Category Archives: Customer Support

3 Simple Ways to Show Customers That You (Really) Care

While February is typically reserved for the romantics of the world and sharing appreciation to those in our lives, we believe the practice of showing people that you care should be a year-round effort. For businesses in industries from retail to technology and everywhere in between, customer appreciation and true customer care are vastly important to long-term successes.

From a purely bottom-line perspective, happy and loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase on average. From a more human point of view, happy and loyal customers are more informed about the product, satisfied with the results or experience, and get far more use out of a purchase. So, what are some simple ways to insert more customer care into your over-arching customer support strategy?

1. Pay attention to their feedback (and make it easy for them to provide it).

Customer feedback is golden – for every customer who complains about a product or service you’re offering, 26 other customers remain silent. Every part of customer feedback should be carefully considered, analyzed internally, and taken into action when needed in order to really show that you are listening to what your customers have to say. To show your customers that you are really listening would be to:

  • Ask for their ideas. Find a way to kickstart a discussion and open up their ideas with clever questions that can open the feedback they provide.
  • Reward their suggestions. No one incentive is ever recommended, as it largely depends on the type of company in question. Some offer cash, vouchers, discounts, or other value-based incentives.
  • Send them a ‘thanks.’ Always send a thank you! Your thanks will show your customers that you care about how they’re enjoying the product or service and thank them for choosing you.

With the right tools and platforms in place to collect this valuable data – like an embedded feedback form or survey – you’ll be able to take the guesswork and manual effort out of the gathering, analyzing, and taking action on customer feedback.

2. Personalize and humanize the service they’re getting.

When providing a service, you should always make the customer feel as if it is personal to them. This can be as simple as using their name during contact or through online communications; it’s about going the extra mile to make sure they know they’re being heard. This can be adapted and worked into customer service training programs, used when crafting your customer-facing newsletters, and tapped into during any other customer interaction that may be had.

Going hand-in-hand with personalization is the concept of being human – at no point should the customer feel like they’re talking to a robot when on the line with your customer service team. If you have one basic call script and a team of agents reading from the same one, but no one includes any personalization or humanity into the interaction, the customer will likely walk away feeling disconnected. 

3. Always ask, never assume.

Rather than assuming what your customer might expect from you, it’s far more effective and engaging (and less risky) to ask them. Research shows that businesses are wrong more than 50% of the time due to assumptions, which will easily result in an annoying customer experience that could have easily been dealt with from the very start of any interaction.

Ask questions, gently nudge for more information, and listen intently to the response. If you reach out for further help with new product ideas and other suggestions and actually put those into practice, customers will know that you care and that they have an impact on (and direct connection to) your business. The real way to show customers you care about them is to take action to improve their experiences; show gratitude by proving you’re listening, and take the feedback to your advantage to work toward a better future.

Many of our own customers have submitted feature requests, brand new use cases, and incredibly helpful suggestions that we’ve taken to heart and implemented over the course of many, many decision tree updates over the years – it’s been a win-win situation for ourselves as a growing and evolving product, and them as customers gaining more value every day out of what we offer.

If you’re looking for an easier way to personalize the customer experience or allow your employees to connect and collect better data, see how a decision tree gives you full flexibility in the way your customers are being cared for. If you need more guidance, our team is more than happy to assist you – reach out to us for more advice!

Business Changing Technology: 5 of the Best Customer Success Stories

Any business operation can expect to have a variety of customers. Regardless of industry, no matter how big or small, every customer is different. Emotions can take the reins of your customer service strategy; the way to achieve customer success is dependant on how you apply your communication and understanding throughout the customer journey. This process is successful when singularly achieving positive acceptance, feedback, tools, and exit surveys.

Automation is an essential tool that companies are now relying on as a part of a larger technology integration to quickly improve customer service, process management, troubleshooting, and other key functions of a business. Many companies in the last several years have made strides in improving customer success, with the help of powerful automation tools and other technologies. We’re taking a look at just a few of their stories.

Evernote & Craftsman And Wolves

Evernote is a highly integrated, universal inbox where you can store just about anything imaginable; many businesses use Evernote as a notetaker in forms of PDF, to-do or pocket notebooks. Craftsman and Wolves is a one shop contemporary pâtisserie specializing in breakfast pastries, cakes, breads, and confections.

