Today, helpdesk or ticketing systems are near-ubiquitous in businesses of all sizes, with brands like Zendesk, Jira, Freshdesk, and Salesforce among the most well-known. But while they serve their clients’ core needs well, many struggle to develop features or tools which address industry-specific challenges directly and effectively.
We’ve already seen major cloud players like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon solve this same issue by creating marketplaces for specialist tech firms to offer approved and integrated apps which extend functionality without causing scope creep in their core products.
And increasingly, helpdesk providers are following suit — opening up platform-specific marketplaces in order to facilitate integration with technology partners — and offering customers an à la carte menu of additional tools and features, all within the same product ecosystem.
In this article, we’ll look at why the relationship between helpdesk platforms and technology partners is so important, the value that these partnerships add, and how the role of technology partners is set to evolve in an AI-centric era.
The Evolution of Helpdesk/Ticketing Platforms
Ticketing systems used to be pretty simple. Call logs, inbound emails, and website inquiries got bundled into tickets and farmed out to the next available agent to update and respond. 24/48 hour first response times weren’t uncommon, nor were duplicate responses, lost tickets, or unsatisfactory resolutions.
But customer expectations have changed. Today, they want to be able to choose how they communicate with CX, not have it dictated to them.
That’s caused an explosion in the number of channels used — on top of the calls, emails, and perhaps a web chat interface, CX teams now have to monitor Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, Instagram… the list goes on.
It’s also caused a similar explosion in volume — customers who have more contact options get in touch more frequently, about more granular issues. And they don’t want to wait all day for a response — they expect a similar experience to that of chatting with a friend.
Business needs have evolved too. Senior leaders now expect a more detailed picture of how customers are interacting than the standard CX KPIs — call volume, tickets cleared, average response times — can give them. They want to see what customers think about their brands, how they respond to product or process changes — and what they’re going to do next.
The challenge for helpdesk providers is addressing these needs on an industry-specific level. One-size-fits-all approaches don’t cut it.
That’s where technology partners come in — they can laser focus on specific customer needs at a level of granularity not possible for the major helpdesk platforms. And because they have deep domain knowledge, paired with greater organizational agility, they can innovate and iterate novel solutions quicker.
The Role of Technology Partners
For today’s helpdesk platforms, there’s a wide range of technology partners serving an equally diverse set of use cases — but some niches are more common than others. Right now, AI, NLP, automation, and data analytics are top of the list, addressing the urgent need for CX teams to make sense of the vast untapped resource that is large-scale customer interaction data — and act intelligently on the insights gained.
Technology partners in these areas add value because they’re able to specialize in addressing one particular area of demand — solving a problem that sits outside the scope, roadmap, or in-house expertise of the platform provider. Let’s look at some real-world examples.
Ada is an Open AI-based chatbot that integrates with helpdesks like Zendesk and Salesforce — as well as a range of social networks and ecommerce platforms — to auto-resolve customer inquiries in real time and allow CX teams to build sophisticated no-code automations for niche business requirements.
Assembled is a workforce management tool that integrates with helpdesk platforms as well as communication tools to forecast demand, sync up schedules, and track employee performance and productivity, reducing the occurrence of under/over staffing issues.
And, of course, we can’t forget Lang.ai — which plugs into helpdesk solutions including Zendesk to add automated tagging, routing, and resolution of tickets using AI with customizable intents — tailoring it to specific business processes and customer needs — as well as delivering critical insights into customer pain points, trends, and future behavior.
It’s an approach that has driven success for our clients — usually where CX teams had hit the ceiling of what they could achieve with Zendesk and were looking for a more specialized and feature-rich solution.
At Stride Health, our solution took over deflecting, routing, and automating routine communications, freeing up their experienced CX agents to focus on revenue-generating activities. At SimplyWise, Lang.ai has helped to slash first response and resolution times — leading to much-improved brand perception and customer satisfaction. At Novo, our technology has allowed their CX team to quantify the qualitative feedback that customers were providing in real-time and feed valuable insights to their Product and R&D teams — helping refine their offerings.
The Benefits of Relying on Technology Partners
So from a CX point of view, technology partners are basically performance enhancers. They give you the ability to do things you couldn’t do before — whether that’s automating a process,
The key word here is focus. Because they are able to focus their resources and efforts on two or three very specific problems, technology partners provide you with highly-targeted solutions — that you won’t find in the feature set of your existing helpdesk platform.
That’s a capability win — and it also feeds directly into efficiency and productivity gains. And because technology partners tend to be smaller, flatter organizations than industry giants like Zendesk or Salesforce, you get the benefit of a closer working relationship.
As problem solvers and innovators by nature, these types of partners are much more open to listening to customer feedback, suggestions for product improvements, and insights into how their solutions are being used by CX teams “in the field”.
So you also benefit from a level of mutual advocacy and influence you just can’t access with the bigger firms.
Challenges and Considerations When Working with Technology Partners
Of course, not all technology partners are identical. Finding the right one to work with for your particular use case requires some thought. Here are some of the key factors you should consider during the selection process.
Industry focus — do they work with similar businesses in your niche or vertical? Do they have relevant case studies which show their solution being used successfully by other companies in the same sector?
Needs alignment — does their solution address the key pain points and requirements you have comprehensively? Do they have a roadmap for future product development that aligns with where you see your needs evolving in the future?
Provider relationship — do they have a good relationship with the company that provides the helpdesk platform you’re using, and on which their solution will build? Do they have official partnerships or certifications to back that up?
Track record — Can they show evidence of their solution solving genuine business challenges, reducing overheads, increasing efficiency, delivering critical information, or whatever goal is most important to you?
Once you’ve selected a provider, you also need to be sure that the relationship you have with them will be productive. It’s a good idea to screen potential partners based on how prepared they are to work with their customers on tailoring their product to specific needs, accepting and incorporating feedback, and offering targeted support as you get the solution up and running and onboard your team.
Lastly — and perhaps this goes without saying — due diligence is key. Before working with a technology partner, it’s vital you ascertain that they have the certifications, policies, and processes in place to ensure the privacy and security of your data.
The Future of Helpdesk/Ticketing Platforms and Technology Partnerships
Right now, developments in AI are opening up a range of possibilities for helpdesk platform providers, and the technology partners that work with them.
We can expect AI-powered tools to have an increasingly sophisticated understanding of language, context, and intent — and to be able to offer increasingly complex and personalized solutions to customer issues, without the need for much human intervention.
With this increased depth of understanding, we can also foresee that AI-driven predictive analytics will be able to provide more robust modeling of potential issues and customer behavior, and proactively solve them — or prevent them entirely.
The role of technology partners will be to innovate and improve on the application of these advanced AI tools in order to address and solve new use cases as they emerge, as well as integrate them ever more seamlessly — both into the customer experience and into business processes.
Effective collaboration and knowledge sharing between individual technology partners, as well as between partners, and providers, as well as partners and end users, will also be crucial to creating a more connected, joined-up, and convenient customer experience in the future.
Even as the specifics of the relationships change, technology partners will continue to serve an important role — for helpdesk platform providers and clients alike — introducing new solutions, new technologies, and new ways of thinking about CX.
Of course, over time, some of the new solutions they create may be so successful at meeting customer needs that they are absorbed into the core platform — either by acquisition or duplication of the functionality.
But technologies, communications channels, and customer expectations never stop evolving. So even as large helpdesk providers update their products, and CX teams develop their in-house capabilities, technology partners will always have a valuable role to play — working at the cutting edge of what’s possible.