How to Rewire Omnichannel Service with Messaging

Omnichannel customer service is changing.

It used to be about being everywhere. About connecting your in-store customer experience to your website to your social channels. Omnichannel meant that your customers would get the same excellent customer experience no matter where they found you.

As customer behavior changed, more businesses moved online—and so did customer service.

Customers are harder to get, harder to please, and harder to retain. So omnichannel messaging is bringing the complete purchase experience to the customer.

While it’s critical that customers can still reach you on any of their preferred channels, now they can also complete the entire customer journey—including purchases—right from their messaging apps.

First, let’s discuss traditional omnichannel customer service and how you can level up your customer experience.

Your customers don’t want to be treated like strangers.

What’s the most important factor about omnichannel customer service? Personalization.

Delivering “in-store” customer service isn’t enough. Customers want the experience of a small-town, high-end boutique. They want personalized recommendations, purchase history, and some personal information available to agents whenever they engage with customer service.

An overwhelming 75% of respondents want a customer service agent to know who they are and their purchase history. And this isn’t a new expectation—it has remained steady for the past five years.

Yet it’s still far from customers’ reality. In Microsoft’s 2020 survey, respondents reported that only occasionally (31%) did the agent have this information.

The customer service stakes are higher than ever.

While online shopping has made it easier than ever to connect with your customers, it’s also made it easier for them to jump ship. According to Zendesk, 60% of customers are willing to walk away after just one bad experience. It’s a scary statistic that we often repeat. In the online e-commerce world, it doesn’t take much to shatter brand loyalty.

And omnichannel is an expectation—not a benefit.

The same Zendesk survey reported that 72% of customers expect agents to have access to all relevant customer information. That often includes when the customer checks in for the first time after a purchase, talks to a new agent, or switches communication channels.

These high expectations extend to omnichannel service. 73% of customers want the ability to start a conversation on one channel and pick it back up on another.

How is messaging changing the omnichannel strategy?

More and more messaging channels are popping up and gaining popularity every day, and it’s changing the omnichannel landscape. There are two significant factors influencing omnichannel strategies:

1. Customers are eager for help.

More channels mean more access to customer services—and consumers are open to it. Zendesk reports that 64% of U.S. customers want help when buying or returning an item. Before, customers might have been more likely to choose various chat options. Now, they’re more willing to reach out to customer service, even for simple transitions.

2. Customers are more likely to jump around on channels.

According to a 2021 survey from Airkit, 40% of consumers have used three or more conversation channels to engage with customer service. Customers want to be able to connect with your customer service team wherever they are, without leaving the app. Since they’re becoming more comfortable switching apps, your customer service team needs to be able to keep up.

The benefits of omnichannel customer service.

While omnichannel once meant having a seamless in-store and web experience, it’s expanded to include the multitude of communication channels available on the web and mobile devices.

The majority of customers use 3 to 5 channels to get their issues resolved, according to Zendesk. And since they’re bouncing around channels, your team must be able to serve them anywhere they are.

Take a look at the benefits of introducing and perfecting an omnichannel strategy.

Meet your customers everywhere.

When customer service issues strike, your customers never have to go far to find you. Not only will this please your customers, but it’ll also expand your reach.

The same can be said for when the inspiration to make a new purchase strikes. If your customers are able to make a purchase from anywhere, whenever they want, you have a better chance of making the sale.

Deliver a flawless customer experience.

Improve customer satisfaction and meet high expectations when you deliver a true omnichannel experience. Your ability to help customers with their specific problems on whichever channel they prefer improves overall customer satisfaction—and increases the likelihood they’ll buy from you again.

Increase selling opportunities.

Every touchpoint with a customer is an opportunity to increase sales. According to Zendesk, 51% of customers are open to product recommendations from agents. Agents can use the interaction to cross-sell additional products, recommend items based on the customer’s purchase history, or provide an opportunity to renew subscriptions.

Collect more relevant customer information.

