The 2015 CRM Rising Stars: Zendesk Gives Small Enterprises the Tools They Need to Grow

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Don't let the name fool you; the past year has been anything but laid-back for Zendesk. The company has been moving full force ahead and expanding rapidly to accommodate the demands of growing businesses, while showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.

The year 2014 was a big one for Zendesk. In addition to announcing its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, the company made tremendous progress on the product end. In June, it introduced its Insights analytics solution to give companies a better understanding of customer activity. Through a readable, interactive dashboard and more pointed information, accessible through the cloud, Insights enables companies to see how they stack up against competitors and make better decisions based on user interaction and reported experiences. In October, Zendesk released its Net Promoter Score Surveys, which give companies a better understanding of their customer base via more engaging questionnaires, thus generating more meaningful feedback.

A significant addition to Zendesk's package came with the company's acquisition of Zopim, a live chat supplier. "You hear a lot about social, and, of course, email is incredibly important," Brent Leary, partner at CRM Essentials, says. "But sometimes something like chat is overlooked for its support. There's a lag in email, and social can be too overwhelming, but when someone comes to the Web site and there's an opportunity for one-on-one engagement, that...offers [companies] an opportunity to build a relationship by showing how on the ball [they] are and being able to help right then and there."

In the mobile arena, the company released Embeddables, enabling integration into programs for native support. The technology promises to accommodate customers who are seeking instant help without having to go through other channels.

"When I think about what we've done over the past year to respond to the changing market," Zendesk's vice president of product, Sam Boonin, says, "we've made lots of product investments that all allow companies to better scale their support operations and better interact with their customers in this crazy, changing world."

The company has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 2007 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Zendesk was originally focused on smaller businesses. "They provided small and midsized businesses what they really needed to scale in a fast manner," Leary says. "If you had a fast-growing company, you could provide a good level of support and still be able to scale your growth and handle your support issues. Zendesk was a big part of that being able to happen."

But those companies—including now recognizable names such as Shopify and Hootsuite—have grown up alongside Zendesk. "What's happened in the past five to six years is that some of the customers, like Riot Games, who makes League of Legends, and AirBnB and Groupon, have become very large customers but turned into large companies, and we've grown with them," Boonin says.

Zendesk has also added some already-large companies to its roster, among them Ingersoll Rand and Red Bull. To accommodate such enterprises, the company had to adjust its software to keep up. "We're competing against the Oracles and the SAPs of the world, which are really slow and stodgy and challenging," Boonin says. "We're providing larger companies with this great product and incredible agility.... So I think that the biggest change is how we've grown as a company to address these different market segments without losing what makes us unique and special"


Founder/CEO: Mikkel Svane

Founded: 2007

2014 Projected Revenue: $123.5–$125.5 million

Headquarters: San Francisco

Employees: Approximately 800

? Customer Count: Almost 50,000

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