5 Tips for Coaching Your Contact Center Agents to Work with AI

Generative AI has enormous potential to change the work done at places like contact centers. For this reason, we’ve spent a lot of energy covering it, from deep dives into the nuts and bolts of large language models to detailed advice for managers considering adopting it.

Here, we will provide tips on using AI tools to coach, manage, and improve your agents.

How Will AI Make My Agents More Productive?

Contact centers can be stressful places to work, but much of that stems from a paucity of good training and feedback. If an agent doesn’t feel confident in assuming their responsibilities or doesn’t know how to handle a tricky situation, that will cause stress.

Tip #1: Make Collaboration Easier

With the right AI tools for coaching agents, you can get state-of-the-art collaboration tools that allow agents to invite their managers or colleagues to silently appear in the background of a challenging issue. The customer never knows there’s a team operating on their behalf, but the agent won’t feel as overwhelmed. These same tools also let managers dynamically monitor all their agents’ ongoing conversations, intervening directly if a situation gets out of hand.

Agents can learn from these experiences to become more performant over time.

Tip #2: Use Data-Driven Management

Speaking of improvement, a good AI platform will have resources that help managers get the most out of their agents in a rigorous, data-driven way. Of course, you’re probably already monitoring contact center metrics, such as CSAT and FCR scores, but this barely scratches the surface.

What you really need is a granular look into agent interactions and their long-term trends. This will let you answer questions like “Am I overstaffed?” and “Who are my top performers?” This is the only way to run a tight ship and keep all the pieces moving effectively.

Tip #3: Use AI To Supercharge Your Agents

As its name implies, generative AI excels at generating text, and there are several ways this can improve your contact center’s performance.

To start, these systems can sometimes answer simple questions directly, which reduces the demands on your team. Even when that’s not the case, however, they can help agents draft replies, or clean up already-drafted replies to correct errors in spelling and grammar. This, too, reduces their stress, but it also contributes to customers having a smooth, consistent, high-quality experience.

Tip #4: Use AI to Power Your Workflows

A related (but distinct) point concerns how AI can be used to structure the broader work your agents are engaged in.

Let’s illustrate using sentiment analysis, which makes it possible to assess the emotional state of a person doing something like filing a complaint. This can form part of a pipeline that sorts and routes tickets based on their priority, and it can also detect when an issue needs to be escalated to a skilled human professional.

Tip #5: Train Your Agents to Use AI Effectively

It’s easy to get excited about what AI can do to increase your efficiency, but you mustn’t lose sight of the fact that it’s a complex tool your team needs to be trained to use. Otherwise, it’s just going to be one more source of stress.

You need to have policies around the situations in which it’s appropriate to use AI and the situations in which it’s not. These policies should address how agents should deal with phenomena like “hallucination,” in which a language model will fabricate information.

They should also contain procedures for monitoring the performance of the model over time. Because these models are stochastic, they can generate surprising output, and their behavior can change.

You need to know what your model is doing to intervene appropriately.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, you’re more optimistic about what AI can do for your contact center, and this has helped you understand how to make the most out of it.

If there’s anything else you’d like to go over, you’re always welcome to request a demo of the Quiq platform. Since we focus on contact centers we take customer service pretty seriously ourselves, and we’d love to give you the context you need to make the best possible decision!

4 Reasons Why Every Hotel Needs an AI Assistant

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been all the rage for the past year, owing to its remarkable abilities to generate convincing text (and video!), automate major parts of different jobs, and boost the productivity of everyone using it.

Naturally, this has sparked the interest of professionals in the hospitality sector, which will be our focus today. We’ll talk about how AI assistants can be used in hotels, the size of the relevant market, and some potential issues you should look out for.

It’s an exciting topic, so let’s dive right in!

What is an AI Assistant for a Hotel?

Leaving aside a bit of nuance, the phrase “AI assistant” broadly covers using algorithmic technologies such as large language models to “assist” in various aspects of your work. A very basic example is the bundle of spell checkers, suggested edits, and autocomplete that is all but ubiquitous in text editors, email clients, and blogging platforms; a more involved example would be carefully crafting a prompt to generate convincing copy to sell a product or service.