Since omnichannel service relies so heavily on continued conversations and customer history, it gives your team an opportunity to collect information on customer behavior. Use this information to make key decisions on which products to buy, how to talk to your customers, and how to improve customer service.

How to improve your omnichannel strategy.

From omnichannel marketing to customer service, you need a well-rounded plan that can serve your customers across the web.

Dive into these omnichannel service strategies and tips to elevate your customer experience.

Be omnichannel, not just multi-channel.

To truly be omnichannel, you need to provide a united front—a seamless customer experience. Customers don’t see a company as individual departments but as an overall brand. They expect consistency in their experience, whether their issue is about the latest sales promotion or dealing with a support complaint.

In order to provide the best customer experience, you have to eliminate the silos and truly provide a singular experience across channels and issues.

How do you achieve this internally? Make sure the lines of communication are open, and departments share systems, goals, and metrics. A unified and consistent approach to service will be a significant step forward in improving the customer experience.

Don’t pick channels over service.

Despite the name, omnichannel customer service doesn’t mean you have to be on every messaging and social platform. It’s more about giving your customers a frictionless experience from one channel to the next. So start with quality first, and increase the number of channels accordingly.

A great (bad) example to look at is live chat. Live chat is a great tool when used correctly, and it can give customers an experience similar to what they’d expect from in-store shopping.

And while most companies have a live chat component on their website, many don’t give it the attention it needs to be successful. This leads to long wait times to chat with an agent or ineffective chatbots that are little more than glorified FAQ search engines.

The moral of the story? Don’t prioritize new channels over customer service.

Pick the right channels for your customers.

You likely already have an idea of which channels your customers use frequently. (If you don’t, your marketing team probably does.) A common rule of thumb is that older demographic groups prefer traditional channels like voice, Millennials prefer text, and Gen Zers opt for social channels like WhatsApp.

However, that’s changing. With technology adoption increasing, more and more people—no matter their age—are using a variety of communication channels. The best option? Ask your customers! Use those valuable insights to focus on the channels your customers are the most active.

Then, make sure you staff, resource, and empower your employees in those channels to best represent the brand.

Ensure customer service agents have information at their fingertips.

This is the key to making an omnichannel customer service experience work. Information like purchase history and previous conversations is what will help your customer service team connect with customers.

Make sure customer service agents have access to a CRM and conversation history right from within their messaging platform, no matter which channels your customers are using.

Include self-service in your omnichannel strategy.

Many businesses think of self-service as a static FAQ page or web forum that’s wholly separate from your omnichannel strategy. But self-service is just another channel you can offer customers when they’re looking for answers.

In fact, many customers prefer it. Microsoft reports that 86% of respondents expect a self-service option, and two-thirds try self-service before contacting a live agent. Investing in your self-service options will not only improve customer satisfaction, but it’ll also lighten the load on your customer service team.

Lean into omnichannel marketing.

Omnichannel doesn’t stop with customer service. The benefits of omnichannel marketing mirror those of omnichannel customer service. Marketing through communication channels, like SMS/text, can help your business connect with customers on their terms.

And when combined with payment integration features, customers can complete the entire customer journey without ever leaving their preferred messaging channel.

Quiq: Your omnichannel solution.

It takes a few key capabilities to have a successful omnichannel presence. Your customer service team needs access to customer information and the ability to continue conversations across channels.

With a multi-channel conversational engagement platform like Quiq, you can serve customers however they prefer from one simple solution.

Quiq Named to Inc. Magazine’s 2022 List of Best Workplaces

On behalf of the leadership team, I am thrilled to share that Quiq has been named to Inc. magazine’s annual list of the Best Workplaces for 2022. The full list, which can be found here, is the result of a comprehensive measurement of American companies that have excelled in creating exceptional workplaces and company culture, whether operating in a physical or virtual facility.

Inc. collected data from thousands of submissions and selected 475 honorees for 2022. Each nominated company took part in an employee survey, conducted by Quantum Workplace, which included topics such as management effectiveness, perks, fostering employee growth, and overall company culture.

