Zendesk Makes a Move on Messaging Apps, Acquires Smooch

Thursday, May 23, 2019
Jenni Stablein

If Zendesk was in the business of chess, they would most certainly be kicking ass in the World Championships. To say the company is strategic would be an understatement. For the last 5 years, the customer support specialist company has been tastefully acquiring startups left and right. Why?

Zendesk CEO Mikkel Svane explains in an interview with Business Insider:

“We want the DNA of people...who have been eating and drinking and sleeping with this for many years, and this is their work...We want to bring that DNA into the company to help grow and evolve the company.”

Essentially, Zendesk is building, with the help and talent of others, the most invaluable component in the customer service solar system, an open and flexible customer support super-platform.

Yesterday the company announced its most recent acquisition of Montreal-based startup, omnichannel messaging platform Smooch.

The move demonstrates the company’s ongoing dedication to offering a flexible and open customer support service capable of shifting with ever-changing customer expectations.

Sure, phone and internet are great and all but at the end of the day, let’s be real, how do 75% of smartphone users mostly communicate with each other? Through messaging apps. That’s right, because everyone wants to be able to complain (or occasionally praise) to businesses in the same way they would to their friends and family.

Since messaging apps are the most-requested feature for Zendesk customers, and Zendesk is after all, all about the customers—it is only a natural progression for the company to acquire Smooch.

A Smooch for the ages

Smooch, as their moniker suggests, has been dedicated to bringing a little love back into the customer service game.

The company provides a product that gives businesses a single platform for real-time engagement across all customer conversation touchpoints, including Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Twitter DM, WeChat, Viber, Apple Business Chat, and more.  

The platform has helped over 4,000 businesses build “warmer”, stronger relationships with tens of millions of customers every month through messaging conversations.

Zendesk and Smooch’s long-time partnership and recent acquisition is a given considering the companies shared philosophy of putting the user at the center of the customer experience.

After all, “conversations with customers are an untapped data goldmine for businesses,” as Smooch co-founder and CEO, Warren Levitan, astutely points out in an opinion piece for TNW. Zendesk clearly agrees, hoping that by combining forces with Smooch they will be able to create a “truly open platform.”

Terms of the acquisition deal have not yet been announced, however, Zendesk SVP Shawna Wolverton has made a statement that each member of Smooch’s team will be offered a position with Zendesk, suggesting also an office expansion to Canada.

Early access to features will be launched over the next week and will continue to roll out over the next year. Here’s what to expect.

Zendesk + Smooch: features to look out for

Smooch is already behind the popular Zendesk Suite, launched last year, which uses an omnichannel approach to speeding up response time—offering all things chat, support, guide, and talk-based.

The newly acquired startup will now help bring data into Zendesk Sunshine, the company’s CRM which was also launched last year. The platform will help give users the ability to see and create messaging app discussions within a single dashboard where they can monitor and respond to all customer relationship contacts.

Social, web, and mobile-based messaging

Smooch will help Zendesk seamlessly integrate customer support by allowing users to easily switch between social messaging channels, chat, email, even phone calls, all from a unified workspace.

Smooch will also enable businesses to build native conversational experiences on their websites and/or mobile apps by augmenting Zendesk’s embeddables. These experience can be built upon over time to provide interactive elements like bots, buttons, lists and other customization features to match the look and feel of chat with the vibe of your company.

WhatsApp for Zendesk

Smooch will build upon the existing integration between Zendesk Support and WhatsApp Business Solutions to help power a new integration between WhatsApp and Zendesk Chat.

The solution enables customers to connect internationally on their preferred messaging channel and customer support agents to manage conversations coming through WhatsApp in one centralized location.

New Sunshine partnerships: flexibility is key

In addition to yeserday’s Smooch acquisition news, Zendek has also announced new partnerships and integrations for Zendesk Sunshine CRM.

Sunshine already exists as a public cloud-native app on Amazon Web Services, granting developers the freedom to create customer apps and services faster.

With new integrations from companies including Narvar, a premium post-purchase experience platform, and Domo, a business intelligence tools and data visualization app, Sunshine will offer newer and more powerful offerings tailored towards the manufacturing and retail industries.

Zendesk also announced that they are working with a range of system integrators (SIs) like AWS Premier Consulting Partner, ClearScale, to help companies design and build freely within complex cloud architectures.

With Sunshine, customers are able to connect and find data wherever it lives. With the Smooch acquisition, customers are able to communicate however they want. And with the AWS structure, Zendesk enables developers to build better infrastructures faster and in exactly the way they want to.

As Zendesk president of products Adrian McDermott claims, “This flexibility is key to creating experiences that customers want today.”

A single source of truth

When it comes to soulless customer service, we’ve all been there.

We’ve all put our phones on speaker for an indeterminable amount of minutes—listening to music that sounds like a cracked out Jimmy Buffet track, or filled out customer inquiry forms that look like they could have been designed for a never-to-be-launched Ask Jeeves newsletter subscription, and we’ve definitely all received those no-reply notifications whose sole purpose is to remind you that if you even TRY to respond, the bot-o-verse will laugh in our face.

This is why customer expectations have turned to messaging apps. But the world of messaging is like a fickle 4th-grade friend, near-impossible for businesses to rely on any one platform to provide a consistent messaging service.

Luckily, omnichannel messaging solution Smooch and customer support specialists Zendesk have decided to combine forces to bring forth “a single source of truth to keep the conversation going—even when a customer’s conversation spans different channels.”