Business Messaging: Hindsight is 20/20

How many times have you said to yourself, “Hindsight is 20/20”?

While the origins of the phrase, “Hindsight is 20/20,” is unknown, its relevance comes out in nearly all aspects of our lives.  One recent example in my life is the Pro Bull Riding event I went to on my birthday up in Big Sky, MT. I have been to dozens of rodeos in my days here in Montana, but this event was off the charts amazing.  After the event was over, I was definitely feeling like, “If I’d have known the Big Sky PBR was that amazing, I would have started coming years ago.” I won’t miss another.

Here at Quiq, we regularly hear these words coming from the voice of our customers.  “If I’d have known that we were going to see these kinds of results, we would have done this a long time ago.”  But it isn’t just the results that they see, it’s the fact that not all Business Messaging is created equally – in other words, being able to send and receive texts is table stakes – what isn’t equal are all the other messaging capabilities Quiq brings to bare.  Most of our customers were using some form of SMS capability before they came to Quiq – some simply using individual cell phones, others using their Contact Center or CRM provider’s rudimentary version of texting, and others trying to build their own.

What is it that Quiq clients discover? There now exists an enterprise-grade business messaging platform that isn’t just a “nice-to-have,” but is an integral part of their business that drives significant value.  Mike Parish, Sr Manager, CX Design & Application Development for Brinks Home Security states, “With Quiq, we (the digital team) have the exact same processes that the call center has today.  However, because of the ease of the asynchronous communication, our CSAT is naturally 14 points higher, on average, than our voice channel in the call center.”  Brinks is also able to reduce the number of agents on the phone, repurposing them to higher value interactions.

“With Quiq, we (the digital team) have the exact same processes that the call center has today.  However, because of the ease of the asynchronous communication, our CSAT is naturally 14 points higher, on average, than our voice channel in the call center.”
~Mike Parish, Senior Manager

Another customer, TodayTix, the premier digital gateway to shows, arts, and cultural experiences in NYC, started with a channel mix of 80% Voice and 20% email. They have a goal of reducing overall call volumes down to just 10% and saw Quiq as their digital communications partner to help them get there. In less than two years, they are seeing that nearly 85% of all communications are now coming through channels other than voice. Incredible!

Conversational Commerce

Let me throw some staggering stats at you. In 2018, it was estimated that 40% of all holiday purchases were made over a smartphone. Early reports are showing this trend has increased by as much as 27% and Statista predicts that number could be as high as 70% by 2020. Most of our customers report that well over 60% of their online traffic comes from mobile. According to Statistic Brain, the number of monthly texts sent has increased more than 7700% over the last decade.

If human “conversations” aren’t happening over voice channels any more, why should we expect anything different with eCommerce and Consumer Services. Messaging for businesses has become a customer experience imperative. Imagine a customer being able to message your business, engage in a buying cycle, and complete the transaction all in one interaction, asynchronously! Wait, huh??

The Power of Asynchronous

Last week I woke up at my normal 6:30 AM. It was going to be a super busy day, so I sent a text to a house painter we are looking to hire. Had I only had the voice channel to work with coupled with the schedule I had that day, I would not have been able to call Ian (my painter) until after 3:00 PM that afternoon. Instead, when Ian was able, he returned my text at 9:09 AM. I then responded at 11:13 AM and he replied at 1:45 PM. Our business was concluded. With asynchronous communication, we communicate at the speed of our own lives – and now, with conversational commerce, brands have the ability to collect payment all inside of the messaging channel – TRANSACTION COMPLETE! Cha-ching.

Rich Messaging

Another, “Hindsight is 20/20” we are hearing a lot these days is how compelling rich messaging is. Customers like Overstock.com have taken messaging to a whole new level utilizing rich messaging to personalize their shipping notifications and post-delivery surveys. Utilizing Quiq’s two-way outbound notifications for product delivery, Overstock continues a personal conversation using a seamless combination of bots and humans to insure complete customer satisfaction, all with “web” quality experiences using rich messaging.

Oh, and unlike emails, these interactions have a 98% open rate (their words not ours), AND have reduced their inbound phone call volumes by 14%!!!

Bots for Dummies

Anyone who knows me well understands that, while I sell software for a living, I am basically “entry level” when it comes to technology. The other day I was watching the demo for our new Designer Bot Builder and was shocked at 1) how powerful it is, and 2) how easy it is to build your own Bot in the Quiq platform. Our customers, like Nintendo and Stio, who participated in our Beta program are already seeing tremendous results (see our Bot Webinar). I promise you, if you knew how easy it is to build a powerful Bot that interacts with your customers and agents, as an agent, you’d be building one.

So now you know…

“But, where do I start?” We get that question a lot. The lame answer is that it depends on the business. In the Credit Union industry, we see mortgage and lending as a great starting point, later moving into the contact center. In the Retail/eComm space, we see everything from organizations like Overstock.com starting with delivery notifications to others who put Apple Business Chat, Bots and SMS on mobile experiences for pre-sales support. We see business and consumer services organizations, like HVAC and Plumbing, start with appointment reminders. Many other organizations start in their contact center. Without fail, we always find that organizations have areas of the business where customer communication is changing and messaging is the answer.

