As a one-stop solution company for housing and living, Hinokiya Holdings Co., Ltd. Is taking an active part in a variety of industries including custom home construction, real estate, remodeling, and nursing home facilities. It owns a number of subsidiaries within the group and more than 100 exhibits throughout Japan, while conducting business overseas as well. Through LINE WORKS, Hinokiya Holdings has experienced significant effects in not only smooth communication among employees, but also discovery of new customers and improvement in deal making rate. Mr. Tsukahara from Systems Department and Group Management Division of the company, and Mr. Minamoto, manager at Misato Exhibit of Hinokiya Group Co., Ltd., told their background stories for introduction of LINE WORKS and positive changes that it has brought.
Please tell us about details of the business and your roles in the company
It is primarily construction. We are a housing construction corporation that guides customers who visit our exhibits, and eventually build ideal houses. In addition, other sub-companies within the group are in businesses fields of housing sales and nursing care as well. We are founded upon the custom home business and we are definitely a one-stop solution company that seeks happiness of people from the perspective of living.
I listen to the opinions and wishes from visiting customers and actually guide them through our exhibition. I also offer a variety of suggestions regarding housing.
Please tell us how you have introduced LINE WORKS
In the past, we normally communicated with customers by phone or email. But contacting with customers often preceded in a rigid manner, which evoked feelings of distance with the customers. As communication was delayed due to missed calls, losses in work were also created. That is why we looked out for a new tool. It all started from employees. Employees began to talk about using LINE for its sales business. They added to say LINE enables intuitive reaction and increase the communication speed, which will eventually contribute to speed up management of Hinokiya Group. Following such idea, we implemented LINE’s corporate version, LINE WORKS.
It took only about 2 weeks, which is an extremely short period of time, from making final decision about conducting LINE WORKS to actually operating it in company. We first conducted a test with a free trial version. That is because as its method of use is almost identical to that of the popular LINE, we felt that we could introduce the tool without experiencing much resistance. For operation, policies were defined by headquarters. Furthermore, based on regulations, administrator authorities were given to employees those who are in charge of systems in each sub-company of the group. Feeling likeliness to LINE, most employees were able to easily use LINE WORKS. So far, we are currently operating more than 1,300 IDs.
Please tell us how you decided to introduce LINE WORKS
The most decisive point to use LINE WORKS was its simple introduction. LINE WORKS is a communications tool that follows LINE, a well-known communication tool in Japan. Creating an user account is extremely simple when comparing with other systems currently-in-use. That is, it reduced the burden on the employees in charge of our systems. Phone calls or emails are 1:1 communication methods. In contrast to this, LINE WORKS enables simultaneous communication with multiple users. Moreover, email and other groupware systems require a person to obtain information on his/her own. However, LINE WORKS sends alarms as well as immediately notifies the users via app. I believe this notification service is desirable for sales.
Hinokiya Group is listed in the Second Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange this year and strives to improve its compliance. Before using LINE WORKS, some employees responded to customers from time to time by using their personal LINE accounts in the past. After implementing LINE WORKS, which provides great security, conversation history monitoring feature and archives option that helps preserve up to 10 years of audit logs, it allows managers to quickly respond once issues occur in communication between employees and customers.
Furthermore, enabling us to check the log history as well as the conversations between employees and customers in case of emergency also led us to use LINE WORKS.
Have there been any changes since introducing LINE WORKS?
Many employees stated their opinions on “Connect with LINE” feature on LINE WORKS. They mentioned that it has made customer communication extremely convenient than ever before. Notable comments, such as “The feature enabled us to drive good impressions from the clients by allowing us to quickly reply and respond to clients’ requests”, and “As LINE WORKS is compatible with LINE, we can not only browse and archive all the conversations made in between the two services, but also can easily follow up for the communication histories.” were also mentioned from the employees.
The sales division also gave positive feedback, mentioning that as LINE WORKS became the company’s communication tool, communicating with the clients, those who are using LINE, got much easier.
Also, sharing information as well as communicating among employees in the field, including the sales division, on-site supervisors, and members in exhibits, became much more convenient. The “Read Confirmation” feature is also useful whether to find out if others have read messages. The app is actively used for communication among executives in different sub-companies of the group. For phone calls or emails, communication cannot be made if you do not know the contact information of the other party. However, LINE enables you to search all the registered users, meaning that contacts and calls can be conveniently made with members although the contacts have not been available to your mobile devices. LINE WORKS has made communication and information sharing with those outside the company much smoother.
Moreover, communication can also be carried out with regards to design drawings, and etc.. In this sense, LINE WORKS “Video or Voice call” feature is well utilized from design firm of Hinokiya Vietnam, at which in charge of housing design. Even when performing activities overseas, we can freely communicate with other colleagues anywhere, anytime with Internet connection. That is, LINE WORKS can be used as an effective communication tool.
Please share if you have any specific use case you found effective
We use LINE WORKS when communicating with customers who visit the exhibition. When the customer visit and begin conversation, we normally ask for their email address. However, there were issues such as having trouble with writing down the email promptly or asking for their email later when the customer don’t know their email at the moment they visited. With LINE WORKS, however, it allows both us and the customers to start communication smoothly. The customer can use his or her own smartphone to scan the QR code and immediately connect and start conversation with us via LINE’s “Add Friends” feature.
To do so, we inserted QR codes linked to LINE WORKS accounts on our business cards. Moreover, since LINE WORKS IDs are designated by the company and not by individual employees, we can present it as a part of company’s effort to sensitively handle personal information. We think this could also leave a positive impression on our clients.
For communication afterwards, I believe that loss of opportunities due to time differences must be eliminated. With LINE WORKS, we may read messages and emails and reply in a timely manner. When we communicate via LINE WORKS, we think thoroughly before writing the sentences. When comparing with emails, however, messages can be sent in a more frankly manner and customers can also respond easily to them. Compared to the days when email addresses were exchanged for customer communication, the likelihood of acquiring contacts has doubled, and the amount of conversations after beginning communication has tripled.
I think when communication has carried out, quick response to the customer requests will help us build trustworthiness with the clients, and eventually lead us to acquire more chances to work with them.
In addition, utilization of LINE WORKS is not limited to the process up to acquisition of deals. Even in housing design and the construction phase after order acquisition, on-site supervisors are connected to customers’ LINE via LINE WORKS to share the current progress and status of the construction sites with photos, which helps in construction completion as well as the after-case process. In case something happens, LINE WORKS allows us to receive a related contact and respond immediately or ask for assistance to other teams. Customers who have eventually selected our company instead of other competitors are primarily satisfied with “quick replies” and “fast responses”. Thanks to the remarkable advantages of LINE WORKS, we believe that we could be different from our competitors in these areas.
Also, communication and sharing of information between headquarters and the exhibit halls located far away became much easier. For example, there was a housing event in which I was stationed in headquarters. To proceed a project, we had to communicate with a construction supervisor, employees at other exhibits, in other divisions, as well as other companies. Because it was extremely difficult for everyone involved to gather for a meeting and communicate via email, LINE WORKS came to be perfect solution for such circumstances.
※ The details, affiliations and positions specified is the information gathered at the time of reporting.