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Article 6 min read

Taking the heavy lifting out of moving—and support

By Emily Vince

Last updated September 14, 2021

It’s the stuff of startup lore. Fresh out of college, co-founders Leor Lapid and Matthew Grossman set up shop in a garage, determined to figure out how they could offer summer storage and shipping services to college students at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona. It was a need they’d identified firsthand as out-of-state students, wondering where to put their stuff when they went home on summer breaks.

In their first year, Dorm Room Movers moved 216 students. But Lapid and Grossman were doing too many things themselves and quickly realized they needed to partner with professional, licensed, and experienced moving and storage companies in order to scale into a real business.

Nearly a decade later, they’ve built out a vast infrastructure that has supported more than 25,000 student moves across 165 colleges and universities. To date, their network of partners has moved more than 160,000 boxes. Meanwhile, Lapid and Grossman have learned a lot about all aspects of running an on-demand business. From the beginning, they knew they wanted technology to be the drumbeat behind their business, differentiating them in an industry that hasn’t changed much over time and they began looking for ways to integrate innovative SaaS tools wherever possible. Two years in, they began using the Zendesk family of products to manage their customer relationships—though not so robustly as they do today.

Full-service support through seasonal spikes
Dorm Room Movers sees most of their business between April and June. “Our biggest challenge has been the seasonality, while continuing to scale,” Grossman said. “We’ll move 7,000 students in 40+ states over the summer and then…crickets.”

Since Dorm Room Movers is aligned to the academic year, the pressure is on to run lean. Year-round, a team of 7 answers emails, phone calls, and live chats. The core team might handle an average of 250 inbound calls in February, but by April they’ll field as many as 25,000 calls—which is why, during peak periods, the support team leans on a remote call center and scales to as many as 30 agents.

Despite the influx, the support team is committed to providing multi-channel support. “I can’t stand it when I go to a website and need help and have only one option,” Grossman admitted.

Early on, Dorm Room Movers primarily offered support through email, managed in Zendesk Support, and through the phone, using InContact. Their next step was to introduce Zendesk Chat—which they’ve found to be an invaluable pre-sales tool—and began to encourage their customers to self-serve through Zendesk Guide. Their embedded widget allows customers to search through the help center from any page they’re on.

Bringing phone support ‘in house’
As their support offerings matured, Grossman found that having a separate system for phone support made it especially difficult to keep up with growth and seasonal changes. “Prior to integrating all our channels into Zendesk we had a lot of disconnected data sets”, he explained. “I would be up until two or three in the morning, spending hours trying to match up data from different platforms.”

Shortly after the launch of Advanced Talk from Zendesk in December 2015, Grossman and his team switched from InContact, a move Grossman describes as a “game changer”. “By bringing email, chat, phone, and even SMS into one platform,” he said, “we are able to tie these data sets together and get actionable insights into where our problems are in real-time.”

By integrating all channels into Zendesk, the support team spends less time moving between platforms and is more efficient and focused. Grossman estimates that the team has seen a 15 percent increase in agent productivity since the move to Talk.

And because Talk is easy to use, agents ramped up a lot quicker, too. “Integrating all our support channels, especially phone support with Zendesk Talk, has been empowering,” Grossman said.

Innovation on a budget
Now that Dorm Room Movers has all their support channels in one place, Grossman set his sights on other ways to improve the customer experience and increase operational efficiencies. Grossman and his team thought through the various tools they needed and evaluated the value they were seeing from each tool. They began with InfusionSoft, the CRM they used to manage leads. The cost seemed high, and they’d always been resourceful.

A self-proclaimed tinkerer, Grossman dove in to figure out how his team could use Zendesk for lead tracking instead. By upgrading their Support to the Enterprise plan, and building out custom forms, he discovered that he could begin collecting new opportunity data in tickets through live chat and web forms. Today, if you request a quote, that information runs through Zendesk and is funneled into a special agent view, with a dedicated SLA. Agents are then prompted to call back prospects using Talk.

“By using Zendesk as our sales CRM, the entire customer experience—from sales to support—is now unified into a central nervous system for our business,” Grossman said. “Not only that, but we’ve saved over 30 percent on agent licensing costs by consolidating the tools we use.”

It doesn’t stop there. Grossman asked his team for other areas they could improve with Zendesk, and they honed in on recruiting. He’s now configured their Support to create tickets for all resumes that come in, and custom workflows move candidates through the hiring process. The system also creates tickets from escalations from their proprietary logistics platform, and from scanned contracts that need Quality Assurance and Legal reviews. Even onboarding happens in part through “a developmental action plan ticket” in Support that includes assignment to a coach or buddy, with a weekly review reminder. “Again, we’ve seen measurable results—our recruiting process is 15 percent more efficient now that it runs through Zendesk.”

“My partner and I live by the ‘innovate or die’ mentality at the office,” Grossman said. “We’re constantly trying to build a better mousetrap. And finding a partner like Zendesk that keeps innovation so close to their core has been incredible for us.”

Shipping off to space
With the operational efficiencies and insights into their business that Zendesk has made possible, Grossman and his partner are able to explore new opportunities and confidently take on new challenges. Just over a year ago, they launched a new brand: SpaceShip, which aims to appeal to a broader market and focuses on other communities that might need moving or storage solutions, such as seniors, military personnel, or people who live in high-density areas without a lot of space.

“Zendesk has been a huge part of our ability to innovate, and has enabled us to scale—both with Dorm Room Movers and SpaceShip,” said Grossman. “Launching a new brand seemed daunting, but Zendesk has been instrumental in making it possible. Without adding more agents, we’ve been able to deliver the same seamless customer experience that’s so core to our brand to a new set of customers.”

Interested in hearing more from Dorm Room Movers? Check out this on-demand webinar to learn about their switch to integrated phone support.

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