How Retailers Can Survive Crises Using Digital Communication

As things continue to unfold regarding COVID-19, consumers have been forced to shift more of their attention and their spending online. Retailers have had to adjust to the rapidly changing situation and develop new crisis management strategies. Retail’s new normal post-COVID-19 makes proactive and consistent retail communications even more key during these less-than-normal times.

Retailers that have temporarily closed physical locations or have had to adjust store hours are now relying on their digital presence to remain available to customers. Although COVID-19 has forced a more rapid and widespread adoption of this type of engagement, this change has long been in the making.

In this post, we’ll discuss what can be done now and in the future to improve retail communications during COVID-19, the long term effects this crisis will have on retail going forward, and how digital strategies can help position you to persevere this current business disruption.

The New Normal: How COVID-19 Will Push Retailers Online

It would be hard to dispute that COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our lives. It’s changed the way we work, how we think, and the way we buy. Recent research from Nielsen reveals that COVID-19 will leave a lasting impression on consumer’s preferences and retailers business model.  

Nielsen believes that consumers will emerge from their homes and settle back into their local markets with retails “new normal” a solid reality, post COVID-19. People will eventually return to their daily routines but they’ll have a “renewed cautiousness about health,” As part of this renewed caution, there will be a permanent shift to e-commerce. retails new normal post COVID-19 will mean more consumers shopping online

Retailers Should Invest Now To Prepare for The Future

According to research by Econsultancy, now is the time for retailers to invest in digital transformation as more consumers go online for goods and services during the outbreak. While 87% of marketers in North America predict an increase in the use of online services by consumers in the midst of the outbreak, 51% of the same group admit that spending on technology was delayed or under review. 

87% of marketers predict an increase in the use of online services in the midst of the outbreak

These findings signal that businesses may be unable to cope with the additional demands on digital services and infrastructure during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. That is, unless investment is pulled forward.

How should retailers address the current spike in online activity while keeping an eye on budgets? That’s a tough question with a really simple answer – messaging and chatbots. Enabling your current landlines to send and receive messages over SMS/text and adding web chat opens up asynchronous channels that enable you to do more with the staff you have. Chatbots deflect calls and messaging makes your agents 7x more efficient. 

An investment in messaging and bots is the short-term crisis solution for retailers with long term-benefits. Here are 4 benefits of a digital investment that can pay off now and in the future.

4 Benefits of Digital Investment for Retail Stores

  • Capture More Sales

Contact centers are overwhelmed with calls. Many of them have sent their agents to work from home and have suspended all phone calls, relying on web chat and online support. 

These changes require retailers to develop new ways to sell…or fail. The success of their digital strategies will determine which companies survive and which don’t. Quiq’s messaging platform leverages bots to capture consumers’ intent, route conversations to the most appropriate queue, and even help consumers complete purchases.

Don’t lose sales to call abandonment or missed conversations with customers. Help customers find what they need and complete their purchase using messaging or chat.

  • Scale your Current Workforce

All retailers face similar issues when handling customer service phone calls, including staffing, especially during peak times. This current situation has caused unprecedented demand.

Instead of agents handling one phone call at a time, messaging equips agents to address multiple, simultaneous conversations. Quiq’s messaging platform enables agents to handle 7x more conversations than phone calls. And using bots across your digital channels helps eliminate calls that can be resolved without the need to talk to a human agent.

  • Communicate to Customers en Masse

Even in the midst of curtailed hours and store closures, retailers are shifting their strategies and serving on the front lines of an effective response to the COVID-19 crisis. Many retailers are providing drive-up COVID-19 testing, home delivery, curbside pick-up, and other essential services. 

Using outbound messages keep your customers informed of special services available now, which will solidify your connection with your community and let them know you’re here to help. Things are changing daily, even hourly, being able to communicate quickly is essential. As things improve, you’ll be able to keep your customers informed of changes, special events, or new services in the future. 

  • Inform Customers of Adjusted Hours & New Promotions

It was critical to inform consumers of adjusted operating hours as the pandemic began. It’ll be just as critical to inform them of adjustments to hours and services as things go back to “normal”.

While no one knows when we will be getting back to daily routines, we all remain hopeful it will be soon. When it does, you can notify them of your availability and any special promotions.

Keeping customers informed isn’t something that just needs to happen during a time of uncertainty. During peak times, like the holiday season, you’ll be able to alert customers of extended hours or special promotions.

Investing In The Future With Customer Messaging

In previous posts, we’ve covered how consumers’ preferences have changed. Conversational commerce has grown at a steady pace for the past few years. Retailers are relying on new digital strategies to engage with consumers with mobile technology at the core.

The wake of COVID-19 will leave the retail landscape forever changed. Retail’s new normal post COVID-19 demands a new approach. Schedule a demo to see first-hand how messaging and bots lets you do more with less.

See a Demo Today

The Future of Live Chat in Business

As the way consumers spend time online evolves, companies are rethinking the ways they connect to customers. Live chat is no exception.

Historically, many companies have used live chat as a channel for customer support. That is one application for live chat, but marketing teams are increasingly utilizing live chat as a way to convert visitors to their site into sales.

The ability to message customer service from their website makes the shopping process quick and seamless for consumers, increasing conversion rates and satisfaction of your company.

What does the future of online chat support look like? Beyond generating sales and conversions, live chat also provides an opportunity to delight existing customers and create a personal connection.

Why Consumers Prefer to Use Customer Service Live Chat

Consumers have a certain set of expectations when they communicate with customer service representatives. They want service to be fast, polite, and convenient. They expect to engage with experts to quickly resolve their inquiry.. While emails and phone calls can certainly check off some of these boxes, the convenience and speed of service just don’t compare to live chat.

Unlike emails or phone calls, live chat for business provides customers with immediate attention when they need it. There’s no need to wait for an email response or dial a phone number and wait to be connected with a representative. As a result, this has become the preferred method of communication for many consumers.

Live Chat Advantages

What does your company stand to gain from using live chat for business?

  • When agents are able to handle multiple conversations at the same time, in comparison to being on the phone with only one customer, they are being more efficient, which increases productivity and saves costs.
  • Consumers are looking for answers fast and when you compare live chat to a phone call, there is no comparison. Live chat is a faster and more convenient way for consumers to find answers and help themselves.
  • Customers can access live support at their fingertips, while remaining actively engaged on your site.
  • You can smoothly integrate chatbots, along with human operators, so your representatives can help as many customers as possible.
  • Live chat allows representatives to create a personal connection in a way that feels natural, as most consumers are used to chatting online anyway.

