JOANN may be an almost 80-year-old company, but it’d be a mistake to think that it’s a brand stuck in the past—the fabric and crafts retailer has been busy enacting a series of changes aimed at helping them better meet the needs of their burgeoning younger clientele in addition to their older, more seasoned customers. That change has included the launch of their brand-new mobile app, as well as their one-of-a-kind, high-tech concept store in Ohio.
For JOANN’s Director of Operations, Drew Chamberlain, this period of change marked the perfect opportunity to give their legacy, siloed support platforms a much-needed revamp.
“Our support team were essentially answering the same question multiple times”
While JOANN’s agents were great at connecting with their customers, they were battling a sizeable backlog of support tickets that were slowing their team down, and consequently, slowing their responses to customers. And Drew knew the status quo needed to change.
93% Drop in Backlog in Just One Month
When he dug into understanding the cause of their backlog, Drew found that the problem didn’t lie with JOANN’s highly-motivated support team—instead, it was the support platforms they used that were creating inefficiencies and putting the team in an unending cycle they couldn’t get out of.
"On our prior platform, our team was responding to about 70 to 80 emails per day on average. On Gladly, we're averaging 120 per day per agent"
Because the team was busy trying to tame their backlog of tickets, it meant they were slower responding to customers, which in turn resulted in these same customers reaching out again to follow up on their issue. JOANN’s ticket-based platform would create a brand-new ticket each time the customer reached out to follow up, which only added to and exacerbated their backlog.
“Our support team were essentially answering the same question multiple times,” Drew explains.
After the switch to Gladly, those multiple tickets were combined into a single customer thread that one agent could answer in one go, versus multiple agents responding to the same customer over multiple tickets.
“We would get 1,000 inbounds from our customers, and instead of 1,000 tickets, we have 700 conversations in Gladly,” Drew says. “We’ve been able to send our agents home early!”
In just one month with Gladly, JOANN’s support team were able to slash through 93% of their backlog. And, interestingly, because they were responding to customers faster, they also saw a drop in inbound phone volume due to the fact that customers were no longer having to call to follow up on their issues.
Handling 25% More Volume with the Same Headcount
Drew also attributes his team’s increase in productivity to Gladly’s built-in knowledge base, Answers. Besides being a searchable repository for template answers, Gladly’s Answers also leverages machine learning to suggest the best response for an agent to use based on past responses to similar customer questions.
"The fact that key details—like a customer’s name or an agent’s closing sign-off—are automatically populated into an Answer saves (agents) valuable seconds"
“Before Gladly our knowledge base was a spreadsheet that lived outside of our support platforms,” Drew describes. “It was troublesome for agents to get to, and it was hard to find answers in it.” And that cumbersome experience meant it took longer for agents (and consequently customers) to get the answers they needed.
But because Gladly’s Answers lives in the same window that agents use to respond to customers, Drew says that using it has been simpler and far faster for agents.
“On top of that, the fact that key details—like a customer’s name or an agent’s closing sign-off—are automatically populated into an Answer saves (agents) valuable seconds,” according to Drew.
“That may not seem like much, but even saving two seconds over 70 occasions, that’s another couple of emails our agents can get through. On our prior platform, our team was responding to about 70 to 80 emails per day on average. On Gladly, we’re averaging 120 per day per agent.”
And the proof is in the pudding. Over the last holidays—a period in which JOANN typically has to hire additional headcount to manage—JOANN’s support team sailed through a 25% spike in support volume without having to add a single seasonal agent.
“Before Gladly, there were about 100 things our agents needed to do to find the details they needed about a customer or see if they’d reached out on another channel and what they said"
Single Timeline Saves JOANN Time and Money
Previously JOANN had five different support platforms—one for each channel they provided. And their order management system was similarly separate, and not integrated with their support platforms.
That disjointed infrastructure meant JOANN’s agents would have to manually comb through various platforms, or ask the customer, for key customer details like their order history or past communications they may have had previously with an agent.
According to Ruth Jones, JOANN’s Head of Customer Care, that wasted time and effort for agents and negatively impacted the experience for their customers.
“Before Gladly, there were about 100 things our agents needed to do to find the details they needed about a customer or see if they’d reached out on another channel and what they said,” Ruth explains. “Now, it’s right there and is so easy to leverage.”
That greater visibility into their customers has not only resulted in a better—and faster—customer experience, but JOANN has seen tangible cost savings as well.
On their previous platforms, if a customer reached out on multiple channels to complain (as human beings are want to do when frustrated), the agent on each channel would give them a voucher for the inconvenience caused, not knowing that their fellow colleagues were doing the same for that customer. That resulted in a customer receiving multiple vouchers that could total hundreds of dollars.
That inadvertent overcompensation was costing JOANN a tidy sum. “Now however,” Ruth explains, “agents can see if a customer has already been given a voucher, so they’re not stepping over each other.”
“I love that I have the power to make changes on my own to things like our IVR or Help Center”
Empowering Managers to Make Change
One of Ruth’s favorite things about Gladly is how easy it is for her to make the changes she needs in the platform.
Whether it’s switching up the recordings in JOANN’s IVR system or controlling the look or answers available in Gladly’s self-service widget, Sidekick, Gladly makes it easy for managers to effect the changes they need on their own.
“I love that I have the power to make changes on my own to things like our IVR or Help Center,” says Ruth. “Anything we can do to help ourselves, rather than have to wait to get an Engineering team or Professional Services involved, the better.
A Better Experience and Faster Onboarding for Agents
But one of the biggest wins, according to Ruth, has been the improved experience for her team.
“Our agents are more motivated because they don’t have to work as hard to get work done with Gladly"
“Gladly’s user interface is modern, clean, and it’s so intuitive to use,” Ruth explains. “Our agents really prefer it from the old experience because it’s so much easier to use, and they have the key customer context they need right at their fingertips.”
And she believes that the improved agent experience has not only been a win for her team, but a win for JOANN’s customers too.
“Our agents are more motivated because they don’t have to work as hard to get work done with Gladly,” Ruth says. “And since our agents are happier with the tools they’re using, they’re able to pass that happiness onto our customers as well.”
The easy-to-use interface has also helped cut down the time taken to onboard new agents at JOANN.
“Onboarding new agents has also gotten a lot quicker,” Ruth says. “It used to take weeks with our previous platforms—now it takes just days, and most of that time is really spent training them on internal processes, not on how to use Gladly.”
Crafting Great Customer Experiences
By unifying their previously disparate channels with Gladly, JOANN has been able to deliver a greater experience not just for their customers, but for their agents too.
And only time will tell what the next 80 years will bring for this innovative and crafty trendsetter.
Thready for more JOANN? Hear how they’re crafting a better experience for their customers in this episode of Radically Personal.