In this Martech Fireside Chat, I catch up with Billy McClennan from Gorgias – a Customer Service application built for ecommerce stores.

Martech Fireside Chat Episode

In this chat I find out about:

  • Gorgias and how it got started;
  • What makes it so special and how it is different compared to its competitors;
  • Gorgias vs Zendesk;
  • The changing role of customer support and how they can add more value;
  • What type of businesses suit Gorgias;
  • The key things to look out for when evaluating which Customer Service application to choose;
  • What Billy thinks are the trends for 2021; and
  • What is on the roadmap for Gorgias in 2021.

If you’d like to find out more about Gorgias, visit via Kingston’s referral link.

If you do sign-up for Gorgias, mention this Martech Fireside Chat with Billy McLennan or Kingston Lee-Young to get your second and third month free!

Thanks Gorgias and thanks Billy for being on this Martech Fireside Chat.


Gorgias Video Transcript:

Kingston (00:00):

Hi everyone. I’m Kingston Lee-Young from the newly branded Digital Mavens, your digital development and solutions partner here in Sydney, Australia. I’m here online with Billy McLennan, who is the partnerships team lead from Gorgias. Gorgias is a customer service software. And I’m going to jump in and talk more about this software with Billy, in my MarTech Fireside Chat. So let’s jump in welcome, Billy.

Billy (00:31):

Ah, thank you. Thank you so much for having me. And it’s a pleasure to be on this fireside chat.

Kingston (00:37):

Yeah. Excellent. So I guess for all those listening out there, tell us a little bit about Gorgias and how did you start?

Billy (00:43):

Yeah. Happy to jump right into it. So yeah, Gorgias in a nutshell right now. And then I’ll tell you how we started, but Gorgias is essentially it’s a customer support help desk, specifically for e-commerce. So that’s really where we differentiate is all of the customers that we work with, they’re all e-commerce brands. And so what we do and what our goal is, is we try to bring in all of the communication channels that a brand interacts with – a website, visitor, a customer into one place and connect it with all of their data so that they can essentially respond super quick, provide a really good customer experience and a lot of cases automate, which I’m sure we’ll get into. Yeah, so that they have a really easy and quality way to interact with customers. And a little bit about Gorgias in the backstory.

Billy (01:32):

So it started in 2015, the two founders they’re from France, Alex and Roman. And when it started in 2015, it wasn’t the help desk. So the help desk isn’t actually that old, essentially the way it started was it was a Chrome extension for Gmail and this is that we still actually have it. And it’s actually pretty widely used. And what it was is it was just a Chrome extension that if you were in your Gmail inbox all day and you were responding to very, you know, the same question over and over again, you can make these templates. And then you could use these templates instead of, you know, copy and pasting previous emails. So you could just use a template to respond to repetitive questions over and over again. And so essentially the people that, that started adopting it, a lot of them were customer support agents because anyone that’s done customer support, it can be very repetitive depending on the industry that you’re in.

Billy (02:24):

And so that’s where the idea of the help desk started. And then after doing a lot of research we basically found that there was nothing that was focused exclusively on the e-commerce brand. So there are help desks out there. But they were kind of in all verticals, they weren’t just focused on you know, a direct to consumer brand. So that’s where we decided to start. And, you know, in 2017 was really when the help desk started. Obviously Shopify was doing very well and growing fast. So we started on Shopify. So we launched the help desk with Shopify first 100 customers back then. And I joined in 2019, August of 2019, we were about 25 people. And we were at around 1200 customers, most were on Shopify. We raised our Series A and if I kind of like fast forward to right now we’ve raised a Series B just at the end of last year and we have about 5,500 customers. And then we support merchants on a few different platforms. So Shopify being one, Magento and Big Commerce.

Kingston (03:28):

Okay, fantastic. And so who would you say your key competitors are?

Billy (03:34):

Key competitors? I mean, yeah, there’s a lot of help desks out there. I think the most common one that we see is Zendesk because they’re kind of the legacy ticketing system. Yeah, they’ve been around the longest. So even though they are not, e-commerce focused, they still have a presence in e-commerce because you know, most people, I think that’s changing in certain ecosystems, but most people, if they think customer support, they might think Zendesk. So that’s, that’s the most common one. There’s a few others like Freshdesk. If you’re thinking e-commerce, there’s a company called re:amaze, they’re smaller than us. But they come up, there’s Help Scout. There’s a few different, like Live Chat, specific solutions, like tlk.io and Live Agent and stuff like that. So, yeah, there’s a lot of them, I’d say Zendesk is the most common one in terms of like a full ticketing system.