The organization’s benefits were also audited to determine the overall score and ranking.

CEO Mike Myer commented, “Quiq’s track record of delivering unsurpassed results to our clients is a direct result of our team’s dedication and talent. Staying aligned with our values and prioritizing employee wellbeing are at the heart of everything we do. Being named one of the best workplaces is an honor that speaks to our team’s commitment to building a purpose-driven culture that focuses on collaboration, inclusion and personal and professional growth.”

2022 has been a banner year for Quiq. In April, we announced our $25M Series C funding, led by Baird Capital, and we were named one of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest Growing Rocky Mountain Regional businesses.

Adding the 2022 Inc. Best Workplaces accolade comes with tremendous pride as this comes directly from the voices of our employees. At a time when companies have had to rethink, reimagine, and reinvent what it means to be there for their employees, we are proud to have built a welcoming and wonderful place to work as we permanently transitioned to a fully remote organization.

As Inc. magazine editor-in-chief Scott Omelianuk put it, “Not long ago, the term ‘best workplace’ would have conjured up images of open-office designs with stocked snack fridges. Yet given the widespread adoption of remote work, the concept of the workplace has shifted. This year, Inc. has recognized the organizations dedicated to redefining and enriching the workplace in the face of the pandemic.”

If you’re interested in joining one of the best workplaces, visit the Quiq Careers page. We’re hiring!

Your Guide to Developing a Crisis Management Plan

Unfortunately, crises can happen.

We’ve seen it in our lifetime. Pandemics, wars, severe events… But it’s not just worldwide events that impact businesses—even smaller-scale problems can have harrowing effects.

Disruptive events like data breaches, product recalls, and workplace issues (and the related PR nightmare) can devastate an unprepared organization.

It’s a matter of if, not when.

If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that businesses need to be proactively prepared with crisis management messaging. When things go sideways (because they will), you need a crisis management plan to keep your people safe and your business moving forward.

The pandemic caught people off guard.

We can’t ignore the most recent crisis example. The COVID-19 pandemic affected all kinds of businesses around the world. Few organizations were prepared to address problems at that scale.

However, that’s not to say businesses weren’t facing smaller-scale crises on a daily basis before the pandemic. In 2019, 95% of PwC’s 2021 Global Crisis Survey respondents said they expected to experience a crisis in the next two years. Yet only 23% of US organizations had a dedicated crisis response team in place at the start of the pandemic. They were caught off guard and unprepared.

Now, business leaders are doing what they can to prepare their businesses for future disruptions. In fact, 75% of US organizations say they’re planning to increase their investment in building resilience.

Let’s dig into crisis management plans and how to build your own.

What is a crisis management plan?

A crisis management plan is a document that outlines how to respond to a situation that could negatively affect your organization’s profitability, reputation, or ability to operate.

So, what kind of crises are we talking about? Generally, you define what constitutes a crisis in your written plan.

It can be anything from a natural disaster to a security breach to a significant product defect. Here are some examples:

  • Natural disasters like hurricanes, and earthquakes
  • Serious climatic events like floods and snowstorms
  • Biologic risks like foodborne illnesses and pandemics
  • Accidental events like fires or hazardous spills
  • Intentional events like violence or robberies
  • Technological events, like cyberattacks

People under stress tend to make poor decisions that could unintentionally worsen a crisis. While it’s impossible to predict every outcome, having a basic plan to prevent safety issues, protect your brand reputation, and resume business is vital.

What makes a crisis response successful?

A successful crisis response plan:

  • Outlines a quick and appropriate response
  • Prepares crisis management messaging
  • Prioritizes the safety of employees and the public
  • Prevents further problems after the initial crisis
  • Minimizes operational disruptions
  • Facilitates a fast recovery back to reasonable work conditions

How to create your crisis response plan.

Follow these steps to build your own crisis response plan.

