Read on to learn why MoviePass has sunsetted email and forgone live chat in favor of asynchronous messaging, AI and bots. This case study shows how messaging has:

  • Improved the user experience, measured by a 20 percent increase in CSAT
  • Saved agents more than 45,000 hours thanks to AI and Bots
  • Reduced the time it takes an agent to resolve an issue by 24 percent

The cost of a movie ticket has become extraordinarily expensive in large markets like New York, where customers often pay more than $18 per ticket. It may not be that expensive everywhere, but seeing multiple movies in a month can add up even with lower individual ticket prices.

MoviePass provides an alternate model, selling a monthly subscription service for moviegoers to see movies at a fraction of the cost. Yet this low monthly cost translates to narrow margins and a lean operating budget. At the same time, app-based subscription models require an excellent customer experience to retain users.

Providing an excellent customer experience at a low cost proved challenging when the MoviePass subscriber base ballooned from 20,000 to more than three million users this past spring. This rapid growth translated to a high influx of questions and a corresponding ticket backlog that reached 150,000 issues at its peak. That backlog combined with a lean budget forced the MoviePass customer service team to forego live chat and think outside the box.

The back and forth required for existing email support was taking too long, and live chat simply wasn’t feasible.

“We had an extremely high volume of chats earlier this year that continued through the summer coming from our subscriber base,” said Jake Petersen, SVP of Operations at MoviePass. “Even when we were ramping up and scaling our customer service team aggressively, providing a live chat experience for all our customers isn’t something that we were going to be able to support.”

MoviePass Transforms Experience with Asynchronous Messaging, AI and Bots

Petersen decided to activate a new channel on both the mobile app and website: asynchronous messaging. For mobile, this means that customers are able to start a conversation thread, similar to iMessage or WhatsApp, and be notified when there is a response ready. That translates to no more waiting around on hold.  

Customers who are looking at the MoviePass website can now also start an asynchronous conversation through a web messaging window and pick up that conversation at a later point.

It’s not session-based.

“Messaging in customer service is something that really lines up with the expectation that we want to set up,” said Petersen. “We can set expectations properly with our users that ‘hey, you’re actually sending a chat message and just like sending a message to a friend, you might not be getting a response right away — but I promise we’ll get you a response at some point soon and answer your question.’”

This asynchronous aspect of messaging changes the game. On both web and mobile channels, moviegoers get their time back because the conversation is in-context and faster, thanks to advanced capabilities like AI and bots.

Team Optimizes Messaging by Strategically Deploying AI and Bots

With AI-powered issue classification, urgent issues like those from customers who are currently at the theater are categorized quickly by AI with additional information collected instantly by bots, allowing agents to resolve issues in a fraction of the time than they would otherwise. This is also more accurate categorization than other automated tactics such as keyword-based analysis.

Specifically, much of the agent time associated with the back and forth required to collect issue and user information is eliminated because bots are able to do the heavy lifting. This takes place primarily before an agent even gets assigned to the issue.

For example, if a customer has a question about a MoviePass card, a bot is prompted to ask the customer for the card information. If the customer needs a replacement, the bot collects the shipping address information. This back and forth can take place as quickly as the customer is able to respond, without having to wait for the agent.

“All the agent has to do is click the link in the chat, open up the user’s admin profile, and copy and paste,” said Petersen. Agents are able to work seamlessly across all web and mobile tickets out of one workspace, and have access to AI-based replies and pre-filled information about the issue at hand. This frees up the agent capacity for more of those issues that require a human touch.

“AI and bots have allowed us to give work to our agents that is more meaningful and less monotonous, and it has allowed us to provide fast responses to our users,” Petersen added. 

The results have been stunning.

Five Months with AI and Bots Equates to Massive Time Savings and Happier Customers

In the first 150 days of implementing Helpshift’s AI and bots, 45,000 hours have been saved for agents. With an average wage for customer service representatives in the US ranging between $15-$19 an hour, that equates to hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost savings.

Bots can gather information in one session, allowing for issue resolution to be 24 percent faster. The team is able to respond to urgent issues, like those related to customers who presently are at the theater, in a matter of minutes — when it used to take hours.

Those quicker response and resolution times signal more productive agents, and result in happier customers.

Since using AI and bots, CSAT has jumped by more than 20 percent. The product team has also been able to make improvements to the MoviePass service as a whole thanks to visibility provided by the feedback collection and reporting that the Helpshift platform enables.

This has made the decision to grow with Helpshift an easy one. In fact, Petersen’s team recently sunsetted email altogether as a channel in order to prioritize messaging. The team removed Zendesk’s email and web forms because of the better functionality of messaging and bots, combined with better reporting.  

“As a mobile-only application, it made sense to continue to build something that is mobile first, and asynchronous web chat provides a seamless experience right from the web to mobile,” Petersen concluded. “It’s been really interesting to see the evolution of the Helpshift platform, as it continues to push the limits of mobile innovation.”

Watch Petersen’s commentary below and learn more about asynchronous messaging vs. live chat here.