Zendesk announced this week that it has secured $19 million in Series C funding. The company, which powers the help desks for companies like RackSpace and Twitter, has now raised over $25 million. Also, Zendesk just launched new features for its Salesforce.com integration that will bring improved analytics capabilities to its users. I caught up with Maksim Ovsyannikov, vice president of product management at Zendesk, at Dreamforce and talked with him about what the company is going to do with the money, and how its deeper integration with Salesforce.com fits in with those plans.

Ovsyannikov told me the company plans to invest in improving three core strengths:

  • Simplicity: Zendesk will spend money on making its product even easier to use. Ovsyannikov says the company is planning on investing in information architecture improvements to help customers find answers without having to look too hard.
  • Infrastructure: As a SaaS, Zendesk provides the infrastructure for its customers' service desks. The company will make further investments in improving its infrastructure.
  • Multiple Support Channels: Zendesk already support multiple channels for customer engagement: the web-based help desk, e-mail and social media. Zendesk is already deepening its integration with Salesforce.com. Ovsyannikov says the company is also very interested in branching into voice, citing Gartner research indicating that over 60% of customer interactions still take place over the phone.

This last point is quite interesting, and it will need that additional infrastructure to start supporting voice calls. It will also put Zendesk closer to being a cloud-based contact center rather than "just" a service desk provider.

And multichannel support is critical for Zendesk right now. Salesforce.com actually has its own service desk built into it, yet Zendesk remains a popular choice for Salesforce.com users. Why would Salesforce.com users want to use Zendesk if they already have a service desk available to them? Ovsyannikov says customers tell him two reasons: 1) Zendesk's multi-channel support and 2) Zendesk offers "many-to-many" support through knowledge bases and forums in addition to one-on-one support.

Salesforce.com is Zendesk's most popular integration. The reason this combination is so synergistic is that the people who build relationships with customers are support staff, not sales. But most CRM tools weren't built for support staff. Zendesk's integration with Salesforce.com helps change that.

There's been just one snag so far. Most organizations like to keep track of their service desk metrics. And Salesforce.com's dashboards have become the go-to spot for metrics and analytics for its users. But most organizations want to track service desk metrics too. That means that managers trying to track metrics for both Salesforce.com and Zendesk have had to look in two different places.

Zendesk now offers the ability to automatically create a Salesforce.com case when a ticket is created. This gives Salesforce.com administrators a way to service data from Zendesk for analytics purposes. This functionality compliments Zendesks's improved integration with Twitter.

Zendesk is shy about using the term "social CRM" to describe its product. But especially when combined with Salesforce.com, Zendesk's ability to monitor, engage and analyze social media interaction puts Zendesk firmly in that market.

Zendesk competes with companies such as Get Satisfaction, RightNow and Zoho.