1. Gather a crisis team.

Creating these types of plans usually involves a few people from a crisis management team, but it’s best to have representatives from all affected departments.

Here are some departments to consider:

  • Business continuity team
  • Emergency management
  • Crisis management
  • Public relations
  • Customer-facing departments

2. Define what constitutes a crisis.

What kind of crisis will your plan cover? It’s not unusual to create multiple types of crisis management plans for different situations.

For example, tackling an intentional event like a fire will require a very different response than a viral video of someone on your team behaving badly.

Layout what your plan does and does not cover and what will trigger your crisis management plan of action.

3. Conduct a risk assessment.

Identify the risks your business is likely to face. If you work with a mostly remote workforce, you’re much more likely to deal with data breaches and cyberattacks than physical accidents. Only once you figure out your business’s weaknesses can you plan to address them.

4. Predict the business impacts.

Once you know the risks, you address how they will affect your business. Always put physical safety as your top priority, but also consider other problems, such as a damaged reputation, lost sales, and customer attrition.

5. Put together your contingency plans.

The bulk of your document is likely filled with your contingency planning. This is where you lay out what to do when business is disrupted, you lose power, there’s an accident, etc. Keep it simple with “If X, then Y” statements so that it’s clear and easy to follow.

6. Develop a communications strategy.

It’s important to protect your brand during a crisis to prevent long-term damage. You need both internal and public-facing communications strategies for times of crisis.

For internal communications, ensure there’s an easy way to connect with everyone instantly. SMS/text messaging is a great way to send out bulk messages without relying on internet services (which could be down in a crisis). Assign a point person to ensure there’s no miscommunication or misinformation.

For external communications, always set the record straight. Be upfront and honest, and correct misinformation immediately to temper rumors.

Remember: The key is to be excessively accessible.

One of our most important tips? Don’t turn off messaging. The last thing you want to do in the event of a public-facing crisis is cut-off communications. It’s as good as hiding from the problem. (Also, don’t deny a problem when there is one.)

In addition, if your team is flooded with more calls and messages than they can handle, bring in short-term hires, expand your team with temporary outsourcing, and add additional channels—like Apple Messages for Business and WhatsApp just to name a couple—for customers to contact customer service.

It’s also the time to lean into customer service automation. Program customer service chatbots with your business crisis messaging to help relieve the burden on your customer service agents.

Don’t forget to temper expectations.

While it may be the last thing on your mind, your teams may still worry about their metrics.

Will they be measured against their old numbers? Will they be penalized for not hitting their goals during a period of crisis?

From your sales team to your customer support center, performance will be on your employees’ minds.

While your answer may be obvious to you, ease their fears by making it clear that you expect performance to be down.

You’re giving employees permission to take care of themselves and their families first, knowing that their job won’t be in danger.

Lastly, in the event of a company-focused crisis like a social media blunder or viral PR nightmare, expect your customer service teams to bear the brunt of the criticism. Don’t forget to consider their mental health as part of your plan.

7. Put it all together.

Compile everything into a readily accessible document so that everyone knows their role and can react accordingly.

Here’s what you should include:

  • A list of your crises team members
  • The assessment process for what constitutes a crisis
  • Systems for monitoring a crisis
  • Spokesperson and their contact information
  • Emergency contacts
  • Emergency response process
    • Evacuation plan
    • Specific responses to different types of crises
  • Crisis management messaging
  • Customer messaging strategy
    • Social media, customer service, etc.

Even after completing your crisis management plan, treat it like a living document. Update it annually, or when team roles change, new technology is implemented, or you open a new location.

What makes a crisis management plan effective?

1. It’s concise. People in a crisis won’t have time to swipe through hundreds of pages to find what they need. They’re more likely to throw out the whole book. Instead, keep it short, scannable, and easy to follow.

2. Action-oriented. Your crisis plan isn’t the place to go over the company goals and why you thought the technology you purchased was better in line with your values. It needs easy-to-decipher statements about which actions to take. The simpler, the better.

