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How we inspired South Pacific Timber to transform its customer service

Emily
Aug 3, 2022 4:10:09 PM

 

South Pacific Timber is a New Zealand run family business that provides specialty timber to customers across New Zealand. Founded in 1989, South Pacific Timber has grown to be a leading supplier and manufacturer of specialty timbers in New Zealand.

Today South Pacific Timber occupies a significant portion of a niche building materials market. Its team of 50 employees, including a small hybrid team of sales representatives and customer service "timber specialists" work to import, manufacture and distribute a range of materials used for internal and external projects.

Cradle spoke with Daniel Vincent, its resident accountant. 


From old school to new tools

South Pacific Timber all started with a builder spotting an opportunity. Chris Vincent purchased a small Auckland central timber yard in 1988 and within a few years, the yard had become the place to go for builders and renovators. Whether they were looking for weatherboards or mouldings - you name it - it was the spot for anyone dealing with Auckland's unique villas and bungalows. The products were high quality and Chris had built a reputation for helping his customers find the right solution. Built on doing right by people, the business began to grow. Shortly after, Chris’ brother Andrew joined the business, moved to a new location, and by the early 2000s, the timber yard became somewhat of an institution for local builders. It was the go-to place to pick up quality timber, grab a coffee, and talk shop during smoko. The business grew significantly in this location, servicing the New Zealand market with top-quality timber products for the next 20 years.

Due to the expansion of Auckland’s City Rail Link, the Ruru Street yard came to an end in 2019; and with 50 staff waiting for a new permanent headquarters, our workflow and strategy became disjointed with staff working from home or out of temporary offices. 

Very quickly we realised our desk phones were completely redundant and we needed a nimble system that could keep up with customer demand and help continue to grow our business.  

Calling on Cradle

People in the building industry love to have yarn. There are so many variations of products at South Pacific Timber, and because some customers are miles away from our headquarters and don’t have time to visit in person, discussing different mouldings or variations is important so that they know they’re ordering the right product. That’s why we have such a heavy reliance on our phone systems; it's our main sales channel.

With around four hours spent on the phone every day, our IT manager suggested it was time to move off desk phones and move to a different VOIP phone system; this is how we found Cradle. 

Finding Cradle could not have come at a better time with shifting sites; it was attractive due to its user interface, integrations, and competitive pricing model. Making this switch was a crucial period for us as we needed a system that would keep the team unified and ensure our customers still experienced the same quality of service. Cradle enabled staff to have calls diverted to their cellphones, meaning the team stayed connected through this tricky period.

It started well for us. When we moved into our new premises, it became apparent we had challenges as we were in temporary accommodation, and Cradle were also growing quickly and trying to add new features at the same time as working to make a softphone as easy to use and reliable as a desk phone. After our IT guy had moved on it fell on me to fix things; I was getting a lot of feedback about call quality from both the team and our customers. We had been with Cradle for 18 months and I thought it was time to try a different provider. 

Change of suit...

I was under pressure to find a solution that provided a reliable phone service; so I switched to Vodafone One Business. 

Some of our team found Vodafone One’s interface to be a bit fiddly; every phone call that came through meant we had to manually find the tiny icon on the taskbar and click it to answer. Other interface icons were also confusing and clustered; even someone who had used a computer every day of their life would find this process cumbersome when it came to wanting to work quickly and efficiently. 

Because the interface was confusing to use, some of our sales and customer staff were answering phone calls late, and in some instances, they were being missed too. 

After six months with Vodafone One Business, I decided we needed another change. I really liked HubSpot but felt we weren’t utilising it much. I knew it was capable of storing all of our data which took us away from using pen and paper and wanted a niftier phone system that could work smarter alongside HubSpot and unite the two of them. 

In my search for a HubSpot integrated calling provider, Cradle popped up again and again. So I gave James a call back and he was really helpful in listening to my experience and how our business had changed in the previous months. I was sold for a second time, and Cradle was reinstalled in our business in a matter of days.

Calling back Cradle…

Cradle has transformed our customer service and has been a key tool during the past couple of years which has been a growth period for us.  

Since the day we rejoined, our experience with Cradle has been seamless. Around 25 of our staff use Cradle and I haven’t had one complaint.

New Zealand is currently wrestling with a post-Covid building boom and business has been absolutely nuts. I can’t imagine how we would have tackled the onslaught of inquiries, customer support, and sales without Cradle during this period.

Cradle has transformed our customer service. Not only have we been able to handle this overtrading period, but our customer service has been fantastic during. 

With contacts stored in HubSpot and automatically brought up with a call, our customers absolutely love being greeted by their first name when they ring through. These are clients who have worked in the industry for tens of years and many of those have been spent working alone on a project site. Some of those phone conversations are their first human interaction during their working day. It means a lot to be told by our long-standing customers that our service is improving and making their day easier.

Historically our missed calls and voice messages went into a black hole; with Cradle's admin interface I can easily track out call volumes and furthermore missed calls. This has helped me make informed decisions regarding resource allocation.

Our sales team is also working a lot more effectively on the phones; with information stored against HubSpot staff are easily able to pick up someone's active quote and finish the deal if they’re away or are tied up with other work.

We also have specific actions in place for when some of our key customers call through; they’re automatically diverted to a sales representative they’ve dealt with for years or prefer. This means our quotes are being closed much faster and our sales team is free to chat with prospective customers. 

In mastering all of the bells and whistles Cradle has to offer - its customer service cannot be faulted. We've been highly impressed with James and the team's responsive and pragmatic approach to any queries we have. 

Cradle comes highly recommended by the team at SPT!

What’s on the horizon for South Pacific Timber

Our new central Auckland site has given the team at South Pacific Timber a huge kick of motivation to sell our products and service to the best of our ability. 

While we already occupy a large proportion of this specialty market, we want to be known for our five-star customer service. Our physical products will always be of top quality; Cradle is helping us make our customer service top quality too. We’re really striving to impress customers and give a better quality experience than if they went to some of our competitors. 

We’re hoping to leverage off the Covid building boom by gaining new customers and producing bigger orders. 

 

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