As part of Expedia, Inc., Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN) supports the many B2B partners who use Expedia content on their travel websites. It used to be that when affiliates needed support, they went through account managers, who then contacted EAN’s Partner:Connect team. Sometimes messages languished in inboxes for far too long.
The team was nine people strong and distributed around the globe. Unlike other start-ups however, EAN was growing affiliates by the thousands, rather than hundreds. For each new affiliate, the team had to perform a legal and site review before allowing the partner to deploy Expedia’s API. The process took close to three hours per partner.
Mike Cartwright is chief of partner solutions at Expedia Affiliate Network, and one of his first tasks after joining EAN was to bring visibility to the workload faced by the Partner:Connect team. He also wanted to bring value to the business by tracking and prioritising requests. To do this, they needed a customer service platform, and selected Zendesk for its agility. They liked that they could see the entire customer story in a single ticket, from anywhere in the world.
Another one of Mike’s goals was to relieve Jamie Loren Byers II, Head of Support for EAN’s Partner:Connect team and other skilled agents from basic support tasks so that they could focus on partner-facing optimisation.
EAN invested in a level-one support team, based in Romania. Having Zendesk in place, and with it being a software as a service (SaaS) offering, meant that it was incredibly quick and easy to integrate into existing systems, without having to provision any internal accounts.
After investing in getting the public-facing knowledge base to a place where there was real value, the team saw a massive decline in the number of support requests coming in. Partners were now getting the very best service—which meant never having to log a ticket in the first place. “If we don’t get a ticket, then we’ve done our job,” said Mike.
The importance of an internal knowledge base and external help center is something the team at Partner:Connect don’t underestimate. To ensure the success of the service desk it was essential to create a knowledge base even though it seemed like a lot of process and red tape in the early stages.
In a little over a month, the Partner:Connect team went from signing the contract with Zendesk to deploying the platform, including the training for account managers, sales representatives, and support.
New affiliates began submitting review requests through Zendesk, and automatically received a questionnaire. Their responses and photos were then attached to the ticket, making it easy for the team to quickly review the details.
Onboarding new affiliates is only part of the Partner:Connect team’s job. Yet it was so time-consuming that they were always behind. In this regard, time saving was one of the first returns they saw with Zendesk.
The Partner:Connect team can now complete reviews of new affiliates in less than an hour, approximately a 60% improvement.
Through this process, they’ve also built a powerful database, which has contributed directly to the efficiency of the Level 1 team, who surface answers from the internal knowledge base using Zendesk’s Answer Suggestion app.