3. Mobile-enabled. There’s no excuse for having a physical book for a crisis response plan. No one’s going back for a 10-pound binder when the office is no longer safe. And for that matter, spreadsheets and word documents aren’t great either. At the very least, have a PDF that’s mobile-enabled and searchable. The best option? Find a crisis management plan solution with the latest features for the best accessibility.

Work on long-term resilience solutions.

The COVID-19 pandemic taught the business world many things, chief among them the power of agility. Businesses that succeeded with limited impact on their bottom lines, reputations, and public safety were able to embrace technology and pivot their businesses accordingly.

Now, 69% of businesses are planning to increase their resilience in the near future as a result of the pandemic.

Here are some of the things you can do to ensure resiliency during any crisis:

  • Make adaptability/resiliency a core competency.
  • Adopt technology built for resilience (think cloud-based, future-forward organizations with impressive roadmaps and heavy R&D investments).
  • Involve the top leaders or your organization in the crisis planning process. That’ll ensure it gets the resources and attention it deserves.

Don’t fail to plan.

While one crisis is passing, the possibility of another is always on the horizon. Now that we know what to expect when the worst happens, we’ll all be better equipped to handle smaller problems as they arise.

The best way to prepare for the worst is to have a plan that your team knows inside and out and to use technologies that help get you through anything.

Business Text Messaging Statistics You Need to Know

It’s 1995. A new company named eBay just launched, along with a new media format called a DVD. The average American user sends about 0.4 texts per month. Times sure have changed.

Fast forward to today.

There are a plethora of online retailers with broad product assortments to fulfill even the most specific buyer searches. DVDs are outdated and replaced with streaming and on-demand content. The average American smartphone user sends around 20 text messages a day.*

Not only do people text more frequently with family and friends, but they’re also texting with companies. SMS marketing is growing in popularity, and customers are eager for more two-way text messaging with businesses.

So is SMS marketing effective? With so much information out there, we’ve compiled the most important text message marketing statistics for you. Keep reading for a deep dive into the top stats for business text messaging.

Business text messaging is growing.

Text messaging isn’t new. We’ve been doing it for almost 30 years now. But with our emails full of junk and people more attached to their phones than ever, text messaging is emerging as a high ROI marketing tool.

Notably, smartphone use continues to rise. The number of smartphone users in the United States alone is expected to reach 301.65 million in 2022, according to Statista, and the Pew Research Center reports that 81% of the U.S. owns a smartphone. There’s no denying that people live digital-first lives.

Mobile devices have given consumers the ability to search, shop, and discover 24/7, forcing companies to reimagine the customer journey. And companies that fail to provide high-touch and high-tech experiences get left behind.

Messaging offers just that: A customer experience that fits with modern lifestyles. Customers get effortless and convenient interactions with businesses, and businesses get a cost-efficient and more meaningful way to connect with customers.

Americans are attached to their phones.

Phones are how we stay connected to the world around us. The majority of Americans spend their waking (and sleeping) hours next to their phones. It’s our go-to for everything. Phone calls, sure, but phones also provide social and emotional connections, entertainment, networking tools, healthcare advice, and access to an endless amount of information.

A Reviews.org survey identified some staggering statistics about our phone usage:

  • Americans check their phones roughly every 4 minutes. That’s 344 times per day, on average, and a 31% increase from 2021.
  • 71% of Americans say they check their phones within the first 10 minutes of waking up.
  • 70% of Americans check their phones within five minutes of receiving a notification.
  • 61% have texted someone in the same room as them before.
  • 41% of people even admitted to checking their phone on a date.

And our phone dependence is only growing. The U.S. reached a new app-usage high of 4.2 hours, up from 3.9 in Q2 2021, according to a report from data.ai.

What do these stats tell us about your marketing efforts? Anything mobile-friendly or mobile-first is going to get the attention of your customers. It’s easy to ignore emails but harder to miss a text notification.

