In 2020, Zendesk wanted a fresh way to engage audiences. The world was overflowing with virtual events, so the company set out to build an experience that engaged customers—differently.
Everything Zendesk makes is driven by the notion of helpfulness. The service-first CRM company builds software that helps billions of businesses solve customer problems.
But during the pandemic, when many Zendesk customers were snowed under, it was clear that helpfulness had to show up in new ways. This time, Zendesk wanted to be helpful by spreading a little gratitude.
Enter Thank You Machine, a brand awareness campaign centered in empathy. The goal of the digital experience was to inject appreciation, especially in the customer support industry. And true to the Zendesk brand, it had to be charming, a touch quirky, and welcoming for all.
The strategy behind Thank You Machine was to make it easy for anyone to spread gratitude. For customers and the wider public, the experience spread a dose of positivity in daily lives, while the world figured out how to get through the rollercoaster of a new world. And for the customer support industry, Zendesk hoped to inspire a culture of defaulting to appreciation.
From concept to launch, Zendesk built Thank You Machine in six weeks. The interactive website is a simple and delightful way for users to make and send thank you cards online. All cards made using Thank You Machine are custom and feature illustrations by UK collective, Nous Vous.
To begin, users choose to create a card for a colleague, friend, or family member. Next, they pick a pre-filled message prompt or write their own note. They add a charming illustration with the avatar creator, selecting from a diverse mix of heads, bodies, hair, and accessories.
When complete, users share their card directly with the recipient or post it on social. The share image is the completed card, which encourages others to visit the experience to make their own.
The landing page of Thank You Machine is updated in real time, showcasing all cards that have been created with the experience. The website also features an area of customer experience stories, which spotlight how empathy is showing up for Zendesk customers in 2020. These include stories of gratitude from Squarespace, Freshly, and a mix of charities.
'A Better Me' video
A Better Me is a take on a breaking news story. It’s offbeat, but heartwarming. It’s tongue-and-cheek, but sincere.
The video opens with a charismatic anchor, revealing breaking news. They declare that a new discovery is helping millions of people adapt to working from home: Thank You Machine.
It cuts to a woman, peacefully sitting in her home office. She explains that sending notes of appreciation is helping her to be a better version of herself. When the camera suddenly reveals her surroundings, it’s total mayhem. There’s a fire, a kid running wild, paint smeared on the walls, and a turtle chewing cables.
Amid chaos, the video’s charm is in the character’s reaction. She remains totally nonchalant, despite what’s happening. For the audience, the moment might be a comforting reflection of their own feelings as they navigate the rollercoasters of 2020.
The video ends with a stylised runthrough of the Thank You Machine experience. On-screen text reinforces the message: ”Be a better you”—something that can be made possible with Thank You Machine.
Users around the world have created and sent over 11,000 cards with Thank You Machine. The experience is now available in ten localized languages.
In December, Zendesk launched a festive holiday update, which allows users to make and send custom holiday cards—and even bop along to an original Zendesk tune.
Across social channels, Thank You Machine has had over 21 million social impressions, and 2.5 million video views. Internally, the campaign is the most engaged with shared organic content for Zendesk on LinkedInElevate.
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