Kingston (04:25):

Yeah. Okay. Well, let’s maybe unpack Zendesk. So if someone’s considering you, or they’re currently on Zendesk or considering Zendesk, you know, what would you say the differences between what you’re trying to do and what Zendesk is doing?

Billy (04:40):

Yeah, absolutely. So it all starts with that e-commerce focus that I told you about. So, like I said, we have 5,500 customers, they’re all e-commerce. So everything about the product has been designed for an e-commerce brand, which customer support for a direct to consumer brand is very different than for a large SaaS company, you know, like an Uber or Lyft or an airline. So that’s kind of the start. And then if we focus specifically on Zendesk versus Gorgias and features, if we dive deep into features, the very first thing you’ll notice when you’re in a ticket is the customer profile. So we have this very, you know, beautifully built customer profile that integrates with your entire tech stack. So we have all of the information you know, about an e-commerce brands company in one place. So if we use Shopify, for example, we have their order information, a full timeline of all of their order information like tracking information, shipping address, things like that.

Billy (05:37):

If you’re using other apps as part of your tech stack. So let’s say like Loop Returns is another Shopify app. You’re going to have your returns information. If you’re doing subscriptions with like a recharge, you would have subscription order information. So those are things that Zendesk doesn’t display. A lot of that information, they don’t actually display at all. And even the stuff they do, it’s, it’s very limited. So that’s kind of a start and then you can take that information and not only do you have it available by the ticket to respond fast, but you can use that information. So for example refunding or canceling an order in certain cases you can actually create an order. So if someone’s chatting and you can actually build a cart and send them that invoice via their email. So those are what we call actions which aren’t available on Zendesk, for example.

Billy (06:24):

And then you can use that data in templated responses. So I mentioned the Chrome extension in the help desk, they’re called macros. So you can basically create macros. And so let’s say somebody asks, where’s my order, instead of having kind of a blank template saying, “Oh, here’s your order blank”. And having to copy and paste that information from your e-commerce platform, we can pull that information into the template automatically. So in one click, you’re pulling the information that they’re asking for and sending the ticket. So there’s that. And then if we kind of take that even a step further we have automations through machine learning, which we can definitely get into. So basically we have intents and sentiments, so basically understanding what people are saying or how they’re feeling. So the step further of using the data in the macro would be someone reaches out.

Billy (07:11):

They ask, you know, I’m looking for my order. We can create a rule that says, Hey, we, you know, if someone reaches out and the intent to shipping status, or understanding that it’s not a keyword, then we can essentially look at Shopify to see if they’ve placed an order. Is there a tracking number? Is there or isn’t, when was it created things like that, and based on how you define this rule, we can automatically respond with that information. So that’s like a, you know, just a very high level of how the how the machine learning works and then, yeah, I can go on, but social’s a big component. So for an e-commerce brand like…

Kingston (07:48):

Well, I think an interesting thing from that is really yes, focusing on more of an e-commerce environment. So if you are a business, there’s a lot more out-of-the-box that really is suited to those running an e-comm business. But the interesting thing I’ll take out of that is really the changing power or role of, you know, those people are working in customer service. So would you say, it’s less really now about taking customer complaints and, you know returning orders and logging that and running through tickets. And actually now there’s the ability for the customer service resources to help sell, to help link up and maybe increase the customer satisfaction scores you know, increase loyalty by really resolving problems and helping to sell rather than just resolving a specific complaint or ticket.

Billy (08:43):

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that’s a great point. And honestly, it’s, it’s one that I feel like I’ve been presenting on for the past year and a half. So to take a step back to that question, you know, yeah. I’d say a lot of brand owners when they, when they think of customer support, they think, yeah. They think I’m just answering tickets of angry customers all day. They’re order didn’t arrived, things like that. And, you know, that can be very de-motivating answering those tickets all of the time. So basically what we’ve, we’ve seen over the past year, talking with customers, there’s kind of like three pillars and the first one is very high quality, fast customer support. Which makes sense. You know, Amazon has really changed the way that we think about customer support. They get their packages quick, they respond quickly, things like that.

