Customer stories

How Ekster Used Automation to Cover the Workload of 4 Agents

tickets automated
monthly tickets
smaller customer support team

Challenge: Ekster handles 21,000 tickets monthly, swelling by 20% during peak sale seasons. Many were repetitive questions — easy to answer but time-consuming at scale. After significantly downsizing its support team, Ekster needed more efficient ways to manage peak surges in customer tickets.

: Ekster implemented Gorgias Automate to strategically automate key support tasks. By following Gorgias’s automation playbook, Ekster achieved a 27% automation rate for customer tickets, boosting efficiency to manage the same workload with a 33% smaller team.

Ekster began in 2015 by reimagining the traditional bifold wallet, making it easier to use and harder to lose. Stylish and sustainable, Ekster’s market-leading smart wallets, bags, cases, and accessories have put the company on track to $50M in annual revenue. A certified B-Corp, Ekster grew from 12 to 45 employees in just the past two years. 

The challenge: Managing peak season surges more efficiently, with a smaller team

On an average month, Ekster’s support team manages 21,000 customer tickets. During peak seasons — for Ekster, Father’s Day, and Black Friday to Christmas — this number surges by up to 20%. During the spikes, the team strives to continue delivering excellent customer service.

Like many ecommerce retailers, Ekster receives a lot of repetitive queries about order status, shipping, returns, and product specifics. While straightforward, these recurring questions are time-consuming, monotonous for the staff, and pull attention away from complex or escalated tickets.

Navigating these challenges became even more daunting when Ekster refined its growth strategy to focus mainly on the North American market. They shifted from having two customer support teams — 7 agents in Argentina and 5 in the Philippines — to a US-centric team, eliminating the Philippines-based roles. 

Cutting the support team by nearly half posed a huge challenge in terms of managing workload. With Father’s Day on the horizon, Ekster decided to leverage Automate to better manage the approaching upsurge in customer tickets, even with a reduced workforce. 

“Letting 5 customer support agents go in April was a bit heavy, especially during Father's Day — a huge peak season for us. So we decided to look into how Gorgias automation could help us work more efficiently. We needed to ramp up to better manage the peak seasons."

— Shauna Cleary, Head of Ecommerce at Ekster

The solution: Gorgias Automate gives instant answers to save the team's time

Ekster set up Automate, aiming to save time while boosting customer experience, by instantly answering common customer questions.

Quick Responses help answer common questions faster

Ekster set up Quick Responses to provide quick, automated replies to frequently asked questions within the chat widget.

If the customer has follow-up questions, they can click “I need more help” to get routed to an agent. This way, agents only receive customers who have complex questions (or far prefer talking to an agent) while Automate handles the basic, repetitive questions. 

Leveraging the Help Center and Article Recommendations

Gorgias’s Help Center and automated Article Recommendations have also been a big hit for Ekster. Article Recommendations use AI to monitor incoming chat tickets, and share relevant Help Center content when there’s a good answer. 

By building out a large array of articles covering common — and less-common questions — you can ensure there’s an Article Recommendation for a substantial slice of queries received.

"Our previous Help Center solution was the worst. I hated it. Then I saw Gorgias’s Help Center features, and how the Article Recommendations could answer shoppers’ questions instantly, and I loved it. I thought: this is just what we need."

— Shauna Cleary, Head of Ecommerce at Ekster

Achieving impressive automation rates

Using the strategies above and following advice from the Gorgias automation playbook, Ekster achieved a stellar 27% automation rate for its customer tickets. Breaking it down, its automation achievements spanned across:  

By optimizing these five pillars, Ekster ensured that its team wasn't just efficient but also poised to handle any volume of customer tickets, peak season or not.

The results: 27% automation rate boosts customer service, cuts staff costs, and reduces staff stress

Automating 27% of tickets has brought multiple benefits for Ekster, broken down by feature as follows:

  • Quick Responses (+10%)
  • Article Recommendations (+8%)
  • Returns with LoopReturn (+3%)
  • Tracking orders in the Help Center (+3%)
  • Order Management (+3%)

The eight-person support team can navigate peak seasons efficiently, even with 33% fewer agents than before. Staff costs have been reduced, along with staff stress — all without compromising customer satisfaction.

“We're really happy with Automate. If we hadn’t had it for peak season, managing the 17–20% extra tickets would have been too much for us because we had just let nearly half the team go. With Automate, my team is on top for the three most important months of the year."

— Shauna Cleary, Head of Ecommerce at Ekster

Despite scaling down the customer support team significantly, the efficiency gains from Gorgias’s automation mean Ekster can still handle the same volume of tickets.  

"With all the automations we’ve set up in Gorgias, and because our team in Buenos Aires has ramped up, we didn't have to rehire any extra agents."

— Shauna Cleary, Head of Ecommerce at Ekster

Repetitive tasks can sap morale. But Gorgias's automation removed that obstacle for Ekster's team while improving productivity.

"When you work in customer support, you can get a little bored answering the same questions over and over. Automate took away that boredom for my team, and they are more motivated. And because automation absorbs a lot of tickets, it allows my team to connect with our clients more genuinely."

— Shauna Cleary, Head of Ecommerce at Ekster

Next steps for Ekster and Gorgias

Ekster is currently trying out Gorgias’s Revenue Add-on, with promising results already for driving revenue via automated pop-up campaigns. 

Although Ekster has already hit dizzying heights with 27% automation, Shauna is convinced they can improve this further by finetuning their set-up.

“Our automation rate is amazing but we think it can be higher. I think we can be way more efficient even in terms of how we display information in our Help Center, and how we update Article Recommendations. I honestly think there's so much more we can do!”

— Shauna Cleary, Head of Ecommerce at Ekster

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