Dutch Bros Coffee balances the art and science of CX
Fast-growing coffee company Dutch Bros Coffee prides itself on the personalized relationships it builds with customers. But as the company grew and support volume increased, management turned to the Zendesk platform for greater efficiency and metrics to help them better understand customer sentiment and trends. Today, the Dutch Bros CX team is seen as a value center instead of a cost center. Similarly, more than a dozen teams at the coffee company leverage Zendesk support functions including IT, HR, and Finance.
“We started sharing a KPI report with our leadership and that really put our team on the map. All departments now have greater insights into the trends we are seeing, which is helpful in driving improvement plans across the business.”
Senior Director of Customer Experience - Dutch Bros Coffee
“It’s really powerful for our agents to easily see help center information on the same ticket interface without having to leave the window. They don’t have to jump to multiple tools to get the information they need. It’s all there In Zendesk for them.”
Senior Manager of Customer Success & Operations - Dutch Bros Coffee
Grants Pass, Oregon
Started Using Zendesk
Dutch Bros Coffee started in 1992 as a pushcart in downtown Grants Pass, Oregon. Brothers Dane and Travis Boersma left the dairy business to serve up espresso, rock their favorite music, and make connections within the community. Today, the coffee company has 700+ drive-thru shops across the United States with plans to open 150 new stores in 2023.
Although the company certainly sells massive amounts of coffee, Dutch Bros considers itself to be in the relationship business. In its early days, the founders knew their customers’ names, their favorite drinks, and even knew their dog’s names. Fast forward to today and those same values still hold true across the business. Employees offer fun, friendly service with a smile and build lifelong friendships with customers.
Relationships with customers have extended to Dutch Bros staff receiving numerous invitations to weddings, parties, and baby showers. In fact, some customers have even named their babies “Dutch.”
Customer experiences begin at the drive-thru
Employees who work at Dutch Bros are called broistas, a cute take on the term barista. Sonia Martin, senior manager of customer success and operations, started her career as a broista serving coffee at the drive-thru window.
Over the years, Martin has moved up in the company and joined the customer experience team just as it was starting to launch Zendesk.
“From the window, I was able to gain hands-on experience to better understand how our shops operate from a field level. I gained so much knowledge about our customers, their behavior, our products, and the voice of the customer through daily human interactions,” says Martin.
Angi Veek, senior director of customer experience, says, “We see our support team as an extension of the window. Although we aren’t serving customers at the shop, we strive to provide that same experience and go above and beyond when possible.”
The art and science of CX
As the company grew and the volume of support tickets increased, Veek says Dutch Bros needed to pivot beyond the art of customer engagement and focus more on the science of CX with metrics, reporting, systems, and strategy.
To accomplish that, Dutch Bros implemented the Zendesk CX platform to more efficiently handle ticket volumes and utilize metrics to better understand customer needs and identify areas for improvement.
“Zendesk allowed us to begin utilizing tags and custom fields, giving our agents the ability to tag tickets so we could capture top trends we were seeing,” explains Martin. “We also created triggers to auto-tag based on keywords that pertain to our core values to take away some of that heavy lift from our support agents.”
“We’ve learned that the best way for us to filter our trends is by leveraging Zendesk metrics and capturing as much information as we can from the ticket form to get a high level glimpse of what our customers are telling us,” adds Martin.
Internal help center drives agent efficiency
The company also implemented Zendesk’s Knowledge Capture App internal workspace that allows agents to get information they need to more efficiently help customers.
This internal help center is constantly updated and provides one source of truth for all of the Dutch Bros customer experience agents.
“It’s really powerful for our agents to easily see help center information on the same ticket interface without having to leave the window,” Martin shares. “They don’t have to jump from different emails and apps to get the information they need. It’s all there in Zendesk for them.”
For a team handling an average monthly volume of 30,000 tickets, gains in efficiency are critical. The Dutch Bros CX team is centralized and provides support for all of the company’s 700+ coffee shops with support traffic coming in through one of three channels – phone, email, or web form.
CX as a value center versus a cost center
The implementation of Zendesk also provided the customer experience team with metrics to provide value to the overall business.
Before Zendesk, Veek says her team was more informed versus consulted in the hierarchy of the company. Now, the CX function has an important seat at the table.
“We’ve been able to position the CX team as a value center versus a cost center,” says Veek. “We started sharing a KPI report with our leadership and that really put our team on the map. All of the departments at HQ now have greater insights into the trends we are seeing, which is helpful in driving improvement plans across the business.”
But the use of Zendesk is not limited to the CX team at Dutch Bros. A total of 19 other teams have implemented Zendesk, including IT, HR, and Finance. With so many Zendesk instances across the company, teams can easily collaborate and share tickets to jointly solve issues.
Brewing up plans for automations and self-service
Looking to the future, the Dutch Bros CX team has a number of projects on the radar, including automation and self-service options.
“Our goal isn’t to completely remove that human touch, but direct our customers to self-serve for the information they need,” offers Martin. “That will allow our live agents to dive into those tickets that do need the human touch so they can spend more time taking care of those customers.”
Veek says the path forward for CX at Dutch Bros will be to invest in the right people, give them the proper tools, and empower them to do the right thing for customers. Overall, Veek says her mission is to “get the art and science of CX in proper alignment for what the brand wants to accomplish.”