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About a year and a half ago, I started working for a company called The SnapBar. The SnapBar is a photo experience company that specializes in photo booth activations - from glam booths (popularized by the Kardashians) to GIF booths.
In this post, I'm describing the way LiveChat helped to grow our business, keep customers happy and reduce the number of incoming calls.
First years of the SnapBar
Our company started five years ago when our founders were asked to make a photo booth for a friend’s wedding and it turned out to be a smashing success. Since then, the company quickly grew as customers loved to see photo booths on birthdays, weddings, and corporate parties.
We were receiving calls and emails on a daily basis, but we had only three people to do both: respond to customers and run events. Our founders began hiring more people to help keep track of phone calls while others attended the photo booth at events. Soon, we had three people responsible for customer service.
We’ve learned that keeping up with clients and tracking their event details is crucial in the events industry. Between meetings, emails, paperwork, and calls, things got complicated fairly quickly.
Amongst the numerous e-mails we had to deal with, we had between 150-200 calls monthly. Phone calls seemed especially problematic as the details that are shared via phone call can easily be missed when you’re trying to write everything down.
As our company grew, this issue only became more prevalent. With an open office format and bad phone connections, communication was often unclear and frustrating. We had to figure out a way to best serve our clients without missing a beat. But how would we do this?
At the time, we had a relatively small office team and multiple events every weekend -- an open house Saturday morning, a wedding that evening, and a Bat Mitzvah Sunday afternoon.
Each event was planned by a person who trusted us not to screw up. This meant phone calls from each client relaying specifications that were extremely important for the event - from parking and loading to flash sensitivity and non-disclosure instructions.
We had to be sure we didn’t forget, mishear, or misunderstand any of the information relayed to us. Any of these mistakes could result in us having to offer a refund, and worse, creating a stressed out customer.
That’s when we began to think of how we could simplify the customer service process. We figured that the best way would be to implement instant chat on our website – and then we found LiveChat.
LiveChat reduced our phone calls and gave us a reliable way to keep track of event details. We compared the numbers from September and October (two historically slow months) to the months after implementing LiveChat, November,and December (two historically busy months). The decrease was undeniable.
We went from 184 calls in a slow period to 161 in the busy period. We received 128 chats instead, but it was much easier to handle all these requests via chat. It turned out we are much more productive!
Here’s how our seven people team is able to do the work of twenty thanks to LiveChat.
#1. Quick and Easy Access
Have you ever tried to find a phone number for a company and it seems nearly impossible? You have to jump through hoops to even find the link to the contact page! This understandably increases customer frustration before they even get the chance to talk to your team.
LiveChat gives clients quick and easy access to speak to our operations and events teams before they get frustrated. This is incredibly important as the times' change and immediate satisfaction is demanded. In a recent report by the CFI group, a Customer Experience Management company, CEO Shari Petras states:
Millennials simply expect the information to be available at their fingertips. Just having to reach out to a contact center at all because they couldn't find the information themselves with a few taps on their phone puts an organization behind the 8-ball right away. And when half of these inquiries are not resolved with the first contact, you are creating ill will among a key customer base. Millennials are now the nation's largest living demographic, so paying attention to the preferences of this group is absolutely critical if contact centers hope to thrive in this changing customer service environment.
This means that if a customer can contact a company and receive an answer in just a single step, the company has better odds of keeping on par with or moving ahead of their competitors.
In relation to the events industry, this is incredibly important. Rather than a client making multiple phone calls each time a new detail comes up and dealing with the frustration of finding that number or e-mail address, LiveChat allows for quick communication.
This saves time for both parties while removing the stress that a phone call can entail. Clients don’t feel like they are nagging, and we don’t feel overwhelmed by the ringing phones.
#2. Multiple Chats
In a small business, each person has multiple responsibilities. From sales and customer service to an organization, and it can be hard to balance. A small bakery might have multiple people calling to place an order while also dealing with in-store customers. In this situation, phones just add stress.
