• May 1, 2014
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Snapfish Finds Live Chat a Snap for Customers and Agents

Article Featured Image

San Francisco–based Snapfish launched in 1999 and was bought by HP in 2005 for $300 million. Today, it is the world's largest online photo sharing and printing service, with 90 million members in 12 countries. Its data centers store more than 10 billion photos.

With multiple services, ranging from prints by mail to holiday cards to photo books, customers may find themselves immersed in relatively complex amateur design projects, often resulting in customer service inquiries.

To help them, Snapfish has been using live chat and the LiveEngage platform from LivePerson for several years, but was only using the technology in its most basic form. When Kirsty Traill became general manager at Snapfish in 2011, one of her first tasks was to expand the use of chat, which already had the highest customer satisfaction of any channel.

"We noticed right away that chat was receiving the highest customer satisfaction and giving us the biggest bang for the buck in agent productivity," she says. "The customer is much more likely to leave satisfied and have his issue resolved."

So it's no surprise that "chat is our preferred channel," Traill states. "It became a no-brainer."

Snapfish now has three LivePerson deployments for chat: one for sales, located on its main Web page; one for customer service, on its help pages; and another for its VIP customers. To identify customers for the VIP segmentation, Traill's team expanded its use of rules-based targeting to reach out to those most likely to complete purchases.

Currently, Snapfish operates five contact centers: one in Europe, two in India, one in China, and one in Boise, Idaho. Agents at all but one of the facilities in India handle chat, as well as phone and email interactions. Chat is available 24/7 in North America and during regular business hours in other parts of the world.

Though Traill couldn't say how many chats Snapfish agents handle, she did say that the channel makes up "a very clear majority of our contacts."

Since the initial deployment, Traill's team has added LivePerson Insights, mining customer transcripts with keyword and text analytics. Information gleaned from LivePerson Insights is shared with the entire company every week through an automated Voice of the Customer report.

Data from LivePerson Insights guides decisions on changes to Web site design, process improvements, agent training, search engine marketing, and even product offerings. LivePerson Insights also enables alert-based reporting; when a live chat agent's customer satisfaction scores drop below 80 percent, for example, an alert goes straight to the contact center operations manager and other managers for action.

"We can see right away what differentiates the best-performing agents from those that aren't performing as well," Traill says.

Using data from LivePerson Insights, Snapfish is deploying virtual agents for selected customer inquiries, which Trail expects will reduce handling time by a minute or two because customers will be on their way to resolution before engaging in live chat.

Proactive chat has had significant immediate impact on Snapfish. Average order values have increased by 10 percent. Revenue per chat hour has improved by 48 percent, and the conversion rate for customers who use chat is now 40 percent. Eight percent of Snapfish's phone volume has been deflected to live chat.

The company has also seen a 60 percent reduction in customer inquiries for order-related issues because of changes it made to its Web site based on data obtained through LivePerson Insights. The same data helped Snapfish deploy self-service features that reduced contacts for order modification requests by 40 percent. It also led to a 65 percent reduction in customer refunds.

Based on its success so far, Snapfish plans to deploy chat directly into its mobile apps and add LivePerson Insights across its mobile chat infrastructure.

"What we really like...is the wealth of information we get from the reporting package," Traill says.

The Payoff


  • a 10 percent increase in average order value;
  • a 48 percent improvement in revenue per chat hour;
  • an 8 percent deflection of phone support;
  • a 60 percent reduction in order-related contacts; and
  • a 65 percent reduction in refund requests.

CRM Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues

Related Articles

Pair Live Chat with Helpdesk/CRM Software

Combining the two can unlock both solutions' full potential.

Easier Customer Service Increases Consumer Satisfaction

Pushing a button for service is becoming a growing reality.

Made-to-Order Customer Experiences

Why customer service will—and should—never be the same.

Best Practices for Personalizing Live Chat Solutions

Focus on relevant experiences to extract maximum value from customers.

Buyer's Guide Companies Mentioned