The Future of Online Chat Support

What’s next in online chat support? Keep an eye on these emerging trends in the coming years:

  • Chatbots and AI will play a bigger role. As the functionality of AI and machine learning continues to improve, chatbots will be able to understand language and provide solutions in customer service live chats.
  • Consumers will turn to live chat to shop. Nobody likes to shop alone. Live chat will serve more and more as a personal concierge for consumers on your website who may have questions or want to get feedback, rather than just a place to handle issues. Your agents may have to answer questions like, “Will these jeans make my butt look big?” The answer may be, “is that what you’re going for?”
  • Companies will provide proactive support through chat. If customers have any last-minute questions before making a purchase, they can connect with a representative through live chat right away at the point of purchase. The same goes for any support they need after the sale is complete, such as minor changes to the order.

Invest in the Future of Business Communications With Quiq

Business messaging has the power to transform customer conversations. When customers can reach you how and when they want to, they know your company offers reliable service they can count on.

Quiq is powering communication between companies and consumers across multiple channels, including live chat. Browse our site to learn more about us and the work we do for companies like yours.

Want to see our services in action? Try a demo of our solution to see for yourself how communicating with Quiq is a breeze.

See a Demo Today

Improve Remote Contact Center Efficiency Using AI and Messaging

The Coronavirus is sending the workforce home, straining supply chains, and in some cases, diminishing demand, making it more expensive for businesses to operate and harder to sell. In other cases, such as airlines, financial services, healthcare, education, and other industries, demand for support has spiked.

Are you struggling to keep up with the huge spikes in phone calls during this time of uncertainty? The spike, coupled with physical call centers being closed to avoid the spread of the coronavirus and moving to a work-from-home model, has caused a whiplash reaction.

The natural response to higher call volumes is to add agents. Fiscally and practically, that doesn’t make sense.

Thankfully, this is an area where AI technology for call centers can step in and alleviate the pain. In this article, we’ll provide 4 ways messaging and bots can eliminate phone calls and improve the efficiency of your remote customer service agents.

Use AI to Keep Up With Increased Volume

Although organizations are revising websites and sending emails with updates, customers still have questions – a lot of them! They are calling you for answers to questions and the good news is that most of these questions do not have to be handled by a person. Because so many questions are repetitive and the answers are fairly straightforward, chatbots are a great way to offload inquiries. Using advanced AI technology made specifically for customer service operations, these bots are an ideal solution for answering basic questions and keeping call center agents focused on higher priority conversations.

A chatbot can be deployed in less than 24 hours to help customers find answers to frequently asked questions. 

Bots eliminate phone calls by addressing frequently asked questions that don't need human interaction for resolution.

One company deployed a chatbot to keep customers updated regarding their cleaning measures, using thoughtful prompts and thorough explanations to help customers self help. For a real-time demonstration of this, interact with Quiq’s business disruption bot.

Messaging Makes Agents 7x More Efficient 

Quiq’s messaging platform makes it possible for your agents to handle multiple simultaneous conversations. Agents can handle up to 7x more conversations concurrently.

For example, an online service provider and longtime Quiq client used messaging prior to the COVID-19 pandemic to handle conversations about refunds, review disputes, delete accounts, and update preferences. Instead of handling these inquiries one phone call at a time, agents are able to handle three messaging conversations at once. 

Information about COVID-19 is quickly overwhelming email inboxes, newsfeeds, and our collective sense of certainty. As a result, organizations in both the public and private sector are seeing extraordinary call volumes. One large online and big box retailer recently contacted Quiq because call volumes reached an unprecedented level of 250% over normal.

It’s impossible to add additional staff fast enough to meet that kind of demand. Now is the time to do more with what you have. With messaging, you can boost the productivity of your current agents as they work from home.

Deliver a Consistent Remote Experience 

“Calling and speaking to a Relationship Manager may take longer than usual during this time, so we encourage you to use our digital channels as much as possible.”

Statements like these are becoming more common. As hold times spike, more companies are alerting customers to possible service delays and encouraging them to use digital channels,  

Quiq’s messaging platform makes it possible for your customers to reach you over SMS/text, web chat, and social channels like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. Quiq’s messaging platform also helps agents manage all of these channels through a consistent experience across each digital channel. 

Achieve a Balanced, Flexible, and Efficient Remote Workforce

Over the coming weeks and months, there won’t be many areas of business not touched by COVID-19. Important precautions and measures to limit the spread of the virus, such as enabling employees to work remotely through virtual contact centers, will continue to be critical for the unforeseeable future. 

With school closures and support networks for childcare (i.e. grandma and grandpa) unavailable, many of your agents will work remotely for the first time, while also caring for their children. With messaging, agents can manage conversations without the fear of background noise interrupting the conversation.

Messaging and remote AI solutions helps your workforce transition to this new work environment, no matter what that looks like.

Reliability in Times of Uncertainty

Quiq’s messaging platform was made for situations like this. With 99.999% uptime and enterprise level security, you can rely on Quiq to get the message across. When communication is key to the success of your business, nothing compares to the timeliness and efficacy of messaging. Your success is our success.

Schedule a demo today and we’ll show you how you can implement messaging and bots within 24 hours.

See a Demo Today

How Stio Geared Up For Growth

Since opening its doors in 2012, Stio has embraced a direct-to-consumer model selling high-quality, active apparel for outdoor enthusiasts online and in-store. Clearly, the market has embraced them right back, experiencing rapid growth, especially in eCommerce which makes up 75% of the company’s revenue.

The mountain lifestyle brand, headquartered in Jackson Hole, Wyoming realized that it had to scale its digital customer experience to keep up with that growth. The company looked for technology that was just as adaptable and functional as their gear, turning to Quiq’s messaging, web chat, and bot platform for support.

The Good Problem of Growth

Stio's use of web chat messaging bots for retailers has helped the company deflect phone callsWhen Kim Essensa, Stio’s Customer Experience Manager, joined the company in June of 2018, Stio had been experiencing annual growth rates of 52 percent. In the second quarter of 2018, Stio’s growth accelerated to an impressive 70% year over year.