How Evernote Helps Craftsman And Wolves

Craftsman and Wolves are proud of pursuing their craft when facing numerous challenges – the main one is to achieve the expected standard for every item they make. They catalog menus, put market lists together, use to-do lists and execute lists for maintenance. Thanks to Evernote, they can update everything in real-time, so they’re in line with staff, communication is consistent, and no task will be missed. 

They say that because of their regular changes and the ability to adapt with Evernote, they are able to consistently apply their high turnover of pasty crafts and pass along their savings and time to their customers. 

View the case study. 

Shopify & Mindzai

Shopify is an eCommerce solution enabling businesses to organize and customize a personal storefront where all payment systems, tracking, and communication is at the click of a button. Mindzai uses blank products as an alternative to painting canvases where artists can create something more fun and unique.

How Shopify Helps Mindzai

Shopify provided the perfect platform for Mindzai to run their online business as easy as possible. They needed a website that was fully flexible and mobile-appropriate, so they didn’t have to deal with any eCommerce task themselves and could purely focus on their customer’s journey and overall success. With Shopify freeing their time, they could focus on their development, and most importantly, connecting more with customers.

View the case study.

Zingtree & Spokane ENT

Spokane ENT is a certified division of the Columbia Surgical Specialists. With a background of 20 years in professional ear, nose and throat care, they offer a service to enhance patients ease of life through their services. Zingtree is an interactive decision tree model for businesses that save time and money for every purpose. The powerful toolkit allows companies and call centers to build, customize, and publish personalized troubleshooters, agent scripts, process guides, and more.

How Zingtree Helps Spokane ENT

Spokane ENT has a large practice with multiple specialties in various locations, therefore they needed a system to handle their sporadic scheduling. Along the way of booking appointments, they realized they needed a more intelligent way of gathering patient information and assigning the proper specialist. Zingree’s interactive decision trees allow schedulers to easily guide customers through pre-diagnostics, and accurately classify and route patients to the correct department,  eliminating unnecessary visits.

This simplified process enables Spokane ENT to collect patient symptoms and quickly schedule them to accompany their testing. Zingtree decision trees save their customers and doctors time while offering easily accessible information.

View the case study.

Hubspot & Parlor Skis

HubSpot is an all-in-one inbound marketing and sales software that companies use for visitor attraction and lead conversion. Parlor Skis is a personalized service for ski equipment that offers an experience over service – due to their range of materials, designs, and customizations.

How Hubspot Helps Parlor Skis

Before HubSpot, Parlor Skis had issues with CRM and excessive email threads where orders would get lost and the production and sales had been affected. HubSpot’s software allowed a smoother service where Parlor Skis were able to categorize and track orders right through production, and deliver thanks to their “intuitive and simple to use product.” With an elaborate feature for personalization, Hubspot enabled Parlor Skis to categorize orders which effectively enhanced their success for customer communication.

View the case study.

Freshbooks & Milieu Interior Design

Freshbooks is an accounting software designed for small businesses, making expenses, invoicing and time tracking, being simple and secure to use. Sarah is an Architectural and Interior Designer who runs her own sole proprietorship, Milieu Interior Design, who needed more flexibility and control due to family commitments. 

How Freshbooks Helps Milieu Interior Design

Before Freshbooks, Sarah of Milieu Interior Design used separate spreadsheets for all business activity which became far too complicated to manage by herself. Freshbooks now saves Sarah a lot of time due to its simple capabilities, compared to inputting separate data under various spreadsheets. Now, she can also use the same platform to record hours and invoices together, saving a lot of time that can be turned into valuable face-time with clients and customers. 

View the case study.

 

When technology is integrated within business functions, it’s proven to be an invaluable asset for productivity, budgeting, customer service, and so much more. Decision trees are one such tool that can help organizations of all shapes and sizes to improve across these areas – with a robust online builder, examples for every industry, easy publishing, and analytics, it’s a completely comprehensive solution.

To find out how Zingtree can be integrated into your business functions and help to improve customer success, check out our gallery and see examples of where decision tree models can be used. If you want to test it out, ask us a question or jump in and sign up for our free 30 day trial, our tutorials can guide you all the way.