Billy (09:29):

So that’s kind of like the first priority, but at the top, the other side is okay, like how can I start tracking like the ROI of my customer support team? You know, are they driving sales? Are they helping with retention? Are they helping with repeat purchases, things like that. And so we’ve actually added a lot of functionality in the platform and we try to educate the people that we work with on, you know, how basically sheet teaching them how their customer support team is an extension of their sales team. Especially more than ever this year. Like people don’t get the level of personalization anymore that they had going into a brick and mortar store where there’s a sales associate. The person they’re talking to is the rep on the other side of the live chat or the email or the phone wherever they’re communicating from.

Billy (10:11):

And, you know, people have presale questions you know, a good customer experience is going to make them come back to you. So absolutely. I have a whole deck on kind of driving sales. I’m happy to kind of elaborate on some of those techniques, but yeah, absolutely. It’s not just about answering, you know, where’s my order all day you know, your support agents are the frontline for your brand and they help drive sales. And so you know, at least within Gorgias, we try to help brands see that by tracking revenue from communication with the customer support team.

Kingston (10:43):

Yeah, awesome. So I guess if we look then in terms of say an e-comm business or someone who would be a sweet-spot customer, what type of business, and what stage would they be at, you know, when they should consider Gorgias. And then maybe with that sort of opening up of what a customer support person can do now, maybe, how should they bring this software in?

Billy (11:08):

Absolutely. A great question. So I’d say the first part about Gorgias in terms of who we can work with, if you’re an e-commerce and you’re on specifically one of the three platforms I’d mentioned, so Shopify, Big Commerce and Magento, potentially others, but those are the ones that we have really deep integrations with. We can work with you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a large client. So that has a hundred support reps, like a Steve Madden, for example, or if you’re starting a brand new brand and you’re the founder, and you’ve gotten a little bit of traction and, you know, you’re still answering customer support and you need kind of some automation to help save yourself some time, like we can work with you. Yeah. So pretty much if you’re an e-commerce, we could potentially be a good fit. As long as you’re getting some of customer support, you know, let’s say it’s like 10 emails a day, let’s say like, yeah, 10 emails a day. If you can save yourself, you know, even 20 minutes a day as a founder like that, you know, time is money for you at that point in your, in your venture. So that’s, who we work with. And what was the second part of your question?

Kingston (12:12):

Yeah, really, what stage of that business, and I guess you’ve kind of covered that off in terms of you can be a founder coming into this or you could be a larger business with an established customer service team.

Billy (12:25):

Right. Yeah.

Kingston (12:27):

So, okay. Well, I guess then if somebody is already using another software or they are considering it, What are the things that you think they should look at in terms of their evaluation process.

Billy (12:40):

Exactly. Great question. So I think if you’re using another ticketing system or help desk now again, if I’m looking at the three pillars, the first one is like fast, you know, high quality customer support. So I’d evaluate some of the metrics in terms of response time, first or like one touch ticket. So like if someone reaches out, can you get, can you respond to them in a single answer or do you have to go back and forth 10 times to get them the information they need? The number of tickets you’re doing, the efficiency of your support team, like how many tickets per agent per day are they doing? Let’s say it’s like 50 or 60, you know, that, that could be low depending on the industry that you’re in. So if you’re seeing some issues with that also CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score) so like if you’re CSAT, you know, less than four you know, why is it less than four?

Billy (13:30):

Those are all things that you should consider and looking to improve upon. And then I’d also say this comes through efficiency and quality and response time and stuff like that. But if your team’s doing things very repetitive and it’s taking them a long time to do it, I’d be like, okay, there’s probably ways to kind of automate, or at least make that an easier process. Those are good things. So that you can then evaluate Gorgias, like, “Hey, can Gorgias automate?”, “Can it make me respond faster?”, “Can help with one touch?”, “Do I have more data available available to me?”, Things like that. If you’re on Shopify, Big Commerce, Magento, I’m just saying it again. But the answer is likely yes. Just because we are so e-commerce focused that we can help improve upon some of those processes.

Billy (14:10):

If you’re a social driven brand. So we didn’t talk too much about that, but like we can pull any organic and paid ad comments and help moderate those to help improve the ROAS of your ad spend. And then also the sales side. So like, we didn’t talk about it in too much details, but we can track revenue, which is pretty unique. So if you’re, if you’re looking to kind of like track the ROI of your support team, that’s a good place to start. We have some kind of like automations with our live chat and functionality, like creating orders to kind of help your support team convert people, you know, so if someone reaches out with a presale inquiry, you know, helping convert them into a paying customer.

