Customer Story

Why Underground Printing Switched from Gmail to Help Scout

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The Challenge: The Underground Printing team was trying to use Gmail to forward and CC teammates on emails. They found as their business grew the limitations of Gmail couldn’t support their team or customer needs.

The Solution: By switching to Help Scout, Underground Printing could create multiple inboxes to organize incoming requests, discover better support hours through reporting, and proactively educate customers with Messages and Docs.

Success in business largely comes down to how well you communicate with your customers. If you’re not able to express the value of your product to potential customers or answer their questions, chances are they’ll take their business elsewhere. 

Communication is even more important when you make custom products. Underground Printing is a national custom printed apparel provider, offering screenprinting and embroidery on a wide variety of apparel and promotional products to groups, businesses, and organizations of all sizes. When the team started having some communication challenges a few years ago, they knew they needed to find a new solution.  

Finding something new

We tried a number of different options and Gmail plugins, but there were just some limitations that we couldn’t overcome.

Underground Printing does a number of different things, but their core business is custom printed apparel. They started out running their customer communications using a standard email client, which worked for a time, but it eventually fell short. “We were heavy in Gmail, forwarding and ccing emails, and it just wasn’t working anymore,” said Rishi Narayan, co-founder and managing owner. 

“We tried a number of different options and Gmail plugins, but there were just some limitations that we couldn’t overcome.”  

After looking at some tools on the market, a clear winner emerged. “We tested a bunch of different options, and the one we liked best was Help Scout,” said Narayan. They were impressed with the ease of use of Help Scout and the suite of tools that helped them streamline their customer communication both internally and externally. 

“The tools from an experiential standpoint and a customer experience are what we really liked,” said Narayan.  The assignment capabilities made forwarding and ccing emails a thing of the past. Internal notes let them add more context to conversations, making handoffs much easier. “The cleanliness of the handoff, I thought, was very important for the experience,” said Narayan. 

By utilizing multiple inboxes, they were also able to better organize conversations, making them more accessible and less likely to slip through the cracks. “We have a whole mailbox for chat, which is really nice. If we miss a chat, it flows directly into that mailbox. Or, when we get approvals from licensing partners, they go into a specific folder, making them easier to find,” said Narayan. 

Help Scout’s tools not only helped them be better operationally, it showed them areas where they had room to improve. Reports helped us realize that we needed to extend our support hours because we saw that we were getting lots of volume at times we weren’t covering,” said Narayan. 

Though the team at Underground Printing initially utilized Help Scout to help with those more standard one-to-one interactions, as they got better acquainted with the product, they found that was just the tip of the iceberg. 

Diving deeper

Being on Team Help Scout is the best way to learn the business. It gives them a lot of insights about the customer experience as a whole. We actually use it as a tool to train new employees.

Though Underground Printing has done as good a job as any creating a great self-service experience, most people need some assistance along the way. 

“You’re taught from an early age how to buy a t-shirt, but most people don’t know how to order 50 shirts for their company retreat. There’s an education component to it,” said Narayan. To help curb any potential frustration, they decided to be proactive in their customer communication instead of simply reactive. 

“When someone is browsing our site, we’re trying to intuit what questions they might have based on the pages they’re looking at and for how long. With Beacon, we’re able to be proactive and deliver an answer based on those observations,” said Narayan. 

Narayan explained further: “We have different pages for different use cases. We’ve set up messages on each of those expertise pages that are triggered by the amount of time a customer has been on the page, what they’re looking at, or their exit intent, and it’s really meant to drive them to engage with us.”  

They’ve found that engaging directly with customers is a key to success and boosts the bottom line significantly. “If a sales manager engages with a quote, we’ve found that they convert to a sale at almost twice the rate than if a customer goes the completely self-service route,” said Narayan. 

Underground Printing even has a whole team they call Team Help Scout, which helps foster those connections. “When you work with us and you come through our website, you will most likely engage with a live person,” said Narayan. “Team Help Scout looks at messages in real time and then, based on the information, prioritizes the different quotes and sends them to sales managers.” 

Along with helping close more deals, Team Help Scout is useful to the business in other ways, too. 

“Being on Team Help Scout is the best way to learn the business. It gives them a lot of insights about the customer experience as a whole. We actually use it as a tool to train new employees,” said Narayan.   

Spreading the wealth 

Along with using Help Scout to manage their own customer conversations, Underground Printing also uses it to help provide support services for some of their customers, too. 

“We work with content creators and influencers. They’ll come to us and say they want to sell merchandise. We help them create the products, ship, and fulfill, as well as answer any questions their customers have about shipping, sizing and other related inquiries,” said Narayan.

They also offer a product called Pogo, which is a fundraising tool for schools. Most use it to do a limited run of products to raise money for different causes. Having Help Scout helps them better differentiate themselves from the competition for both commercial and charitable causes. 

“A selling point for our online stores that other competitors don’t really have is that we build the site for their merchandise and also do the support for their online store, and that’s all done in Help Scout,” said Narayan.

Continued success

Continually growing a business, year over year for over 20 years, is no small feat. It’s something Underground Printing has been able to do by staying committed to delivering outstanding products and customer experiences. We’re thrilled to have played a small part in that. 

Whether you’re just starting your journey or are decades in, if you think your customer communications could benefit from an upgrade, consider checking out Help Scout. Learn more about how we serve eCommerce companies or head straight to our 14-day free trial. We’d love to have you.

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Screenshot: Beacon
Screenshot: Docs