The Most Important Customer Support Stats for 2018

customer support stats

Customer support has changed exponentially in the last few years. Better technology, more informed consumers, and higher expectations for fast access have all shaped how support is handled in businesses today. In the last year alone, the relationship between customer support and customer experience have become much closer, and have made a much larger impact.

According to a Walker study, by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Companies and organizations will need to continue to adapt their support and experience strategies to keep customers engaged, informed, purchasing, and happy with the brand. Those who fail to do so will face more difficult competition in the market, as other brands are paving the way to success through positive customer experience. In fact, next year alone, it’s projected that 89% of businesses are soon expected to compete mainly on customer experience.

What’s to come is a direct reflection of what’s already been learned, and customer support is no different. Here are some of the most influential customer support stats of 2017 that will have an impact on what’s to come in 2018 and beyond.

Salesforce has reported that: 

  • 75% consumers expect a consistent experience wherever they engage (e.g., website, social media, mobile, in person).
  • 56% consumers willing to share data to receive faster and more convenient service
  • 70% of consumers say technology has made it easier than ever to take their business elsewhere.
  • 52% of consumers are likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t make an effort to personalize communications to them.

Deloitte has reported that:

  • 62% of companies view customer experience delivered by the contact centers as a competitive differentiator.

Gartner has stated that “companies that implement customer experience projects begin by focusing on ways they collect and analyze customer feedback. This is a great starting point for meeting your customers’ expectations.” They’ve reported that:

  • In 2018 more than 50% of organizations will redirect their investments to customer experience innovations.
  • By 2020 a customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human, so make sure to give your customers the direction and tools they need to accomplish tasks themselves.

Internet Retailer has reported that:

  • Companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, as compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel strategies.

Zendesk has reported that:

  • 50% of customers think it’s important to solve product or service issues themselves.

In 2018, companies should make it a top priority that their customers can easily find answers to their questions, and solve their issues through personalized, self-service support options. Organizations that take customer support and customer experience to heart and make a real effort will have more effective strategies in the marketplace and will stand out to consumers.

In short, businesses in 2018 need to:

  1. Get set up with personalization
  2. Offer self-service, multi-channel support
  3. Use smooth UX and UI to provide a pleasant experience
  4. Know and understand your customers

Zingtree decision trees help organizations of all shapes, sizes, and industries to improve their customer experience and support channels. Build online, interactive trees that allow customers to self-solve, are easy to customize and personalize, and offer businesses the ability to collect valuable information to better understand their customers.

Get a free trial started for 2018, or get in touch with our team to learn more about how we can help.

Prepare Your Support Call Center for the Holiday Rush with Zingtree

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The most chaotic season of the year is quickly approaching, and it’s more important than ever to prepare your call center staff for the impending holiday craziness. Beyond having helpful, well-trained agents at the ready, it’s smart to adopt technology to handle inquiries and get agents online faster.

Zingtree interactive decision trees and call center scripts are one way to avoid the headache of customer service disarray during the peak periods of November and December. With customers self-solving using customized decision trees and agents being guided with interactive scripts, your support team will have a happy holiday season instead of a hectic one.

Decision Trees for Customer Support

Happy customers lead to happy agent staff, and vice versa. Zingtree is an amazing tool for any customer support team, as it allows you to create custom troubleshooters to take customers, or agents, through the support flow step-by-step.

Organizations that deploy Zingtree troubleshooters have seen a 20% reduction in support costs on average. Customers are gently guided to answers, and, if a problem can’t be solved, your agents receive background information on the problem, saving time and resources. With no programming required, Zingtree decision trees and troubleshooters make it easy to build each step of the process so no important information is left behind.

With design customization and plugins to fit your integration needs, Zingtree can help you ramp up your support this season.

Agent Scripting Solutions

High-tech solutions can also empower your live support agents to be efficient and effective when communicating with customers. Agent Scripting is a robust tool for any company offering chat or phone support.

Scripts are easy to build using Zingtree’s tools, you’ll effectively reduce time and resources spent on holiday support. With powerful tracking and analytics, Zingtree agent scripts help companies collect useful data that can even be used to prepare for the holidays next year – we even have a direct integration with popular customer service platform, Zendesk!

Learn More

Remember – the holidays can be stressful, but with proper preparation for your call centers and support staff, you’ll make the load just a little bit lighter, and the season just a little more jolly!