Customers’ lives are connected and on-the-move. The phone channel is becoming more and more inconvenient. Quiq brings an array of asynchronous channels into a scalable, enterprise platform designed to serve the customer at the moment of truth. In a world where bots and humans are both considered “first-class citizens,” the expectation for customer satisfaction is morphing. Synchronous phone conversations are giving way to digital interactions that are real time, yet spread out within our busy schedules. Businesses on the forefront of customer experience have figured out how to meet their customers where they are, and both are discovering that communicating has never been more enjoyable.

Aspira Stakes out a New Way to Communicate With Customers

Besides technology, Aspira knows a thing or two about adventure and connection. For over 30 years, Aspira’s technology has allowed people to book outdoor recreation experiences at parks and conservation sites all over the US. Aspira’s customers contract directly with them to use their software, marketing services, and sometimes their centralized contact center to manage reservations for many of the most popular state and provincial parks as well as conservation agencies throughout the US.

Camping in Florida? Fishing in Ohio? Aspira is the technology behind many of those adventures
that connect individuals and families to the experiences they love.

When it was time to embark on an adventure of their own to discover new ways to connect with their customers, Aspira investigated business messaging with Quiq. The company wanted to look for ways that might help save money through reduced call volumes but also wanted to find a way to engage with their traveling, “on-the-go” customers. Aspira knows that customers who are on their way to a campground, setting up a site at the park, or preparing for a day of fishing don’t want to call in and sit on hold to get a question answered.

“You constantly have to think about the customer experience. Messaging lets us engage with customers who are active and mobile. This is the direction that people are going. If you’re not looking at innovating, then you probably aren’t going to get very far.”

~Jessica Himmel, Senior Manager


The Path to Messaging

Aspira securely facilitates nearly 50 million transactions between people and outdoor experiences each year. The process involves fielding over 1 million phone calls to their contact center annually. There could be a many as 250 agents handling calls during the peak season between Memorial Day and Labor Day. During the fall and winter, the number of agents can dip to about 100.

With that call volume, Aspira knew that messaging was a move in the right direction, but wanted to see what would happen in this uncharted territory. The company started with a soft launch that included 3 park locations that Aspira manages in New York, Delaware, and Ohio. Implementation of Quiq Messaging as a standalone platform went smoothly and launched on May 31, 2018. 

The new text messaging channel was promoted through Aspira’s private label websites including: MontanaStateParks.ReserverAmerica.com and FloridaStateParks.ReserveAmerica.com. A “Contact Us” button was added to the private label websites showing visitors on desktop computers the phone number to text for questions, and if visitors are on their mobile website, they can text directly from their phone.

Visitors to FloridaStateParks.ReserveAmerica.com are greeted with an invitation to text if they seek help through the “Contact Us” button.

Aspira has been surprised at the volume of calls they’ve been able to deflect to the text messaging channel. The company has now added messaging to 14 of their reservation sites and receives about 300 to 400 messages a day. Aspira conducted a survey at the end of every text message conversation and discovered that nearly 70% of the customers who texted would have called in if the “Text Us” option was not available.

Cultivating Connection Through Messaging

Since Aspira manages reservations for many of the most popular state and provincial parks, as well as conservation agencies throughout the US, about half of the inquiries that the company receives in the call center is about campsite availability. Although adventure seekers can go online to ReserveAmerica.com to check availability and reserve a campsite at over 35 camping, fishing, or hunting locations, they would often call to ask if what they saw online was accurate. 

With Quiq, instead of calling, customers can connect using their preferred channel: texting. Jessica Himmel, Senior Manager at Aspira, says the company finds it “extremely valuable that we are able to deflect a lot of these calls to the messaging channel. We prefer to text the customers who are just confirming availability because it’s such a quick and easy thing to respond to.” 

It’s not just booking availability inquiries that are handled quickly through the messaging channel. A lot of people want to cancel reservations, change dates or site location, while others want to know about facilities and amenities at specific locations. In general, Aspira finds that messaging conversations are a lot shorter and faster than phone calls. Agents have observed that it usually takes just 10 messages back and forth on average to get to a resolution. 

The company’s investment to make it easier for customers to engage with their agents is definitely getting a return. Aspira has seen a 4% decrease on the number of calls from their private label sites, as well as a 4% increase in reservations made online. With the volume of calls they receive hovering around a million per year, that’s no small feat.

Customers aren’t the only ones reaping the rewards of messaging. Agents really like being on the messaging channel and there are agents who ask to work that channel. This is great news for Aspira who hopes to increase staff for the messaging channel by 67%. Anytime there are extra hours that need coverage for the SMS/text channel, agents volunteer, due in part to how easy it is to use Quiq’s messaging platform. Agents not only handle multiple, simultaneous conversations at once but can use productivity-enhancing features like snippets to quickly share links to campsites and park policies. 

What’s Next

Results like these have Aspira looking for more ways to leverage messaging. To start, Aspira is exploring ways in which they can take payments over messaging, integrate Quiq into their workforce management system to help predict staffing, and expand the messaging channel to more of their contracts. One of the first things the company wants to do is to simply expand the hours messaging is available and supported. The company suspects that a lot of the messages they see come in during off-hours could be handled if messaging was available for just a couple more hours at night. 