If you’re interested in digging in further, check out some of our earlier posts for more details.

What is the Importance of Artificial Intelligence in the Hotel Industry?

In the next section, we cover the nuts and bolts of what AI assistants can do to streamline your operations, reduce the burden on your (human) staff, and improve the experience of guests staying at your hotel.

But in this one, we’re just going to talk dollars and cents. And to be clear, there are a lot of dollars and cents on the table. Experts who’ve studied the potential market for AI assistants in hospitality believe that it was worth something like $90 million in 2022, and this figure is expected to climb to an eye-watering $8 billion over the next decade.

“Hang on,” you’re thinking to yourself. “That’s great for the investors who fund these companies and the early employees that work in them, but the fact that a market is worth a lot of money doesn’t mean it’s actually going to have much impact on day-to-day hospitality.”

We admire your skeptical mind, and this is indeed a worthwhile concern. AI, after all, is renowned for its ups and downs; there’ll be years of frenzied excitement and near-delirious predictions that entire segments of the economy are poised for complete automation, followed by “AI winters” so deep even Ned Stark can’t get warm behind the walls of Winterfell.

Making the case that AI in hospitality will, in fact, be a trend worth thinking about is our next task.

The 4 Reasons Every Hotel Should be Using an AI Assistant

As promised, we’ll now cover all the reasons why you should seriously investigate the potential of AI assistants in your hotel. To paraphrase a famous saying, “Fortune favors the innovative,” and you can’t afford to ignore such a transformative technology.

#1 AI Assistants Can Help Drive Bookings and Sales

There are many ways in which AI will change the hotel booking process because it can act as a dynamic tool for enhancing guest interactions and driving sales directly through your hotel’s website. To start, AI assistants can significantly reduce the likelihood of potential guests abandoning their bookings midway by providing real-time answers to their questions, alleviating doubts about the details of a stay, and offering instant booking confirmations. Not only do such seamless experiences simplify the booking experience, they also contribute to an increase in direct bookings – a crucial advantage for hotels, as it eliminates the need for commission payouts and boosts profitability.

But that’s not all. These assistants are increasingly being integrated into social media and instant messaging platforms, enabling guests to start the booking process through their preferred channel or, failing that, redirecting them to the main hotel booking system. Throughout, they can proactively gather information about the guests’ preferences and budget, making tailored recommendations that increase the likelihood of conversion.

As you’re no doubt aware, a hotel doesn’t just make its money from bookings – there are also many opportunities for upselling and cross-selling hotel services. This, too, is a place where AI assistants can help. While interacting with a potential customer, they can suggest additional breakfast options, spa appointments, room upgrades, etc., based on the customer’s current selection and previous interactions with you.

Moreover, an AI assistant can modernize hotel marketing strategies, which have traditionally relied on relatively static methods like email campaigns. Properly tuned language models are capable of engaging in personalized, two-way conversations via social media or on your website, allowing them to deliver more effective promotional messages and alerts about special events or loyalty programs. All of this makes your messaging more likely to resonate with guests, ultimately boosting the all-important bottom line.

#2 AI Assistants Can Help Reduce Burnout and Turnover

About a year ago, we covered a landmark study from economists Erik Brynjolfsson, Danielle Li, and Lindsey R. Raymond that examined how generative AI was changing contact centers. Though there were (and are) many concerns about automation taking jobs, the study concluded that this new technology was helping newer agents onboard more quickly, was making mid-tier agents perform better, and was overall reducing burnout and turnover by lessening each agent’s burden.

Most of these factors also apply to your hospitality staff. Let’s see how.

Algorithms offer the distinct advantage of providing continuous service, and operating around the clock without needing breaks or sleep. This ensures that guests receive immediate assistance whenever needed, which will go a long way to cementing their perception of your commitment to exceptional service.

Furthermore, these assistants contribute to the efficiency of face-to-face customer interactions, particularly during routine processes like check-ins and check-outs. This dynamic becomes even more powerful when you integrate conversational AI into mobile apps, guests can complete these procedures directly from their smartphones, bypassing the front desk and avoiding any wait.

