Conrad Electronic's customer care: the digital pioneer for techies
Global retailer Conrad Electronic relies on Zendesk's one-stop customer service solutions to help navigate industry and business challenges. Despite extensive digitization and a rapid marketplace expansion program, the company's priority is to never lose touch with customers.
"Zendesk has given us a complete, one-stop solution that provides a 360-degree view of all our customers. It also allows us to interact with one another across departments, for example between Sales and Support. You can't get much more transparent than that."
"The pandemic accelerated our progress toward digitization even more than before — but with Zendesk as a partner alongside us, we are well equipped to confront any further changes in markets and technologies."
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For almost 100 years, global retailer Conrad Electronic has been the go-to place for technophiles. Whether looking for tech basics, special applications, perfect-fit services, or individual solutions, the Conrad sourcing platform can meet the complete range of tech needs for anyone who uses technology and electronics – from industrial customers, research and development facilities, educational institutions, maintenance and repair providers, to tech fans.
Back in the analog era, customers eagerly looked forward to the annual catalog, the springboard for ideas and projects. Now, in the digital age, the conrad.de online store provides the same inspiration, offering more than 6 million products for business customers, as well as product solutions for end customers with a passion for technology.
“While in our retail locations, the focus is on the shopping experience, individual recommendations, trying out products, and even repair service, our online store gets results by offering a complete range of products from a single source, practical filter functions for easy searching, and useful tools such as the My Account features,” says Sven Wachtel, senior director customer care DACH at Conrad Electronic.
Despite extensive digitization and a rapid marketplace expansion program, Conrad has never lost touch with its customers. The company firmly believes that a great platform includes both people and machines. Be it customer care, sales, in-store or field business advisers, or the Conrad community, Conrad customers can rely on individual contacts and technical experts who know and understand their requirements, helping them find the perfect answer to suit their needs.
Simple, fast, and comprehensive procurement: in fulfilling this promise to customers, the family business from southern Germany is thoroughly prepared for a successful future, with the goal of becoming Europe’s leading B2B procurement platform for technical supplies.
All the right multi-channel tools
Conrad places considerable emphasis on customer service, and this priority requires tools that allow advisers and service agents to deliver exceptional service. Over the years, previous licensed solutions were somewhat unwieldy. They varied from country to country and were not compatible, making it difficult to exchange data. It was difficult for Conrad to meet its customer experience standards.
In 2017, Conrad Electronic chose Zendesk as its partner for cloud-based customer service software. Conrad started with Zendesk Support, which provided the solution it had been seeking for seamless customer support in the company’s omni-channel environment, and Zendesk Guide, the knowledge base for customers and customer support staff. The latest solution in the bundle is Zendesk Sell, CRM sales software. Wachtel is very clear: “The Zendesk software package has given us a complete, one-stop solution that provides a 360-degree view of all our customers. It also allows us to interact with one another across departments, for example between Sales and Support. You can’t get much more transparent than that.”
Enhanced customer care at Conrad
At Conrad Electronic, customer care is divided into Tier 1 and Tier 2 in a classic hierarchy. At Tier 1, the aim is to respond to as many questions as possible with predefined answers, and Zendesk Guide has created the ideal basis for this. At Tier 2, trained service agents handle more complex issues on a personal and individual basis, in order to optimally deploy internal resources.
“We want to make things as easy as possible for our customers. One reason a customer gets in touch with the Customer Care team might be because something isn’t working. And then we have two tasks: One is to provide him or her with the best possible help as quickly as we can. The other is, as a business, to take immediate lessons from this query: where is the inconvenience, what is the sticking point in the process that is holding the customer up? That is what we have to eliminate so that things go smoothly in the future,” Wachtel explains.
It is Conrad’s goal to help its customers as quickly and completely as possible, and in the best-case scenario, to do this on the first interaction. Simpler questions regarding product availability or product features, for example, are largely covered by predefined answers in the My Account self-service function.
The cross-channel editing team is responsible for preparing the most effective Help articles to meet customer needs. “If an agent is dealing with a more complex problem,” indicates Wachtel, “then they should handle it in such a way that the problem is solved. And our team does everything possible to fulfill customer expectations, sometimes extending to personally sending out urgently needed products.” All the insights coming out of direct contact with customers are channeled to the entire company. This provides inspiration for projects and changes and helps Conrad to develop new functionalities that meet customer needs in the online store or other areas.
Challenges in a time of pandemic
March 2020 brought one of the largest challenges ever for the retail trade: the coronavirus pandemic. For Conrad, it was doubly challenging as the company had to organize not only store closures and contact limitations, but also decentralize work for its staff — all without letting customer service suffer or losing trusted and essential services such as product advice.
At the same time, a large number of new customers were coming to Conrad in need of technical solutions. School administrators, for example, were finding themselves quickly having to arrange at-home learning, or store designers, who were being asked to install access control points for retail spaces. Conrad was able to meet all these challenges with ease and completely online.
Following a smooth and speedy move to “lots of little, decentralized offices,” Customer Care at Conrad continues to be delivered with the usual level of service, without customers having to deal with wait times or a decline in quality. Answer Bots were already handling the majority of questions that can be answered with predefined responses anyway, and customers received advice through online video calls scheduled in advance.
“The coronavirus really accelerated our progress toward digitization even more than before — but with Zendesk as a partner alongside us, we are well equipped to confront any further changes in markets and technologies,” shares Wachtel. Thanks to the one-stop service solutions from Zendesk, Conrad has been able to retain its working structures almost completely, regardless of location. Opening up new digital contact channels such as WhatsApp for branch B2B customers is as quick and easy as creating new macros to provide quick and complete answers to questions about reducing sales tax, for example.
Working closely with Zendesk’s Customer Success Team is a huge part of deploying solutions both optimally and in a very structured way at Conrad. Whether it is calculating customer experience targets or exchanging information on best practices and benchmarks, the Customer Success Team is always available to provide support for improving customer care and adapting to new requirements.