That kind of growth comes with a few growing pains, especially in a contact center of 7. Based on previous experience in both her personal and professional life, Kim felt that live chat could help alleviate some of the load. The company already had a simple version of live chat available on their website but hadn’t turned it on. Her instincts were right. Turning on web chat helped the contact center feel an immediate relief.

Kim knew that text messaging was the next natural progression for engagement with consumers. While she had experience with other vendors like Live Chat, Olark, and Boldchat, she knew that having SMS and text messaging were key to take the company to the next level. Kim had used Quiq at her previous employer and evaluated it for Stio, knowing that it was going to have to make an impact on their efficiency, while working with their current systems.

“A few other programs were vetted. The relationship I had with Quiq before and knowing how responsive everyone is there, especially with tech issues, is what made Quiq stand out for me. When something is not working, you just need it fixed.”

~Kim Essensa, Stio

Quiq fit with the vision of where Stio wanted their contact center to be and the company went live with Quiq’s web chat on October 1. Implementation was short and successful, and employees only had to receive a small amount of training to get started,

“The platform is so intuitive and easy to use that the amount of training it takes to give it to my staff was super minimal,” says Kim. Having Quiq in place with a trained and ready staff was crucial since Q4 was looming on the horizon and like other retailers, the holiday season would make up a good portion of the company’s annual revenue.

Improving Efficiency 

Before the holidays, Stio onboarded an after hours contact center to handle chat when the in-house team was offline. The after-hours answering service has been able to take some of the pressure off of Stio’s team during business hours as well, easily managing chat on Quiq’s messaging platform with very little training or day to day management from Kim and her team.

The increase in productivity helped employees and customers over the holiday season. Kim puts it this way, “Last year we were leaving the office with 300 emails in the inbox. This year we’re leaving with like 30.” After the holidays, Stio turned on text messaging and saw call volumes drop by 9%. 

“Agents love Quiq. It’s just intuitive and super easy to use.”

~Kim Essensa, Stio

Now, Stio’s agents handle inbound messages from SMS, web chat, and Facebook Messenger all within Quiq’s intelligent workspace. Questions are typically focused on orders, with inquiries around shipping status or price adjustments. Now, if a customer just placed an order and the final cost didn’t reflect the promo code entered, they don’t have to call in and wait on hold for help. Now, they can send a text and get a faster response, since Stio’s agents can handle multiple conversations simultaneously.

Bots

In 2019, Stio took another step toward more efficient operations. Stio was one of the first companies to embrace Quiq’s bots across their messaging channels. Kim worked with the Quiq team to scope out what the Stio bot experience should be. It was important for Kim to keep the bot language short, simple, and casual, so it would feel like consumers are engaging with a human. It was also important to give customers easy access to a human agent whenever they wanted . Within a few days, the bot was up and running on the site.

Stio saw immediate results from implementing bots. The company, which drops 1.2 million catalogs for the holidays, used to take requests from customers who wished to be removed from the physical mailer. Today, a bot does it all on behalf of the agents- from beginning to end. During the first two weeks after implementing this single bot, Kim saved 83 precious agent hours on the catalog process alone. Agents can now concentrate on helping customers find the gear they want instead of managing catalog removals.

Quiq’s Shopify Integration

Stio recently integrated Quiq Messaging with their Shopify account. This integration gives agents incredible visibility into what the consumer is doing. They can see which web page the customer is looking at and what’s in their cart in real-time. According to Essensa, this has drastically reduced the time it takes agents to collect that information from customers and makes the experience smoother and faster for customers.

Stio is focused on keeping their agents available for customers who need human attention. That’s why they’ve introduced bots. When a customer uses messaging, a bot will collect core information from customers and take action on that information, sending the conversation to the best-suited human agent.

Kim believes the integration of Quiq and Shopify will increase overall cart value and conversions because agents will be better equipped with the information they need to close the transaction with the customer.

What’s in Store For Messaging

Stio is approaching conversational commerce from a very personal level and they are using technology to help “For us, it’s that natural conversation between the customer and the agent. We really want the customer to feel at home with Stio, like they’re talking to their best friend who just recommended the best ski kit in the world. We really try to make it a personal experience.” states Kim.

Stio continues to look for ways to make their customers experience more fluid and personal. “From the epic to every day”, that’s the mantra that inspires the team at Stio to create gear known for technical performance, quality, and versatility. Leave it to them to bring that same ingenuity to their customer experience with Quiq’s messaging platform.

Let’s put technology to work for you in your company to streamline workflows, increase efficiency, and deliver a seamless customer experience. Schedule a demo to discuss messaging and how Quiq can work with your company’s unique processes and systems.

See a Demo Today

How Rich Messaging Is Transforming the Way Customers Shop

These days, consumers prefer the convenience of shopping online and are continuing to shift their spending from in-person to eCommerce. In fact, as a percentage of total retail sales, eCommerce sales rose from 11.3% in April 2019 to 14% in April 2020. Why? Because online shopping is the quickest and easiest way for today’s consumers to locate the products they want. Online shopping also comes with the added benefit of being accessible from anywhere, whether that means buying a new laptop on a train during a work commute or ordering a prescription from a mobile device while in the waiting room of a doctor’s office.

As more people transition to online shopping, technology has been continuing to evolve to meet customer demands. However, some companies have been overlooking a critical and budding area that has huge potential to grow their businesses: rich messaging transactions.

How Rich Messaging Can Help Shoppers

Rich messaging is the future. The rise of rich communication services (RCS) is due to consumers’ demand for the rich, interactive messaging experience on Over The Top (OTT) messaging services like Facebook and WhatsApp.

Engaging with customers in more meaningful ways through messaging and chat applications has become one of the key drivers of increased online sales and repeat purchases. Rich messaging provides an interactive and convenient channel for customer engagement.

With such services now being integrated into messaging apps to provide a more browser-like user experience, the future of rich messaging is positioned for growth by offering additional customization and personalization. In Japan and China, almost every eCommerce task, from making payments and gifting people money, has been integrated into rich messaging apps. The Western and European markets are likely to be revolutionized by rich messaging in the same way.

Rich messaging allows effortless, straightforward communication between customer service representatives and customers. Both parties can share interactive media like images and videos, allowing customers to view products within the message window rather than being directed away from the chat to a website. Additionally, consumers can easily interact and respond using suggested replies, which make responses as simple as a tap of a button and can even enable secure purchases. When customers can view, select, add to cart, and purchase all within the messaging window, that’s rich messaging at its best.