Hospitality teams often face high workloads, managing in-person guest interactions, responding to digital communications across multiple platforms, and analyzing feedback from customer surveys. A good AI assistant can substantially reduce this burden by handling routine inquiries and requests. Your human staff can then be left to focus on more complex issues, thereby preventing burnout and improving their capacity to deliver quality service via the fabled “human touch.”

#3 AI Assistants Can Help Improve the Guest Experience

Let’s drill a little bit more into how AI assistants can improve your guest’s stay at your hotel.

We’ve already mentioned some of this. If a customer’s booking goes smoothly, changes are handled promptly, their 2-a.m. questions have been answered, and their stay is replete with little personalized touches, they’re probably going to reflect on it fondly.
But this is hardly everything that can be said about how AI assistants will improve the hotel experience. Consider the fact that today’s language models are almost unbelievably good at translating between languages – especially when those are “high resource” languages, such as Mandarin, Russian, and Spanish.

If you’re a monolingual native English speaker, it can be easy to forget how much cognitive effort is involved in speaking a language in which you’re not fluent. But imagine for a moment that you’re a foreign traveler whose flight was delayed and whose kids never once stopped crying. Wouldn’t you appreciate being greeted with a friendly “欢迎” or “Добро пожаловать”, rather than needing to immediately fumble around in English?

Another subject that is slightly off-topic but is nevertheless worth discussing in this context is trust. People have long known that the internet is hardly a shining example of forthrightness and rectitude, but with the rise of generative AI, it has become even harder to believe what you read online.

We’ve discussed how much AI assistants can do for your hotel, but it’s important to use them judiciously, with appropriate guardrails in place, to reap the most benefit. If one of your language models offers up bad information or harasses a guest, that will reflect negatively on you. This is too big a topic for us to cover in this article, but you can check out earlier posts for more information.

A related issue is the collection of data. Upselling customers or personalizing their room can only be done by gathering data about their preferences. This, too, is something people are gradually becoming more aware of (and worried about), so it’s worth proactively crafting a data collection policy that’s available if anyone asks for it.

#4 AI Assistants Can Help Keep Your Operations Running Smoothly

Finally, we’ll finish by considering how AI can be used to streamline your hotel’s basic operations – making sure everything is in stock, that items make it to the right room, etc.

One significant benefit (which is becoming a more important distinguishing feature) is improving energy efficiency. You’re probably already familiar with smart room technologies, such as thermostats that reduce energy consumption by automatically adjusting themselves based on occupancy. But consider how implementing AI to manage HVAC systems for an entire building could not only optimize energy use and save significant costs, but also make guests more comfortable throughout their stay.

Similarly, AI can revolutionize waste management by employing systems that detect when trash receptacles need servicing. This would reduce the time staff spend checking and clearing bins, allowing them to focus on more valuable tasks.

Beyond these sustainability-focused applications, AI’s role in automating routine hospitality operations is vast. A fun example comes from Silicon Valley, where the Crowne Plaza hotel employs a robotic system named “Dash” to deliver snacks and towels directly to guests.

Even if you’re not particularly interested in having robots wandering your halls, it should hopefully be clear that many parts of running a hotel can be outsourced to machines, freeing you and your staff up to focus on more pressing matters.

Riding the AI Wave with Quiq

After decades of false starts and false promises, it looks like AI is finally having a measurable impact on the hospitality sector.

If you want to leverage this remarkable technology to the fullest but aren’t sure where to start, set up a time to talk with us. Quiq is an industry-leading conversational AI platform that makes deploying and monitoring AI systems for hotels much easier. Let’s explore opportunities to work together!

The Ultimate Guide to RCS Business Messaging

From chiseling words into stone to typing them directly on our screens, changes in technology can bring profound changes to the way we communicate. Rich Communication Services (RCS) Business Messaging is one such technological change, and it offers the forward-looking contact center a sophisticated upgrade over traditional SMS.

In this piece, we’ll discuss RCS Business Messaging, illustrating its significance, its inner workings, and how it can be leveraged as part of a broader customer service strategy. This context will equip you to understand RCS and determine whether and how to invest in it.

