Article | 3 min read

Q&A with Mike Cartwright of Expedia Affiliate Network

Last updated February 19, 2015

We love to hear stories about the ways that Zendesk helps our customers accomplish their goals. It’s inspiring to see the creativity behind each implementation, and to hear more about the philosophies and experience that drive great customer service.

Meet Mike Cartwright, Chief of Partner Solutions at Expedia Affiliate Network, at Expedia. He joined Expedia just over two years ago at a time when the company was aggressively growing. In fact, they still are. Mike has an extensive background in ITIL, so he’s no stranger to customer service tools. Among his charges is the Partner:Connect team, who work with the many small and big name brands who use Expedia content on their travel sites. A team of 15 super stars, distributed globally across the US, UK, and Asia Pacific, supports thousands of affiliates. Here Mike shares a little about how they do it.

What were your support goals when you joined Expedia?
The very first project I took on was to put in place something that would correctly prioritize and measure what was actually coming in, and how much work there was. What the company was lacking when I came on board was any kind of visibility, tracking, and prioritization of requests, either from new or existing customers.

Let’s be honest, you were not our biggest fan when you first met us.
I didn’t love Zendesk at first, but it was already on the table and I did like that it was very agile. And the fact that it was email-driven was convenient for a team that offered 24 x 5 support. We had an informal follow-the-sun model at the time, by the nature of the location of our consultants. We wanted to be able to hand off tickets and to have everything in one place—to see who said what, what went to the customer or was internal, and just the whole flow of it. I think the most impressive piece for me about Zendesk was how quickly we started getting value from it.

It can be a challenge to ask a team to adopt a new tool. What’s your approach when transitioning agents and customers to think and behave in a new way?
The answer, I think, is very simple. At the end of the day, if a tool makes someone’s life easier, they’re going to use it. I’m a great believer that it’s human nature for people to follow the path of least resistance. Even today we still have account managers who walk up to our desks in London and say, “I need you to look at this problem.”

We’ll say, “That’s not a problem, that’s an incident.” (Sorry, that’s an old ITIL joke.) But I really had to make sure my team was disciplined in politely explaining that we have a queue now, and priorities based on the value each partner brings to our business. Will we look at their problem? Of course we will, but we need them to follow the process. It’s the only way we can make this work for everybody.

If you give people a service, and show them they get results through the service, they’ll adopt it. Once we had all our various teams interacting with Zendesk, it became a natural collaboration tool, and the teams were happy to share requests internally. It just became the simplest way to get stuff shared and tracked.

Can you tell us a funny customer service story, or perhaps a joke?
Well the running joke around here is that every time Zendesk sends cupcakes, I’m not here!

Read the full Expedia Affiliate Network story to learn how they use Zendesk to deflect tickets, speed up the time-to-market for new affiliates, and to drive product innovation

Editor’s note: We sent cupcakes… fingers crossed!