Rich communication services simplify shopping with the convenience that customers love.

Rich Communication Services

Customer preferences and technologies are continually changing, so businesses must also evolve by adopting new competencies, skills, and capabilities like rich messaging services.

Google’s Business Messages

Through Google Business Messages, customers can initiate conversations with brands from the world’s largest and most popular search engine. Popular entry points like Google Maps and Google Search position Google’s Business Messages as an extremely convenient method for getting in touch with businesses.

Googles_Business_Messages_Google_Search_Mens_Wearhouse_Business_Messaging

Google Rich Communication Services

The digital-first consumers of today have high expectations when it comes to communicating with businesses online. To meet these expectations, Google introduced an upgraded messaging experience to combine the already popular business messaging channel with a visually rich messaging format, including rich media, branding, interactivity, and analytics to deliver a more engaging customer experience.

Many different industries use Google RCS to enhance customer experience, including retail, hospitality, credit unions, and service providers.

Apple Business Chat

Apple Business Chat is the third name on this list of top rich messaging communication channels. Customers can use Apple Business Chat to reach out to businesses directly via a wholly integrated and native Apple Messages experience on their iOS devices.

Customers can find businesses easily and immediately start conversations from Safari, Maps, Search, and Siri. Businesses can answer their customers’ queries, resolve their issues, and help them complete transactions using Apple Play from their iOS devices.

Advantages of Rich Messaging for Retailers

Advantages of Rich Messaging for Retailers

Here are some applications of rich messaging and shopping — customer service representatives can:

  • Provide recommendations
  • Suggest alternative products
  • Offer helpful resources
  • Explain custom options
  • Process instant payments

Another critical feature of rich messaging is the verified sender process, which verifies every business that uses rich messaging. This feature helps businesses and retailers build trust with their customers by including the official brand name, logo, brand color, and font in all their messages.

How Retailers Can Use Rich Messaging to Improve the Shopping Experience

With rich messaging, businesses and customers can exchange high-resolution images and videos and can even complete secured sales transactions — all within a messaging conversation. Rich messaging provides a modern messaging experience that is best aligned with customer expectations.

For retailers, the biggest benefit of rich messaging is the ability to drive more conversions by sending personalized messages that are more visually interesting, provide more context for the reader, and are easier to respond to. Some additional benefits of rich messaging that help to drive conversion are:

  • Convenient product carousels for customers to scroll through
  • Fast and personalized answers for each customer engaging with chatbots or live agents
  • Direct assistance with actionable solutions in one conversation
  • Sufficient information for a customer to make a purchase at their convenience
  • The capability to process transactions directly within chat windows

8 Ways Retailers Can Transform Customer Services With Rich Messaging

Here are nine ways retailers can transform customer services with rich messaging.

1. Faster and More Accurate Responses to Customers Than Phone Calls and Emails

People have become used to instant gratification. Customers expect faster responses to their queries and want to communicate with business representatives one-on-one.

Traditional channels like phone support, however, are no longer providing the fast support that modern consumers have come to expect. In fact, Harvard Business Review recently reported that call center hold times have increased by as much as 34%.

Conversely, rich messaging is an effective way for retailers to transform their customer services with faster on-demand support. For example, if a customer is searching on their iPhone for a business that has Apple Business Chat, they can just tap the message icon to start conversing with the business directly and quickly receive answers to their queries.

Rich messaging is an effective way for retailers to transform their customer services with faster on-demand support

2. Aid Customers in Completing Secured Transactions

The concept of rich messaging centers around optimizing customer experience while making business interactions as convenient as possible. From browsing a business website to completing their transactions securely, rich messaging can support customers through their entire buying journey.

RCS has helped retailers transform customer experience with site navigation aids to find options within a product assortment. Moreover, customers don’t need to leave the messaging channel to finish their transactions.

3. Engage Customers With Media That Tells a Story

The ability to share hi-res images, recordings, videos, and even GIFs up to 10 MB per message has been a game-changer for conversation-based commerce. Through these more advanced media formats, customer service agents can now easily aid their customers in their purchases or troubleshoot issues.

For instance, if a customer wants to install a new security system but needs to understand whether their current hardware is compatible with the retailer’s security hardware, rich messaging can enable the shopper to simply send a picture of their current setup to an agent for confirmation. In this example, the shopper does not need to schedule an appointment and wait days for the technician to visit them and check it personally. This means less time and hassle for both the customer and the business.

4. Help Customers in Making Reservations

Rich messaging is not limited to selling tangible goods and physical products. Consulting companies, service providers, and travel and hospitality businesses can all use rich messaging to support tasks like booking an appointment or making a reservation.

Hotels and resorts can send reservation cards to prospective guests with rich messaging, driving instant bookings. For example, travel agencies can employ rich messaging to enable travelers to book a houseboat in Bali for six nights from their phone without ever having to call or wait on hold.

5. Share Coupons and Promotions That Are Visually Engaging

Sharing dynamic, visually rich coupons and promotions is simple with RCS. Consumers are more likely to redeem mobile-delivered promotions and coupons since they are easier to use than paper coupons.

Adding engaging media like hi-res images, videos, and carousels brings more engagement. Retailers can share scannable QR codes and coupons with picture messages via rich messaging.

Sharing dynamic, visually rich coupons and promotions is simple with RCS.

6. Help Customers With Product Registration

One of the most powerful yet often overlooked messaging opportunities is product registration reminders. Any retailer selling a product with a warranty, post-purchase offers, or support wants to get their customers engaged. However, product registration is often a boring and manual process for consumers.

Employing RCS enables retailers to engage customers in a more interactive and innovative product registration process and can transition seamlessly to live support if customers have any questions or concerns.

7. Build Trust With Customers With Identity Verification

With online scams becoming more commonplace, consumers are rightly becoming wary of giving out their contact information, which can be a big challenge for eCommerce companies. Many users have blocked numbers and stopped receiving further communication from businesses they were interested in due to fear of scams.

The verified sender feature of rich messaging helps businesses build trust in the market and with their customers. Companies that go through this thorough verification process can use their official brand name, colors, logo, and font in their messages. Customers know they are communicating with a trusted brand and are more likely to engage.