Let’s get going!

What is RCS Business Messaging?

Smartphones have become enormously popular for surfing the internet, shopping, connecting with friends, and conducting many other aspects of our daily lives. One consequence of this development is that it’s much more common for contact centers to interact with customers through text messaging.

Once text messaging began to replace phone calls, emails, and in-person visits as the go-to communication channel, it was clear that it required an upgrade. The old Short Messaging Service (SMS) was replaced with Rich Communication Services (RCS), which supports audio messages, video, high-quality photos, group chats, encryption, and everything else we’ve come to expect from our messaging experience.

And, on the whole, the data indicate that this is a favorable trend:

  • More than 70% of people report feeling inclined to make an online purchase when they have the ability to get timely answers to questions;
  • Almost three-quarters indicated that they were more likely to interact with a brand when they have the option of doing so through RCS;
  • Messages sent through RCS are a staggering 35 times more likely to be read than an equivalent email.

For all these reasons, your contact center needs to be thinking about how RCS fits into your overall customer service strategy–it’s simply not a channel you can afford to ignore any longer.

How is RCS Business Messaging Different from Google Business Messages?

Distinguishing between Google’s Rich Communication Services (RCS) and Google Business Messages can be tricky because they’re similar in many ways. That said, keeping their differences in mind is crucial.

You may not remember this if you’re young enough, but text messaging was once much more limited. Texts could not be very long, and were unable to accommodate modern staples like GIFs, videos, and emojis. However, as reliance on text messaging grew, there was a clear need to enhance the basic protocol to include these and other multimedia elements.

Since this enhancement enriched the basic functionality of text messaging, it is known as “rich” communication. Beyond adding emojis and the like, RCS is becoming essential for businesses looking to engage in more dynamic interactions with customers. It supports features such as custom logos, collecting data for analytics, adding QR codes, and links to calendars or maps, and enhancing the messaging experience all around.

Google Business Messages, on the other hand, is a mobile messaging channel that seamlessly integrates with Google Maps and Search to deliver high-quality, asynchronous communication between your customers and your contact center agents.

This service is not only a boon to your satisfaction ratings, it can also support other business objectives by reducing the volume of calls and enhancing conversion rates.

While Google Business Messages and RCS have a lot in common, there are two key differences worth highlighting: RCS is not universally available across all Android devices (whereas Business Messages is), and Business Messages does not require a user to install a messaging app (whereas RCS does).

How Does RCS Business Messaging Work?

Okay, now that we’ve convinced you that RCS Business Messaging is worth the effort to cultivate, let’s examine how it works.

Once you set up your account and complete the registration process, you’ll need to create an “agent,” which is the basic interface connecting your contact center to your customers. Agents are quite flexible and able to handle very simple workflows (such as sending a notification) as well as much more complicated sequences of tasks (such as those required to help book a reservation).

From the customer’s side, communicating with an agent is more or less indistinguishable from having a standard conversation. Each participant will speak in turn, waiting for the other to respond.

Agents can be configured to initiate a conversation under a wide variety of external circumstances. They could reach out when a user’s order has been shipped, for example, or when a new sushi restaurant has opened and is offering discounts. Since we’re focused on contact centers, our agent configurations will likely revolve around events like “the customer reached out for support,” “there’s been an update on an outstanding ticket,” or “the issue has been resolved.”

However you’ve chosen to set up your agent, when it is supposed to initiate a conversation, it will use the RCS Business Messaging API to send a message. These messages are always sent as standard HTTP requests with a corresponding JSON payload (if you’re curious about the technical underpinnings), but the most important thing to know is that the message ultimately ends up in front of the user, where they can respond.

Unless, that is, their device doesn’t support RCS. RCS has become popular and prominent enough that we’d be surprised if you ran into this situation very often. Just in case, you should have your messaging set up such that you can default to something like SMS.

Any subsequent messages between the agent and the customer are also sent as JSON. Herein lies the enormous potential for customization, because you can utilize powerful technologies like natural language understanding to have your agent dynamically generate different responses in different contexts. This not only makes it feel more lifelike, it also means that it can solve a much broader range of problems.

