Retail & eCommerce

Hillarys: Keeping customers informed via WhatsApp, with Twilio Conversations

Hillarys is the UK’s leading retailer, manufacturer and distributor of made-to-measure blinds, curtains, and shutters, with a market share of 26 percent and annual turnover of £200 million.

The company manufactures 32,000 bespoke products per week, which it sells to consumers online, via selected stores and through a network of 1,000 field-based advisors who undertake in-home consultations before returning to carry out installation.

The Challenge

Hillarys’ contact centre is pivotal. Staffed by the equivalent of 150 full-time employees, across both sales and service, it manages both inbound and outbound traffic, following up quotes and resolving queries.

Hillarys uses Avaya Contact Center Select multimedia solution to manage calls and emails but wanted to add WhatsApp as an additional communications channel.

Hillarys advisor logo

“The use of WhatsApp has become significantly more prevalent amongst our customer base since the pandemic.”

Helen Dodds
Head of Contact Centre, Hillarys

The Build

Hillarys chose a well-defined subset of communications for its first WhatsApp use case, informing advisors and customers in the rare occurrence that an unavoidable delay is impacting orders.

Zing built a solution incorporating bulk WhatsApp notifications. When orders are impacted (such as when the Ever-Given container ship got stuck in the Panama Canal), the existing SAP system sends the details of the impacted customer to a new system, which triggers the sending of a notification via WhatsApp.

Twilio Conversations with WhatsApp was used to integrate with Avaya’s Web Chat API so that when a customer or advisor replies to a notification, the conversation is continued over WhatsApp within the existing Avaya solution.

The notifications of delays are phased over time to ensure that a glut of messages are no delivered at exactly the same moment. This ensures the contact centre is not overwhelmed if customers choose to reply instantly.

"Most contact centre solutions follow a predictable lifecycle, which can make it disruptive and expensive to add the capability of new communication channels. Zing’s expertise has allowed us to add the facility to communicate with customers and advisors via WhatsApp, which has recently become so much more widely used."

Julian Bond
Head of ICT at Hillarys

The build gives customers and advisors greater choice over their preferred method of communication while helping to reduce call volumes. Two-way WhatsApp communication between agents and customers take place within Hillarys existing contact centre platform, and further use cases are currently being explored.

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