Visit Zingtree.com to get started free for 30 days, and see how Zingtree will save you time and money.

This article was originally published in November 2015 and has been updated for accuracy. 

Industry Report: Here’s How to Improve Customer Support & Sales on Black Friday

Whether you’re an online retailer or consumer, Black Friday is a crazy time of the year. For customer support teams, in particular, the stress and demand can seem neverending – it’s not a question of if a customer will have an issue or question, but when. Adding extra layers of employees needing (and deserving) time off of work around these times and generally higher stress levels, startups and small businesses especially can feel the tension around customer support.

Black Friday On-Demand: Salesforce Industry Report

To be frank, mobile and on-demand options truly reign supreme. Customers today expect a smooth purchasing experience, fast shipping, and even faster customer support.

Salesforce combined the insights on the activity of over 500 million global shoppers and billions of transactions, millions of public social media conversations, and data from Salesforce’s annual Connected Shoppers Report to give retailers and online businesses the intelligence they need keep moving forward this holiday season.

Here’s what VP of Industry Insights, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Rob Garf, had to say:

“Just like watching television, holiday shopping has moved from an appointment based activity to an on-demand activity. Salesforce expects to see continued growth not only in mobile orders and website visits, but also in newer technologies such as mobile payments and artificial intelligence. It’s not too late for retailers to make adjustments today in order to meet consumer expectations and better compete this holiday season.”

You can read the full report and insights here.

A Better System of Customer Support for the Holidays

So, how does an online business truly prepare for holiday shopping? A new trend in customer support: self-service.

Interactive decision trees allow customers to quickly and easily navigate through processes, products, troubleshooting, and more. Setting up a completely automated, information-filled FAQ or knowledge base, simple-to-use product finder, or digestible problem-solving can solve a myriad of internal issues (and your customer’s, too!).

Our retail customers are able to solve problems and answer questions outside of regular and holiday office hours, as well as encourage more sales and truly streamline the customer support process. Take a look at some of our own resources for improving customer support here, and stop by our own decision tree-built knowledge base here.

Ready to start streamlining retail customer support for your eCommerce business? Get in touch with us, or sign up for an account. 

Building Troubleshooters for Complex Products & Tools

interactive troubleshooter

Interactive troubleshooters are becoming a more frequent way to solve problems involving complex, technical products.  Since most complex equipment for industries like manufacturing, videography, and hardware/software have fewer “expert technicians,” the need for more intelligent support systems has risen. Where issues and complicated instructions run rampant, the fastest way to find the solution to a problem is with interactive troubleshooters.

Caterpillar, the US manufacturer of construction and farm equipment, is using Zingtree troubleshooters in their manufacturing plant. Likewise, IT Works, the most relied-on resource for collecting information on living environments. We even got our own start by building troubleshooters for another software company, Applian Technologies.

Self-Solving with Troubleshooters

With complicated products and tools, troubleshooters aim to help find the area of the problem by narrowing down other contextual factors. By offering an interactive format to simplify the issue, you have solved part of the problem already.

For highly-specialized or complex products, it can take a while to get fixed or for the right person in the right location to come and fix it, in many cases. Troubleshooting solutions make it easier for expert technicians to judge the issue and solve accordingly, and for less-than-expert level folks to figure things out.

Success Stories: Troubleshooters in Practice

For the U.S.-based manufacturing company, Caterpillar, this rings especially true. With an array of complex (and often large) manufacturing tools in use, equipment operators across the country needed an easier way to help work through issues and find answers anywhere. When an error code comes up, operators and technicians are able to assess the problem and find a way to fix it.

The decisions behind Applian’s customer support are also powered by our troubleshooters. The results? The company saved over $30,000 on resources per year and 15 hours of support time per week.

Here’s one of the Applian troubleshooters you can take a look at:

 

 

Building an Interactive Experience

Instructions are easier to follow from an interactive decision tree if the user is being guided by easy-to-follow, bite-sized directions. With complex products and tools, there is generally a lot of important information to cover – with no real understanding of your user’s experience level, it’s better to be as user-friendly as you can. You can even include videos, images and other types of media within your troubleshooter to make things even more easy to digest.