If you don’t want to roll up your sleeves and do this yourself, you always have the option of partnering with a good conversational AI platform. Ideally, you’d want to use one that makes integrating generative AI painless, and which has a robust set of features that make it easy to monitor the quality of agent interactions, collect data, and make decisions quickly.

Best Practices for Using RCS Business Messaging

By now, you should hopefully understand RCS Business Messaging, why it’s exciting, and the many ways in which you can use it to take your contact center to new heights. In this penultimate section, we’ll discuss some of Google’s best practices for RCS.

RCS is not a General-Purpose User Interface

Tools are incredibly powerful ways of extending basic human abilities, but only if you understand when and how to use them. Hammers are great for carpentry, but they’re worse than useless when making pancakes (trust us on this–we’ve tried, and it went poorly).

The same goes for Google’s RCS Business Messaging, which is a conversational interface. Your RCS agents are great at resolving queries, directing customers to information, executing tasks, and (failing that) escalating to a human being. But in order to do all of this, you should try to make sure they speak in a way that is natural, restricted to the question at hand, and easy for the customer to follow.

For this same reason, your agents shouldn’t be seen as a simple replacement for a phone tree, requiring the user to tediously input numbers to navigate a menu of delimited options. Part of the reason agents are a step forward in contact center management is precisely because they eliminate the need to lean on such an approach.

Check Device Compatibility Beforehand

Above, we pointed out that some devices don’t support RCS, and you should therefore have a failsafe in place if you send a message to one. This is sage advice, but it’s also possible to send a “capability request” ahead of a message telling you what kind of device the user has and what messaging it supports.

This will allow you to configure your agent in advance so that it stays within the limits of a given device.

Begin at the Beginning

As you’ve undoubtedly heard from marketing experts, first impressions matter a lot. The way your agent initiates a conversation will determine the user’s experience, and thereby figure prominently in how successful you are in making them happy.

In general, it’s a good idea to have the initial message be friendly, warm, and human, to contain some of the information the user is likely to want, and to list out a few of the things the agent is capable of. This way, the person who reached out to you with a problem immediately feels more at ease, knowing they’ll be able to reach a speedy resolution.

Be Mindful of Technical Constraints

There are a few low-level facts about RCS that could bear on the end user’s experience, and you should know about them as you integrate RCS into your text messaging strategy.

To take one example, messages containing media may process more slowly than text-only messages. This means that you could end up with messages getting out of order if you send several of them in a row.

For this reason, you should wait for the RBM platform to return a 200 OK response for each message before proceeding to send the next. This response indicates the platform has received the message, ensuring users receive them as intended.

Additionally, it’s important to be on the lookout for duplicate incoming messages. When receiving messages from users, always check the `messageId` to confirm that the message hasn’t been processed before. By keeping track of `messageId` strings, duplicate messages can be easily identified and disregarded, ensuring efficient and accurate communication.

Integrate with Quiq

RCS is the next step in text messaging, opening up many more ways of interacting with the people reaching out to you for help.

There are many ways to leverage RCS, one of which is turbo-charging your agents with the power of large language models. The easiest way to do this is to team up with a conversation AI platform to do the technical heavy lifting for you.

Quiq is one such platform. Reach out to schedule a demo with us today!

AI Gold Rush: How Quiq Won the Land Grab for AI Contact Centers (& How You Can Benefit)

There have been many transformational moments throughout the history of the United States, going back all the way to its unique founding.

Take for instance the year 1849.

For all of you SFO 49ers fans (sorry, maybe next year), you are very well aware of the land grab that was the birth of the state of California. That year, tens of thousands of people from the Eastern United States flocked to the California Territory hoping to strike it rich in a placer gold strike.

A lesser-known fact of that moment in history is that the gold strike in California was actually in 1848. And while all of those easterners were lining up for the rush, a small number of people from Latin America and Hawaii were already in production, stuffing their pockets full of nuggets.

176 years later, AI is the new gold rush.