You can’t sleep on text messaging.

Texting has become part of our daily lives. It’s a casual, fast, and efficient way to connect with people. (You can work and have a text conversation, but you can’t chat on the phone.)

The numbers are truly staggering. 2.2 trillion MMS and SMS text messages were sent in the U.S. in 2020, reports Statista. There’s no denying that text messaging is a popular form of communication that’s here to stay.

What about business text messaging?

Business text messaging is also on the rise. In 2020, business messaging traffic hit 3.5 trillion. That’s up from 3.2 trillion in 2019, a 9.4% year over year increase, reports Juniper Research.

Even though we’ve been using it for years, this shows how widespread the adoption and growth of text messaging have become.

How effective is SMS marketing?

Do people really read text messages from businesses? Yes!

Admittedly, specific SMS marketing open rate statistics are hard to come by. A common text messaging stat asserts text messages have a 98% open rate, but the real number is closer to 95%.

Business text messaging still far outperforms the average email open rate. In 2022 the average email open rate across industries is 29.55%, and click-through rates are 1.27%, reports Smart Insights.

Key SMS marketing statistics to know.

Customers are eager for more options to interact with businesses over text messaging.

Here are some enlightening statistics from Forbes:

  • It takes the average person 90 minutes to respond to an email but only 90 seconds to respond to a text message.
  • 64% of consumers believe that businesses should use SMS messages to interact with customers more often than they currently do.
  • 74% of customers report an improved overall impression of businesses that interact with them via text messaging.
  • 70% of customers agree that using SMS text messaging is a good way for an organization to get their attention.

And why are customers opting into text messaging?

  • 77% of customers opt into a brand’s text messages for coupons or deals.
  • 50% said personal alerts.
  • 48% said they wanted to be in the loop.
  • 33% wanted more meaningful content.

The impact of SMS text messaging on customer service.

Messaging enables customers to get the service they desire in a fast, convenient way that puts them in control of the conversation. The ability to text message businesses has become more than a nice to have—it’s a customer experience must.

Quiq commissioned Market Strategies International to conduct an independent research study into mobile messaging and its growing value as a customer service channel—and we found some convincing results:

  • 70% of respondents want to use mobile messaging to troubleshoot an issue, and 64% to make a purchase or booking.
  • 66% of consumers rank mobile messaging as their first or second choice to contact a company.
  • 66% of respondents rank messaging as their preferred channel for contacting a company.
  • 66% of respondents would pay more for a product/service supported by messaging—an average of 17% more.

When it comes to sales, experience is everything. Salesforce emphasized the importance of the customer experience in their 2020 report:

  • 79% of consumers say a business’s experience is as important as their goods or services.
  • 71% of customers say they have made purchase decisions based on the quality of customer service.

Top brands see tangible results from messaging.

Companies have increased sales, reduced costs, and improved customer satisfaction by using text messaging. These results span companies of all sizes and industries such as financial services, retail, consumer services, and many more.

We know customers like texting, but what do businesses think? The benefits are clear. eMarketer reports:

  • 62% of businesses say customers like it.
  • 58% said it reduced their costs compared to voice-only.
  • 48% said it improved customer satisfaction.
  • 35% said it improved their Net-Promoter Score®.

Quiq clients have also seen tremendous results using SMS text messaging to reach out to their customers. Here are just a few of the success stories:

  • Overstock.com achieved higher engagement rates with text messaging’s 98% open rates.
  • Jackson Hole Mountain Resort experienced a 75% reduction in phone calls because of its focus on text messaging.
  • Brinks Home Security converted 10% of their phone calls to text messages while realizing a 14 ppt uptick in CSAT.

Text messaging: Good for your bottom line.

The statistics tell us that text messaging is a highly effective way to communicate with your customers while also saving your customer center time and money.

One thing remains clear: Customers need and expect companies to provide products, services, and support in the most convenient way to them. Join other companies that have enthusiastically embraced text messaging and start seeing real results.