How Messaging Delivers a Modern Customer Experience

Customer service has moved from call centers to contact centers—and they’ve gone next-gen. Technology has seen rapid growth over the last few years, and your customers’ expectations have grown with them.

Nothing has made this clearer than messaging’s rise as the ultimate customer service channel.

Keep reading to see how messaging delivers a modern customer service experience.

What customer service looks like at the end of 2022.

We’re at the end of 2022 and 2023 is coming up fast. Countless headlines threaten a looming recession (while others say it’s already here), you see inflation in every trip to the grocery store, and national conversations are filled with high emotions. The doom and gloom news cycle has everyone feeling down, and unfortunately, it’s spilling into everyday interactions with customer service.

The consumer mindset.

Expectedly, the current climate is affecting consumers across the board—and customer service teams are feeling it. According to Zendesk, 66% of companies report that customers are less patient when interacting with agents or service teams this year. What’s more, 18% of companies are more likely to report that customer satisfaction is somewhat or significantly below expectations than in 2021.

So, although we say it constantly, customer expectations truly are higher than ever. For contact centers, that generally means the need for faster response times, faster resolution times, and more one-touch resolutions.

Digital expectations remain high.

While businesses were forced to focus on digital customer service as in-person stores were closed during much of 2020, they’ve slacked off as the world returns to pre-pandemic lifestyles. Forrester’s US 2022 Customer Experience Index showed a 19% drop in CX across US consumer brands.

So while many consumers are returning to in-store shopping, they still expect the stellar service they received over the last two years. Anything less fails to meet expectations.

More conversations.

But there’s more at play than just speed. Customers are also looking for organic, conversational interactions. Zendesk reports that upwards of 70% of customers say they expect conversational experiences when interacting with brands.

What’s more conversational than messaging? Email has some formality (a holdover from its predecessor, letter writing), and phone calls require both parties to stop what they’re doing and focus on the one-to-one conversation. Messaging fits into the way people already have conversations—making it a natural next step in the evolution of modern customer service.

Messaging has revolutionized the customer experience.

There’s no doubt that messaging has changed the game when it comes to delivering a modern customer experience. It’s made customer service more accessible to younger generations who favor messaging over phone conversations, and it’s increased the speed at which contact centers can help customers.

Here are a few ways you can revolutionize your customer experience with messaging.

1. Deliver personalization with data.

One of the most frustrating things for customers is having to repeat their problems to every new person talk to in customer service. Plus, the rise of personalization has made access to customer databases a critical business need.

Opt for a conversational platform that integrates with the client databases (CRMs, ERPs, etc.) that you already use. Whether you use Salesforce, Zendesk, Oracle, etc., having easy access to customer information will help contact center agents personalize conversations and improve the customer experience.

2. Enhance conversations with AI.

How many chatbots have you encountered that felt like you were talking to a robot? Probably a fair amount. If you don’t ask your question the right way or put your answer in the right format, it’s all over. Basic chatbots rarely understand the nuances of human language, and they aren’t able to read context to make sense of a conversation.

But AI-enhanced chatbots aren’t like the others. Chatbots like Quiq’s use Natural Language Processing (NPL) to identify customer intent and base the conversation in the right context. This means more natural conversations between bots and customers and less of a strain on your contact support team.

3. Uplevel conversations with rich messages.

Messaging is more than a replacement for phone conversations—it’s a way to create rich, modern customer experiences. Rich messaging is an advanced form of text messaging that lets you send more visually engaging and interactive messages.

Instead of sending a message with a link to your website—where it’s easy for customers to get lost or distracted—you can send images and videos within the conversation. You can even securely complete the transactions right within the messaging app. Schedule appointments, send GIFs, or share high-resolution photos and videos—everything you need for modern customer service.

Optimize customer interactions with Quiq.

Meet the future of customer service head-on with Quiq’s Conversational AI Platform. Quiq makes it easy for customers to contact a business via messaging, the channel your customers already use to connect with family and friends. With Quiq, customers can engage with companies via SMS/text messaging, Facebook Messenger, web chat, in-app, WhatsApp, and more for a more modern customer service experience.

If you want to learn how you can easily deliver the modern customer experience by connecting with your customers contact us for a short demo.

[Infographic] 9 Effective Call Center Strategies You Can’t Miss

Effective call center strategies are essential to running a contact center. It’s not as simple as setting up a few phones and handing your team a script (although we’re sure no one has thought that since 2005). But it’s equally as likely that you’re so bogged down with managing the everyday realities that you can’t see the forest through the trees.

That is, you can’t see just how cluttered the contact center has become.

From staffing and training to managing operations and tracking KPIs, you spend too much time keeping a contact center running instead of doing what you do best: Connecting with customers.

That’s where Quiq comes in. Our Conversational AI Platform uses breakthrough technology to make it easier to engage customers, whether through live chat (also known as web chat), text messaging, or social media.

Let’s take a look at ways to improve your call center efficiency and how Quiq can help you reduce the clutter with 9 effective call center strategies in a handy infographic:

Download as a PDF instead

1. Streamline your current system.

How do you currently connect with your customers? Fielding phone calls, emails, and the occasional DMs can leave communications scattered and your systems fragmented.

Here’s what can happen with you don’t have a single, consolidated platform:

  • Customer conversations can slip through the cracks.
  • Your team wastes time switching between apps, programs, and windows.
  • Disparate technology becomes outdated and overpriced.
  • With no support for asynchronous communication, conversations can only happen one at a time.
  • Measuring performance requires pulling metrics from multiple sources, a time-consuming and arduous process.

Quiq lets your agents connect with customers across various channels in a singular platform. You’ll improve your contact center operational efficiency with conversations, survey results, and performance data all in one easy-to-use interface.

2. Boost agent productivity and efficiency.

How do your customer service agents go about their day? Are they handling one call at a time? Reinventing the wheel with every new conversation? Switching between apps and email and phone systems?

Outdated technology (or a complete lack of it) makes handling customer conversations inherently more difficult. Switching to a messaging-first strategy with Quiq increases the speed with which agents can tackle customer conversations.

Switching to asynchronous messaging (that is, messaging that doesn’t require both parties to be present at the same time) enables agents to handle 6–8 conversations at once. Beyond conversation management, Quiq helps optimize agent performance with AI-enhanced tools like bots, snippets, sentiment analysis, and more.

3. Drive down costs.

It’s time to stop looking at your contact center as a black hole for your profits. At the most basic level, your customer service team’s performance is measured by how many people they can serve in a period of time, which means time is money.

The longer it takes your agents to solve problems, whether they’re searching for the answer, escalating to a higher customer service level, or taking multiple conversations to find a solution, the more it impacts your bottom line.

Even simple questions, like “Where’s my order?” inquiries needlessly slow down your contact center. Managing your contact center’s operations is overwhelming, to say the least.

Need a Quiq solution? We have many. Let’s start with conversation queuing. Figuring out a customer’s problem and getting to the right person or department eats away at time that could be spent finding a solution. Quiq routes conversations to the right person, significantly reducing resolution times. Agents can also seamlessly loop in other departments or a manager to solve a problem quickly.

Beyond improving your contact center’s operational efficiency, messaging is 3x less expensive than the phone.

4. Manage seasonal spikes and fluctuating demands.

All contact centers face the eternal hiring/firing merry-go-round struggle. You probably get busy around the holidays and slow down in January. Or maybe September is your most active season, and your team shrinks through the rest of the year. While you can’t control when you’re busy and when you’re slow, you can control how you respond to those fluctuations.

Manage seasonal spikes by creating your own chatbot using Quiq’s AI engine. Work with our team to design bot conversations that use Natural Language Processing (NPL) to assist customers with simple questions. Chatbots can also improve agent resolution times by collecting customer information upfront to speed up conversations.

Daily Harvest’s chatbot, Sage, was able to contain 60% of conversations, which means their human agents saw a vast reduction in call volume. Perfect for managing the holiday rush.

5. Remove friction.

How hard is it for your customers to contact your help center? Do they have to fill out a web form, wait for an email, and set up a phone call? Is there a number in fine print in the depths of your FAQ page? Some companies make it difficult for customers to interact with their team, hoping that they’ll spend less money if there are fewer calls and emails. But engaging with customers can improve company perception, boost sales, and deepen customer loyalty.

That’s why Quiq makes it easy for your team and customers to connect. From live chat to SMS/text and Google Business Messaging to WhatsApp, customers can connect with your team on their preferred channel.

6. Improve the quality of your conversations with rich messaging.

Email and phone conversations are, in a word, boring. Whether you’re an e-commerce company selling products or a service provider helping customers troubleshoot problems with their latest device, words aren’t always enough. That’s why Quiq offers rich messaging.

What is rich messaging? It’s an advanced form of text messaging that includes multimedia, like GIFs, high-resolution photos, or video. It also includes interactive tools, like appointment scheduling, transaction processing, and more.

You can use rich messaging to give customers a better service experience. Whether sending them product recommendations or a video walkthrough, they’ll get a fully immersed experience.

7. Engage more qualified leads.

Do leads die in your contact center? Let’s face it: your contact center isn’t the place to handle high-value leads. Yet when warm leads find themselves there, you need a way to track, qualify, and engage them.

Here’s where chatbots can help with marketing. Quiq’s chatbots can help you identify qualified leads by engaging with your prospect and collecting information before it ever gets to your sales team.

A great example we’ve seen is from General Assembly. With the Quiq team by their side, they created a bot that helped administer a quiz and captured and nurtured leads interested in specific courses. This helped them strengthen the quality of their leads and achieve a 26% conversion rate, which leads us to our next factor for an effective call center strategy.

8. Increase conversions.

If you haven’t stopped viewing your call center as a cost center, this next topic should change your mind. While many contact centers focus on customer service, which can lean heavily toward complaints and post-purchase problems, there’s also tons of profit potential via effective call center strategies.

Adding messaging to your contact center opens up more opportunities to engage with your customers across the web. Live chat is a great way to talk to your customers at key points in the buyers’ journey. Using a chatbot to assist shoppers in navigating your website makes shoppers 3x more likely to convert to a sale than unassisted visitors.

Combining AI and human agents with Quiq’s conversational platform gives your customers the best experience possible without adding to your contact center’s workload—and it can lead to an 85% reduction in abandoned shopping carts. Plus, Quiq integrates with your ERP system so customer data is always at your team’s fingertips.

9. Increase customer satisfaction.

Customer satisfaction is likely your call center’s #1 goal. Yet outdated phone systems and substandard technology isn’t the best solution to improve call center agent performance.

Quiq empowers agents to be more efficient, which reduces your customer’s wait time and helps ensure customers get the best service possible. Quiq customers often increase their customer satisfaction ratings by about 15 points.

