Turning a Cost Center into a Profit Center while Achieving Explosive Growth


Moving sounds simple, but it isn’t. Packing your belongings, putting them in a truck, and transporting them to your new home takes a lot of hard work, and many things can go wrong. To ease the stress, families rely on professional movers, and when they want the best in the business, they call JK Moving. Behind the scenes, a lot of work goes into being the best in the business.

Chuck Kuhn founded JK Moving in his parent’s basement over 40 years ago and remains an active CEO. Since then, we’ve grown into the largest independent moving company in the United States by living our core values and brand promise of care and respect. We’ve also expanded into the commercial moving, government, and international logistics space.

I joined the company in 2019 and am now in charge of business development and consumer sales, but I wasn’t a stranger to JK Moving. I spent 11 years growing an outsourced call center from 20 outbound-only agents to 300 agents, expanding our inbound and consumer business while attracting clients like AT&T and Frontier Communications. In that role, I discovered that call centers rely on moving services as they grow, so, in one of those "leap before you look moments," I launched a moving brokerage startup that generated over $30 million in revenues over three years. 

While the revenue growth was amazing, I learned the hard way about the plethora of challenges partnering with moving companies who aren't concerned about doing quality work. A shining light during this period was an introduction to JK Moving. The company became one of my top suppliers and taught me the way a mover should do a move. I knew how to sell and JK knew how to deliver service excellence, so when Chuck and David Cox, President of JK Moving, asked me to join the company, I said yes.

An Outstanding Reputation in the Moving Business

Our company has an outstanding reputation in the moving business. We were named the #1 commercial mover in the DC Metro Area in the Washington Business Journal Book of Lists four years in a row, have earned five Fleet Safety Awards, and were twice honored with a CARE (Companies As Responsive Employers) Award. We also received the 2021 Independent Mover of the Year award, becoming the only three-time winner!

Our training is second to none. We have a two-story training house inside our warehouse where our movers learn how to pack, pickup, and deliver our customers’ possessions with the utmost skill and care. We’d rather train them in our house than yours to ensure the highest service levels, and I don’t think anyone else does that.

There was just one problem: Our customer journey started and ended with the move. We train and screen our movers, and our on-time pickup and delivery rates are 100% and 98% respectively—which is unheard of in this industry. Our customers rave about JK Moving’s quality of service. But we also heard another common refrain, “I called JK Moving, and nobody called me back.” We answered the phone 98% of the time, but the call was routed to our sales queue and answered only 68% of the time.

We had part of the formula right. It was like going to the best restaurant in town, ordering the perfect steak dinner, and then finding out they’d botched the dessert. We wanted to give our customers the equivalent of a full-course meal that left them satisfied but wanting more. We wanted to harness the lifetime value of each customer.

Growing Our Inside Sales Team

To do that, we needed to grow our inside sales team. We had 20 sales reps in the field, knocking on realtors’ and homeowners’ doors in DC, Virginia, and Maryland. They had decades of experience recruiting customers the old-fashioned way and signing an amazing 52% of the prospects they met. But we only had two people on the phone, and we needed to build an inside sales force that could offer bundles, set up appointments for our high performing outside sales team members, and reach customers outside the greater DC area. We were moving people to Texas, so why not book a move in Dallas, generating more revenue for those trucks to be driving back?

We didn’t know where our web-based leads were coming from or going, and our agents were too busy to return calls and voicemails. We knew we had a problem with our customer experience, but we weren’t sure how to fix it.

Legacy call center solutions offer little visibility into call traffic. It’s hard to improve what you can’t see.

The problem was our legacy PBX and call center solutions, which offered little visibility into call traffic. There was no way to know who was calling in and who was waiting on hold. We were also unable to call back customers who hung up before reaching an agent or leaving a message, resulting in a 64% abandonment rate.

Overall, we lacked solid metrics to track accountability and determine how well the contact center was doing. There were no call recordings or quality assessments to hold agents accountable, which limited our ability to improve their sales performance with coaching.