Rich messaging helps to establish trust with an audience. Customers have the confidence that the information they share is private, secure, and stored safely, even when they receive messages from a business they had engaged with previously, such as a promotion or a warranty reminder.

8. Personalized Shopping Experience for Premium Customers

Businesses can provide personalized shopping experiences, powered by multimedia, to their loyal and VIP customers via rich messaging channels. A fun way to do this is by kick-starting a conversation with automated messaging that shares multimedia messages.

From there, a sales executive can easily help customers choose options and explore product customizations that suit their needs. This premium service is especially advantageous when helping loyal customers remotely.

Make the Most of Customer Interactions With Quiq

It’s easier than ever to use mobile technology to connect with customers for a better experience. Make the most of existing technology with Quiq.

Contact us to learn more about how Quiq will digitally transform your business — and try a demo of our software today.

How Higher Ed Can Manage Coronavirus Communications

The COVID-19/coronavirus has caused many universities to cancel lectures, extra-curricular activities, and large gatherings. Many are switching to online classes as a precaution to stop the spread of the virus.

Virtual classrooms have been changing mainstream education for some time, but the change has been evolutionary. COVID-19 has caused massive disruption forcing colleges and universities to quickly move from traditional education and brace themselves for the transition to virtual classrooms. 

Many institutions are experiencing a flood of phone calls as parents and students seek information about campus operations, as well as COVID-19 updates. In this article, we’ll show you how digital technology helps higher education by taking the burden off of their switchboard and provides the real-time information that emails and website updates can’t.

Messaging for Higher Education

The use of messaging as a way to quickly connect with students and parents isn’t a new concept.  Higher Education Institutions like Texas A&M implemented messaging well before the COVID-19 pandemic to increase their speed of acknowledgement and response times to inquiries. The use of messaging also increased student engagement. 

The Coronavirus has taken the need for on-demand information to a new level. Local and state governments, like the City of Knoxville, have quickly implemented messaging to keep citizens informed during this time of uncertainty. Now, colleges and universities are following suit. 

Here are 4 reasons universities are taking advantage of bots and digital channels, like messaging and chat: 

  • Provide 24X7, real-time updates to students

As calls regarding coronavirus updates continue to swell, colleges and universities struggle to keep pace with existing staff. Shifting calls to digital channels is one step that allows staff to handle multiple conversations at one time. In addition, bots are being used to help parents and students, who may have questions, that can be answered without needing to speak to a person. If a human is needed, visitors can type a word like “human” to quickly exit the bot conversation and speak to someone directly. 

  • Scale quickly

Your staff can handle multiple, simultaneous text messaging conversations at one time versus one phone call at a time. People don’t always expect an immediate response on text, giving your staff time to handle multiple, simultaneous conversations. Asynchronous conversations allow you to quickly scale and improve your level of service. 

  • Send proactive communications 

The situation is rapidly evolving.  As guidelines change, schools who want to keep their campus community up to date can send outbound, two-way conversational  messages. Your school can maintain the trust and credibility it has earned with proactive, real-time updates..

  • Deliver consistent and accurate information

The ability to broadly share information is another reason to consider using text messaging. Quiq’s messaging platform enables staff to save standard replies, called snippets, that can be shared with just a few keystrokes. This means that the same message can be consistently shared across multiple channels.  For campuses with large student bodies, extended campuses, or satellite locations, this could prove to be extremely important as new information arises and institutional guidelines are adjusted.

Communicating Updates About COVID-19

Quiq’s COVID-19 Bot

With Quiq’s messaging platform, we’ve made it easy to present menu options that help visitors get to the right information. As an example, we’ve created a bot to provide guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Example of managing covid-19 coronavirus communications for college and universities

Chatbots are easy to create and fast to deploy, while providing incredible flexibility. As new information becomes available, you can easily update the bot to keep your campus community up-to-date. Quiq’s bot designer uses a drag and drop format that makes it easy for any staff member to change and update menu options.

City of Knoxville

The City of Knoxville recently deployed a version of Quiq’s COVID-19 Bot to provide citizens with timely information. Visitors to the site can interact with the chatbot by clicking on the chat bubble.

From there, a selection of menu options are presented to the visitor such as “How It Spreads” or “Travel”. The City of Knoxville has also chosen to include information specific to the county so that citizens can get local updates as well. 

City of Knoxville managing covid19 coronavirus communications state and local government

Successfully Implementing Messaging

COVID19 information is constantly being updated. Quiq’s messaging platform can be live on your site in a couple days with just a few simple edits to your website. Your existing landlines can send and receive messages from SMS/text, web chat, and social channels. With minimum training, your staff can be up and running, helping students get the information they need.

Quiq is ready to work with you on offering the modern digital channels that have proved more efficient and effective than phone calls and emails. Allow your faculty and staff to focus on delivering world-class education instead of fielding questions. Schedule time today to discuss messaging.

See a Demo Today

How State and Local Government can Manage COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Communications

Are you staying ahead of the real-time news cycle? News, good or bad, real or false, can spread quickly, causing a domino effect of speculation, calls, and questions. Recent developments with the COVID-19/coronavirus has flooded state and local government with calls. 

This unforeseen spike has been impossible to staff for. Many organizations have implemented messaging to quickly adapt to citizen’s demand for information. Quiq’s messaging platform, which can be up and running in less than 24 hours is already a proven solution for many. 

Managing communication in a crisis can make all the difference between getting ahead of a situation and the situation getting ahead of you. In this post, we’ll cover the essentials of successful crisis management with examples of how organizations are proactively communicating coronavirus information. Learn how you can enable your team to manage real-time challenges presented by unforeseen circumstances.

Crisis-Ready Action Steps

The recent developments with the coronavirus have caused many organizations to be inundated with phone calls. With the CDC’s phone hold times approaching an hour or more, many are turning to their state, county, and local government for answers. 

Regional agencies aren’t staffed for this influx of inquiries from citizens. Digital channels, like web chat and SMS/text messaging, are great options organizations can turn to help with critical communications. Because citizens prefer to use their mobile devices to get information, the ability to use web chat or text messaging gives them what they need.

  • Are you getting more calls than you can handle?
  • Are you struggling to provide timely and accurate information to your citizens?
  • Do you need to provide information during off hours, like evenings and weekends?

