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Carsales finds more agility, better data and 30:1 deflection by moving to Zendesk

Carsales was using a siloed homegrown system that lacked the flexibility to serve its complex business needs and wide customer base. Since consolidating vendors and centralizing communication in Zendesk, Carsales has been able to quickly adapt to growth, and agents can better serve customers now that basic queries are handled with a 30:1 self-service deflection ratio.

"Data from Zendesk drives change in our products and technology to better serve customer needs. The insights, analytics, and information Zendesk gives us about our customers, and about how they interact and transact with us, is invaluable."

- Shaun Wilton

Customer Service Group Manager - Carsales







3 Hours


Purchasing a car is a big decision. Long before getting behind the wheel, the process to research and source a vehicle often begins online. At carsales.com.au, this purchase journey should be a smooth one—and this simple mission statement is one reason why carsales has emerged as Australia’s #1 online classified advertising network.

The business it drives also goes well beyond cars—through its network of classified sites, the company also helps Australians buy and sell boats, bikes, and even farm machinery and camping equipment.

With 15 unique brands in Australia and a customer base that includes both consumers and dealers, carsales is a complex, data-driven company that has quickly scaled to meet customer needs. Behind the scenes, and from the company’s main office in Melbourne, a support team of 18 is dedicated to consumers while another of 12 focuses on the dealer experience. A team of 60 field staff also work to support dealer customers.

Customers seeking support can reach carsales by email, phone, live chat, self-service, or through Facebook and Twitter. Each of these channels flow into Zendesk—carsales’ omnichannel solution since 2013.

Prior to standardising on Zendesk, the team used an alternate telephony and contact center platform to manage emails and phone calls. However, said Customer Service Group Manager Shaun Wilton, “When we decided to create a centralised customer service hub that included dealers, consumers, and all our brands, we realised our existing technology couldn’t service our needs.”

carsales retained the older contact centre tech for phone only, integrating it into Zendesk Support through a CDC Technologies app available in the Zendesk Apps Marketplace. carsales didn’t offer live chat at that point and had very little customer contact coming from social channels, but by adopting a centralised omnichannel solution with Zendesk, the team recognised the opportunity to open additional channels. Social media contacts now create tickets in Zendesk with an integration with Sprout Social and the team uses Zendesk Guide for branded help centres, and Zendesk Chat for live chat support.

Both Wilton and carsales’ Voice of the Customer Paul Williams find Zendesk more flexible and easier to use than their previous platform. Wilton explained, “Zendesk gives us the ability to make changes without involving a developer or paying for external support. Paul and I are not developers, yet we’re able to manage the customer-facing side of things in the Zendesk products and in all of our help centres.”

Since implementing Zendesk, carsales has placed an emphasis on building out self-service support. The company created seven self-help centres featuring more than 700 articles, all powered by Zendesk Guide. Six of the seven are external, and tailored to specific brands. As a result, carsales has seen a decrease in each of its other key channels: email, chat, and inbound calls. As Williams explained, the team sees an average of 6,000 keyword searches across the help centres which generate an average of 200 tickets, a 30:1 self-service deflection.

“That’s a very low number, so the bulk of people have been able to find helpful content and haven’t needed to create a ticket,” he said. “We definitely want to reduce inbound contact, but at the same time, we’re never going to eliminate it. We need to be sure that we’re always here to service our customers however they need.”

The self-service wins have helped open up the team’s bandwidth, but the largest benefit of Zendesk has been the meaningful and actionable analytics that carsales’ service leadership now relies upon. Wilton explained, “The data and reporting have been absolutely critical. We couldn’t have done half of what we’ve been able to do without that data. It’s what drives change in our business.”

One of the most important data points carsales now measures is customer satisfaction. Other key metrics include individual and team satisfaction scores as well as first-resolution time, total time to resolution, and one-touch resolution. Wilton said, “Zendesk gave us the ability to survey our customers after every contact and really understand whether we served their needs. That’s been critical for us.”

carsales has customised the questions it asks when surveying customer satisfaction after an interaction, and has also customised email templates so they are branded for the particular carsales brand.

In addition, carsales’ internal building and facilities tickets are managed by Zendesk. “We brought it all through the same instance,” Williams said. “It was important to us to have everything in one place—it just makes it so much more streamlined from a ticket sharing and reporting perspective.”