And the best way to increase your ratings? With regular, in-context surveys. Our conversational platform helps you and your agents get instant customer feedback. Customers can seamlessly respond to surveys right from within the channel they used to connect with your customer service.

Give contact center clutter a Quiq goodbye with effective call center strategies.

There’s no place in an efficient business for a cluttered contact center. Outdated systems, slow processes, and a lack of support can overwhelm your agents—and keep them from performing their best for your customers.

Now that you’re equipped with ways to improve call center efficiency, it’s time to see it in action. Quiq’s Conversational AI Platform empowers your team to work more efficiently and create happier customers.

How to Connect with Holiday Shoppers Staying Home

Is it cold where you are yet? Do you feel the chill in the air? Do you smell the hint of pine and gingerbread hiding amidst all the PSLs?

Well, get excited because Christmas and the holiday shopping season is right around the corner.

While there’s a lot to be thankful for this year, the e-commerce world is also holding its breath. Habits from the COVID-19 pandemic have shifted shopping permanently online, but economic uncertainty hangs over the season.

Pandemic concerns and general convenience means many consumers are staying home this year, meaning you need new ways to reach your customers and capture their attention.

Let’s explore how you can prepare for the 2022 holiday season and take a look at how to connect with customers shopping from home.

The 2022 holiday shopping landscape.

Given the general uncertainty in the air, there are mixed predictions for the holiday season. Adobe’s annual forecast predicts online shopping to top $209.7 billion in the US—a 2.5% increase over last year.

While that’s still a jump, it doesn’t come close to the 8.7% year-over-year growth between the 2020 and 2021 holiday shopping seasons. Or, for that matter, the 33% jump in online revenue we saw in 2020 as a direct result of the pandemic.

Despite Adobe’s neutral outlook, other surveyors aren’t anticipating an economic boost at all this year. ShipStation predicts a 14.4% reduction in overall holiday spending in the US, which represents a $30.6 billion loss.

At the same time, merchants are staying optimistic. A whopping 50% expect online sales to increase. Unfortunately, 58% of consumers said they plan to cut back on non-food spending.

Here are the top three things weighing on consumers’ minds.

Inflation

Inflation is a topic on everyone’s mind right now, and it will influence consumers’ holiday shopping habits. According to ShipStation, 28.8% of consumers are most concerned about rising inflation and its impact on their holiday spending. Although wages have gone up, they haven’t kept up with cost of living increases and general price hikes. Knowing that prices are higher overall—and not knowing when inflation will subside—means customers will be price-conscious this year. They plan to spend more time hunting for deals and holding back from impulse purchases.

A looming recession

Beyond the immediate impact of inflation, people can feel a recession in the air. Whether it has a long-term effect on our economy is yet to be seen, but that won’t stop it from impacting the shopping season. ShipStation reports that 18.3% of consumers say they’re most concerned about rising economic uncertainty. Expect more strategic shopping, with less focus on brand loyalty and more focus on the overall cost of goods.

COVID-19

COVID-19 levels are down and most of our lives have returned to a semi-normal state. Yet, while 59% of consumers say they’re less concerned about COVID-19 this holiday season according to IBM, many consumer habits implemented during the pandemic are here to stay. This includes online shopping, curbside pickup, and avoiding holiday crowds. Customers prefer the convenience and on-demand nature of online shopping. Since they’re avoiding the crowds of Black Fridays past, there will be less emphasis on individual shopping days (Black Friday and Cyber Monday).

7 tips for connecting with customers staying home this holiday season.

Convenience and safety are two big factors that sway your customers to shop online, but it takes more than that to get and keep their attention.

Take a look at these seven tips for connecting with customers online.

1. Optimize omnichannel service.

Part of creating a digital customer experience is ensuring consistent service across channels. A whopping 54% of customers say it feels like sales, services, and marketing don’t talk to each other, according to Salesforce.

Customers want to be able to start a conversation in one channel and pick it up in another without having to repeat themselves. This is especially true during busy times when the last thing they want to think about is, “Where did I talk to that nice rep?”

Instead, ensure a seamless online experience with a conversational AI platform that works across channels and carries your customers’ conversations with them. Having a conversation on a social platform, like Instagram or WhatsApp, and carrying it to your website’s live chat (also known as web chat) will create a frictionless experience for your customers that they remember.

2. Personalize your customer service.

No matter the state of the holiday season, the question is still the same: How do you stand out in a crowded online marketplace? Even amid everything else going on, personalization still reigns supreme.

According to Zendesk’s CX Trends report, 68% of customers expect all interactions to be personalized. To meet these customer expectations, customer service agents and chatbots need one major thing: information.

Ensure your conversational AI platform integrates with your existing CRM and e-commerce software, like Salesforce, Shopify, Oracle, and more. Armed with information, your agents can give customers a personalized and unique online shopping experience.

3. Send rich messages.

Rich messaging is the next level of text messaging. (You probably already do it in your own personal text messages.) Instead of sending simple text-based messages, you can send photos, emojis, GIFs, and more.

With Quiq’s advanced rich messaging capabilities, you can send personalized messages to your customers, and even:

  • Process secure transactions.
  • Schedule appointments with a tap of a button.
  • Send reminders, confirmations, and notices.
  • Increase engagement with compelling content.

Rich messages are a great way to notify customers of special sales and upcoming discounts during the holiday season. For example, if they’re waiting on a hot item with the potential to sell out, you can let them know when it’s restocked and even complete the transaction right within their messaging app. This ensures your customer won’t miss out on the deal while helping you capture more revenue.

4. Make holiday information easy to find.

Sometimes, the best way to stay connected with your customers is to make sure they can find what they need without talking to your service team. Younger customers especially prefer to find answers on your site independently. In fact, it’s often a sales driver since they might be more likely to leave your site than talk to a service rep.

Make sure you update your knowledge base to include holiday information, like the return/exchange policy, shipping costs, the last day to buy to receive items by Christmas, etc. But don’t just hide it on your site somewhere. Include this information on your social media, in newsletters, and in other marketing materials. Not only will this spark engagement and purchases, but it’ll also lessen the amount of customer service inquiries during an already busy season.

5. Up your live chat game.

If you haven’t implemented live chat on your website, you absolutely should. The holidays are a great time to flex your live chat muscles. In case you don’t know, live chat (also known as web chat) is a way to instantly message your customers from your website. It typically lives on the bottom right-hand corner of your site, where customers can easily interact with your service agents.

During the holidays, you may have an influx of new customers that live chat can help you capture. Proactively reach out during key points in the customer journey to head off questions and even prevent abandoned carts. Check in with web visitors when they first hit your site, when they stumble on your returns page, or when they first view their shopping cart. It’s a great way to give customers a similar experience to being in a brick-and-mortar store and will help prevent bounce rates.

6. Have more conversations on social media.

Social media is dominated by marketing teams, but it can also be a great place for customer service. Many consumers won’t differentiate your brand’s customer service team from your social media team, and they’ll expect the same service, ready-to-go answers, and personalization they’d get from using your website’s live chat.

So, that’s what you should give them. Make social media an extension of your customer service by using your conversational platform in social media channels. From Facebook Messenger for Business to Instagram for Business and even Twitter Direct Messages, you can give customers a stellar experience no matter where they reach out.

7. Turn Google searches into experiences.

Never miss out on an opportunity to have a conversation with your customers. When customers find your business on Google, Google’s Business Messages gives them the option to text you directly with a click of a button.

That way, customers can go directly to your customer service team with questions and get a personalized experience from the get-go. Since you’ll be using their native messaging app, you can use the same rich messaging to delight customers with GIFs, image carousels, and more.

More ways to have a successful 2022 holiday shopping season.

With the balance of the holiday shopping season hanging in the air, you can’t continue business as usual. Consider these bonus tips to help finish out the year strong.

Start now.

Retailers are used to the holiday rush—that crunch time between Thanksgiving and Christmas day when the majority of people get the majority of their shopping done. That’s always been a challenge for retailers in general (how to make the most money in such a short period of time), but even more so for e-commerce.

This year, holiday shoppers are planning ahead. Big retailers are offering sales ahead of the busy season. Amazon, for example, hosted a fall Prime Day event in early October to kick off the holiday season. And a Bankrate survey shows 50% of shoppers plan to start before November. Only 12% plan to wait until December to start.

What does this mean for your business? Don’t save your sales and holiday marketing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Repurpose what messaging and promotions you can to get shoppers to your site as soon as possible, or you could be missing out on a lot of the early revenue.

Cut shipping costs.

Or at least don’t raise them. As prices increase, customers will look for ways to save money while online businesses will look for ways to cut their own costs. Typically, online retailers will pass shipping costs on to customers as a way to cut their own costs.

But when money is tight, savvy shoppers are more likely to switch retailers or even skip online shopping altogether. In fact, 30.3% of customers say the cost of delivery is one of the most important factors when choosing a merchant according to ShipStation. Be cautious when considering increasing your shipping rates and look for other ways to combat rising expenses.

Offer new ways to shop.

Now that holiday shoppers have spent a couple of years in the COVID trenches, alternative shopping methods like curbside pickup have increased in popularity. In an Adobe survey of 1,000 consumers, 35% said they would use curbside pickup this season. This will be a big increase from the 25% of shoppers who used this service last year.

Curbside pickup is a way to help your last-minute shoppers, too. While a lot of holiday shopping is happening earlier in the season, there are always last-minute shoppers. Offering this option could help your customer service team, too. They won’t be as bogged down with angry customers asking why their package won’t arrive until after December 25.

Make customer connection your differentiator.

Despite uncertainty this holiday shopping season, connecting with customers is the best way to stand out and ensure success. You can give your customers the same outstanding experience they’d receive in-store (or even better) when you double down on conversations.

Is Live Chat Better than Form Filling?

Forms have ruled the online space since the beginning. And they’ve served us well. But are they going extinct?

Here’s the better question: Should they go extinct?

Live chat (often referred to as web chat) has penetrated the online world, with businesses in both the B2B and B2C online space embracing it. While it’s been used to supplement businesses’ main info-gathering method (forms), now live chat is taking over.

Businesses are replacing contact forms with live chat, using a combination of live agents and chatbots to deliver the best experience.

Let’s compare live chat and form filling.

Why form filling isn’t ideal.

Form filling has been the standard for years, but that also means customers are wise to them. They know sharing their email, and phone number potentially means fending off follow-ups they’re not ready for.

With the mad dash to move sales and service online in the past few years, contact forms just aren’t cutting it.