Fast forward to 2024, a new crowd is forming, working toward the land grab once again. Only this time, it’s not physical.

It’s AI in the contact center.

Companies are building infrastructure, hiring engineers, inventing tools, and trying to figure out how to build a wagon that won’t disintegrate on the trail (AKA hallucinate).

While many of those companies are going to make it to the gold fields, one has been there since 2023, and that is Quiq.

Yes, we’ve been mining LLM gold in the contact center since July of 2023 when we released our first customer-facing Generative AI assistant for Loop Insurance. Since then, we have released over a dozen more and have dozens more under construction. More about the quality of that gold in a bit.

This new gold rush in the AI space is becoming more crowded every day.

Everyone is saying they do Generative AI in one way, shape, or form. Most are offering some form of Agent Assist using LLM technologies, keeping that human in the loop and relying on small increments of improvement in AHT (Average Handle Time) and FCR (First Contact Resolution).

However, there is a difference when it comes to how platforms are approaching customer-facing AI Assistants.

Actually, there are a lot of differences. That’s a big reason we invented AI Studio.

AI Studio: Get your shovels and pick axes.

Since we’ve been on the bleeding edge of Generative AI CX deployments, we created called AI Studio. We saw that there was a gap for CX teams, with the myriad of tools they would have had to stitch together and stay focused on business outcomes.

AI Studio is a complete toolkit to empower companies to explore nuances in their AI use within a conversational development environment that’s tailored for customer-facing CX.

That last part is important: Customer-facing AI assistants, which teams can create together using AI Studio. Going back to our gold rush comparison, AI Studio is akin to the pick axes and shovels you need.

Only success is guaranteed and the proverbial gold at the end of the journey is much, much more enticing—precisely because customer-facing AI applications tend to move the needle dramatically further than simpler Agent Assist LLM builds.

That brings me to the results.

So how good is our gold?

Early results are showing that our LLM implementations are increasing resolution rates 50% to 100% above what was achieved using legacy NLU intent-based models, with resolution rates north of 60% in some FAQ-heavy assistants.

Loop Insurance saw a 55% reduction in email tickets in their contact center.

Secondly, intent matching has more than doubled, meaning the percentage of correctly identified intents (especially when there are multiple intents) are being correctly recognized and responded to, which directly correlates to correct answers, fewer agent contacts, and satisfied customers.

That’s just the start though. Molekule hit a 60% resolution rate with a Quiq-built LLM-powered AI assistant. You can read all about that in our case study here.

And then there’s Accor, whose AI assistant across four Rixos properties has doubled (yes, 2X’ed) click-outs on booking links. Check out that case study here.

What’s next?

Like the miners in 1848, digging as much gold out of the ground as possible before the land rush, Quiq sits alone, out in front of a crowd lining up for a land grab.

With a dozen customer-facing LLM-powered AI assistants already living in the market producing incredible results, we have pioneered a space that will be remembered in history as a new day in Customer Experience.

Interested in harnessing Quiq’s power for your CX or contact center? Send us a demo request or get in touch another way and let’s talk.

Google Business Messages: Meet Your Customers Where They’re At

The world is a distracted and distracting place; between all the alerts, the celebrity drama on Twitter, and the fact that there are more hilarious animal videos on YouTube than you could ever hope to watch even if it were your full-time job, it takes a lot to break through the noise.

That’s one reason customer service-oriented businesses like contact centers are increasingly turning to text messaging. Not only are cell phones all but ubiquitous, but many people have begun to prefer text-message-based interactions to calls, emails, or in-person visits.

In this article, we’ll cover one of the biggest text-messaging channels: Google Business Messages. We’ll discuss what it is, what features it offers, and various ways of leveraging it to the fullest.

Let’s get going!

What is Google Business Messages?

Given that more than nine out of ten online searches go through Google, we will go out on a limb and assume you’ve heard of the Mountain View behemoth. But you may not be aware that Google has a Business Message service that is very popular among companies, like contact centers, that understand the advantages of texting their customers.

Business Messages allows you to create a “messaging surface” on Android or Apple devices. In practice, this essentially means that you can create a little “chat” button that your customers can use to reach out to you.