Now is the time to take advantage of bots and digital channels. Here’s how digital channels, like messaging and chat, enable organizations to activate successful crisis-ready communications.

1. Provide real-time, 24×7 updates to citizens

Chatbots are used in nearly every industry to help organizations become more efficient, providing a higher level of service with fewer resources.  Organizations all over the country that are being overwhelmed by calls are turning to bots to provide their constituents with real-time information. Bots can be used to quickly help constituents who may have questions that can be answered without a person, yet allowing the option to get to a human if needed. Quiq’s bot designer is so straightforward, non-technical employees can modify the bot in real-time.

2. Scale quickly

IVR menus can’t be updated frequently enough to keep up with the COVID-19 developments. Relying on IT resources to make quick-turn updates to your phone system is not possible and results in outdated or inaccurate information being shared. Why not get citizens off hold by updating your IVR to simply add the ability to leave a text message instead of staying on the line. Your employees can handle multiple text messaging conversations at one time versus one phone call at a time. This allows you to quickly scale and improve your level of service. And since people don’t always expect an immediate response on text, your team won’t have to respond right away allowing you to handle incoming surges in traffic. 

3. Sending proactive communications 

Quiq’s messaging platform also allows organizations to send outbound, two-way conversational messages. Proactive, real-time updates from a credible source instills trust and credibility. If you have the need to broadly share information, consider using text messaging.

4. Deliver consistent and accurate information

Quiq’s messaging platform enables teams to save standard replies, called snippets, that can be easily shared with just a few keystrokes. This means that the same message can be consistently shared across multiple channels through snippets.  Updates and changes can be saved at an organization level and made available for the entire team to use.

Examples of Communicating Coronavirus Updates

Quiq’s COVID-19 / Coronavirus Bot

As stated above, chatbots have been implemented across a wide spectrum of companies to deflect calls and help people get answers quickly. Quiq recently created a coronavirus bot as an example of how city, county, state, and government at any level can easily create and offer an informational bot to citizens. Simply offer a chat bubble on your website or the option to text next to your phone number and citizens can help themselves to the ever-changing information.

The coronavirus bot is designed to provide mobile and online web visitors with up-to-date and accurate information regarding the disease. The bot can also present any specific information you need to share with your local constituents. The bot is available for you to use and can be easily customized. 

City of Knoxville

The city of Knoxville has recently deployed Quiq’s technology to provide citizens with timely information on the US Census and the COVID-19/coronavirus. Anyone visiting the site can interact with the chatbot by clicking on the chat bubble.

Based on the option chosen, citizens are presented with various topics to choose from and relevant information to that topic. For example, visitors can choose to learn how the coronavirus spreads, how to protect themselves, and the symptoms and testing for the disease.

City of Knoxville managing covid19 coronavirus communications state and local government

The City of Knoxville now has the ability to share information directly from the Knox County Health Department. After the bot presents information, the topics are shown once again so citizens aren’t scrolling through the conversation to continue exploring topics. Once the conversation has ended, the visitor can choose to have a transcript of their conversation emailed to them.

Get Started with Messaging

While today’s environment has created a heightened sense of speed for two-way communications and transparency in a crisis, it has also provided the ability to communicate with constituents faster and more efficiently than ever before. With only a few simple edits to your website, you’ll be able to show the option to text next to your contact phone number. 

Be prepared to communicate in this new digital landscape. Contact Quiq today to discuss how we can deploy messaging and bots within your organization.

See a Demo Today

How to Text Message Your Customers

First, to set the stage, we know consumers are shopping online more often than ever before — and they’re using mobile phones to do it. As of 2019, it’s estimated that 96 percent of Americans own a cell phone of some kind. While not surprising, for some of us, we remember when the phone was still connected to the wall, so the adoption and growth of cell phones in such a short time is astonishing. Then came along the smartphone, and while the possibilities for how we use these devices are endless, there is a reason we still refer to them as phones, and it’s not because we’re making more calls on them. Consumers are communicating more than ever with text messaging, Facebook messaging, and messaging through other apps. 

If your company isn’t taking advantage of the ability to text customers, you’re missing out on an incredible opportunity. Communicating with customers through text is personalized, easy, and fast, making this method the way consumers expect to be able to find answers and ask questions to resolve issues with customer service.

Using Text for Customer Service

Today, phone support, email, and web chat are the norm in how businesses and customers communicate, but there has been a shift to using messaging and it won’t be long before all businesses are using text messaging as a part of their digital customer service. The reason businesses are moving over to text for customer care is because messaging is already the preferred method of communication for customers, as well as employees. Both parties are already comfortable with the channel because they use it themselves in their daily lives, and unlike emails, text messages have a near 100 percent read-rate. 

Customers are on the move and when it comes to service, they want more options. By offering text messaging as an option for customer service in addition to web chat, email, and traditional phone support, your customers will be delighted when they are able to choose the contact method they prefer, particularly if they are on-the-go. Don’t be surprised when they don’t want to call you on the phone and would rather text message your business instead, at their convenience.

Best Practices for Texting Customers

If your business is exploring text messaging for customer service, you may be wondering how to effectively and appropriately text customers. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind as you build your company’s strategy:

1. Enable Two-Way Conversations

First and foremost, a conversation is not very useful if it’s only one-sided. With text messaging, customers expect to be able to reply back. That is why businesses considering turning on text messaging should enable two-way conversations so they can accept and respond to customer questions and continue to foster the relationship.

2. Be Professional, Yet Conversational

It probably goes without saying that representatives should avoid using shortcuts and text lingo (lol, brb, ttyl) — texting is still a channel for professional communication. At the same time, text messaging gives businesses more interesting and less stuffy ways to engage with customers, like using emojis. Emojis add personality and make conversations more fun. Businesses should also identify and approve which emoji’s are acceptable for their business (?may not be always appropriate ?).

Still, one of the advantages of sending text messages to customers is the potential for building personal connections. Messages should be conversational and friendly, and not overly formal. Take advantage of the opportunity to build real relationships with your customers in a format they also use to talk with their friends and family.

3. Provide Consistent and Timely Answers

Customers will text customer care for help with a variety of issues, so make sure your customer service team is prepared to help. Utilizing texts for customer service is only effective if the service is quick and helpful. One of the benefits of text messaging is the experience for the customer, as it is at their convenience to respond, but businesses should treat these incoming messages with the urgency they would any other communication channel.  