We have heaps of information on how to get started building troubleshooters right away – there’s a method that fits just about everyone! For more ideas, tips, and inspiration, we recommend having a look at our troubleshooters on display in the Gallery, as well as checking the blog for a catalog of best tips for building. There’s something in there for every industry!

After creating your in-depth, intuitive decision tree, end users will be delighted with the ease of providing a faster solution. Ready to start your revolutionary, problem-solving troubleshooter? Take a shot, or reach out to us if you need some expert advice.

5 Outdated Customer Support Tools You Need to Ditch

Customer service agents have always been at the heart of what makes companies, and their customer communications, so incredibly important to business success. However, certain resources aren’t always up to the job. Armed with only outdated customer support tools, it’s difficult for an agent or customer service representative to perform their tasks, and help people, to the best of their ability.

Thankfully, technology has done a great job of keeping up; there are dozens of amazing tools to help businesses small and large improve how they handle support and troubleshooting, customer interactions, and other key communications. If you’re still using an outdated tool or method like the ones mentioned here, now’s the time to make a change for the better.

Setting Up Spreadsheets to Track Issues

We’ll always love spreadsheets (heck, Zingtrees even connect with them for quick creation!), but using them as a means of manually tracking the details of tickets and inquiries is a definite resource-waster. The details of every customer call are important, so adopting a more automated way to enter key information during a call or via an online support ticket is vital to improving customer service goals. Don’t tackle it cell-by-cell. You waste precious time and this method is prone to errors.

Using Standard Email for Tickets

Using Outlook for support? Gmail? Yahoo? We certainly hope not, but if you are, there’s still time to make things right and upgrade to a real support system. A solid CRM tool like Zendesk or  Freshdesk isn’t as daunting or expensive as you might think, and can easily track and organize every incoming ticket. After getting started and connecting all of your communication channels, you can even integrate with decision trees for a completely holistic setup.

Sending Customers Through a Phone Tree

The most impersonal of all contact channels, a phone tree is as hard to set up as it is for customers to wait through. While still critical for some industries to offer in order to contact a live agent, others benefit from building a better system online and on mobile. Roughly 72% of people think self-service support is a preferred way to handle customer support, so using decision trees can help customers navigate for themselves, find answers, and contact the right department for more information.

Printing Out Call Scripts on Paper

Not only is printing bad for the environment, it’s cumbersome and unnecessary. While customer support and call center agents should be prepared with a script on hand, there’s always a technical way to make things more efficient. Taking the digital plunge and creating an online call center script for agent use will improve support KPIs, make it simple to streamline communication, and leave customers happier with every standardized, personalized interaction.


Any questions? We’re always here to help!

This article was originally published on April 13, 2017.

7 Ways to Ensure You Get More Customer Feedback

Customer satisfaction is a little tough sometimes when you don’t know if you are making mistakes, and if you are, who’s telling you? Issues surrounding response rates are something that most people struggle to conquer to get to the best reputation. In fact, internal surveys will generally receive an average of 30-40% response rate, compared to a 10-15% response rate for external surveys.

You’re not receiving as many responses as you hope, but there are plenty of valuable reasons behind this. Dana Severson, a writer for Promoter.io, learned the hard way and has shared some secrets that make sure his experience will never happen again.

Check out one tip here, and find the other 6 on the Promoter.io site:

Once the survey was refined to my satisfaction, I quickly sent the email out and waited in anticipation … the truth is, most companies get this totally wrong, including even the most successful company in the world.

Send your survey from a human, not a department or company

This may seem obvious, but all too often, companies want responses to go to an email address that everyone on a team has access to.

What you need to know is that nobody wants to respond to a bot (i.e. support@company.com), they want to know that their voice is being heard by an actual person.

 

You can even create a fictitious email address or alias, so long as it looks like a human.

BONUS: If you want more honest answers, send the survey from someone that the customer doesn’t deal with on a regular basis.

 

Keep reading the article here.

Zingtree makes it easy to build surveys, questionnaires, and other interactive guided experiences that allow businesses to gather more feedback and grow more strategically. Sign up for a free trial to get started.

Zingtree Enterprise: Self-Hosted Decision Trees

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While we are highly focused on our own security and data integrity, we recognize that using a SaaS (Software as a Service) site like Zingtree may require approval from various departments. For many, the hosting of company data offsite immediately triggers a cautionary reaction.

