Why Zendesk Isn’t Enough and How to Make It More Powerful with Contextual Self-Service


More Really Is Better

Have you ever played that game where you’re forced to pick only one item to have with you on a desert island? No matter what you pick, one item isn’t going to cut it. Eventually, you know you’ll grow sick of whatever it is and wish desperately for something else.

The immortal Aretha Franklin wrote Chain of Fools with just a single chord. She alone can pull off such a feat. Even Bob Dylan famously said what he needed to make a hit was “three chords and the truth.” For most of us, three is indeed better than one.

The inventor of the Swiss Army Knife, Karl Elsener, recognized that more tools are better than one and ingeniously devised how to combine them in that little red housing in 1894. His company, Victorinox, soared on the delivery of these multi-tools worldwide.

Perhaps a bit closer to home, we’re all familiar with how today’s software sales teams use multiple tools. Marketing teams use multiple tools, too. Development teams have used many tools for decades, coining the term “stack” to refer to their tools and their joint operation.

So why should it be any different for customer support teams? And yet many clients we talk to say things like, “I’ve got Zendesk. I’m covered.” The idea that one tool is good enough to cover all customer support needs puts companies at a disadvantage when serving their customers in today’s experience-driven world. Every tool is good for something, but not good for something else. Customer support teams can benefit by adopting the idea of a “customer support stack” and using a mixture of tools to bring the greatest benefits and experiences to their customers.

“But I’ve got Zendesk…”

Zendesk is a great company. I’ve met them and have had dinner with their CEO. As you probably know, Zendesk offers two primary tools. Their main offering is their customer support management tool that enables agents to track and respond to customer inquiries, usually over email. This is the tool that took Zendesk public, and it’s awesome. But it’s a tool for assisted service, which requires human agents to engage with customers in a one-on-one fashion. It’s an important but expensive form of customer support, and is becoming outdated in favor of self-service as the first line of defense.

The second offering from Zendesk, one which about 30% of their customers utilize, is their knowledge base, called their “Help Center.” The Help Center allows your company to put up multiple page-length articles on whatever help topics you choose. Customers can go to your Help Center, type to search, and read articles that may solve their problem. This is a form of self-service, which allows customers to solve their own problems, saving companies time and money. At least in theory.

Great as these tools are, they leave a glaring problem unsolved: giving customers a great experience.

It’s hardly Zendesk’s fault, but assisted service via email is anything but a great experience. Even the best customer support agents can’t avoid the fact that by the time a customer emails them with a question, the customer has already endured a harrowing experience, hours of trial-and-error, confusion, frustration, and even exhaustion. Nobody intends to email customer support when they visit your website. If they reach this point, something has gone terribly wrong.


As for the Help Center, fewer than 1% of a website’s total visitors will go there. (Check your own traffic stats and let me know in the comments if you see differently.) The Help Center is a “help island,” divorced from the place where the customer’s question arose in the first place, requiring the customer to leave his main task, navigate to the help island, type to search, dig through a bunch of results (or come up empty), read paragraph after paragraph, and hope to find the answer to his problem. You can put all the content you want in your Help Center but your customers aren’t going to see it. Ask yourself the last time you were willing to spend 30 minutes on a website help portal.

Zendesk is great, but it’s not enough. Customers need a better experience when they need an answer to a question.

How to Make Your Zendesk More Powerful

Just like Bob Dylan’s three chords, a Swiss Army Knife, or sales, marketing, or development tool stacks, more is better when it comes to customer support tools. You can make your Zendesk tools much more powerful and cost effective by combining them with tools that offer a great on-page customer experience.

AnswerDash is one such tool. In relation to Zendesk, AnswerDash brings three major benefits:

  • AnswerDash improves customers’ experiences of getting answers to their questions by delivering fast, point-and-click, on-page contextual answers right where customers need them.

  • AnswerDash reduces inbound support tickets, making Zendesk’s ticketing tool more cost-effective and efficient.

  • AnswerDash automatically brings Zendesk’s Help Center content to the customer’s point-of-action, right onto the page where they have their question.

Let’s explore each of these in a little more detail.

Improved Customer Experiences

Web customers today, especially millennials, want easy-to-use straightforward online experiences that don’t require extra work because a designer, marketer, or programmer didn’t consider the user’s perspective. With more and more competitive offerings online, differentiation depends crucially on offering seamless experiences that don’t frustrate your customers. The elements of satisfying customer experiences include clarity, directness, efficiency, and met expectations. AnswerDash achieves these by placing contextual Q&A right on the page where the customer needs them. With a few clicks or taps, customers can get the answers they need without having to dig through search results, knowledge base articles, paragraphs of text, or long lists of articles.

Deflect More Tickets with AnswerDash + Zendesk

AnswerDash provides an on-page contextual first line of defense to answer your customers’ questions before those questions turn into email tickets. Answers to new questions can be published as AnswerDash Q&A that serve all future customers with the same question. (Email answers can’t do that.) And when support agents are unburdened from the repetitive questions that swamp them and take up all their time, they are free to help customers who need high-touch personalized help to their uncommon questions.

Bring the Help Center to your Customers

Great customer experiences depend on your customers having the information they need, right where and when they need it. Even your best Help Center articles aren’t useful to customers who won’t bother going to hunt them down. AnswerDash synchronizes automatically with your Zendesk Help Center and can display Help Center content as Q&A right on relevant pages, enabling your customers to find it with a couple of clicks—and never leaving the page. That keeps your customers on track, making progress through your website, instead of on your Help Center or abandoning altogether.

AnswerDash + Zendesk: A Powerful Combination

To provide the best customer experience possible, companies need to combine the best tools possible. Adding AnswerDash to Zendesk creates a powerful combination of customer support tools that deliver great customer experiences while lowering support costs, deflecting tickets, and making better use of your existing knowledge base. Bring your help content off the “help island” to where your customers already are—on your website or in your app, exactly where you want to keep them.