We’re always striving to be better than we were yesterday and there’s so many more experiences we want to deliver. Salesforce is a great partner to have on this journey.”

Nigel Piper | Executive General Manager, Customer

Xero transforms service for more than 2 million customers

Xero was founded in 2006 to change the game for small businesses by providing them with accounting tools, information, and connections that help them thrive. Today, the cloud-based accounting giant is excelling in this goal, helping more than 2 million customers transform the way they do business. It’s also helping its customers and partners navigate the challenges created by COVID-19.

"We're passionate about small businesses and the value they bring to our communities, and it’s important for us to look after them. This includes helping them make sense of an overwhelming amount of COVID-related information so they can access available support and keep their businesses running,” said Nigel Piper, Executive General Manager, Customer at Xero.

Xero’s partnership with Salesforce has supported its response to COVID-19 as well as the company’s broader goals to build a better experience for customers and employees.

Planning for growth

Xero first began using Salesforce nearly five years ago to streamline sales and scale support. At the time, the sales team managed leads in spreadsheets and Customer Success agents had to navigate through multiple screen views while serving customers over phone and email. As the company looked to grow globally, it needed a more efficient way of working.

“When I joined in 2012, we had around 100,000 customers and I remember someone pulling me aside on Day 2 and saying that we’d have a million customers someday. It was planning for that growth that made us think quite differently about the customer experience we wanted to provide,” said Piper.

When it came to choosing a solution to help build that experience, Xero had three key requirements. First, the solution had to enable an experience that was as beautifully simple as Xero’s own software. Second, it had to be designed for the future; Xero is always thinking five years ahead and there was no sense in putting outdated technology into a digital company. Finally, a great customer and employee experience was crucial and any solution had to be easy to use and enable people to do their best work.

“We aimed to set a benchmark for what support looked like in a SaaS company and wanted to partner with a leader who could help define that experience,” said Natalie Screen, General Manager of Customer Success at Xero. “Choosing Salesforce gave us the ability to be quite unique in our approach.”

This uniqueness has included a strategy to purposely grow the number of support interactions rather than reduce them. The idea was that encouraging customers to ask questions and engage with Xero online would lead to a better customer experience and allow Xero to deliver more value. Through its use of Salesforce, Xero has proven this hypothesis while also increasing the efficiency of support. This includes more than 20% improvement in average speed to answer.

Increasing customer happiness

One of Xero’s first steps in transforming the experience of customers and employees was the roll out of Sales Cloud for direct and partner sales. Much more efficient than the spreadsheets used previously, Sales Cloud has streamlined processes like lead management, opportunity management and understanding a customers’ lifecycle. It also provides a complete view of customers.

Service Cloud was rolled out soon after, equipping the Customer Success team with all of the tools and information needed to manage customer service from one central screen. This includes Salesforce Knowledge which contains thousands of articles that help agents quickly answer customers’ questions. Service Cloud has also streamlined case management and Xero is now able to track how enquiries progress from one touch point to the next.

According to Screen, service has significantly improved with increases across several metrics. These include customer happiness which has increased by more than 20 points. In addition, more than 95% of customers' questions are answered instantly through beautiful personalised content.

“Service Cloud has been amazing and saved our team four million mouse clicks in the first year. By helping us improve our back office, Salesforce has also allowed us to focus on proactive engagement and predicting what customers need next,” said Screen.

Driving engagement

Xero’s early successes with Salesforce encouraged it to move forward with a platform approach and leverage solutions like Community Cloud and Marketing Cloud to deliver a more connected customer experience.

Talking about this decision, Airdre Knox, General Manager of Customer Systems at Xero, said, “We viewed Salesforce as the art of the possible in enabling us to build and scale this experience. It gives us a single view of the customer and helps us to deliver on a unified content strategy.”

Xero Central is at the heart of this content strategy. Built on Community Cloud and leveraging Coveo for AI-powered search, it helps customers and partners quickly find the support and answers they need. This includes the same Knowledge articles available to agents as well as videos and other learning content delivered via Appinium from the AppExchange.

“In the past there were multiple places people could go to for support, but through Xero Central we have consolidated everything. There’s now one doorway through to a consistent library of contextually rich information that gets surfaced to our customers in real time, using the power of Coveo,” said Piper.

Communicating through crisis

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Xero Central community has served as a gateway to news and other resources to help customers and partners manage through the crisis. This includes information to help them access government stimulus packages and maintain business continuity.

The sheer amount of information from the government can be overwhelming for small business owners, so Xero has been working with departments like the Inland Revenue Department to demystify this and provide clarity on what’s important. This is especially valuable for business owners who need the right information to make challenging decisions.

Recognising that many small businesses may be struggling with cash flow and cannot invest in new services or advice, Xero is also publishing articles and webinars on topics like working from home, security, and wellbeing.

Some of these resources, particularly those related to wellbeing and resilience, were created for employees first and Xero has taken the philosophy to take everything that is relevant and share with customers too. In this way, Xero Central has become a trusted source of information for small businesses who don’t often have access to help, guidance, and advice in the same way that large businesses do.

“The fact we have this community in place and can publish new tools at the speed of pushing a button, means the way we can support customers is streaks ahead,” said Screen.

Having the right technology and processes in place has also helped Xero move quickly in supporting its team at this time. The company was able to transition 3,000+ employees in 20 offices to remote working and enable them to work effectively and productively from home.

Building for the future

As Xero continues to navigate through this crisis, it also remains focused on the future and how it can further improve the customer experience. The company is already using Marketing Cloud to orchestrate personalised customer journeys and interact with customers through social media and targeted advertising. Using Social Studio, Xero is now planning to introduce social customer service which will allow it to convert social interactions directly into cases. It is also exploring how it can use Einstein Analytics to build out more predictive journeys and support the sales team in identifying next best actions.

Xero has established a large team of Salesforce experts who are leading this work together with their business colleagues and the Salesforce Success Cloud team.

“We’re always striving to be better than we were yesterday and there’s so many more experiences we want to deliver. Salesforce is a great partner to have on this journey,” said Piper.


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