5 ways forms fall short

  1. Conversion rates are low. The average form conversion rate is 3–5%, according to WebFX. There are many outliers to that average depending on the industry and other business factors like marketing. Yet, customers have to be pretty sure of your product or service to fill out your contact form—without additional incentives like discounts or lead magnets. This means that even if you’re getting people to your forms, few are turning into sales.
  2. They take a lot of your team’s time. Do you have an easy way of sorting form entries before they get to your team? If you don’t, your generic forms are siphoning your sales and customer service teams’ time. Sorting through inquiries (are they just asking a customer service question, or are they looking to buy?), vetting leads, following up when you don’t have enough information… It all adds time before you even get to the sales process.
  3. Poor customer service. People have high expectations for customer service. Over 80% of customers expect to interact with someone immediately when they contact a company, according to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report. Try as you might, customers don’t get instant answers through contact forms. And if their issue requires multiple back-and-forth emails, you’re adding unnecessary friction.
  4. You’re probably losing sales. How many customers reach your contact form only to bounce? You’re probably very familiar with that number, but what about all the customers who bounce on your website without even making it to the contact form? Even when customers have questions, they might not poke around your website to find your form and ask it.
  5. You might be alienating customers. Some people are introverts! The thought of filling out a contact form and possibly receiving a phone call can be daunting. Even if they’re interested, the fear of talking to a person can keep them moving forward.

Forms vs. live chat: Why is live chat better?

More and more businesses are embracing live chat as an easy way to engage their website visitors and convert them into paying customers.

Here are a few ways live web chat outperforms contact forms.

Instant gratification.

Live chat connects customers with your team members (or a chatbot) instantly. No matter how quickly you respond to contact forms, you don’t get the same satisfaction of a quick conversation using chat.

Even knowing that live chat is an option will make your customers more likely to engage. It’s like having a salesperson at a traditional brick-and-mortar store. You may not want to have them walk you through the displays, but it’s nice knowing they’re there if you need them.

Human connection.

Customers don’t engage with a contact form—they fill it out. There’s no back-and-forth conversation and no way to make a connection until after they’ve taken that step. Live chat with your agents (or even a well-trained chatbot) gives them a human connection, and maybe even gives them more affinity for your brand.

Always accessible.

Forms can go on every page, but there’s almost always scrolling/searching involved to find it. The benefit of live chat is not only its accessibility on your website, but that it can engage your web visitors in conversation even before they think they need it.

And when you swap forms for chatbots, customers can engage with your brand any time, 24/7. When they have a question on Friday night, they don’t need to wait until Monday morning to get a response.

Familiarity over formality.

Forms are only the beginning of a conversation that will inevitably lead to an email, and then a phone call. Then your customers think they’ll be dealing with unwanted phone calls. It feels like much more of a commitment they’re not ready to make. It’s much simpler for customers to ask a few questions in live chat and leave the conversation when they need to.

Customers prefer it.

Compared to other forms of customer service, live chat frequently performs better, with faster response times, higher CSAT scores, and quicker resolutions. According to Salesforce, 42% of customers prefer live chat over other communication methods. Plus, your customers are more likely to return to a website that offers live chat, according to 63% of respondents, reports SaaSworthy.

What you can do with chatbots.

While live chat can run sufficiently when staffed by your own team, chatbots take it to the next level.

According to Databox’s informal survey, 50% of respondents said chatbots convert better than forms, while only 39% said forms convert better. (The other 11% said they convert the same.)

Here are some things chatbots can do to save you time and improve your customer service:

  • Answer customer questions.
  • Troubleshoot common problems.
  • Gather customer information.
  • Determine the department to route customers to.
  • Move customers into an agent’s queue across channels.

Forms vs. live chat: Who wins?

Hands down, live chat.

Live chat gives customers the one-to-one experience they prefer when choosing an online business. And with personalization becoming an even bigger part of the customer experience, having conversations is vital.

Is Live Chat Right For Your Website? Use These Questions to Find Out…

It began with corporate businesses. Small chat boxes started appearing in the lower right corner of their websites with friendly phrases like “Welcome!” and “What can we do to help?”

Implementing live chat used to be costly and time-consuming—something only large organizations had the capacity to handle. Now, it’s much more accessible to businesses of all sizes.

As more and more businesses adopt live chat (also known as web chat), it’s become an integral part of customer communication strategies, and customers expect easy one-to-one service from nearly every business they interact with.

In 2020, 42% of US online adults said that it was important for retailers to offer live online chat on their websites, up from 27% in 2019, according to Forrester Research. And that number is only growing.

But if you’re asking yourself, “Is live chat right for my website,” we’ve put together some questions to help you decide.

Which platforms do my customers prefer?

Let’s start with determining if live chat is the best way to reach your customers.

Live chat is a great opportunity for fast, efficient one-to-one communication, but it may not be right for everyone. Ask yourself these questions to help identify if live chat is the way to go.

How old are my customers?

Live chat users typically fall along generational lines. In 2020, 20% of surveyed Millennials and Gen Zers used web chat for the first time, according to Zendesk. At the same time, 14% of Gen Xers and only 10% of Baby Boomers/Silents did.

While live chat has the potential to serve customers of all generations, yours might be more comfortable with traditional methods like voice and email.

How tech-savvy are my customers?

Do your customers need help finding your website? Determine if choosing live chat make sense for the amount of traffic you have, and how your customers typically connect with your business.

Do our competitors offer live chat?

Why is live chat necessary for your business? Because your customers expect it. Especially if you’re competitors have beat you to the punch.

Live chat can be a competitive advantage for your business—which means it can be a disadvantage if your competitors have it when you don’t. Take a look at the competition to their live chat experience, and determine if not having it is hurting your business.

If your competitors haven’t jumped on the live chat train, consider what it would mean to be an early adopter.

Which customer touchpoints will benefit from live chat?

Before you throw a chatbox up on your website, consider how you can use it to strategically serve your customers. There are three distinct points in the customer journey where live chat can make a difference.

What kind of support will we offer prospects?

We’d say this is probably the most frequently thought of use case for live chat. It’s your standard pop-up that welcomes you to a website and asks if you have any questions upfront.

For prospects, you’re serving them in the early stages of their engagement (answering basic FAQs, helping them navigate the website, etc.). However, there’s also ample opportunity to influence purchasing decisions. Think about how you typically engage with prospects early on and how that can translate into live chat.

What kind of support will we offer during purchase?

Immediately before and during purchases is where live chat has the most direct impact on revenue. Being available for quick questions on the product page, pricing page, and even at checkout can help a buyer make the decision to buy.

Plus, customers recognize the value. According to Forrester, 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live agent while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer.

What kind of support will we offer post-purchase?

Post-purchase customer service is often rife with simple, repetitive questions (like “Where’s my order” and “What’s the return policy?”) that can bog down your call center. Using live chat to answer these questions quickly and efficiently—or even with a chatbot—improves customer satisfaction while relieving the pressure on your call center agents.

What types of questions do customers ask the most?

You probably have a good idea of the questions you field from customers the most. Some questions and information are easily handled by customer service agents using live chat, while others may need another method of communication. Here are two questions to think about.

Are customer questions simple or complex?

Live chat is great for answering simple questions, but it can be tough to work out more complex problems over messaging. Take a look at how long it takes for your customer service agents to resolve issues and your first-rate resolution numbers. Live chat isn’t the best choice if it takes a long time to solve customer questions and often requires multiple interactions.

However, simple questions, troubleshooting, and problems that can be solved on the first contact are great opportunities for live chat to shine.

Do they contain sensitive information?

While live chat platforms are often equipped with superior security features, some customers may be more reluctant to share sensitive information over messaging. If that’s the case, find other ways live chat can serve your customers.

How will we staff live chat?

Staffing live chat isn’t like staffing your call center. While it’s possible to operate your live chat during business hours, many online customers expect 24/7 service. But there are ways to serve customers off hours without stretching your team too thin.

Ask these additional questions:

Can we hire staff dedicated to live chat support?

Before you implement live chat, determine if you’ll be hiring staff specifically for live chat or if you’ll be reallocating call center agents to work it. While there are many transferable skills, asking agents to do both calls and messaging can be overwhelming without the right training.

Will we offer 24/7 support?

One of the benefits of online shopping is 24/7 availability. Customers aren’t limited to traditional shopping hours. But this also means they’ll need support throughout all hours of the day. Unless you have a high volume of customer questions, it’s unlikely you’ll need to staff live chat around the clock. But you can do things like staggered shifts and AI support to help customers across a wider range of hours.

At the very least, program your live chat platform to offer an away message with the expected response time and other resources that might help.

Will we use chatbots?

Chatbots are a great way to serve customers at all hours of the day (they never sleep). But they can also answer simple questions, collect information, disperse surveys, and more. Determine early if you plan on using chatbots to support your live chat efforts.

What training will we provide staff for live chat?

If live chat is your first foray into business messaging—besides email—then it’s important to train your customer service agents accordingly. It’s not as simple as translating phone skills to messaging. You’ll need to provide your customer service agents with guidelines specific to live chat.

For example:

  • How do you greet customers?
  • Are emojis acceptable?
  • What kind of language is appropriate? (e.g., can you use casual language like “Hey” or “What’s up?” or is it more formal?)
  • Can agents use shorthand terms like BRB, TTYL, etc?
  • How will you solve conflicts over messaging?

Where should we implement live chat?

You absolutely can put live chat on every page, but should you? Too many popups can easily anger your customers. So while having a welcome message on your home page may seem like a solid strategy, take some time to figure out if it’s right for you. If you already have a privacy popup, newsletter signup, and maybe a special sale drop-down, it’s probably best to skip the live chat welcome message.

There are other pages you definitely shouldn’t ignore, like your:

  • Contact page
  • Service or sales pages
  • Shopping cart or pricing page

Take a look at your website traffic to see which pages make the most sense. Start with the basics, and work your way through pages with high bounce rates, lower conversions, etc.

How will you measure success?

Don’t go in blind. Take a look at your live chat goals and collect live chat metrics to ensure you’re meeting those goals.

Is customer service your top priority? Make sure you measure:

  • Response times
  • Average resolution time
  • Customer satisfaction

Are you looking to lower your call volume and improve efficiency? Don’t forget to track:

  • Ticket volume
  • Conversations per agent
  • Containment rate

Find the right mix of metrics to measure your goals and help you improve live chat as you and your team become more familiar with the medium.

Bonus: Questions to ask live chat software providers

If you’re ready to implement live chat, you’ll need to find a conversational platform to support it. Selecting the right platform for your business can be tough—there are millions of features to choose from, and it can quickly be overwhelming.

  • Start with these basic questions:
  • What live chat features do you offer?
  • Can I customize the chatbot solution?
  • What integrations are available?
  • What analytics can I track?
  • What’s your uptime?
  • How much does it cost?