This meant we had a low rate of lead follow-ups, a constant loss of new business, and a low close rate of new customers. Our lack of workflow, from a lead form completion to a “warm handshake,” was a significant stumbling block.

The answer was technology, so we looked at several call center solutions. Our telephony partner, Mitel, recommended Talkdesk, and I liked their approach. Everyone talks about uptime and 24/7 service, but where others told me what I was getting, Talkdesk said, “Let’s set up a call with an engineer to figure out what you need.” For a client that was going to require just eight licenses, the amount of time that was invested in JK to ensure Talkdesk knew what I wanted, needed and listened to my pain points was more valuable that any presentation or anecdotal feedback I received from the others.

I was impressed by their willingness to listen. During those initial talks with Talkdesk, they offered various solutions, but the word I dreaded most never came up, and that word is “customization.” Everyone who’s ever worked in tech knows that customized systems are a nightmare to update because every upgrade also requires customization. So I was happy that instead of shoehorning our business processes to fit the technology, the technology adapted to fit our business needs and processes. 

Over 7X the Call Volume While Maintaining Customer Happiness

The moving industry has paper-thin margins, and our biggest cost is people, so we started by growing our inside sales team from three to eight in March 2020. And that was just the beginning. We have since added another 30 licenses including a 24/7 offshore call center.

The results have been spectacular. We’ve seen a 74% growth in revenue over the last two years, including a further 31% increase in sales this year for our inside sales team. In addition, we have launched an inside sales team for our international division demonstrating over 100% increase in revenue since our launch. Our call volume rose from 20,000 in 2019 to 150,000 in 2021, with a 95.3% answer rate and an average hold time of 28 seconds. The volume of calls continues to grow as we had over 20,000 inbound calls handled by Talkdesk and the JK team in July 2022 alone. In fact, July 2022 became a new JK record revenue month. Imagine that: increased call volume, increased answer rates, increased Talkdesk licenses, and increased revenue—a very clear correlation.

We have come a long way. I know we can answer 97% or 98% of our calls, but the real challenge is to answer calls as quickly as humanly possible and treat callers with the utmost care, courtesy, and respect. We saw a huge lift in first contact resolution—a 41% increase, to be exact—with the implementation of automatic callback options. One of the things I wanted to do with Talkdesk was to augment our individual voicemail boxes so our offshore call center could retrieve voicemails and determine if we need to take immediate action. Now, instead of a call going to individual agents who may not get a chance to listen to their voicemails until the end of the day, we have a one hour service level on listening and responding to voicemails. Studio flows for voicemails lowered the supervisor escalations by 30% since agents can now respond quickly, a huge improvement for what was a negative customer experience when leaving voicemails that were not returned.

We also created a Studio flow that handles overflow calls before going to voicemail. We can ask callers: Would you like an automated callback? Would you like to talk to a live person? Would you like to leave a voicemail? And if they leave a voicemail, we read the transcript quickly and we know if we have to address it with operations or customer care. That visibility into our flow has been such a dynamic change, and Talkdesk worked with me to turn my desire into a tangible solution.

Talkdesk is half the equation. The other half is consistency. Think of your favorite restaurant or hotel chain. No matter where you go, you get the same quality and level of service. It’s what keeps you coming back. After we launched Talkdesk, we created a playbook for reps, and now they’re all singing the same tune. They talk about our value proposition first: JK Moving’s 40 years in the business, our A+ Better Business Bureau score, our in-house training, our vetted staff, our 100% on-time pickup, and lowest claims in the industry. (I won't get into all the JK value propositions, including the ultimate goal of a "stress-free" move. It absolutely exists, however, most customers are simply not aware that such a thing is possible.)

