Zendesk Targets Sales, Launches ‘Sunshine’ Application Platform

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Relate 2018: Zendesk Sell integrates salesforce automation into Zendesk’s customer service tools, while Sunshine targets developers and Explore adds data analytics

Zendesk, best known of its customer support software, is expanding into offerings for sales, as well as introducing a platform developers can use to create custom applications.

The new offerings bring Zendesk into more direct competition with sales-oriented customer relationship management (CRM) products from the likes of Microsoft and Salesforce, whose core offerings are in the CRM field.

Salesforce is also known for its application development infrastructure, which now has competition in the form of Zendesk’s Sunshine application platform.

Salesforce offers customer support software as well, and in 2011 reportedly tried to buy Zendesk. It instead acquired customer service firm Assistly, later rebranding the company Desk.com.

customer serviceSalesforce automation

Zendesk cited Forrester research indicating that customer service and sales are really two sides of the same coin.

The company also noted that Base, the technology behind Sell, already has more than 5,000 customers. Zendesk acquired Base when it bought a firm called FutureSimple in September.

“Zendesk Sell is a tool that salespeople love to use,” said Zendesk Sell general manager Matt Price in a statement.

He said integration with Zendesk Support means any conversation with a customer is available to both customer service and sales teams.

The offering is its first step toward integrating salesforce automation across all Zendesk’s products, the company said.

Zendesk Sell costs $19 (£15) per month and could be attractive to Zendesk’s existing customers, most of whom use a variety of sales tools, according to industry analysts.

Open standards

The Zendesk Sunshine platform is built on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud, and uses open standards and existing programming languages. That’s intended to give developers flexibility, Zendesk said.

The platform launches with capabilities including Profiles, which allows developers to create a single, unified view of the customer across applications, and Events, which captures customer activity such as customer service interactions, website visits, purchase transactions and shipping history in a single timeline.

The Custom Objects capability allows companies to collect additional information such as products the customer owns, equipment they rent or telemetrics from a connected car, and store that data within Zendesk.

“Customers can use Sunshine to not only create a complete picture of their customer, but also model the relationship customers have with the data and the business,” Zendesk stated.

Sunshine, which was built in-house, is free of charge to Zendesk’s enterprise service tier.

At its Relate 2018 user conference this week, Zendesk also introduced a data analytics tool called Explore, which integrates with all of Zendesk’s products.

Explore allows businesses to view a customer’s data across all their teams and channels and to measure and improve the experiences they deliver, the company said.

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