As companies scale, CX tools that once served them adequately may not be fully capable of servicing new and evolving needs. But transitioning to a new platform, especially for mature companies with well-established processes, can seem like a daunting task.
Concerns about data migration, training, and potential disruptions are valid — however, the long-term benefits of a more robust and scalable CX platform often outweigh these initial challenges. With meticulous planning and a well-thought-out roadmap, companies can ensure a smooth and successful transition, positioning themselves to better serve their customers in the evolving business landscape.
In this guest article, long-term Lang.ai user Ben Segal outlines his own experience of planning and executing a CX platform transition — from Gorgias to Zendesk — one of the first major projects he led in his current role as VP of Customer Experience at personalized nootropics company Thesis. Ben walks us through the process week by week, as well as sharing his high-level transition plan for other businesses planning to make a similar change.
Ben Segal, VP Customer Experience, Thesis
Our vision at Thesis is to enhance cognitive function for individuals worldwide and to do that, a robust and scalable customer support system is crucial to the mission. When I first stepped into the role of VP of Customer Experience, I was keen to assess the suitability of the technology stack we were using — particularly our choice of CX platform. I found that while Gorgias had served us well, our scaling ambitions required a more comprehensive platform — leading to the decision to transition to Zendesk.
Why Make the Move?
On joining Thesis, one of my first priorities was to take a deep dive into how we used Gorgias. By analyzing the ticket flow, response times, and customer feedback, I could pinpoint the areas where Gorgias excelled and where it fell short in terms of our specific needs.
With a clear understanding of our requirements and the limitations of our current platform, I began exploring alternative offerings — with Zendesk emerging as the most suitable option for five main reasons.
Zendesk offers a wide range of tools, from advanced ticket tagging and AI-powered chatbots to detailed analytics and customizable metrics and reporting. These features not only aligned with our current needs but also provided the flexibility to customize our CX ecosystem according to our evolving requirements.
As Thesis continues to grow and expand its reach, we need a platform that will scale and evolve with us. Zendesk's infrastructure is built to handle large volumes of customer queries, making it an ideal choice for companies with scaling ambitions like ours. Its ability to manage increased ticket loads without compromising on efficiency or quality was a significant factor in our decision.
One of the things that impressed me most about Zendesk was its seamless integration capabilities. With a wide range of plugins and third-party app integrations available, we could easily connect our existing tools and systems to Zendesk. This ensured a smooth transition and allowed our team to access all necessary information from a unified platform, reducing the learning curve and increasing productivity.
While the initial investment in Zendesk might seem higher than other platforms, the long-term value it offers in terms of reduced operational costs and increased efficiency makes it a cost-effective choice. By consolidating multiple tools into one platform and reducing the need for additional third-party solutions, Zendesk could provide a better ROI in the long run.
Improved Customer Experience
Ultimately, the main goal in my role is to ensure that our customers have the best possible experience with Thesis. Zendesk's user-friendly interface, quick response times, and proactive customer support tools allow us to enhance our customer interactions, offer timely and effective solutions, and foster stronger relationships with our customers — ensuring their continued loyalty to our brand.
Planning the Transition: A 5-Week Roadmap
Having decided on Zendesk as the target platform, I drew up a week-by-week roadmap to plan each aspect of the transition, ensuring that we could achieve the switchover from Gorgias with minimal disruption and lead time while managing any potential risks. I’ve given a high-level overview of the process below, from initial planning through to launch.
I also developed checklists to cover key tasks and dependencies, which proved extremely useful in validating our progress at each stage and eliminating the risk of critical steps in the process being overlooked.
You can download a copy for your use here: (link to checklist)
Week 1: Assessment and Pre-planning
The first week of the transition project was dedicated to making a detailed analysis of the status quo, identifying areas for improvement as part of the transition, and engaging with all stakeholders for knowledge capture and input into the project goals.