Live chat is right for your business.

If you provide any kind of online sales (and even if you don’t), live chat is an asset to your business. You’ll be able to engage with your customers at key points in the customer journey and offer the support they’ve come to expect.

Take the time to answer these questions thoroughly, and you’ll be ready to take the next step.

Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Messaging: Know the Difference

Customer service has embraced messaging, and each new generation of customers prefers it more and more. But messaging isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. There are different types of messaging interactions—and they each have their own use cases.

Asynchronous and synchronous messaging are two ways to engage your customers, but what’s the difference? Keep reading to see what they are and how they differ from each other.

What’s the difference between asynchronous and synchronous messaging?

Before we dive into dissecting the differences between asynchronous and synchronous messaging, let’s define them in simple and clear terms.

What is synchronous messaging?

Synchronous messaging is a live conversation that has a clearly defined beginning and end. Both parties must be actively engaging in the conversation at the same time, whether on their phone or at their keyboard.

Think synchronized swimming or synchronized skating. The key is being in the same place at the same time doing the thing.

What is asynchronous messaging?

Asynchronous messaging is synchronous messaging’s literal opposite. It’s when two parties have a conversation, but they don’t have to be present at the same time. Another hallmark of asynchronous messaging is that there’s not a clearly defined ending to the conversation.

Think about text messaging with your friends and family. If you are both available, the conversation can go back and forth seamlessly. But you could also have the same conversation over a longer period of time while you’re both fully engaged at work.

Synchronous messaging 101

Live chat (also known as web chat) is the best example of synchronous messaging. When customers reach out via web chat, they expect an immediate response. But there are a few other messaging mediums that can be handled in real-time, such as:

Challenges of synchronous messaging.

Synchronous messaging comes with a hefty set of challenges. Here are some problems your team can face when relying solely on this type of messaging.

  • Customers spend more time waiting: During busy periods, agents won’t be able to handle multiple conversations at the same time, and wait times can increase.
  • Agents can only handle one conversation at a time: The key factor in a synchronous conversation is that both parties are there chatting in real-time. That means your agents won’t be able to juggle multiple conversations at once, making them slower overall.
  • It’s harder to solve complex problems: When agents don’t have the expertise to solve a problem in the moment, it’s harder to loop in support. If you’re working with an inferior conversational platform, customers may have to repeat themselves with each new support agent they speak with. Customers may also have to wait on hold until an expert is available to help them.
  • Customers can’t get answers outside of business hours: Customers are used to getting what they want when they want it. Since agents need to be present for synchronous conversations, customers can only chat during business hours. The alternative, of course, is to hire more agents to work shifts throughout the day.
  • It can cost more money: Since agents can’t handle as many conversations at once, you’ll likely need to hire more agents to cover the same amount of calls.

Benefits of synchronous messaging.

Despite its challenges, synchronous messaging has its place in customer service. Here are a few of the benefits you can expect:

  • Customers feel more connected: Since conversations are happening in real-time, customers instantly feel more engaged and connected to support agents. They feel like there’s a real person on the other side of the screen instead of a corporate automaton.
  • It’s easy to track performance: Since there’s a defined beginning and end, it’s easier to track metrics like average resolution time.
  • Faster resolutions: Simple problems can be resolved faster over synchronous messaging. Customers are available to answer questions immediately so small issues don’t get dragged out.

Asynchronous messaging 101

Many of today’s messaging options are asynchronous, in that both parties don’t have to be present at the same time to hold a conversation.

Some examples of asynchronous messaging are:

Benefits of asynchronous messaging.

When comparing asynchronous messaging vs. synchronous messaging, asynchronous messaging outmatches its counterpart and has benefits for both your customers and your customer service team.

Here are some benefits for your customers:

  • Customers can multitask: Since conversations happen at the customer’s convenience, customers can go about their days while receiving help from your team. They’re not locked into a phone conversation or waiting on hold while your agents find answers. It’s a much more pleasurable experience for your busy customers.
  • Customers don’t have to repeat information: One of the biggest benefits for customers is not having to repeat themselves every time they contact customer service. Asynchronous messaging’s big draw is that it creates an ongoing conversation. Agents should have access to the conversation history, making it easy for anyone to pick up the conversation seamlessly.
  • Customers can reach out at any time: Asynchronous messaging enables continuous contact between your customers and your service agents. That means customers can pick up conversations at any point in their purchase journey—not just when problems pop up.

Here are just a few ways it improves your customer service teams’ workflows over synchronous messaging:

  • Agents can manage several conversations at once: Since conversations happen at a slower pace, agents can handle more than one at a time. They’re not stuck on one call or chat thread, at the mercy of a chatty customer. Conversational AI platforms, like Quiq, help agents manage multiple conversations—up to eight at once.
  • Agents show improved efficiency: Since agents can handle simultaneous conversations, they can move between customers to maximize their time and improve their overall efficiency. Agents spend less time per interaction, saving as much as 25–40% when converting calls to messaging.
  • Lower costs for your customer service center: Since agents are working faster and helping multiple customers at once, you need fewer agents to manage your customer service. Instead, you can spend money on better training, higher quality tools, or expanding services.
  • Chatbot friendly: It’s easy to integrate chatbots with asynchronous messaging. During busy periods, chatbots can welcome customers and gather information so that when agents are available, they can jump right into solving the issue.

Challenges of asynchronous messaging.

Asynchronous messaging does come with a few challenges.

  • It can turn short conversations into long ones: Sometimes a customer just has a simple question. But once they’ve asked the question, your agent has their own follow-up question, and the customer responds, hours or even days may have passed. It’s not your agent’s fault, but it could reflect in longer resolution times and increase the number of open tickets on their docket.
  • It’s harder to track: Since asynchronous messaging often doesn’t have a clear beginning or end, it can be hard to measure.
  • Agents have to be able to multitask: Having multiple conversations at the same time, and switching seamlessly between them, is a skill. If not trained properly, agents can get overwhelmed, and it can show in their customer communications.

Implementing synchronous and asynchronous messaging.

Despite their differences (or because of them), both synchronous and asynchronous messaging have a place in your customer service strategy.

When to use synchronous messaging.

Despite its challenges, synchronous messaging has its place in your customer service strategy. Here are a few examples of when you should use synchronous messaging:

  • When customers need quick answers: There’s no better reason to use synchronous messaging than when customers need quick, immediate answers. This is especially true if customers are on the verge of making a purchase. Maybe they’re asking about shipping costs, refund policies, or product size. They need a quick answer so that they feel confident enough to click that buy button.
  • When diffusing difficult situations: As much as we try to mitigate customer issues, they happen to everyone. Upset customers don’t want to wait for replies while they go about their day. They want immediate responses so they can get their needs met.
  • When troubleshooting issues with customers: It’s much easier to walk customers through troubleshooting in real-time, instead of stretching out the conversation over hours or days.

When to use asynchronous messaging.

Asynchronous messaging is best used when customer issues aren’t immediate. Here are a few use cases:

  • For complex issues: When customers come to your service team with more complex issues, asynchronous messaging really shines. It enables multiple agents and experts to jump in and out of the chat seamlessly, without requiring customers to wait on hold or repeat their information.
  • For building relationships: Asynchronous messaging is a great way to build customer relationships. Since there’s no clear ending, customers can continue to go back to the same chat and have conversations throughout their customer journey.
  • During busy periods: When your customer service team is overwhelmed, asynchronous messaging allows them to prioritize customer issues and handle the most timely ones first. Conversational AI platforms like Quiq can also gauge customers’ sentiments to determine who needs immediate attention and who can wait for a response.

Embrace asynchronous and synchronous messaging.

Now you know how asynchronous and synchronous messaging compare, you can use both to create a winning customer service experience.

13 Easy Ways to Build Customer Rapport with Messaging

Messaging is quick. It’s casual. It’s easy to breeze through the pleasantries and get straight to the point. But service agents still need to build customer rapport.

It’s harder to do over messaging, but it’s more important than ever—especially if your company does most of its business online. It’s easy for customers to change brands when things go wrong. In fact, 61% of customers say they’ll switch brands after just one bad customer service experience.

To bridge the digital divide, customer service agents need to build customer rapport with every interaction. With these quick ways to build rapport, you’ll also build customer trust and loyalty.

Continue reading to check out these 13 easy ways to build rapport.

1. To build rapport, start with introductions.

Start messaging conversations with a simple “Hello, my name is _______.” Just because messaging is the more casual channel doesn’t mean niceties go out the window.

Once you’ve introduced yourself, ask for the customers’ names as well. These simple touches are a fast way to put the customer at ease—and it’s one of the quickest ways to build rapport.

Quick tip: This goes for chatbots, too! Whether you name your bot or not, tell the customer they’re talking to AI. Being upfront leads to more trust and—you guessed it—better rapport.

2. Add call-to-text to your IVR.

Customers don’t want to wait on hold, but it happens. When you’re down a few agents or dealing with heavy call volume, give your customers another way to connect with call-to-text.

Adding call-to-text into your IVR menu makes it easy to transition to messaging and lets your customers go about their days while still getting assistance. They’re not stuck on hold, growing angrier by the minute.

3. Be where they’re most comfortable.

It’s hard to build rapport with customers that are in unfamiliar territory. For example, if your agents are only available via web chat (also known as live chat), but your customers are used to texting, this will immediately put up a wall between you. They’re adapting their communication methods to fit your business when it should be the other way around.

Instead, pick communication channels that your customers frequent. In fact, 53% of customers want to use communications channels that are familiar to them, according to Zendesk. When you pick channels they use to chat with friends and family, they’re more likely to connect with your brand.

Quick tip: Conversational AI platforms can help you manage multiple channels all from one central dashboard.

4. Offer a digital smile.

Most customer service advice starts with a smile—but how do you do that over messaging? It’s all about using a friendly tone in your writing. Show enthusiasm with exclamation points, emojis (if your brand voice allows), and quick responses.

5. Match customer’s conversation style.

For in-person conversations, they call it “mirroring.” It’s when you match the other person’s body language. (You’ve probably seen it taken to the extreme on TV for laughs.) Many people do it unconsciously, but it’s a handy way to instantly connect with people.

But how do you do this over messaging? Match their conversation style. If they’re writing out full formal paragraphs, give them thorough responses and avoid any slang. If they’re using text abbreviations, keep it short and casual. You could even throw in some emojis, but maybe avoid using your own abbreviations. (Too much room for miscommunications.)

6. Use the customer’s name.

You asked the customer’s name, so you should use it. People perk up at the mention of their own name, so using it to punctuate your messages will keep them interested in your responses.

