Pro Athlete knocks it out of the park with business text messaging

Hero image with Pro Athlete logo, baseball emoji and baseball bat image.

Messaging channels continue to gain popularity with customers; 85% of smartphone users, for example, prefer messages to emails or calls. But the familiar ring of a phone call still resonates with many. In fact, around three in ten consumers still use phone calls to connect with businesses. Over half use calls to manage customer service issues specifically.

Pro Athlete, a well-established eCommerce business, has a robust customer base—predominantly parents of younger baseball players who prefer calling customer support. As their business continued to grow, a surge in call volume posed staffing challenges. The team realized they needed to reduce incoming calls while promoting another, faster channel.

Customers already messaged the team through web chat so the Pro Athlete team decided to lean in on messaging. They adopted additional messaging channels like texting and Apple Messages for Business, since a large portion of their customers used iOS. After some searching, the team found a platform that offered a seamless integration between Apple Messages and other messaging channels—Heymarket.

In this case study, we’ll learn about the tools the Pro Athlete team used to decrease call volume and manage an increase in messages, while boosting interactions and orders.

The business: bringing the joy of the game to online shopping

Pro Athlete is a nearly 40-year-old sporting goods seller. Starting as a retail store in 1987, they now have several eCommerce brands: JustBats (where they sell baseball bats and softball bats), JustGloves (where they sell baseball gloves and softball gloves, and JustPaddles (where they sell pickleball paddles).

Pro Athlete focuses on building an exceptional customer experience. They extensively train their customer support team on their products and don’t restrict them with scripts, empowering them to solve customer problems any way they see fit. In fact, most calls are focused on providing advice instead of promoting certain products, helping establish Pro Athlete as an expert in the industry.

Due in part to this phenomenal customer service, Pro Athlete and its family of brands have received several awards, from Kansas City’s Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year to Newsweek’s Best Online Shops.

Challenge #1: high volume of calls

Prior to adopting Heymarket, about 80% of Pro Athlete’s customer support interactions were calls. Answering calls seven days a week and at least eight hours a day—twelve on weekdays—necessitated a sizable workforce. Pro Athlete struggled to staff enough agents to answer all incoming calls, especially on the weekends.

The Pro Athlete team needed to reduce the influx of incoming calls while offering an equally effective alternative communication channel.

Solution #1: a more convenient alternative

Now that the Pro Athlete team offers several business texting channels, from Apple Messages for Business to SMS to web chat, calls have decreased by 13.5%. The more they promote messaging, the fewer calls they receive.

The switch has been seamless. Because Heymarket text-enabled Pro Athlete’s toll-free number, customers can text the same number they have called for years. They can also reach out through Apple Business Chat, web chat, and other popular options.

“As customers have seen the chat option, calls have decreased and chats have increased.”
Carter Hedrick, Customer Experience Manager

But that doesn’t mean there are fewer customer support interactions. In fact, there are more than ever, but they’re arriving through messaging.

Challenge #2: more incoming messages than ever

Now that customers know about Pro Athlete’s convenient messaging support options, they’re messaging more than ever. Where before, 20% of conversations were chats, now, 40% are chats.

At first, the Pro Athlete team wasn’t used to receiving so many incoming messages from several channels.

Solution #2: a platform that streamlines message management

While seeing the influx of messages was daunting, the team quickly realized that Heymarket’s tools simplified messaging management.

Team members easily see and respond to incoming messages, which all arrive in their shared inbox, no matter whether they’re from Apple Messages for Business or SMS. Templates help Pro Athlete’s agents provide fast, personalized responses.

Tools like auto-replies ensure that customers receive responses, no matter the hour. Team members close out chats once conversations seem concluded, but customers can text in at any time to reopen chats, streamlining the team inbox while keeping communication lines open.

“An agent can only handle one call at a time, but they can handle a lot of chats.”
Carter Hedrick, Customer Experience Manager

With just a two-person team, one person can answer calls while the other answers chats. Because of their new, diversified channels, Pro Athlete’s support team is available for more hours with the same outstanding service.

Future innings: scoring big with texting at Pro Athlete

Pro Athlete is actively looking for more ways to maximize the potential of Heymarket’s features.

The team is particularly interested in creating more automations. First up to bat are keyword-based automations. Their goal is to configure Heymarket to automatically send tailored responses when customers ask about specific products or events, like sales.

As Pro Athlete teams continue to use Heymarket’s business texting platform, they’re excited to continue pursuing their primary mission: hitting home runs with their exceptional customer experience.

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