All of these changes have not gone unnoticed. We don’t use the CSAT tracking in Talkdesk yet, but we’ve seen an incredible increase in our BBB and Google Reviews rankings. Google increased 15% from 4.1 to 4.7 Stars, while BBB increased by 25% to 4.32 stars out of 5. All of this happening while having zero Department of Transportation complaints in 2022. These results are the payoffs for the unbelievable service excellence performed by the hardest working part of the organization: our operations team and crew base.

Revamping Scheduling and Training

The increase in the number of agents and our growing call volumes forced us to rethink our approach to scheduling. In the past, I could print out Excel sheets and manually schedule our handful of agents, but now we’re dealing with dozens of people here and our overseas staff. That’s where Talkdesk Workforce Management comes in. It uses AI to predict call spikes so we can assign agents accordingly. We can even route calls for anyone with a Talkdesk license, including our outside sale team or even external numbers, if needed, for people to help our inside sales team during spikes in volume. 

While I am a lover of all things AI, I was professionally skeptical. But the first day we tried Talkdesk Workforce Management, it came within three calls of accurately predicting our total call volume based on historical data, and has only gotten better. There is absolutely nothing more important than the customer journey, and Talkdesk Workforce Management streamlined our scheduling and planning, allowing us to reduce hold times and abandon rates when volumes spike even further than ever before. 

As your call center team grows, scheduling can become a nightmare. AI can help.

One of the items on our roadmap is our utilization schedules in our CRM. We’ll have the ability to match the move date of a call against our utilization, and if there's no utilization available, the call will go to an IVR that asks a few questions to cycle out prospects who can’t be served by JK Moving. We want to talk to every customer, but I also want to demonstrate some common courtesy. Moving is stressful enough and customers shouldn’t have to wait one second longer than necessary for an agent to say we can’t service their indicated move date. The IVR also reduces the burden on agents who are handling active business.

Talkdesk has helped JK Moving better train our agents, too. Talkdesk Academy offers online learning that takes our agents from zero to hero in no time. These user-friendly training modules offer instruction on Talkdesk functions, best practices, and job functions like workplace etiquette and handling angry callers. We also implemented call recordings to create a feedback culture driven by metrics, coaching, and increased accountability. Instead of hitting the ground, our people are hitting the ground running.

Our Leap of Faith Paid Off

You might be tempted to think about our call center as a cost center, but it’s a profit center. We’ve earned back every dollar we’ve invested in Talkdesk and more, increased our percentage of one-call resolutions, and decreased customer escalations.

Revenues and profits are up across the board, and our repeat business rate has risen dramatically. Talkdesk isn’t just for the sales team, either. We have also rolled out Talkdesk to our operations team for a total 140 agents, with a growth plan to other business units. While I had to convince our president to take a leap of faith, he now thinks that Talkdesk is one of the best technology investments we have made in transforming our business and challenging all our teams to improve communication with both our internal and external customers. David Cox has truly become the Talkdesk user champion.

Together We Succeed

Talkdesk is helping JK Moving live up to our potential, rethink what’s possible, and live our core values and brand promise. We are a socially conscious enterprise that donates time and matches employee contributions to an organization that fights food insecurity, JK Community Farm, alongside other pressing social issues. We also offer a generous benefits plan that includes 401K contributions and profit-sharing. We believe in giving back, as does Talkdesk, which has given us far more than they’ve received.

One of our core values at JK is "together we succeed." How appropriate, given our relationship with Talkdesk. We are just getting started with the platform and as David Cox likes to say, "we are currently the smallest we will ever be!" As someone who loves to grow and build things, who can argue with that?

I feel compelled to share a couple of final points. Talkdesk is absolutely amazing and the only thing that dwarfs the platform are the folks who I have had the pleasure to interact with throughout the Talkdesk organization.

And while the folks at Talkdesk have been incredible, there has never been a harder working, dedicated team of folks that I have worked with in my career than the folks at JK Moving. People, process, and technology are the pillars of success and, at JK Moving, we have cornered the market on all three!