This is especially helpful over messaging since it’s often asynchronous (both parties don’t need to be present at the same time). They’re probably going about their day or dealing with distractions, but the mention of their name will grab their attention so you can finish the conversation.

7. Be helpful—beyond answering questions.

Customer service is supposed to be helpful. But with the pressure to serve more customers in less time, and the metrics that reinforce it, agents can speed through conversations by doing the bare minimum.

Yes, speed is important—but so is being helpful! If you’re in the travel industry, provide some recommendations on what to do when your customers get to their destination. If you’re in retail, take a look at what the customer has bought in the past and offer some recommendations. Is there a better account-level tier they could take advantage of for your software? Suggest it!

And since 52% of customers are open to product recommendations for agents, according to Zendesk, it’s also a great opportunity for cross-selling and upselling (as long as you do it in the customer’s best interest). Customers will appreciate the advice and feel like you care about them.

8. A quick way to build rapport: personalize the conversation.

Always start with the customer’s name, but that’s not the only information you should use in your messaging conversations. According to McKinsey, 71% of consumers expect personalization—and 76% get frustrated when they don’t find it.

The less information you have to pull from the customer, the better. According to Zendesk, 72% of customers expect agents to have access to all relevant information. Go beyond simple account information, and look at data like:

  • Past purchases
  • Purchase frequency
  • Messaging preferences
  • Product preferences

Then you can design a conversation that feels personal and meaningful to your customers, making it an easy way to build customer rapport.

9. Let frustrated customers speak (or type).

We know customer service isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. When angry customers reach out via messaging, agents should tread lightly. While it’s easy to jump in with the next steps (typically a short apology and some kind of solution), that’s not the only thing the customer wants.

Frustrated customers typically want their issues validated first. That means letting them type out their frustrations before moving on. Once they’ve had the appropriate space to share their concerns, read their messages at least twice before responding.

10. Be specific.

The difficulty with messaging is that certain words and phrases can come off as rote and insincere. Saying “I’m sorry for the inconvenience” or even “We appreciate your business” sounds impersonal.

Instead, get specific to your customer’s problem. Say that you’re sorry that the lamp they ordered came damaged—especially since they’ve been eyeing it for months. Apologize that their package was delayed and that their daughter didn’t get her cleats in time for her first day of softball practice. Being specific will make customers feel more comforted and understood.

11. Veer off script to build rapport.

Whether you have an actual script or conversation guidelines to follow, it’s okay to throw it out the window—sometimes. Ask customers about their interests, mention that you love (and own!) the trousers they picked out, or compliment them on their destination choice.

Although you may have to work a little harder over messaging, these types of comments and compliments show customers that you’re a real person and you’re interested in them as a real person, too.

12. Keep your responses positive.

This is an old customer service trick that works very well over messaging, plus it’s a quick way to build rapport. Try to turn your phrases so that they remain positive, even if you’re saying something negative.

For example, instead of saying, “I don’t know the answer,” you can say something like, “Let me find that answer for you.” Or, instead of saying you can’t access the customer’s account without their credentials, ask for permission to access their account. It’s kind of like a Jedi mind trick. You’re saying the same thing, but customers see your responses more positively. They’re less likely to get upset or feel put out.

13. Do what you say you’re going to do.

The best way to build rapport and gain customer trust? Be trustworthy!

Not all customer service inquiries can be solved in one conversation. If agents have to elevate the conversation to a higher service tier, if you need to check with a manager, or if there are any other issues at play, be honest with the customer about when you’ll get back to them, and then do it. Even if you’re just checking in to let them know you’re still working on resolving the issue, make sure you stay in contact.

Quick tip: Use outbound messaging over email for faster communication—and to ensure the message doesn’t get lost in junk mail.

Put rapport at the forefront of your messaging strategy.

While messaging has many benefits, it does make it more difficult to build customer rapport. Customers can’t see your face, hear your tone of voice, or make eye contact during difficult conversations. But there’s still a place for relationship-building over messaging.

Yes, building rapport is possible with messaging. It takes thoughtful conversations and strategic tools to overcome the digital divide, but messaging can be a key pillar in your customer engagement strategy.

How to Provide Friendly Customer Service with Messaging

We frequently talk about metrics and tools and systems for providing excellent customer service. While those are all critical aspects of a great customer experience, there’s one simple thing to remember, above all else:

Start with friendly customer service.

And we don’t mean that fake-smile, roll-your-eyes-when-you-turn-your-back service from department stores of the past. We mean true, genuine, friendly customer service.

Let’s dig into what friendly customer service looks like in the digital age, and why it’s vital to business success.

Friendly customer service is critical—especially online.

As commerce moves more and more online, it gets harder to convey friendly service. Customers can’t see your bright shining face, they can’t discern your helpful tone of voice. But those aren’t the only reasons friendly service is so important.

Customers have more choices than they used to. Products and services are harder to differentiate, so many customers rely on other intangible ways to decide between brands. Customer service is a great way to stand out—and having friendly customer service could put you miles ahead of your competitors.

In Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report, customers ranked “Treat me as a person, not a number” as one of the top 3 actions that build trust. And 94% say how a company treats its customers influences their decision to buy.

Plus, customers’ opinions of customer service are often cumulative. Even small interactions add up to their overall perception of your brand. Customer experience was the top factor (43%) that drives customer loyalty for online shopping, according to a consumer survey from BrizFeel.

Keep reading for some friendly customer services tips.

What does friendly customer service look like over messaging?

Even this writer will admit it—enthusiasm can get lost over messaging. It’s easy to read helpful sentences as condescending or patronizing. And periods? Don’t even get us started.

But there are ways to appear more friendly through online customer service. Here are a few of them.

1. Start with a *digital* smile.

You’ve heard of service with a smile—and even how a smile comes through over the phone—but what does that look like for customer service messaging? It’s all about enthusiasm!

Start with an enthusiastic welcome and a few pleasantries if your customer’s time permits.

For example, start with something like this:

Hello! How are you this morning/afternoon/evening? What can I help you with today?

Even small variations from the standard, “Hi, how can I help you?” will make a customer feel less like a number and more like a person.

2. Use exclamation points!

Don’t be afraid to throw in exclamation points! At times, exclamation points have been controversial (do we use them in emails?), but messaging lends itself to more casual conversations. Use them, especially in intros and goodbyes (i.e., Hello! and Let us know if there’s anything else we can help you with!). Just be sure to pay attention to the customers’ sentiment. If they’re upset or angry, an exclamation point can rub them the wrong way.

3. Embrace emojis.

It’s hard for your customers to see or hear the tone in your text, so use emojis to help connect with them just like you would a friend. Okay, maybe not just like your friend. Avoid accidentally inappropriate emoji conversations by laying out which are and are not appropriate for your support staff to use.

As long as emojis fit within your brand voice, use them to punctuate a conversation, just like you would with real emotions in person. We’d stick with the simple smiley faces 😊 or a well-timed shocked face 😳.

4. Use sentiment check-ins.

It’s hard to tell when a customer is satisfied with the conversation, frustrated, or confused. Ask questions throughout the conversation to check in with them. Simple questions like “Do you have any questions?” or “Is that what you were looking for?” can help you assess how the customer is feeling.

You can also use conversational AI platforms to help track customer sentiment through written cues and even prioritize conversations based on it.

5. Use your manners.

Texting has shortened our written communications and eliminated a lot of the niceties of the past. But when you’re chatting with customers—it’s important to remember your manners. Say please when asking for information, and always say thank you after they’ve given it to you.

While many customers think manners are table stakes, it’s certainly worth repeating. Even though messaging is a much more casual communications channel, niceties work for every occasion.

6. Be mindful of customers’ time.

Your customers are busy! Although many digital communication channels are asynchronous (both you and the customer don’t have to be present at the same time), you want to keep conversations as short as possible—without losing that friendliness.

Sometimes that means skipping the small talk. While it works in person and sometimes over the phone, it rarely works over messaging. Asking about your customer’s day is fine, but if you’re getting short, clipped responses, that’s an indicator that they’re in a hurry. Most of the time, customers want to get in, get their questions answered, and get out. Respect that, and don’t draw out the conversations unnecessarily.

7. Respond as quickly as possible.

We know that this is a given (of course you’re responding quickly), but it’s important to remember. When you’re chatting with a friend, an instant response will always show more enthusiasm than one that comes 30 minutes later. Do your best to respond quickly to problems that your customers deem urgent.

Responding quickly is also more likely to reflect the pace of an in-person conversation, which customers might find more natural and friendly.

8. Don’t skimp on product knowledge.

When agents can’t answer questions, or spend the majority of their time searching for answers, friendly service can go out the window. While information is at your agents’ fingertips, they should still know as much about the business as possible.

Continually train agents on new products and services, along with ongoing soft skills training. It’ll keep agents on top of their product knowledge and keep them fresh and enthusiastic to serve customers better.

9. Be respectful.

It’s easy to get swept away in emotions, especially when agents have dealt with their 10th angry customer of the day. Customer service can be a difficult job, especially when customers are frustrated over products and services (or even with the world in general). While it’s easier said than done, agents should stay calm when chatting with customers.

Here are some ways to help agents get through tough conversations:

  • Step away if emotions get too high.
  • Loop in a manager or another support agent to help diffuse the situation.
  • Use role-playing to practice handling difficult situations.
  • Remember, it’s not personal.

Reducing agent stress will also help promote a more respectful environment for customers. When agents aren’t worried about meaningless metrics (only the important ones), or an unstable work environment, they’re much more likely to have friendly customer interactions. Only 15% of agents are extremely satisfied with their workload, according to Zendesk. That dissatisfaction will likely trickle down to your customers.

10. Be honest.

Ready for a cliche? Honesty is the best policy! Okay, maybe not always, but it’s certainly important when delivering friendly customer service.

Customers say communicating honestly and transparently is the #1 way to build trust, according to Salesforce. That means customer service reps should give real answers when customers ask why something went wrong and be upfront about internal mistakes.

Honesty also needs to be a top-down initiative. Agents can’t be open and honest with customers if they’re not getting the truth themselves. Incorporate honesty into every level of your organization and your customers will feel it.

Friendly customer service pays off.

Need some motivation to implement these friendly customer service tips? How about higher revenue?

According to Zendesk, 81% of customers are more likely to make another purchase after a positive customer service experience. There’s more:

  • 74% of customers are more likely to forgive a mistake after excellent customer service.
  • 70% have made a purchase decision based on customer service.
  • 61% say they would switch to a competitor after just one bad customer service experience.

Friendly customer service is the key to building brand loyalty—increasing revenue as a result.

Remember: Friendly service first.