To address these concerns, we have a completely self-hosted Zingtree version. It utilizes the same awesome tools found in Zingtree but packaged in a way that can be installed on any server with industry standard PHP and MySQL. A full source code license is included, as well as regular updates.

This self-hosted option has a lot of benefits:

  • Customer data remains on-site.
  • Data is not intermixed with other company’s data (in case of legal subpoena issues).
  • Full source code allows security specialists to inspect the code for any possible hacking loopholes.
  • The design and engineering teams can modify the code or design of Zingtree to their liking.
  • You can guarantee your own uptime.
  • Plus, we provide consulting, support and maintenance as requested.

Want to learn more about the self-hosted Zingtree Enterprise solution?

Please contact us with licensing questions, or to get started with your self-hosted Zingtree Enterprise solution.

This article was originally published on September 28, 2015, but the information is still just as relevant! 

3 Reasons Why Retailers Need to Offer Self-Service Support Online

self_service-BLOG@2x

As Internet usage rises exponentially around the world, so does the popularity of online shopping. And naturally, as self-service shopping becomes more prevalent, the need for complementary self-service customer support becomes even more important for retail stores to introduce. Whether it’s for convenience, savings, location restrictions or any other reason, consumers are spending a lot of time and money with eCommerce retail.

Let’s take a look at some statistics:

  • Global online retail sales are estimated to top $4 trillion by 2020, making up 14.6% of total retail spending. (eMarketer)
  • Retail eCommerce sales in North America will rise 15.6% this year to reach $423.34 billion. (eMarketer)
  • The number of consumers browsing and buying online will hit 270 million by 2020, driven largely by mobile. (Forrester)
  • 72% of people think that self-service support is a fast and easy way to handle support issues. (Desk)

Is your retail store providing online, self-service support to empower customers? Here are a few big reasons to start making the change…

1. Answer Questions Outside “Regular Hours”

Your storefront hours and customer service representative availability will always have a timeframe. Meanwhile, customers are online shopping at any and all hours of the day – they are bound to run into some questions or issues while you’re away. Knowledge bases of information and thorough FAQs are critical to upkeep for online shoppers, and when you put that information into an interactive, easy-to-follow format, customers are all the more likely to find the answers they need quickly and painlessly.

Online decision trees and troubleshooters are the perfect way to set up customers for success outside of official store hours. Rather than forcing customers to search a trove of documents, by guiding end-users through a simple, click-by-click knowledge base they can easily self-solve questions about sizing charts, returns and exchange policies, gift card redeeming, credit card processing, and anything else they might need.

2. Encourage More Sales

Forrester estimates that online retail sales in the United States will grow 17% between 2016 and 2018. However, this fails to represent the huge percentage of customers who are far more likely to make a purchase (either online or in-person) after a successful online experience. In fact, offline sales that were influenced by a web-based interaction or experience hit close to $1.5 trillion just last year. Customers who purchase in your brick and mortar retail store have already looked at your website before walking in the door to buy. For this reason, creating a super-helpful online experience is just as important as the trained sales staff hired to generate interest in-person.

A self-service decision tree can also help encourage more sales online, too. For instance, our clients, Phoenix Bats, created a perfectly customized decision tree to help more customers find the exact right product to fit their needs. The Bat Selector decision tree now helps direct customers to the ideal bat, leading to an increase in overall sales.

3. Streamline Customer Communication

Your store’s website should be doing most of the work – if a customer has to hunt around in order to get some form of contact, you’re off to a rough start. Decision trees make a helpful interactive front-end for directing customers to the right page on your retail website, so people can easily get where they need to go with the power of automated filtering. Plus, they look and work great on any browser – on desktop or mobile – so customers can access a system to communicate with you anywhere with Internet access.

Once your agents are signed back online, any information submitted through your online troubleshooter decision tree during offline hours can be linked directly to any CRM (or live chat tool) your retail store is using, including Freshdesk, Zopim, Intercom, Salesforce, and others


Check out the Zingtree Gallery for decision tree examples.

Ready to start streamlining retail customer support for your eCommerce business? Get in touch with us, or sign up for an account. 

This article was originally published on March 16, 2017.