Looking ahead to tornado, hurricane, and wildfire season, Aspira thinks that an increase in volume due to weather events may be on the horizon. The company anticipates a higher volume of questions such as “Is the park closed?” and “My site is flooded, what do I do?” In fact, Aspira is considering using outbound messaging as a proactive way to notify customers going to a park or location where the weather could adversely affect their reservation. If 

Aspira leadership believes it’s an exciting time for messaging and Quiq couldn’t agree more. The number of companies adopting business messaging continues to grow as more consumers demand the convenience, ease, and speed of the messaging channel. From the shopper that needs help with a purchase, to the camper that needs to make sure their dog is allowed at their campsite, messaging has become the preferred channel for our busy lives.

What is Google’s Verified SMS (VSMS)

What is Verified SMS?

First, let’s start with the definition of SMS. SMS stands for Short Message Service and is the most widely used type of text messaging. Obviously, we all text message our friends and families all day long. Most recently, companies, like yours, have jumped into the SMS/text messaging pool to communicate with consumers. It is a great way and a much more convenient method for consumers to communicate with your business than having to make a phone call or send an email.

SMS text messages are a highly engaging and effective way to communicate with your customers because 98% of messages read within 5 minutes. Whether it is 2-way conversations about purchasing a product, completing a loan application, getting technical support, or receiving order notifications, SMS is a great way to get the message delivered.

But SMS isn’t perfect – spoofing can be a concern since messages are not branded with your company’s identity. Because the sender is identified by just a phone number, it’s not easy for your customers to verify whether the message they just received was truly sent by you. Verified SMS makes SMS more friendly for business text messages received on Android by displaying your brand and authenticating that the message was sent by you.

Verified SMS by Google
A typical SMS message – no branding or sender verification

What does Verified SMS (VSMS) look like?

When you send an SMS message with Quiq to the latest Android devices, your customers will see your brand name and be assured that the message was sent from your company. This happens automatically thanks Quiq and the Verified SMS service  by Google. With Quiq and Verified SMS, your messages will appear on Android with your company’s brand at the top of the Messages app and your logo alongside the message, verifying that this message originated from your company.


The same SMS message delivered with Verified SMS

Verified SMS is available from Quiq now and works on Android devices running the latest Messages app on all mobile providers.

For those wondering if this means that Google will now be now be reading all of your text messages, the answer is an emphatic “no!” Please continue reading to get the inside scoop on how Verified SMS works.

How does Verified SMS (VSMS) actually work?

When Quiq sends a VSMS message, we still send the message across the phone carriers just like an unverified SMS message. But, with VSMS, we also send an authentication key (1-way hash) to Google that is used by the Android Messages app to verify the message. The authentication key is generated based upon your company’s sender identity, the message text, and the message recipient’s phone number. When the message is received, the Messages app generates the same authentication key and verifies the key with Google. Since the authentication key is a 1-way hash, Google doesn’t have information about the contents of the message or who it was sent to.

Here’s the process for VSMS:

  1. When sending a SMS message in Quiq, first we generate an authentication key and pass this to Google. Since the authentication key is a 1-way hash, Google doesn’t know anything about the contents or recipients of the message. Quiq doesn’t know what type of device will be receiving the message so we do this for all SMS messages.
  2. We send the text message across the mobile carriers (just like any other SMS message).
  3. When the Android Messages app receives the message, it computes its own version of the authentication key and sends this to Google to verify the message’s authenticity and sender.

What else should I know about Verified SMS (VSMS)?

Currently, there are a couple of limitations of Verified SMS. VSMS is not supported on Apple iOS devices. No word on whether Apple may support VSMS in the future. VSMS works for SMS messages, but unfortunately, does not work for MMS messages, so if you send images or video, those messages will appear as unverified in the transcript in the Messages app.

If you’re a Quiq customer (or would like to become a customer!), please contact us to get Verified SMS setup. This feature is included at no additional charge in our standard SMS conversation pricing.

SMS for Credit Unions

A growing number of credit unions have implemented messaging to enhance member experience, expedite collections, and streamline loan processing. Take a look at some of Quiq’s most popular resources to help you get started on your messaging journey.

Feel free to download these resources, or fill out the form below and we’ll send you a hard copy for reference:


Quiq’s 1 Page Informational

An easy to digest overview of credit union messaging and Quiq’s messaging platform.
Download the PDF

7 Reasons Your Members Want To Text You

Your members want to text you. Read our most popular white paper that spells out the 7 compelling reasons to implement messaging now.

Ebook: Messaging Best Practices for Credit Unions

Expert advice on launching and implementing messaging within your credit union.

Download the PDF

Quiq’s Essential Guide to TCPA for Credit Unions

Implementing messaging in your organization means maintaining TCPA compliance. Here’s how it’s done.

Download the PDF

Quiq’s Chatbot Workbook

Download our easy to follow, step-by-step guide to understanding and implementing bots in any organization.

Download the PDF