If you only remember one thing from these friendly customer service tips, let it be that friendliness trumps most. It turns mistakes into opportunities, bad experiences into good ones, and good experiences into great.

Yes, metrics and tools and processes and surveys are all important aspects of running a working customer service center. But friendly agents with heart are what make it truly successful.

How to Use Live Chat Throughout Your Customer Journey

How do you connect with customers throughout their purchase journey? Are you using live chat at every touchpoint?

Many businesses see live chat, also known as web chat, as just another tool for your customer support center. Leaders may see it as a necessary expense in order to connect with today’s online customers.

But live chat is so much more than that.

Let’s take a look at how you can use live chat at every stage of the customer journey.

What is customer journey mapping, anyway?

Customer journey mapping is the exercise of laying out how customers engage with your business before, during, and after they make a purchase.

Traditionally, it consists of five stages.

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Decision/acquisition
  4. Retention
  5. Advocacy

In the stone age—that is, back before the age of the internet—consumers would identify a problem, see an advertisement, compare prices, walk into a store, and make a purchase. If they liked the product or the store, they would make frequent trips back and tell their friends about it.

Things are a little more complicated these days. While today’s customers follow a similar path, a few things have changed. Customers often move back and forth between each stage, with many smaller steps in between.

The biggest change is that now your website is the main hub—and it has to do a lot more of the heavy lifting. It’s where you drive all your traffic, convert customers, and impress them enough to come back. It has now become the main pillar of your customer journey.

When mapping your customer journey, your goal is to get people to your website and serve them to meet their current stage. That’s where live chat comes in.

Serve customers at every stage of their purchase journey with live chat.

Live chat typically lives on the bottom right corner of your website, and it can follow customers as they navigate across pages. Based on which pages they spend time on, you can craft unique messaging (using live agents or chatbots) to target where they are in their customer journey.

And it’s vital to meeting today’s customer expectations. According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report, 83% of customers expect to interact with someone immediately when contacting a business.

Instantaneous messaging channels like live chat satisfy that need for instant answers.

Let’s take a look at how you can incorporate live chat into your customer journey.

Be helpful during the awareness stage.

The awareness stage is all about customers realizing they have a problem and that there’s a solution out there to solve it. For retailers, this could be as simple as a customer who’s suffering in the heat, so they realize they’re ready to buy an air conditioner.

They likely don’t know what kind, their budget, or where, but they know they want one.

Maybe they searched for top air conditioners and found themselves on your website. While some businesses may see them as a lead to be captured, their not at that place yet. They are simply gathering information.

For customers in the awareness stage, live chat is best spent welcoming a customer and directing them to various resources on your website.

The best way to do that? With a chatbot.

How to loop in a chatbot: At this stage, it might not be feasible for agents to dedicate their time to answering broad questions. Leverage a chatbot to welcome newcomers to your website and direct them to informational resources—like your knowledge base, blog posts, or frequently asked questions.

Quiq’s AI chatbot helps resolve 80% of inbound inquiries, freeing up your customer service agents to spend time farther down the customer journey.

Wow them at the consideration stage.

At the consideration stage, your customers have likely narrowed down the competition but haven’t made a decision yet. Maybe they know they’re going to Hawaii but are still considering whether to go to a boutique hotel or stay at an Airbnb. Or perhaps they’ve selected an island and just need to pick between the swath of available resorts.

This is the point where you need to stand out. Customers are looking to narrow down their options. If you don’t impress them right away, you won’t make the shortlist.

Proactively engage with customers using live chat to help them navigate your website. Ask them questions to gauge their needs and direct them to the appropriate high-converting pages.

How to loop in a chatbot: When customers reach the consideration phase, they’re closing in on making a purchase. While it’s a good idea to engage live agents to help customers one-on-one and close the deal, a chatbot can help get the conversations started. Design the bot to answer simple questions and direct customers to an agent for more personalized help.

Push them over the decision hump at the acquisition stage.

You’ve made the shortlist—heck, you’re probably #1 on that list—and the customer is *this* close to making a purchase. This is when your live chat function is crucial.

Make sure your live chat is visible and engaging with users at key points in the decision-making process. For example, be available when customers get to their cart. That’s typically when they have last-minute questions, and any clicking away from that page could interrupt their momentum.

Here are a few ways you can entice buyers with live chat at the decision phase:

  • After answering a few product questions, suggest a product demo.
  • Remove friction by ensuring easy access to frequently asked questions.
  • Offer personalized incentives on the purchase page.
  • Loop sales team members into live chat conversations.

How to loop in a chatbot: Program engagement triggers that start with your chatbot. If a customer has been stalled in their cart for more than three minutes, send in a bot to answer those hesitations or offer them a well-timed discount code. If a user has bounced around between pricing tiers, send over a blog post that helps them compare. Figure out which obstacles are in your customers’ way and use automation to help get past them.

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Increase retention with always-on support.

Customer retention is all about meeting expectations. Did the customer get the results they expected from your product or service? Did they have the experience they were hoping for?

Great customer service is the best way to improve customer retention—and live chat makes that happen with speed and accessibility.

Think about the last time you needed customer service. Chances are, you were in the middle of something and needed immediate help. Your customers face the same hurdles. They’re implementing your software and run into a roadblock. They have to reschedule a guided kayak tour and can’t remember the policies.

Whatever the case may be, stopping for a phone call or waiting hours (or days) for a return email stalls their momentum and complicates their customer experience. Live chat makes it easy for customers (whether they’re in the middle of making a purchase or actively using your product or service) to get quick answers. Quick answers lead to higher customer satisfaction and a better chance they’ll come back for repeat business.

How to loop in a chatbot: Always-on support isn’t realistic without the help of chatbots (unless you hire a lot of agents to cover your chat 24/7. Use a chatbot to respond to customers when your agents are out of office. At the very least, you can design conversations that collect information for agents to respond to when they’re available. You can also have bots walk customers through troubleshooting, answer simple questions, and direct them to helpful resources on your site.

Make advocates out of all your customers.

Not every customer will become an advocate for your company, but you should certainly do everything in your power to encourage it. And live chat can help you do just that.

Since live chat is…well, live…it’s a great tool to encourage in-the-moment reviews and survey responses. Make it easy for customers to leave reviews by including it right in the conversation so they never have to leave the chat.

How to loop in a chatbot: Chatbots are ideal for this task. After your live agent finishes helping the customer, hand off the conversation to a chatbot to collect feedback and encourage reviews.

Embrace live chat in the customer journey.

It’s easy to see live chat as just another support tool. It functions a lot like phone conversations in your call center—and you probably use the same people to staff it. But with the right tools and strategy in place, live chat enhances every stage of the customer journey.

How to Anticipate Customer Needs (With Examples)

When was the last time you heard a story about exceptional customer service? Or an innovative way a company figured out how to meet customer needs?

You know the kind: An observant hotel employee rescues a beloved stuffed animal. The considerate customer service agent sends a gift card to apologize for a shipping error. A software company sees you’re having trouble with their platform and sends you a private video walkthrough.

These are all great examples, but what really makes a difference day after day is simply anticipating customer needs before they become problems.

Some companies seem to have an uncanny ability to get ahead of their customer’s issues. But it doesn’t just happen. Exceptional customer service is designed with dedication and built into company cultures.

We get it. Sometimes merely meeting customer needs is a struggle. Anticipating them? Now that seems daunting. After all, you can’t read minds.

The good news is that your customers don’t expect you to. (In fact, they often find it creepy when you know too much about them.) But they do want you to anticipate their problems and help them reach a resolution as quickly as possible.

For all of the work it requires to make anticipating customer needs happen, the payoff is well worth it. Let’s take a look at how to anticipate customer needs and what it means to your customer service.

What will you gain by anticipating customer needs?

In a word: loyalty.

We’ve touched on customer loyalty before, but we can’t stress its importance enough. In a digital-first age, customers have endless choices—and you need to make them choose you. Winning their loyalty has become more important than ever.

Customer service has become a major competitive advantage. According to Microsoft, 90% of customers say customer service is important to their brand choice and loyalty to that brand.

And should those customer service expectations fall short, 58% of customers show little hesitation in severing the relationship. The days of implicit loyalty are long gone.

While customer loyalty should be enough of a draw, here are some more benefits to anticipating customer needs:

  • Increased revenue. When your customers feel taken care of, they’re more likely to come back. They’re looking for easy, frictionless experiences and will frequent the businesses that give them that.
  • Less strain on your customer service team. You read that right. Making things simple for customers will have a direct impact on your customer service team. Even when you provide more customer service, it’ll still be better for your agents. Customers will have fewer questions, there will be less urgency in their questions, and they’ll be less frustrated overall.

Start by identifying customer expectations.

You’ve probably heard of the surprise and delight customer service strategy. It suggests that the best way to retain customers is to keep them guessing. Following its doctrine, you should go above and beyond the normal call of duty to give the customers something they weren’t expecting. The examples in the introduction are all great cases of using surprise and delight.

While it works when customers are already pleased with your company, it probably won’t make an angry customer come back. And since 55% of customers expect better customer service year over year, according to Microsoft’s Global State of Customer Service report, simply meeting expectations is often a struggle.

Hubspot’s Annual State of Service Report shows even greater numbers. 88% of respondents agreed that customers have higher expectations than in the past, and 79% said customers are smarter and more informed.

So what are customers’ needs? What do they expect from today’s businesses?

Simplicity.

They want frictionless experiences, easy-to-navigate interfaces, and fast solutions to their problems.

But you shouldn’t just take our word for it. The best way to figure out what your customers want is to ask them. More and more businesses are conducting post-purchase surveys to ensure customer satisfaction, loyalty, and more. According to Hubspot, 70% of businesses report they are tracking customer satisfaction/happiness—a jump from 60% in 2020 and around 55% in 2019.

Similarly, a majority of respondents—85%—say customers are more likely to share positive or negative experiences now than in the past.

While CSAT and other surveys can help you improve customer service, expand your research to include those that don’t buy from you. Ask why they didn’t purchase, and dive deep to figure out which of their needs weren’t met—and see how you can meet them in the future.

Give customers convenient service.

Regardless of whether they’re shopping for a vacation getaway, office supplies, or looking for subscription-based fashion, your customers expect convenience and fast service.

When you walk into a store, you expect orderly displays and friendly staff ready to serve you. When you visit a company’s website, you expect the same: A streamlined digital presence, complete with an easy-to-use website and customer service agents at the ready.

Just how fast? According to Hubspot’s Annual State of Service report, 90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have a customer service question—which customers define as under 10 minutes.

Here are a few ways to give customers fast, convenient service:

  • Make customer service digital. Customers don’t want to interrupt their day to call customer service, wait on hold to speak to a representative, or spend days waiting for an email response. These slower communication methods are helpful in a pinch, but customers now want something more. They want digital customer service.