Sure, you can answer and put someone on hold while you finish dealing with the in-store customers or the other call. But putting them on hold consumes their precious time and increases frustration. Putting someone on hold increases their likelihood to give up and hang up. That’s a lost customer, or at the very least, an unhappy customer. But how much do these few lost and unhappy customers really affect your company?
In an analysis done by DialogTech, 15% of callers waiting for assistance tended to give up about 40 seconds into the call. The same study talked about how 60% of calls were directed to an agent in approximately a minute.
If 15% of your callers are never reaching an agent, this could have some serious implications for your business. If the call was a sales call, then you just missed a potential sale. If it was a support call, you just created a bad experience for your customer. If 60% of calls were answered in just over a minute, across all sizes of businesses, think about what answering in 40 seconds could do for you as you strive to beat the competition. Answering 15% more calls is nothing to sneeze at.
This means that if we focus on answering all requests immediately, that’s 15% or more customers who won’t move on to the competition. They are happy customers who will talk about their experience and suggest your company to friends and family, which results in even more customers beyond the 15%. But answering all calls immediately is literally impossible, especially for small businesses.
Fortunately for our company, using a tool like LiveChat helped us keep up with the 15%. While LiveChat gives easy access to our customer happiness teams, it also allows for multiple chats at once. Our average chat time is 8-10 minutes, so being able to communicate with two clients at once helps us keep wait times down exponentially.
We are able to discuss parking details for Dani’s Bat Mitzvah on Saturday while sending a quote request to Nike in between replies. This means that we are able to speak with each client immediately while still keeping our incoming call rate down. Because of this, we’ve stayed ahead of the competition by creating happy and loyal customers.
#3. Detailed Conversations
When our company primarily used phones for customer communication in the past, we found a struggle in the unreliability of clear sounds and service. The events industry is incredibly detailed; if one specification is missed, it can lead to mayhem on the day of the event.
For any company, a misunderstood request or a detail can create an unhappy customer and often times a lost customer. Even when the sound and service is clear, that doesn’t guarantee an understanding between the two parties.
Accents, dialects, or speech impediments can make it a struggle to understand customer requests over the phone. Even more, working in an open office format, as many small businesses do, causes an increased amount of background noise that’s hard to escape.
Exceed Sales, an online sales consulting company wrote an article on the common problems in customer service. One of the main issues that they highlight is poor or no communication. It then follows up the problem with how it should be properly handled:
It is imperative that customer resolution personnel listen more than they talk when working to resolve a customer’s issue. In addition to having exceptional listening skills, it is important to communicate you’ve got the message. Summarize the issue for the customer to confirm that you understand their concern. Not only is this a comfort, it promotes calm, which is a positive catalyst when resolving issues.
While poor communication often stems from untrained or apathetic employees, it can also be the result of the parties mishearing each other. We were able to cut down on miscommunications. With LiveChat, clients send in their specific questions and requests. We are then able to ask questions that perfect and refine their requests and document the details in our event planner.
LiveChat cuts down on the “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that,” and moves directly into “Thanks, Mary! We have your details down. We can’t wait to be a part of your retirement party! Is there anything else I can help you with?” In the case that we do miss a detail, we can access the chat archive and gather the information from there. After implementing the LiveChat application, our reliability and organization increased. This created a peace for both our planning team and the client.
Fewer phone calls, more time for customers
By giving our customers quick and easy access, reducing their wait time, and having detailed conversations with our customers, we were able to help our employees balance phone calls and lower stress levels. We’ve created satisfied customers with our quick response rate and reliability, which has resulted in hundreds of five-star reviews.
Now, we're successfully executing hundreds of events per year! Customers regularly tell us we are a breeze to deal with. Much of this is a result of the ease that tools like LiveChat have brought to our customers and team. Can a company be this successful without the help of an application like this? Sure, anything is possible.
However, it would likely cost them a lot more money on extra employees and training, and their growth would be slower and whole lot more annoying. These apps don’t do the work for you. But they help to bring your company to its full potential very quickly. For our company and our work in the events industry, LiveChat really has become “the fastest way to help our customers!”