4. Keep Personal Information Secure

A data leak can cause customers to lose trust in your company. Be sure to take preventative measures to keep customers’ phone numbers and any other personal data secure — and make sure customers are aware of your privacy policies.

When comparing messaging solutions, businesses should do their due diligence to understand their vendor’s security policies in how they handle customer information. To have more peace of mind, choose a messaging vendor that is SOC II compliant.

5. Make It Easy to Opt-In or Out of Texts

In addition to customer service, your company can send outbound text messages to keep customers in the loop about promotions, order status, and appointment reminders. Customers will find a lot of value in receiving these kinds of notifications, however, it’s easy to lose customers by bombarding them with excessive or unwanted text messages. Make sure your messages are relevant and not spammy.

Just like with email, customers need to be able to control the messages coming into their inbox and should be able to opt-out of unwanted messaging.  Businesses using text messaging need to comply with all rules and regulations of TCPA to enable applicable opt-in and opt-out capabilities.

Text Customers Easily With Quiq

Centralized platforms to handle customer interactions are extremely beneficial for improving customer service. At Quiq, we make it easy for you to text customers and build better connections.

Learn more about our business text messaging services. Better yet, watch this product video to see for yourself how Quiq is powering better communication for businesses.

See a Demo Today

Retailers Are Leaving Money On The…Tablet and Smartphone

The 2019 holiday season saw Cyber Monday break ecommerce records with $9.4 billion coming from online sales. An impressive $3 billion of those sales occurred on a smartphone – double the prior year. Mobile rules consumers’ personal lives and how organizations engage with consumers via mobile is quickly evolving. 

Mobile shopping has been clearly gaining ground year over year, but retailers are still “catching up” to consumer’s preferences. In a recent survey conducted by Sapio research titled “2020 Mobile Retail Trends”, retailers admit they have a lot of work to do. 

Let’s take a brief look at the history of mobile shopping for insight into why this game of catch-up is afoot. Then, we’ll examine the mobile retail trends happening today which are shaping the future of retailer’s mobile shopping strategy.

The Evolution of M-Commerce or Mobile Shopping 

Believe it or not, consumers have been buying things on their phones since 1997. Back then, purchases were limited to ringtones and services. No one called it M-commerce then, but that term now describes any monetary transaction completed using a mobile device.  As years passed, transactions became more sophisticated, but the first tangible goods weren’t sold until 2003. Even then, the process required users to register their bank accounts online and reply “yes” to special offers sent to them through text messages.

Mobile shopping didn’t really get a boost until the first iPhones were released in 2007. Turns out, putting the internet into everyone’s pocket would change everything. According to data from Ericsson, data usage exploded at a staggering rate, while voice data clipped on at a steady pace over the years. 

The accessibility and freedom that smart devices offer created a whole new generation of tech-savvy and informed buyers. At the same time, the number of new services, like streaming videos and music, shaped a new expectation that purchases should be available instantly. 

Not only did consumers expect retailers to make products more available, but they expected any pre-sales service or post-sales support to be available too, especially with the ever-growing popularity of social channels like Facebook and Twitter adding to the digital places consumers expect to see their favorite retailers and brands. All of these changes took place at a staggering rate, leaving many retailers trying to discern where and how they should best invest their resources. 

That brings us to today. The new era of mobile commerce requires retailers to have a presence on the digital channels their customers spend their time, including SMS/text, mobile web chat, and social channels. M-commerce has evolved into conversational commerce, and there are real costs to missing out on this new way of doing business. 

The Cost of Missing Out on Conversational Commerce

According to comScore, mobile retailers are missing an opportunity to capitalize on the amount of time consumers spend on their phones, evidenced by the gap between share of minutes and dollars spent. Four of the top five reasons consumers cite for not-converting on a mobile site involve basic difficulties with usability.

If you’ve ever visited a website that isn’t optimized for mobile on your phone, you know how frustrating it can be. Tiny buttons and links serve as impossible touch targets, scrolling that never ends, and forms that are difficult to fill out on a tiny keyboard, create hassles and often result in abandonment.

The issues above are a source of friction for consumers. The more friction, the less likely customers are to convert. Busy, stressed out, and impatient consumers are not willing to wait for a slow page to load or spend time trying to figure out how to add products to their carts.

Contrast that to the new conversational commerce way of engagement:

  • For example, let’s say you are shopping for some new decor on Pier 1’s website, so you send their customer service a text for a little help. Pier 1’s agent sends you a few options of artwork that may match your style by using rich messaging in order to better help you visualize your choices. You find artwork that you think would work over your couch and snap a picture of your room to view the artwork over your couch using augmented reality. Happy with the piece, the agent places it in your cart and you securely check out with just a few taps – all within the messaging conversation.

That’s a big difference from today, and it’s a difference that retailers can feel on their bottom line. According to research conducted by Sapio Research, 65% of respondents state that mobile technology has actually increased their revenue. For your customers, it means a more fluid experience. In fact, our clients have experienced double digit higher customer satisfaction scores with messaging versus traditional email and phone channels.

Trends Shaping Mobile Shopping

According to the “2020 Retail Mobile Trends Report”, the evolution of mobile shopping is clearly pointing retailers in the direction of being “mobile-first”. This goes way beyond making sure that your website has a responsive design. Although responsive design is important for a better experience across multiple screens, being mobile-first means just that – putting the mobile experience first.

In the 2020 Retail Mobile Trends Report, 37% of retailers have integrated mobile into their holistic customer experience. From browsing to buying, to engaging with a brand online and in-store, mobile is part and parcel to the planned and purposeful buying experience. You can download the full report from Sapio from the Quiq website.

The majority of respondents (54%) to Sapio’s survey admitted that they’re not fully prepared to meet consumer demands for mobile, and it shows. According to the latest conversion rate data by Smartinsights, approximately 4.14% of consumers convert when shopping on their desktop, while only 1.53% of shoppers convert on their mobile phone.

Seizing Mobile Retail Trends

Mobile is the future of retail and consumers will not tolerate the outdated retail processes and channels that existed before smartphones, like calling a 1-800 number and waiting on hold to place an order. If you’re like most retailers, you may be wondering what the fastest way to seize the opportunity of today’s mobile retail preference is. Luckily, there’s a way to leapfrog into this new era of conversational commerce by implementing messaging.