You don’t need a crystal ball to see that consumers are using mobile devices to communicate. Implementing business messaging to reduce wait times, deflect calls, and provide faster assistance disrupts and resets the consumer expectation that contacting a company for help is slow and inconvenient.

  • Be easily accessible. It sounds easy, right? If they found your website, surely they can find your customer service contact info hidden on your help page, which is hidden in your footer, or beneath a menu in your header. Yes, customers can probably find you, but make the process easier by being available to them wherever they are.

Have a web chat (also known as live chat) box on your website so customers can instantly chat with a customer service agent—no matter how far down your website rabbit hole they’ve gone.

Don’t stop there. Are your customers on Instagram? What about Twitter? The more places you’re available to answer questions, the happier your customers will be. They won’t have to go searching for help, and you’ll always have someone there when they need you.

Offer proactive customer service. Heading off a problem before it happens is almost always better than waiting for them to come to you. And customers agree— more than two-thirds want an organization to reach out and engage with proactive customer notifications, according to Microsoft.

Being proactive can be as simple as sending tracking links to limit “where’s my order?” inquiries. Consider collecting top customer questions and sharing them during the purchasing process, or feed answers to a chatbot for quick customer service response times.

At Quiq, we help our clients provide convenient ways for customers to engage with a brand and allow consumers to reach out to companies on their terms. Communicating with companies via messaging is still pretty new, and we’ve seen so many consumers respond with surprise and delight at the ability to text a company for help.

Stop communication inefficiencies before they start.

Many customer needs examples revolve around their time. As we mentioned above, inefficient communication just adds to your customers’ frustrations. You’ve likely experienced the struggle of having to navigate IVR systems (those interactive voice response systems that use automation to collect customer information and point them in the right direction). Whether you’re waiting on hold or waiting for an email response, that’s time you can’t get back.

During those moments of need, the last thing your customers want is to interrupt their day. Customer loyalty is won (or lost) in these critical moments.

Anticipate customers’ needs by working within their schedules and workflows. Here are a few ways to get started.

  • Make communication asynchronous. The biggest frustration when calling help centers is that you must put your day on hold to do so. Don’t force your customers to conform to your service center’s schedule. Instead, offer asynchronous messaging.

Communication methods like web chat and voice are helpful for getting answers to more complex questions, but they also require customers to block out their time and respond immediately. Asynchronous messaging, however, lets customers respond whenever they’re available. As a bonus, your customer service agents can handle multiple interactions at the same.

  • Take advantage of chatbots. Chatbots are the key to giving customers the immediate responses they crave without overwhelming your customer service team. They’re always available to provide simple answers to questions or, at the very least, acknowledge the customer’s question and let them know when an agent will be available to chat.

You can also use chatbots to help you anticipate customers’ needs by having them prompt customers with messages as they navigate through your website. Start with a welcome message, offer product suggestions based on browsing history, or provide answers to FAQs during checkout.

  • Eliminate repetitive tasks. Speed up redundant tasks by creating pre-build responses for common questions. Not only will you be able to speed up response times, but you’ll also ensure customers get the same accurate and helpful information no matter which customer service agent they talk to.

Imagine how your customers would perceive your brand if they were able to text a question to your contact center and get immediate help and resolution. No interruptions to their day, no inconvenience or waiting involved.

Aligning your people, processes, and technology to reduce effort and streamline communications will do wonders for your customer service. With each positive interaction, customers will anticipate great service well into the future.

When your customer expects to be taken care of, they can engage with your company without feeling that they have to play offense, which leads to more pleasant interactions for both sides.

Empower CSAs to make the right decisions for customers.

Sometimes, anticipating customers’ needs means understanding that you can’t predict them all. Problems come up, mistakes get made, and website bugs happen. The trick is coming up with a plan to handle things that have no plan.

How do you do that? Empower customer service agents to take action to solve customer issues.

Unfortunately, right now, not everyone has that power. Around 20% of service agents say their biggest challenge is not having the ability to make the right decisions for customers, according to Hubspot. But it’s likely that many more face this issue on a regular basis.

Ensure your customer agents have the authority to do things like:

  • Offer discounts when customers encounter problems.
  • Expedite orders when shipments are lost or damaged.
  • Take as much time as they need to solve customer issues.

Without the authority to make these decisions on their own, agents have to wait for approvals or miss out on opportunities to surpass customer expectations.

Equip your team with the tools to meet future needs.

While you can’t predict every need that pops up (unless you found that crystal ball), you can ensure your customer service is always on point. Set your team up for success with the right tools to meet customer service needs now and into the future.

Regardless of the issue, the one thing you can anticipate is that your customer wants resolution in the fastest, most pain-free way possible. Quiq helps companies across multiple industries do just that with our Conversational AI platform.

Let customers talk to you the same way they chat with their family and friends. Whether a customer needs to text you to ask about an exchange or new car loan, needs assistance via chat in finding and buying the perfect gift, or wants to schedule a service and pay for it through Apple Messages for Business, Quiq messaging powers your customer connections.

Drive Satisfaction and Sales with Google Business Messaging

One of the most impactful—and often overlooked—tools in customer service is Google Business Messages. Google business messaging gives your company the power to take care of customers on their terms.

The result: You foster greater trust and close more sales.

Before we dig into the benefits of using Google Business Messages, let’s back up and review how it works.

What is Google Business Messages, and how does it work?

Google Business Messages is a conversational customer service chat feature that lets you connect with customers in a variety of different channels—starting with Google. Current and potential customers can ask your company questions in real-time directly from Google Search, Google Maps, your Google Business Profile, and even your company’s website.

There are two options for using Google business messaging:

  1. Turn on your business messages chat function directly through your Google Business Profile. This option gives you basic chat capabilities. You can set up an automatic welcome message, but you’ll have to enable notifications and respond manually to each customer inquiry.
  2. Use Google business messaging API to connect via a third-party app, like Quiq. This option comes with more features and functionality, allowing you to switch back and forth between virtual and live customer service agents depending on what your customers need.

3 reasons to implement Google Business Messages.

Great customer connections start with genuine communication. Messaging platforms let you engage with the people you serve in a convenient, casual way.

And Google Business Messages takes those connections to the next level, offering your company powerful messaging capabilities on a grander scale.

Here are three reasons to adopt Google messages:

1. Raise customer satisfaction.

In an increasingly digital, asynchronous world, it’s not enough for your company to be available only through phone and email. You have to cater to customers in the places they spend their time—then communicate in the mode they like best.

For most consumers, that means instant messaging on a mobile device.

Google Business Messages gives your customers an effortless way to ask questions, grab basic business information, and connect one-on-one with your customer support agents for personalized help. Plus, with messaging, customers get a written record of information from your company that they can revisit at their convenience.

When customers have a positive experience with your company, they’re more likely to come back—and recommend you to their friends and family.

2. Capitalize on Google searches.

Google is where (almost) every search starts. Over 92% of online searches happen on Google, and a whopping 96% of those occur on mobile devices. Simply put, Google is where people live when they’re online—and where they get the majority of information about the products and services they’re interested in.

As a company, you can capitalize on the status quo by incorporating Google Business Messages into your customer engagement strategy. When you make your company even more accessible on Google’s pages, you can reach customers—old and new—with minimal effort and maximum return.

Give customers easily visible, one-click access to your customer support team, and they’ll come away with knowledge at their fingertips.

3. Drive revenue and sales.

Google Business Messages isn’t just a conversational tool—it’s also a sales opportunity. A Facebook report found that 65% of people are more likely to shop from a business they can chat with.

At the most basic level, you can program your virtual customer service agents to offer helpful information and solve problems, but you can also use business messages to go above and beyond for customers.

Personalization takes the shopping experience to the next level.

Accenture found that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize them, remember them, and provide personal recommendations. By providing thoughtful product recommendations and guiding customers through the purchasing process, you can convert leads and score more sales.

How to ramp up revenue using Google Business Messages.

Try the following tactics to get more out of Google Business Messages—not just with customer enjoyment, but sales too.

1. Introduce customers to products they love, then entice them to buy.

When customers use Google Business Messages to start a conversation with your business, chances are they’re already interested in your company. But you can turn that interest into a sale—or even repeat sales—by deepening their understanding of your products and the value they offer.

After all, searching through pages of products on a website can be overwhelming, even with excellent navigation tools and filters. And scouring a website for FAQs can be tedious. On a messaging platform, though, customers just have to share a few details, and your customer service agents can take over the conversation from there.

Here are just some of the ways you can entice customers to buy using Google’s business messaging:

  • Answer product questions: Remove friction from the buying process early on.
  • Share product photos, catalogs, and carousels: Give customers new items and options to explore and get excited by.
  • Link blog posts and video tutorials: Build trust with customers by providing extra information, like ideas for incorporating a product into your life or instructions on how to use it for maximum effectiveness.
  • Provide personalized recommendations: Help customers get closer to what they need with tailored suggestions that account for their unique concerns and motivations.
  • Direct customers to sales reps: Connect customers who need more in-depth information or product explanations to your knowledgeable sales reps.
  • Share promo codes: Incentivize customers to take action by dropping a promo code or discount inside the conversation as a thank you.
  • Accept orders and add items to check out: Make it easy for customers to wrap up their shopping experience and press purchase.

2. Give your customer support team more time to create positive interactions with customers.

With Google business messaging API, your customer support team can spend less time addressing minor concerns and more time building bonds.

How?

By taking advantage of AI-powered chats. In Google messages, you can create an automated list of FAQs to send to curious customers so they have accessible information about store hours, online orders, refunds, shipping timelines, and delivery statuses.

When you program virtual customer service agents to address common customer inquiries, your support agents are freed up to focus on high-value conversations. These types of conversations happen when individual customers need help finding specific products, checking out, or handling returns. In those situations, your customers want attentive, personalized assistance—and fast—from a friendly person who’s easy to talk to.

Turning high-value conversations into positive interactions is key to closing sales and keeping customers happy.

3. Uplevel your brand and image by following messaging platform best practices.

Paying attention to the details when messaging can improve your brand reputation and differentiate your company from the competition.

Like any platform, there are strategic ways to make the most of Google Business Messages—and there are easy mistakes to make. You’ll create stronger customer connections and maximize your sales opportunities by following a few best practices.