Kingston (14:52):

Yeah, definitely. And I think more and more is now people are jumping onto social media channels and they’re starting that engagement, from pre-sales or just an inquiry. It is I guess, really important to have that all connected up so that whoever’s answering it has all the information at their fingertips. And look, I guess it’s then comes down to, thinking about the customer experience. I would say certainly from, from our perspective, talking to our clients, very much trying to take your hat off and think about what your customer’s doing, how do you make your customer, their experience more seamless and easy. And if you’ve got then that software, which provides all that information on the screens for someone to respond to, as you said, it’s nice and fast and easy. And if you can then link it to an upsale or an on-sale obviously then that, that certainly helps that particular team and also the business.

Billy (15:43):

Oh, absolutely. Yeah.

Kingston (15:45):

So crystal ball gazing, what do you think the trends are for 2021?

Billy (15:51):

So I have a few and these are my take. So by no means that maybe they’re not accurate, but just based on that, the people that I’ve been talking to and stuff like that, I think if we’re talking about conversions and sales and not so much just customer support, we’ll talk about customer for a second, but I guess if we’re talking about that I think that like big companies, like Facebook, for example, they’re going to be looking at communication channels as ways to track conversion. So like Facebook, you know, they’re competing with Shopify, Magento, Big Commerce now, like they’ve launched their Instagram Cart. They’ve launched the Facebook Checkout and with the iOS 14 update and pixels not going away, but, you know, getting more difficult to track like Facebook wants you to stay on Facebook and check out because they can, it’s obviously much easier to basically say, Oh, Hey, like you chatted in through Facebook messenger, then you purchased that’s conversion because of Facebook.

Billy (16:46):

So I think communication channels, a lot of the communication channels we talked about different companies are going to be trying to track and attribute conversions based on the channel that they’re interacting with and checking out on is one of them. On the customer support side, what we’re really focusing on is the top 10 questions for an e-commerce brand. So like 60% of customers for an e-commerce brand is repetitive. The top 10 questions are like: “Where’s my order?”, “How can I return?”, “How can I cancel?”. The classics that a lot of people listening have probably asked theirselves? And so we, our goal is to basically automate, you know, that 60%, I think our goal was like 40% this year for some brands. And so another trend, I think you’re going to see a self-serve, so it’s already happening, but even more like how can you allow your consumers to get the information they need on their own without having to reach out to you?

Billy (17:39):

Because I know as me as a consumer, if I can just get the information I need right away without having to wait or talk to someone, like I love that. And it helps the customer support team because they don’t have to answer question. So we’ve launched a new self-serve live chat to basically automate the where’s my order question. People can go and get all their tracking information directly from the chat widget on your website. And then maybe one more kind of like futuristic one it’s not super developed now is like video chat on your website. So with everything online, like people are looking for ways to keep personal. They’re not going in store. So like, there’s a couple of companies out there now that do kind of like video chat campaigns. So someone would hit your website or a product page and a chat would pop up and it would be somebody actually talking about the product. So it’s almost like an ad, like a UGC ad or something like that, right on your website. So I could see that being like a really popular you know, method to kind of personalize their experience on their website. You know, you had like a sales associate, like video live chatting in whether that’s like a prerecorded video or live. I think that that could be something that could be coming to within this, you know, 2021 and maybe even more developed in a couple of years.

Kingston (18:49):

Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. Like, I think that’s the trends that we’re seeing in Asia certainly coming through. And especially because of the year that was 2020 you know, more video, more personalized shopping. The ability to help solve problems for people who can’t get out and about. And then it might just be that you’ve got busy lives or you’re in lockdown. So it’s a lot difficult to get out into a store. That could help and look then, I think the other thing about the self-serve chat is, is really great, because one of the things you know, a lot of businesses certainly e-com forget is it has to be about the customer. And sometimes they’re shopping at 1:00 AM in the morning, they’re shopping after the kids go to bed, they shopping on the way into work. And so yeah, you, you need to be able to provide that service there and then when they’re ready to shop, rather than, you know, really how you’ve set up your particular resourcing and structure around a particular time zone or time slot. So I guess, you know, that I think is really important and a good measure for those customers or ecomm businesses who are looking to grow this year and potentially sell overseas as well or internationally.

