Shopify wants online businesses to focus on what they do best—making their customers happy. Shopify takes all the hassle and heavy lifting of managing an ecommerce store, and offer entrepreneurs an easy to use platform to host their online store. At the height of its success, Shopify wanted a communications platform that was as easy to customize and scale as its ecommerce platform. To scale the quality of customer service, Shopify chose Twilio to power its call center and more.
Shopify was founded on the principle of building a better customer experience. Shopify founder Tobias Lütke was sick of navigating terrible websites to shop for snowboards, so he built his own platform to sell them. Shortly after, this platform became what we know now as Shopify. More than 10 years later, Shopify has more than 100,000 active eCommerce sites as users with a gross merchandising volume of $5 billion. Director of Revenue Operations, Richard Hall, is responsible for keeping that decade of success going strong.
Hall wanted to drastically upscale Shopify's customer support experience, and drastically reduce wait time. As a deeply technical company, Hall was confident their team could build, deploy, and manage communications tools to empower the support team. He wanted standard features like call conferencing, automatic call distribution which any vendor could provide. Shopify's on-premises, legacy communication vendor at the moment had a rigid platform that made it impossible to build new, more advanced features fast—or at all. Hall quickly realized it was time to look for another platform, so he turned to Twilio.
But, Hall’s main focus was having complete control of the call center so he could add new, more advanced features like call tracking, recording, dynamic queuing without having to add or replace hardware, or wait months and months for a plan from a vendor. This freedom was essential to Shopify’s future as a flexible and agile company, and it wanted to be in charge of its call center. To ensure that freedom and flexibility, Shopify built its own call center from the ground up using Twilio.
"From the day we made the decision to buy Twilio, we were up and running in a week in a half," said Hall. Waiting the typical 18 months to approve and deploy an on-premises call center was not an option for a lean and fast-moving company like Shopify. Hall chose Twilio so he could have control over his team's tools and respond to their feedback. If his team requests a change to tools they use everyday like one-click dialing through the browser, the change is as simple as altering a few lines of code and pressing deploy. As Shopify’s needs change, Hall can to adapt the Twilio-powered call center to those changes in real-time, without submitting a proposal for a new feature, waiting for approval, and waiting for installation of hardware he can’t customize.
Shopify chose Twilio for pay-as-you-go pricing, and the ability to build using the Shopify team's preferred programming language—Ruby. "[Twilio] was the easiest and simplest way that we could have built our contact center in a short period of time, building exactly what we needed for our business," he said.
From the day we made the decision to buy Twilio, we were up and running in a week and a half.
What Hall needed was a creative way to reduce the time customers spent on hold during peak call times, without hiring more support staff. Using Twilio Queue, Hall's team built a CallBack Queue which reduced customer wait time, improved customer satisfaction, and streamlined customer support.
The CallBack Queue addressed two critical needs for Shopify, one from customers and one from staff. Shopify needed to staff the right number of support agents during peak call times, to reduce customer hold time. Customers needed their time back. They didn’t want to wait on hold, uncertain of when they’d be connected with support. The CallBack Queue allowed customers to control their support experience, and get a call from support on their own time instead of waiting on hold. Using Twilio’s Debugging Logs, Shopify was able to get the CallBack Queue up and running faster than if it had gone with a traditional legacy vendor. With critical data about the performance of its call center in their hands, it shipped fast and focused on what does best—making customers happy.
When customers call into Shopify's customer support line, they're placed into a queue and told how long their wait time will be. If they don't have time to stay on hold, the customer can opt to receive a call back from a support agent as soon as they're available, with the press of a button. Hall's team used Twilio to scale support to meet the demand of its customer base, all the while improving the individual quality of each call.
The CallBack Queue feature was one of the many Twilio powered tools Shopify integrated to its call center in addition to debugging logs, predictive dialers, and agent screenpops.
Looking at call logs, Shopify was able to predict peak call times, and staff accordingly to meet the call demand. It also built event-based call logic into its Twilio powered queue, to transfer calls to the right type of support staff programmatically and immediately. For example, if a customer on hold has a technical question, they can press 2 to be automatically connected to a member of the technical support team without having to be transferred from one agent to another.
In 2013, Shopify handled 70,000 customer interactions a month, 40% of which were telephone based. This means they have thousands of calls per day, each of which they treat as calls that could significantly impact a customer's business. "All of our Support Gurus consider they are contributing to making a customer's life better, by offering them the opportunity to successfully run their own business," said Hall.
Ensuring customer satisfaction is critical to continuing Shopify's aggressive growth. "Shopify's plan is to change commerce around the world," said Hall. "Shopify customer support is going to continue to grow as seamless and effortlessly as our product is."