With Quiq’s messaging platform, you can enable your current landlines to send and receive messages across a wide portfolio of digital channels. Skip the app entirely. You can easily provide your customers with rich messaging experiences through Google Business Messaging and Apple Business Chat, allowing them to browse, shop, and complete secure transactions without leaving the messaging conversation. With Quiq’s conversational engagement platform, companies can easily orchestrate commerce and service conversations involving both bots and humans.

If you’re ready to dismiss the reservations around messaging and increase your mobile conversion rate, set up some time to discuss it with one of our messaging experts. We’re looking forward to helping you ride this wave of mobile retail trends to a more profitable future.

See a Demo Today

What is Digital Customer Service?

When defining digital customer service, it may be easier to say what it is rather than what it isn’t. In order to do that, let’s define the opposite of digital customer service as “traditional customer service.” Traditional customer service takes place over the phone or after waiting in line to speak to someone face-to-face. On the other hand, digital customer service means serving your customers across digital channels. These channels would include email, SMS / text messaging, live chat, Facebook, Twitter, WeChat, and more.

Digital or online service channels have exploded. Consumers love having a wide variety of ways to reach out to a company, because it means they can pick the channel that is most comfortable or accessible to them – versus being forced to make a phone call. It means companies can deliver a great experience, with less work, and that means a lot.

The asynchronous nature of digital service means that agents can handle multiple simultaneous conversations. Customers don’t expect an immediate answer, which gives agents the ability to address more than one inquiry at a time. It also gives customers the freedom to set the pace of the conversation.

Digital Customer Service Solutions Today

Digital channels that once were new and novel are now the norm, like email and Facebook. However, digital channels continue to expand, as well as the technologies that support them. For example, Apple and Google have taken plain text messaging and made it rich. Rich messaging allows for secure payments, scheduling appointments, and the ability to share more sophisticated content. Also, chatbots can be part of nearly every digital interaction and can be deployed as a great compliment to human interactions. 

The ubiquity of mobile devices to research, browse, shop, and purchase products has created the need for more web-based service channels that offer assistance without requiring customers to find time to pick up the phone and call a company. Thus, we have seen the the increase of digital customer service solutions and the ability to assist your customers on their digital channel of choice. 

Your customers expect a seamless, convenient, and easy digital experience whenever they engage with you. Whether they are looking for help while shopping on your website, trying to book an appointment in your mobile app, or contacting customer service through a Twitter direct message with a question about their order. 

Digital customer service can go by other names such as digital customer experience, digital customer care, or digital customer support. Regardless of what you call it, the definition is the same – serving your customers across digital channels and platforms such as SMS/text, live chat, and social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and WeChat.

Increased Demand for Digital Customer Service

There are four main reasons companies pursue a digital customer service strategy:

Customer Preferences

Forrester’s executive report, The Digital Customer Experience Improvement Playbook, succinctly sums up the current state of affairs for customer service:

“Customers demand that their digital interactions with your brand be seamless and span devices; that they be able to engage with your brand whenever and wherever they’d like; and that every encounter meet their needs in the moment.”

Companies are adopting a digital-first approach to meet customers wherever they are. Customers demand their channel of choice, whatever that channel may be, to engage with a company. That’s why so many service and support leaders across all industries, in companies of every size, are offering digital channels like SMS, WeChat, and Facebook for customer service and support.

Competition

As consumers seek companies that are easy to engage with, competition continues to offer more options. Customer service organizations are rapidly adopting digital channels and capabilities to meet customer needs and set them apart from their competition.  

Cost

Gartner estimates that live channels such as phone, chat, and email can cost an average of $8.01 per contact vs. $.1o to serve on digital channels. Service and support leaders who use these channels as their primary customer contact methods are under pressure to reduce the cost to serve customers.

Scaling

The 2019 holiday season saw mobile sales via smartphones break the $3 billion mark according to TechCrunch; up from the $1.5 billion spent on Cyber Monday a year prior. Scaling resources to meet increased demand, especially from consumers that instinctively reach for their mobile device to engage with companies throughout their entire purchase, is another reason digital customer service is on the rise.

Leaders facing these challenges turned their focus to improving how, when, and where they serve their customers across digital channels with the intent of putting the customer at the center of it all.

And by doing so, they have impacted their business by:

  • Engaging with customers they normally would not have reached 
  • Differentiating themselves with easy and convenient access for customers 
  • Reducing costs with the shift from phone calls to digital 
  • Increasing customer satisfaction with much preferred digital channels

Digital Customer Service – Who’s Doing It Right

A quick glance through the client section of our blog will give you an idea of just some of the diversity we see in industries and use cases. But let’s take a closer look to see what a few of these companies are doing and the results they’re achieving,

Increased Engagement

Overstock.com has seen a 98% open rate when communicating with people through texts. As of today, over 15% of all contacts that used to come in via the phone are now coming into the contact center via text.

Aspira, helps people book and manage outdoor recreation reservations. They receive about 300 to 400 texts a day. The ability to text for help is particularly helpful since their clientele is usually in transit to, or already on-site, at a campground or park facility. 

Higher Customer Satisfaction

The Laundress has been able to offer a more personalized, “high-touch” experience for the customers of the high-end brand of soaps, detergents, and cleaning supplies. Since implementing Quiq, the retailer handles everything from questions about scents and order status to product recommendations all through text.

Reduced Costs

Outdoor gear and apparel retailer, evo, has successfully reduced their volume of phone calls by implementing Quiq Messaging and chat. Since using the Quiq platform, average call volume has dropped from 70% to 50% of total contact volume. 

Optimized Resources

Tailored Brands, known for men’s suits and outstanding customer service, added text messaging to their arsenal of digital channels. Text messaging enables agents to handle 5 text conversations at a time and upwards of 8 during peak demand.

The First Step In Your Digital Customer Service Journey

Let Quiq help you navigate the possibilities and potential of digital channels like SMS / text messaging, rich messaging, web chat, Facebook, and more. 

Quiq is an experienced partner who delivers consistently jaw-dropping customer experiences across SMS/text messaging, rich messaging, web chat, and social channels. Quiq’s Conversational Engagement Platform, easily orchestrates commerce and service conversations involving both bots and humans. Let’s connect to better understand your business priorities and objectives so we help you make an impact with digital customer service.