Data Inventory and Analysis
The first and most crucial step in any transition is ensuring no data is lost in the process. We exported and backed up all existing data, including customer tickets, from Gorgias — safeguarding our information while also providing a reference point for any discrepancies that might arise during the migration.
With the data in hand, we paused to assess our operational status before making the change of platform. Analyzing ticket volumes gave us insights into our peak customer interaction times, and evaluating the channels used helped us allocate resources more effectively. By scrutinizing our response times, we were able to pinpoint areas needing enhancement. This analytical approach ensured that our move to Zendesk was not just a change in platform, but a step towards improved operations.
Like any business-critical platform, Gorgias had been customized to our specific needs over time, with a range of macros, shortcuts, and tags we had implemented to speed up our processes. Before transitioning, we audited these tools to ensure they were either migrated or recreated in Zendesk, allowing for a smoother transition for our support team.
Stakeholder Engagement and Requirement Gathering
A system is only as good as its users, and understanding the varied individual needs of our team was paramount. I engaged with various team members, from customer support agents to managers, to understand what they expected and required from Zendesk. Their feedback was invaluable, highlighting features we might have overlooked and ensuring the new system catered to everyone's needs.
In today's interconnected world, a customer support system doesn't operate in isolation. It was essential to map all of the additional integrations we required, from social media channels for direct customer interactions or CRM systems to keep track of customer histories. This step ensured that Zendesk would not just act as a standalone CX tool but as a central hub for all our customer interaction needs.
SLA Review and Benchmarking
As part of the transition, we also took the opportunity to review and assess our current SLAs to ensure they were still relevant. With the additional functionality of Zendesk at our disposal, we evaluated if any of these agreements needed adjustments or enhancements — ensuring that our commitments to our customers would remain intact, if not improved, once the new system was launched.
Week 2: Initial Setup and Customization
Week two was devoted to setting up the Zendesk platform and using the range of customizations available to tailor it to our operational and customer needs, minimizing the potential for disruption and easing the transition for staff and service users alike.
System Setup and Channel Migration
To ensure that customer communications were uninterrupted during the transition, we set up all the necessary channels in Zendesk, including email, chat, and phone support. By mirroring our existing channels, we ensured no customer was left behind during the transition.
One of the most important assets for our CX team is the comprehensive knowledge base we’ve built up over time, so we migrated all of our existing articles from Gorgias to Zendesk Guide. This not only provided continuity for our team but also ensured that our customers continued to have access to crucial information and guides.
As we were using Zendesk Talk, setting up phone routing and queues was also a priority. We mapped out the most efficient routing pathways to ensure that customer calls were directed to the right teams without delay. We also assessed our current phone infrastructure to determine if any new phone numbers were required.
Customization and Automations
Zendesk offers a wide range of customization options, which we used to configure our ticket forms, fields, and views to match our operational needs. This ensures that our agents have all the information they need at a glance, improving efficiency and reducing response times.
While we had a certain degree of automation set up in Gorgias, the transition to Zendesk offered an opportunity to reevaluate and enhance this. We set up additional automations and triggers that weren't previously possible in Gorgias but were more easily achievable in Zendesk. I made the decision to incorporate Lang.ai — which I’d used in a previous role — as part of the transition, allowing us to automate the categorization of tickets across channels like chat and email.
Using Lang.ai gives us unparalleled granularity in terms of tagging, advanced analytics and insights into customer conversations, significantly enhancing the efficiency of our business operations. This approach has ensured that our Zendesk system is not only on par with our previous setup but optimized for greater efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Week 3: Testing and Feedback
During week three we focused on exhaustive testing of the system, including automated simulations and end-user testing, giving us the in-depth information we needed to optimize the migration process and iron out any issues early.
One of the key components of an efficient support system is ensuring that tickets are routed to the right teams or agents. We rigorously tested our ticket routing rules in Zendesk to verify they were functioning as intended. Any discrepancies were flagged for immediate resolution.
