What If Syndicate cuts call volume and improves the guest experience with Textline

Company size:
Chicago, IL
Use case:
Customer Service
Customer Experience
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What If Syndicate, formed in 2015, is a Chicago-based restaurant group. The company pushes the boundaries of hospitality with superb customer service, creative food, and iconic dining experiences. The company currently has seven restaurant concepts across four U.S. cities: Chicago, Dallas, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Culver City, Calif. Because of its success, the restaurant group plans to expand to other cities in 2023 and 2024.
U.S. cities and counting
restaurant concepts

Why texting?

The reality is that top-notch customer experiences start with great communication. That’s why the restaurant group began looking into a texting solution. In particular, due to its scale, What If Syndicate receives about 336,000 phone calls each year. This high call volume made it difficult for the company’s 16 reservationists to quickly reach every guest. 

In addition to the high call volume, What If Syndicate realized that many guests wanted the option to text. They wanted to ask questions, make reservations, and alert the restaurant if they were running late via text message. The company noticed this preference because many guests were responding to the automated reservation confirmation texts sent from their reservation system. However, the text capability of the reservation platform was heavily manual and didn’t notify the reservationists when guests replied. As a result, the restaurant group sought a different tool for texting. 

Ultimately, the restaurant group wanted a tool that made texting less cumbersome for the team to speed up communication, cut call volume, and improve the guest experience. “A lot of people prefer to text. So we wanted to find a platform to speed up communication and create an overall exceptional service,” said Polly Ho, Director of Reservation Systems and Strategy at What If Syndicate.

Photo of friends eating at restaurant.
What If Syndicate restaurant location.


With Textline’s help, What If Syndicate text-enabled the existing landline phone numbers for its restaurants. These numbers allow guests to text or call one number for their needs. What If Syndicate also has a separate texting number for VIP guests, who can text in requests for reservations and get a response in minutes. Overall, the company uses the Textline SMS platform for replying to inbound messages from restaurant guests. “We use it as an efficient way to connect with our guests and give us an alternate form of communication,” Polly Ho said. 

The tool that made Textline stand out from other texting platforms was the Unified Inbox. This feature allows companies to see all text conversations in one view. This ensures that although you have multiple phone numbers customers can text, your team can see inbound messages from all of them. This feature was vital to the What If Syndicate team as it has 16 reservationists that must manage and reply to guests for all of the properties.

A screenshot of Textline's Unified Inbox feature.
Textline's Unified Inbox feature.

The company also uses Textline to create automated after-hours text messages. That way, when guests text in outside of business hours, they get an automatic message alerting them that What If Syndicate will get back to them as soon as possible the next day. 

What If Syndicate also uses scheduled messages to improve efficiencies. In particular, the company can schedule text messages to Pacific Time and Mountain Time guests to send at more convenient times. This ensures that guests are not receiving messages too early in the morning or too late at night. Plus, it allows reservationists to reply to inbound messages when it works best for them. 

The restaurant group also uses insights and dispositions to get a better understanding of what guests are texting about and to prove to its owners that a texting solution has been helpful. “It’s nice to see the way that guests are choosing to communicate with us. We’ve been able to prove that [guests] are texting us about everything. [Dispositions] further prove that having a texting service has been really helpful for all of the properties.” Polly Ho said.


Overall, Textline has helped the restaurant group lower call volume and improve the guest experience. It is easier for the team to handle multiple text conversations at once, while still managing the inevitable phone calls. “We’ve seen a decrease in phone calls because people are choosing to text,” Polly Ho said. “We are getting to guests sooner. In time, we’ll be able to see how much it is.”

Texting has also been welcomed by the restaurant group’s guests. They like the option of texting instead of waiting on hold, and find that they often get responses quicker. “It’s been able to amp up our customer service and guest experience,” Polly Ho said. 

“We’ve really enjoyed using Textline…and the support that we get. It’s been really great for us because of the way our company is structured and the restaurant group is structured, and just to have multiple forms of communication with our guests.”
— Polly Ho, Director of Reservation Systems and Strategy

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