Behind the scenes, you will have to register for Business Messages, creating an “agent” that your customers will interact with. You have many configuration options for your Business Messages workflows; it’s possible to dynamically route a given message to contact center agents at a specific location, have an AI assistant powered by large language models generate a reply (more on this later), etc.

Regardless of how the reply is generated, it is then routed through the API to your agent, which is what actually interacts with the customer. A conversation is considered over when both the customer and your agent cease replying, but you can resume a conversation up to 30 days later.

What’s the Difference Between Google RCS and Google Business Messages?

It’s easy to confuse Google’s Rich Communication Services (RCS) and Google Business Messages. Although the two are similar, it’s nevertheless worth remembering their differences.

Long ago, text messages had to be short, sweet, and contain nothing but words. But as we all began to lean more on text messaging to communicate, it became necessary to upgrade the basic underlying protocol. This way, we could also use video, images, GIFs, etc., in our conversations.

“Rich” communication is this upgrade, but it’s not relegated to emojis and such. RCS is also quickly becoming a staple for businesses that want to invest in livelier exchanges with their customers. RCS allows for custom logos and consistent branding, for example; it also makes it easier to collect analytics, insert QR codes, link out to calendars or Maps, etc.

As discussed above, Business Messages is a mobile messaging channel that integrates with Google Maps, Search, and brand websites, offering rich, asynchronous communication experiences. This platform not only makes customers happy but also contributes to your business’s bottom line through reduced call volumes, improved CSAT, and better conversion rates.

Importantly, Business Messages are sometimes also prominently featured in Google search results, such as answer cards, place cards, and site links.

In short, there is a great deal of overlap between Google Business Messages and Google RCS. But two major distinctions are that RCS is not available on all Android devices (where Business Messages is), and Business Messages doesn’t require you to have a messaging app installed (where RCS does).

The Advantages of Google Business Messaging

Google Business Messaging has many distinct advantages to offer the contact center entrepreneur. In the next few sections, we’ll discuss some of the biggest.

It Supports Robust Encryption

A key feature of Business Messages is that its commitment to security and privacy is embodied through powerful, end-to-end encryption.

What exactly does end-to-end encryption entail? In short, it ensures that a message remains secure and unreadable from the moment the sender types it to whenever the recipient opens it, even if it’s intercepted in transit. This level of security is baked in, requiring no additional setup or adjustments to security settings by the user.

The significance of this feature cannot be overstated. Today, it’s not at all uncommon to read about yet another multi-million-dollar ransomware attack or a data breach of staggering proportions. This has engendered a growing awareness of (and concern for) data security, meaning that present and future customers will value those platforms that make it a central priority of their offering.

By our estimates, this will only become more important with the rise of generative AI, which has made it increasingly difficult to trust text, images, and even movies seen online—none of which was particularly trustworthy even before it became possible to mass-produce them.

If you successfully position yourself as a pillar your customers can lean on, that will go a long way toward making you stand out in a crowded market.

It Makes Connecting With Customers Easier

Another advantage of Google Business Messages is that it makes it much easier to meet customers where they are. And where we are is “on our phones.”

Now, this may seem too obvious to need pointing out. After all, if your customers are texting all day and you’re launching a text-messaging channel of communication, then of course you’ll be more accessible.

But there’s more to this story. Google Business Messaging allows you to seamlessly integrate with other Google services, like Google Maps. If a customer is trying to find the number for your contact center, therefore, they could instead get in touch simply by clicking the “CHAT” button.

This, too, may seem rather uninspiring because it’s not as though it’s difficult to grab the number and call. But even leaving aside the rising generations’ aversion to making phone calls, there’s a concept known as “trivial inconvenience” that’s worth discussing in this context.

Here’s an example: if you want to stop yourself from snacking on cookies throughout the day, you don’t have to put them on the moon (though that would help). Usually, it’s enough to put them in the next room or downstairs.

Though this only slightly increases the difficulty of accessing your cookie supply, in most cases, it introduces just enough friction to substantially reduce the number of cookies you eat (depending on the severity of your Oreo addiction, of course).

