Online retailer Rugs.com uses Intercom to power their customer communication across sales and support, driving increased engagement and higher checkout conversions using a conversational, messenger-based approach.
With the onset of COVID-19 and the accelerated move towards online shopping, Grayson Bagwell, Director of Business Development at Rugs.com, notes the sharp increase in shopping volume the business has experienced in the last 12 months as a result of people spending more time at home.
“As we were growing, we were looking for ways to get rid of the traditional phone calls, emails, and things like that. We were using Olark chat, but it wasn’t very flexible”
Having grown significantly over the past two decades, Grayson explains that the Rugs.com team needed to find a customer communication platform that would enable them to support and engage customers at scale – while still keeping their communication personal. “As we were growing, we were looking for ways to get rid of the traditional phone calls, emails, and things like that,” he says. “We were using Olark chat, but it wasn’t very flexible. We needed something that could both pre-qualify customers with the hope of being able to sell to them in the future and support them by guiding them through the buying process.”
Supporting customers through conversations
Intercom has enabled the Rugs.com support team to efficiently manage the sharp increase in conversation volume they’ve experienced as a result of the pandemic in the past year. Currently receiving 30,000 conversations every month, Grayson explains that for the first time ever, the team has been able to drop their first-response time to under two minutes.
“A customer service agent can be on one phone call with one person at a time. With chat, you can handle anywhere up to 10 conversations and help so many more people in the same amount of time it would take to resolve that phone call”
Compared with traditional channels such as phone or email, Grayson highlights the efficiency gains the team has experienced since implementing Intercom. “A customer service agent can be on one phone call with one person at a time,” he says. “With chat, you can handle anywhere up to 10 conversations and help so many more people in the same amount of time it would take to resolve that phone call.”
Getting ahead of known issues
The Rugs.com team uses Outbound Messages and Banners in Intercom to proactively communicate with and support their customers. When a known issue arises, Grayson explains that the team can trigger a pop-up message to let customers know that the team is aware of the problem and that it’s being worked on. From there, customers can choose to either chat with the team to get additional help or be walked through a workaround by a custom bot. “If something goes wrong, we send a message to customers to help them through the process,” Grayson says. “Now, instead of receiving lots of inbound queries when something happens, we’re able to proactively direct customers to the Intercom Messenger so they can self-serve.”
“Banners is a great product for being able to proactively communicate with customers without having to change something on the website with the help of a developer”
The team is also leveraging Banners to display notices across the website without engineering resources and keep customers informed when temporary issues arise. This ensures that customers have a smooth shopping experience and that the support team doesn’t get overwhelmed with inbound queries when a problem occurs. “Banners is a great product for being able to proactively communicate with customers without having to change something on the website with the help of a developer,” Grayson says.
Championing behind-the-scenes efficiency
The team uses a combination of Custom Bots and Resolution Bot to collect valuable information about customers to answer their questions in context and reach faster resolutions, with Resolution Bot helping to answer simple FAQs. “Intercom’s bots are great. I love the idea of being able to automate a lot of the information customers are looking for,” Grayson says.
“We knew that one of our most common incoming queries was ‘What size rug should I buy?’, so we were able to program Resolution Bot to share our sizing guide with customers, rather than have their question directed to the team”
“We knew that one of our most common incoming queries was ‘What size rug should I buy?’, so we were able to program Resolution Bot to share our sizing guide with customers, rather than have their question directed to the team,” Grayson explains. In doing this, Rugs.com’s support can remain efficient and support reps are afforded more time to deal with complex and urgent customer issues.
The power of smart automation
According to Grayson, some of the benefits of leveraging bots and automation with Intercom are:
- The collection of information upfront leads to better customer experiences and faster resolutions.
- Combining the power of bots and routing capabilities speeds up response times.
- Apps and integrations allow the team to integrate other tools they use, like Google Calendar and Dialpad, so they can schedule time to chat with customers.
Data-informed support and engagement
Leveraging a combination of both their own data and the data collected through Intercom, Grayson notes that the team is analyzing customer behavior on the website to see when specific actions are being taken. With this knowledge, the team can be proactive in getting in touch with the customer to offer help with a purchase or provide useful updates.
“If we can see that customers are looking at the order status page and there’s been no movement on their order, we can send them a message to let them know that the product is with our shipping partner and that they should expect it soon,” says Grayson. In sending proactive messages of this kind, the team has reduced their overall inbound conversation volume because customers are offered help before it’s needed.
Driving increased sales
In addition to empowering the Rugs.com team to build a better support experience, the ability to send targeted messages to shoppers through Intercom has also helped to increase sales and drive checkout conversions. “We’re sending outbound messages based on customer behavior on the website to say, ‘Hey, we noticed that you’re interested in this product. How can we help you answer any questions?’,” Grayson says. “We’re also sending tailored messages to returning customers who have shopped with us in the past.” Not only is this helping them to assist shoppers with their purchase and boost sales, it’s also enabling the team to build lasting relationships with their customers and ensure they return to shop with them again.
“Ultimately, the goal is to create less friction for customers as they’re shopping with us”
Looking ahead, the team plans to dig deeper into on-site behavioral data to be able to show customers the products they’ve previously added to their shopping carts but didn’t purchase in order to completely personalize their shopping experience. As Grayson explains, “Ultimately, the goal is to create less friction for customers as they’re shopping with us.”
A new approach to customer communication
Since implementing Intercom’s conversational support solution, Grayson notes that the ability to chat with customers has had a massive impact on the overall shopping experience. “Before Intercom, our approach to live chat was ‘If somebody’s available, get on it,’ and I really wanted to change that because if we have a bad customer experience post-purchase, it’s going to affect future customers. Intercom has helped us to tackle this and handle the huge increase in conversation volume that we saw,” he says.
In changing their approach, Grayson notes that the impact of Intercom’s conversational support has been felt across their other customer communication channels. With the team leaning more into chat, they’re seeing dramatic decreases in their response and hold times across the board. “During busy times, our phone hold times were 30-45 minutes and email response times were anywhere up to five days. Since we implemented Intercom and started pointing customers to the messenger, phone hold times have dropped to 10-15 minutes and our email response time is under 24 hours,” he says.
Planning for the future
Looking ahead, Grayson points to the big plans the Rugs.com team has for creating even stronger experiences for their customers as the business continues to grow, saying, “Rugs.com is one of the stores that lives under the Unique USA brand. We have five US-based e-commerce stores in total, and I want to roll Intercom out across all of them.”
“When we were calculating the labor we’d need to meet our goals last year, we forecasted needing 100 people. With the help of Intercom, we were able to achieve those goals with a team of 40”
Reflecting on their journey with Intercom so far, Grayson points to the impact the platform has had in helping the team to unlock business growth over the last 12 months. “When we were calculating the labor we’d need to meet our goals last year, we forecasted needing 100 people. With the help of Intercom, we were able to achieve those goals with a team of 40,” he says. “It was just great, honestly. And Intercom was really at the forefront of that.”