Recapping Relate: Zendesk & Ultimate Introduce All-New AI Agents

Zendesk and Ultimate's AI agents.

During his 2024 keynote speech at Relate, Zendesk’s annual customer conference in Las Vegas, Zendesk CEO Tom Eggemeier introduced the latest product innovation: AI agents. These new AI-powered bots combine the best of Ultimate’s and Zendesk’s technology, are purpose built for CX, and put humans first.

There’s no doubt that we’ve entered the AI era. From self-driving cars to personalized shopping recommendations, AI is a part of nearly every aspect of modern life. And when it comes to customer support, it's a game-changer. Or at least, it has the potential to be a game-changer if you do it right. 

And Zendesk is committed to doing it right. As Zendesk CEO Tom Eggemeier mentioned in his Relate keynote address,

“AI has the potential to be groundbreaking, but it also has the potential to create new issues. That’s why we at Zendesk are creating AI in the service of human beings.”

Tom also announced Zendesk’s vision of bringing the AI era to CX, highlighting how recent acquisitions (including us here at Ultimate!) along with some key product developments are changing the game.

We’ve put together this recap of the opening keynote address plus the dedicated AI agents session to help you — our current customers and CX community — understand how these developments are going to enable you to deliver service that is more personalized, more proactive, and ultimately better for your customers. 

Introducing AI agents: The most autonomous bots in CX

Lisa Kant, SVP Product and Solutions Marketing at Zendesk began her talk with the following proposition, “Imagine a personal concierge that’s always on call for your customers, ready to provide immediate assistance. With the latest AI technology, and our newest friends from Ultimate, we’re introducing the next generation of AI powered bots: Zendesk’s AI agents.

After 8 years of creating this powerful platform, working alongside some of the world’s most customer-centric brands, and building a strong partnership with our friends over at Zendesk, the team here at Ultimate is thrilled to continue this journey as one team within Zendesk. 

Read the message from Ultimate’s CEO on joining the Zendesk family. 

Backed by Ultimate’s AI technology, Zendesk’s new AI agents are equipped to understand and fully resolve even the most complex customer questions, as well as:

  • Provide quick and accurate service every time
  • Understand the question and deliver the right response, automatically, generated from your Zendesk knowledge base
  • Connect to your back office systems to fully resolve requests from start to finish
  • Provide proactive support, such as offering products a customer might want to purchase, to directly drive revenue 

Basically, they’re the most autonomous bots in the industry. And now, an AI-powered agent can be a reality for all Zendesk customers. 

Get started with an AI agent today — build your own generative AI powered bot for free.

The customer is always human

Zendesk CMO Kelly Waldher also gave the crowd a sneak peek of their latest brand campaign ad. The campaign, entitled “the customer is always human”, sums up Zendesk’s approach to CX in the age of AI: that there’s always a human being on the other end of any service interaction. 

Check out “The customer is always human” brand campaign ad

Kelly explained, “We believe, here at Zendesk, that AI has the potential to deliver experiences that are more personal, more satisfying, and that AI can help you connect with customers in a way that’s authentically more human.” Which is why we here at Ultimate are so excited about joining forces with Zendesk. Our mission has always been to use AI to make customer service a joy for customers and for the agents serving them. This shared vision, combined with our industry-leading AI, will propel Zendesk’s offerings into the future.  

Gaze further into the future of CX in our Future-gazing AI video series. 

Speaking of the future, Tom had three bold predictions for the future of CX and AI. Zendesk believes that within the next three years:  

  • 100% of interactions will involve AI in some form
  • 80% of interactions will be resolved without a human agent
  • The overall quality of interactions will go up (whether that’s measured by NPS, CSAT or any other metric

Learn how ethical cosmetics company Lush reached a 93% CSAT score despite the Black Friday rush and UK Royal Mail strikes.

How AI agents work: A look under the hood

In an exciting first, our co-founders — COO Sarah Al-Hussaini and CEO Reetu Kainulainen — took the stage with Zendesk’s senior product executives Cristina Fonseca and Candace Marshall for a session following the keynote entitled: “AI agents: A new era for AI bots”. They detailed to an engaged audience exactly how to reach game-changing automation rates with a tried and tested roadmap.

Here’s how to get started with an AI agent and ramp up your automation rate in 5 simple steps:

1. Launch a gen AI bot in minutes

Enable your AI agent to access your Zendesk knowledge base. Using generative AI, it can reply to any question answered in your knowledge base, with no training required.

2. Add control and customization with dialogues

Control which questions or topics are off-limits for gen AI to answer, and instead write scripted dialogue flows to answer these queries. Build these workflows out easily with our no-code, drag and drop dialogue builder. 

3. Unlock end-to-end automation with backend integrations

Take automation to the next level by giving your AI agent access to your backend systems — like your order management system or your courier — so it can pull the same information your human agents can.

4. Optimize workflows with robust analytics suite

Review data about how your AI agent is performing to track the real value they’re delivering and make tweaks to improve your workflows.

5. Drive continued success with customer insights, use cases, and markets

Up your automation rate by adding complex use cases, multiple languages, and more.

Learn more about our tailored approach to reaching 60% automation rates and beyond.

Our speakers also went over 3 real Zendesk x Ultimate customer stories who are seeing success at varying automation rates. Because ultimately, an AI agent is completely tailored to your service workflows, so success might look different for everyone. Here are some customers seeing killer results:

  • Taskrabbit has a 22% automation rate and serves customers in 9 languages 
  • Stitch Fix has a 40% automation rate and a 29% decrease in average handle time
  • DiscoverCars has a 96% automation rate and saves over 440 agent hours per month

See all our customer success stories.

The complete CX solution for the AI era 

Zendesk’s AI agents aren’t the only tool that will revolutionize the way your customer service team works. Zendesk is building an all-in-one solution that enables exceptional human experiences across the board. As a part of that, they’ve acquired several other AI-powered solutions and enhanced some of their in-house AI offerings.

  • Zendesk Agent Copilot: This AI-powered assistant that's been purpose-built for customer service proactively pushes the answer to your agents, instead of them having to type what they’re looking for.
  • Zendesk WFM (Formerly Tymeshift): Zendesk Workforce Management allows you to optimize staffing with AI, so you can ensure your agents are always ready to respond when your customers need them. 
  • Zendesk QA (Formerly Klaus): Zendesk Quality Assurance scores each of your agents’ customer interactions (including your AI agents) using the latest AI technology to highlight where they’re doing well and where they could improve, so you can optimize workflows.

Taken together, with AI woven into all workflows including AI agents, Agent Copilot, WFM, and QA, Zendesk is enabling your agents to do their jobs better, provide empathic customer service when it’s needed most, while allowing AI to take care of everything else. The result? A better, faster, more customized experience for your customers and employees alike.

The future of CX is now

AI is reshaping how our world works. For customer service, that means that it can help resolve issues faster, in higher volumes, with higher customer satisfaction. 

Zendesk was founded on the belief that customer experiences could be made better by taking a digital approach. And in the age of AI, Zendesk continues to set the standard for personalized, proactive service. With the combined forces of Zendesk and Ultimate, we have the power to completely revolutionize the industry and provide superior service at scale.

Get started with an AI Agent today