Anticipating future growth and the potential for high ticket volumes, we subjected our Zendesk setup to load testing, simulating scenarios of high inbound ticket loads. This ensured that the system would remain stable and responsive even during peak times, guaranteeing uninterrupted support for our customers.
To ensure that our workflows remained smooth, we also tested all the new or migrated macros, shortcuts, and tags that had been introduced as part of the migration process — ensuring that our CX agents could continue to use their tools effectively without any hitches once we made the switchover.
Feedback and Iteration
While a CX system might look perfect on paper, the only true test of its capabilities is in real-world usage. To gather early feedback we rolled out the Zendesk setup to a subset of our team members, allowing them to get a feel for the platform. Their notes and comments on the new setup were invaluable, providing insights that only day-to-day users could offer.
Armed with the results from our tests and the feedback from our team, we were then able to make focused, iterative adjustments to the system. Whether it was tweaking a routing rule or modifying a macro, every change was aimed at ensuring that Zendesk aligned perfectly with our expected workflows. By the end of this week, we were confident that our new system was not only ready for launch but also optimized for future challenges.
Week 4: Training and Documentation
Week four was dedicated to agent and manager training, which we delivered via focused onboarding sessions supported by the development of comprehensive documentation covering the new features and functionality available in Zendesk.
Every platform has its unique features, and Zendesk is no exception. We identified features that were different or absent in Gorgias and focused our training sessions on these. Whether it was a new ticketing process or an advanced automation tool, we ensured that our teams were well-versed with all that Zendesk had to offer, empowering them to deliver exceptional support.
We then introduced our CX operators to Zendesk Insights, a powerful tool for reporting and analytics. Through hands-on sessions and real-time demonstrations, we ensured that our teams could harness the full potential of Insights, allowing them to make informed decisions and continuously improve our support processes.
For longer-term “on-the-job” learning, having a quick reference guide at hand can greatly enhance CX agent efficiency. We created cheat sheets that distilled the essence of our training sessions, providing agents with quick answers to common queries. Whether it was a shortcut key or a step-by-step process, these guides ensured that help was always at hand.
We meticulously documented any new procedures introduced with Zendesk, ensuring that there was a clear roadmap for every task. This not only standardized operations across teams but also ensured that even if someone was new to the system, they could quickly get up to speed with minimal downtime.
By the end of the week, our teams were not only familiar with Zendesk but were equipped with all the tools and knowledge needed to harness its full potential.
Week 5: Final Transition and Go-Live
The final week of the project saw us transition fully to Zendesk, retiring the legacy Gorgias system. Final adjustments included dashboard setup and integration of legacy data, as well as planning future review meetings to assess how well the new platform was performing.
Using Zendesk Explore, we set up dashboards tailored to our needs. These dashboards provide a snapshot of our operations, from ticket volumes to response times, enabling us to make data-driven decisions on the fly.
Transitioning to a new platform doesn't mean leaving the past behind. We ensured that all our legacy data from Gorgias was either seamlessly integrated into Zendesk or stored in a secure and easily accessible manner. This ensured continuity and allowed us to reference past interactions or data when needed.
As we went live with Zendesk, we kept a close eye on the system, especially during the initial days. Any issues, no matter how minor, were quickly addressed. This proactive approach ensured a smooth transition and instilled confidence in our teams. A week after our Zendesk system was up and running, we scheduled a post-mortem meeting in which we discussed lessons learned, shared our experiences, and brainstormed on further improvements.
We continue to hold regular meetings involving stakeholders from across CX and the wider business to discuss how Zendesk is evolving, new features and integrations that could enhance our service provision, and how we can best use the functionality of Zendesk to support the company’s broader strategic goals and drive growth. This collaborative approach ensures that, as a CX team, we are always evolving and improving our contribution to Thesis’s continued success — and our use of CX technology forms a central part of that.