Azuqua, highlighted some fantastic use cases that ranged from easy, medium, and hard. One that stuck out to us, and many others, was Dave’s demo of an integration between Zendesk, Salesforce, Slack, and their own internal system, highlighting the flexibility and connectedness that the Azuqua platform delivers for his business.

What are they using this integration for?

Qumulo uses this integration to power automations throughout their business. Particularly, Dave discussed the innovative ways Qumulo use Azuqua to automate the onboarding of employees as well as automate their customer’s journey so that teams can focus on higher value work. Now employees can hit the ground running when they arrive on their first day and know they have all the available information they need, based on their job role, to be successful.

“Meeting and discussing the best use of custom objects in Zendesk and automating Support and CS processes with other Customer Success professionals, Zendesk Product Managers, and Azuqua’s team at Relate’18 was brilliant. My takeaway from Relate was being able to implement our custom object schema and build a prototype for tracking customer-owned products in less than an hour.”

– Dave Kaminsky
Customer Success Manager, Qumulo

Conversations at the Azuqua Booth

An interest in customization – without the hassle.

Attendees at Relate 18 were abuzz about centering around the customer and creating easy value for customers with a 360-degree view of their performance, engagement, and satisfaction. Many attendees were discussing how to centralize and integrate their customer’s data cleanly into the view of any team member. With the information in disparate tools and teams, this was the #1 challenge slowing down teammates.

Conversations at the Azuqua booth were commonly about the native integrations that are offered with Zendesk but then attendees were looking into how they can go beyond standard ideas and incorporate three and four applications into the same process. It was exciting to work on integrations and custom workflows that Zendesk users thought were impossible. Here’s an example of what we created between Zendesk and Jira.

Want to see why companies like Qumulo and Mediaocean trust their customer’s experience with Azuqua?