How Zendesk Is Looking Beyond Customer Service With These New Apps

Photograph by Benjamin Rasmussen for Fortune

Zendesk, which made its name as a purveyor of customer service software, is recasting itself in a broader role with the release of two new analytics services.

The offerings, Zendesk Explore and Zendesk Connect, help link the business software company’s existing helpdesk and messaging applications to other systems such as customer sales databases or marketing automation resources. The goal is to provide deeper insights about the state of specific relationships—whether a customer is unhappy or happy, says Zendesk CEO Mikkel Svane.

“They take in data points that constitute the entire experience—how do you overlay customer service information with sales data, website analytics, to provide a consistent image and understanding,” he explains, noting that Zendesk already uses both services internally. “This has been an eyeopener for us.”

For example, a company might use Zendesk Explore to correlate interactions across different departments. A support desk agent, for example, would be able to tell if someone’s account is pending renewal with the sales team or whether that customer recently spent time researching a specific product on the company’s website.

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The Connect service is more of a marketing application that uses data gathered from other systems to suggest certain types of outreach or communications.

For example, when someone buys a new product, Connect could be used to proactively send tutorial information about certain features according to a predetermined schedule. “It provides predictors of where a relationship might move,” Svane says, adding, “You can be much more preemptive.”

The services can be used separately or together. Explore is based on technology that Zendesk (ZEN) acquired last fall through its $45 million buyout of French data analytics firm We Are Cloud, its nod to the power of big data. The Connect service was developed internally, Svane notes.

Technically speaking, neither service is commercially available. However, Zendesk is encouraging its 81,000 customers to try the applications as part of an early access program.

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