Billy (19:58):

Absolutely. I mean, yeah. Ask any, any customer support team or founder, if they can figure out a way to automate the where’s my order questions so that they didn’t have to deal with them. I’m sure they’d be thrilled to be able to do that. See, I think self-serve will come a long way this year. And you just made me think of something on a side note with, you had mentioned Asia and like the video the video shopping, I don’t know if you saw the picture, but it reminds me, I saw this picture of a, it was in China and they had like hundreds of phones, like live streaming at the mall from the store to like Facebook and stuff like that. And they were basically like live streaming product in real time. And that situation, I don’t know if that’s what you were talking about, but I remember seeing that and yeah, it was really, it was really cool. Yeah.

Kingston (20:41):

Well, yeah. I mean, definitely in terms of influences, certainly in China. The other thing that I saw you know, coming out of Asia was you, instead of getting influences to shop, it’s actually almost personal shoppers and this was an interesting one around people buying wine. And so they actually video chat with someone who went and tasted the wine for them online and gave them the tasting notes rather than just writing it out and having to read them themselves. So they could actually interact with that person asking direct questions which I thought was a really lovely job to have being a personal wine taster for someone online. But yeah, we’re starting to see that yeah, new innovation, new ways of mediums trying to connect, breaking down borders is, definitely the trends for 2021.

Kingston (21:30):

All right. So last question really is roadmap then for Gorgias. Right, with those trends, what are you excited about? What’s on the roadmap for Gorgias this year?

Billy (21:39):

Yeah, absolutely. So great question. So yeah, we had right. We raised our series B at the end of last year, so we have some money in the bank to kind of scale. And a lot of that is obviously going to be very product focused. We want the best product. And so if I talk about kind of the first two quarters of this year I had mentioned self-serve, so that’s one place where we’re really trying to innovate. So we just launched our self-serve, you know, the first version of our self-serve chat where, like I said, a customer can open the chat widget, put their order information, their email address, things like that in it, and get a full list of all of the orders they’ve placed with the brand, with tracking information. They can automatically report issues, things like that.

Billy (22:21):

So that’s, that’s one is really being a leader in self-serve to help deflect. You know, basically, like I said, our goal is to automate that top 10 questions, which in some cases can account for 60% of customer support. So self-serve is a piece of that. Basically deflecting tickets. That’s one. Another really, really exciting one is because it’s the, it’s been the most widely requested feature. It’s going to sound simple, but yeah, it’s the other one that we’re, we’re launching here within the next couple of months is Instagram direct messages. So basically we could never access direct messages in Gorgias because Facebook had never opened up the API. We got early access now and we’re slowly rolling it out to people so that they can basically handle customer support requests from direct messages, which I know is a huge pain point for a lot of brands because the Facebook business manager are going into your phone and going through DMs is, you know, extremely inefficient when you’re, you know, you have a lot of followers and you’re getting a lot of direct messages, so we’re launching that channel.

Billy (23:23):

And then another one that another, I guess, one more is we’re building our own native phone. So we have some really great phone partners. But we do know for some especially larger brands, you know, or brands with high ticket items, phone is still an essential piece of customer support. So we’re just building our own native phone. Yeah. So those are kind of like the three big ones I’d say in the next few months. And then yeah, then one of the big goals this year is to really, like I said, automate that kind of like repetitive part of customer support for e-commerce companies

Kingston (23:56):

Sounds like an exciting year. Excellent. All right. Well, I guess I might end it here and, and thank you so much for your time. For those people who are listening and really want to try out Gorgias. Do you have a little start offer or something they can, something that you can offer them?

Billy (24:12):

Yeah, absolutely. So, I mean, if you’re listening to this and your interest in getting Gorgias, first off, we have a seven day free trial, so that’ll give you some time to use it, but in terms of offer: if you like the product we can basically give you your second and third month free. So you’ll save two months on a year of Gorgias. Okay,

Kingston (24:30):

Fantastic. So, all right. The other thing is I’ll put a link down in the subtitles, but certainly if you’d like to find out some more information I have a referral link, which is https://gorgias.grsm.io/kingston. Jump onto that. I’ll put it in the subtitles and you can find out more about Gorgias. And then if you do want to take up that offer just mentioned to the local team that you saw a fireside chat with Kingston or with Billy and they’ll be able to give that to you. Excellent. Well, thank you again so much for your time. I know you’re calling in from the States from North America, or I should say in Canada. Thank you for being on the MarTech fireside chat with me.

Billy (25:22):

Awesome. Yeah. Thank you so much, Kingston. It was really great to be here. And yeah, like you said, just mentioned my name if you guys reach out to the team and then we can help you out.

Kingston (25:32):

Excellent. We’ll see you later. Thanks.

Billy (25:34):

Awesome. Bye.

End.