Well, the exact same dynamic works in reverse. Though grabbing your contact center’s phone number from Google and calling you requires only one or two additional steps, that added work will be sufficient to deter some fraction of customers from reaching out. If you want to make yourself easy to contact, there’s no substitute for a clean integration directly into the applications your customers are using, and that’s something Google Business Messages can do extremely well.

It’s Scalable and Supports Integrations

According to legend, the name “Google” originally came from a play on the word “Googol,” which is a “1” followed by a 100 “0”s. Google, in other words, has always been about scale, and that is reflected in the way its software operates today. For our purposes, the most important manifestation of this is the scalability of their API. Though you may currently be operating at a few hundred or a few thousand messages per day, if you plan on growing, you’ll want to invest early in communication channels that can grow along with you.

But this is hardly the end of what integrations can do for you. If you’re in the contact center business there’s a strong possibility that you’ll eventually end up using a large language model like ChatGPT in order to answer questions more quickly, offboard more routine tasks, etc. Unless you plan on dropping millions of dollars to build one in-house, you’ll want to partner with an AI-powered conversational platform. As you go about finding a good vendor, make sure to assess the features they support. The best platforms have many options for increasing the efficiency of your agents, such as reusable snippets, auto-generated suggestions that clean up language and tone, and dashboarding tools that help you track your operation in detail.

Best Practices for Using Google Business Messages

Here, in the penultimate section, we’ll cover a few optimal ways of utilizing Google Business Messages.

Reply in a Timely Fashion

First, it’s important that you get back to customers as quickly as you’re able to. As we noted in the introduction, today’s consumers are perpetually drinking from a firehose of digital information. If it takes you a while to respond to their query, there’s a good chance they’ll either forget they reached out (if you’re lucky) or perceive it as an unpardonable affront and leave you a bad review (if you’re not).

An obvious way to answer immediately is with an automated message that says something like, “Thanks for your question. We’ll respond to you soon!” But you can’t just leave things there, especially if the question requires a human agent to intervene.

Whatever automated system you implement, you need to monitor how well your filters identify and escalate the most urgent queries. Remember that an agent might need a few hours to answer a tricky question, so factor that into your procedures.

This isn’t just something Google suggests; it’s codified in its policies. If you leave a Business Messages chat unanswered for 24 hours, Google might actually deactivate your company’s ability to use chat features.

Don’t Ask for Personal Information

As hackers have gotten more sophisticated, everyday consumers have responded by raising their guard.

On the whole, this is a good thing and will lead to a safer and more secure world. But it also means that you need to be extremely careful not to ask for anything like a social security number or a confirmation code via a service like Business Messages. What’s more, many companies are opting to include a disclaimer to this effect near the beginning of any interactions with customers.

Earlier, we pointed out that Business Messages supports end-to-end encryption, and having a clear, consistent policy about not collecting sensitive information fits into this broader picture. People will trust you more if they know you take their privacy seriously.

Make Business Messages Part of Your Overall Vision

Google Business Messages is a great service, but you’ll get the most out of it if you consider how it is part of a more far-reaching strategy.

At a minimum, this should include investing in other good communication channels, like Apple Messages and WhatsApp. People have had bitter, decades-long battles with each other over which code editor or word processor is best, so we know that they have strong opinions about the technology that they use. If you have many options for customers wanting to contact you, that’ll boost their satisfaction and their overall impression of your contact center.

The prior discussion of trivial inconveniences is also relevant here. It’s not hard to open a different messaging app under most circumstances, but if you don’t force a person to do that, they’re more likely to interact with you.

Schedule a Demo with Quiq

Google has been so monumentally successful its name is now synonymous with “online search.” Even leaving aside rich messaging, encryption, and everything else we covered in this article, you can’t afford to ignore Business Messages for this reason alone.

But setting up an account is only the first step in the process, and it’s much easier when you have ready-made tools that you can integrate on day one. The Quiq conversational AI platform is one such tool, and it has a bevy of features that’ll allow you to reduce the workloads on your agents while making your customers even happier. Check us out or schedule a demo to see what we can do for you!