Here are some to keep in mind:

  • Create an automated welcome message: Invite customers in by greeting them warmly and letting them know you’re available to help.
  • Reply fast: Speed is everything on a messaging platform. Take the time to set up a wide variety of automation that get customers the answers and information they need fast.
  • Be conversational: Use a relaxed and approachable tone in your conversations. Little things—like saying thank you or apologizing for an issue—go a long way toward building trust with customers.
  • Use visuals: Supplement your answers and directions with visual aids. Send product photos and videos, or use screenshots to help customers figure out where to go on your website.
  • Simplify the chat: Use rich messaging features like quick reply chips and typing indicators to expedite the conversation. These and other RCS features reduce the legwork for your customers.

It’s also a good idea to regularly review your Google Business Messages analytics to find out what’s working and where you can make improvements.

If the data shows that a majority of customers drop out of the chat after a few questions, for example, you could try rephrasing the questions, switching their order, or leading with different information.

Or maybe your analytics reveal that customers tend to ask the same easily answerable questions at the top of the chat. In that case, try updating your automated FAQs or opening the chat with quick reply chips that address the common questions.

Even minor adjustments have the potential to make a big impact on customer satisfaction.

Drive sales with Google Business Messages.

Google Business Messages helps you accomplish two separate but connected business goals: delight customers and drive sales.

Not only do business messages make it easier for customers to reach you, but it also makes it easier for you to cater to those customers. Dynamic messaging features and thoughtful automation give your customer service agents more tools and time to do what they do best.

When you partner with Quiq, we’ll help you set up and optimize your Google messaging platform, so you get the results you want.

Comparing Live Chat and Chatbots

How often do you interact with brands online? In-person?

Brand interactions now happen online more often than they do in-person. Salesforce projected that in 2022, 61% of company interactions would be online, and only 39% would be in person. That number has been steadily increasing since 2020.

With more people spending more time in front of their screens (whether mobile or desktop), customers need a convenient place to connect with your business.

And your website is a good place to start.

Live chat (also known as web chat) is the simplest way to connect with your customers online. It usually involves a chat feature that lives on your website where customers can instantly start a real-time conversation.

So, where do chatbots come into play? We get it—with all the jargon thrown around, it can get confusing. (What happened to the days of customer service by phone or email, right?) While live chat is the method of communication, chatbots are the ones doing the communication.

Let us explain.

Say you need to contact an e-commerce company to return an ill-fitting shirt. (Too long, too tight, too orange…whatever the case may be.) Even though it’s a simple transaction, you still need to request a return label. So you go to their website, open the live chat box and type in your request.

You’ll likely get a chatbot responding to your inquiry and helping you through the process.

Chatbots, like the AI-powered ones we implement for our customers, often stand in for live agents when interacting with customers.

But it’s not as simple as implementing live chat, finding a low-fidelity bot, and putting it to work. It takes careful planning and, above all, a fierce customer-first approach to successfully implement a chatbot strategy.

Continue reading as we compare live chat to chatbots, when to use each of them (or both), and how to navigate the customer service experience.

Why live chat is a must.

Where phones used to be the easiest and fastest way for customers to reach you, live chat is quickly replacing it. Live chat is a communication channel where customers can get immediate answers to their questions.

Now, 42% of customers prefer online chat (another name for live chat in this instance) over other communication methods, according to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customers Report.

Compared to other forms of customer service, live chat frequently performs better, with faster response times, higher CSAT scores, and quicker resolutions.

Plus, your customers are more likely to return to a website that offers live chat, according to 63% of respondents, reports SaaSworthy.

Why should you use chatbots for customer service?

Customer expectations are increasing. While at the same time, your customer service team is asked to do more with less. Something has to give. Or does it?

Chatbots build a bridge between your stellar customer service team and your customers. When comparing live chat and chatbots, don’t think of them as adversaries. Chatbots aren’t replacement tools for human interaction but merely extensions of your customer service team.

  • Here are just a few things chatbots can do:
  • Answer customer questions.
  • Troubleshoot common problems.
  • Gather customer information.
  • Determine the department to route customers to.
  • Move customers into an agent’s queue across channels.

In fact, 48% of U.S. customers believe AI should make life easier, according to Zendesk’s CX Trends Report. For people ages 25–39, that number jumps up to 80%.

How to make your chatbot stand out using live chat.

The biggest problems you’ll face when implementing a chatbot strategy for customer service are perceptions and expectations.

On one side of the spectrum, many people have high expectations for AI. Pop culture has skewed public perception, making them think AI can do nearly anything seamlessly without much work on their part.

On the other side, some people simply hear (or see) the word “bot” and dismiss it as stupid and useless. (Probably from previous bad experiences with low-end, faulty bots.)

There’s currently a long way to go before AI-powered chatbots meet customer expectations. Here are a few ways AI chatbots are failing customers—and how you can use this information to make your customer service stand out.

Accuracy is everything.

The stat: 47% of consumers report not getting accurate answers, according to Zendesk.

As an extension of your customer service team, customers need to be able to trust the information they get from your chatbot. Customers who don’t trust your chatbot quickly lose faith in your business.

While we like to think that AI is infinitely intelligent, chatbots are only as good as the information you feed them. Just like you have to spend time straining your customer service agents, you need to spend time inputting information, writing scripts, and QA-ing your chatbot.

How to fix it: Ensure your chatbots have access to all the information your customer service agents do, including product databases and customer data.

Speed still matters—even if your agents’ time isn’t at stake.

The stat: 56% of customers say it takes too long for the bot to recognize it can’t help solve their issues.

It’s like listening to the five-minute interactive voice response (IVR) menu before realizing you need to talk to a representative. Forcing customers to answer too many questions or go through too many routing menus is an easy way to frustrate them. Especially when 48% of surveyed consumers in the U.S. believe chatbots should save time when contacting a company.

How to fix it: While it’s a good practice to use chatbots to collect information before connecting with a live agent, keep them as few as possible.

Also, consider measuring chatbot performance, much like you would a live agent. Are they resolving issues quickly? Are they able to solve problems with just one interaction? That way, you can identify weak spots and continue improving.

Don’t make customers repeat themselves, ever.

The stat: 44% of customers say the most frustrating thing about working with a chatbot is when they have to start all over again with a human agent.

We know customers hate to repeat themselves. It’s one of the things they hope AI-enabled bots can prevent. According to Zendesk, 49% of surveyed consumers believe AI should keep people from having to repeat themselves.

How to fix it: When combining live chat and chatbots, make the handoff from bot to agent seamless. Use the information collected by the bots to auto-populate your conversational platform and give agents access to the conversation so they don’t miss anything.

Be transparent and give them a choice.

The stat: 44% get frustrated that they don’t have a choice between speaking with a human or a bot at the beginning of a conversation.

Think about IVR systems. They (almost) always give you an option to connect directly with a live representative, and it’s easy to tell when you’re talking to a live agent.

But it’s not as easy to identify over live chat, and customers can feel deceived when they think they’re reaching out to a person. And when they’re having a hard time explaining their issue, walking through it with a bot can just add to their frustrations.

How to fix it: Name your bot, and have them introduce itself as a robotic assistant. Include an option to connect directly with a live agent (when available) in that welcome message. While you want to encourage customers to interact with your bot in order to reduce the burden on your live agents, you don’t want to force them. Give them a choice.

Infuse bots with brand personality.

The stat: 47% of surveyed consumers believe AI should improve customer service quality.

Admittedly, you’re battling a perception when introducing chatbots into your customer experience. When customers hear “chatbot,” they immediately think of robotic, monotone voices. For web conversations, that translates to personality-less text or poor attempts to sound “human” that end up sounding… fake.

The easiest fix is to create a chatbot experience that matches your brand’s personality, whether that’s enthusiastic, fun, empathetic, or straightforward.

Our client Daily Harvest, a popular meal kit delivery service, knew they needed to create a chatbot to help alleviate their overburdened customer service team. But they wanted to ensure customers got the same excellent customer experience the brand has become known for. They partnered with Quiq to build a custom AI chatbot that not only solved common customer issues but could also interpret customers’ language and syntax, their food preferences, and more.

They ended up with Sage, Daily Harvest’s digital care guide. Besides reducing call volume by 60% (a huge win in its own right), they optimized the customer experience and improved their already extraordinarily high CSAT rate.

Read more about Sage and Daily Harvest here >

Make live agents and chatbots part of the same team.

With the right planning (and the right partner), chatbots and live agents can work seamlessly together to serve your customers.

According to Zendesk, only 38% of businesses use both bots and human agents for live chat. That means there’s a big opportunity for improvement.

Since 83% of customers expect to connect with someone immediately when contacting a company, according to Salesforce, you need to pool your resources to meet (or exceed) customer expectations.

Start crafting your chatbot and live chat strategy by taking these preliminary steps:

  1. Collect customer issues by volume. What questions do you get the most?
  2. Organize them by complexity. Are they simple “where’s my order” questions, or do they take several steps and individual problem-solving?
  3. Identify which can be solved with bots or which needs a live agent.
  4. Figure out how bots and humans can work together to solve problems.

Don’t think of live agents and bots as working in silos. The best tactic is to use them both together at various times in the interaction.

Use a bot to collect information and troubleshoot problems upfront. Then, tap in a live agent when the problem gets complex. You can also pull in a bot at the end of the conversation to close out transactions, ask for feedback, or talk about the next steps.

Empower your customer service team to embrace chatbot interactions, and work in tandem to deliver the best customer experience.

Leverage live chat and chatbots with Quiq.

Quiq’s AI-powered chatbots work just like your live agents. With our Conversational Platform, you can combine native Quiq customer service chatbots, bots developed in third-party frameworks, and human agents any way you like.

The question is no longer if you should choose between live chat or chatbots, but how you can use both to deliver the ultimate customer experience.

How To Add Digital Customer Service

Don’t have a digital customer service strategy? There are no more excuses.

Today’s consumers exist primarily online, and they expect convenient and streamlined digital engagement from brands. With customer expectations increasing almost daily, companies are rapidly introducing digital channels to replace or co-exist with traditional channels like phone and email.

Now is the time to add or improve your digital customer service. Here’s how to add digital customer service to your existing channels:

  • Identify your common questions.
  • Implement the right channels.
  • Simplify your online engagement.
  • Promote your new digital channels.
  • Monitor and analyze conversations.

We’ll take a look at each step, but let’s define digital customer service first.

What is digital customer service?

Digital customer service is the act of providing customer service and support across online channels.

For most consumers, that means messaging—whether in-app, via text messaging, web chat, or social media.

Why use digital customer service?

There’s a lot more to digital customer service than answering a few direct messages on Instagram. In order to improve the digital customer experience, you need a well-rounded strategy that focuses on driving value.

Gartner identified top digital customer service trends in 2022. Here are three to keep in mind as you build out your strategy:

  • Delivering value over simply resolving issues: Digital customer service isn’t merely duplicating a call center. Yes, you’re there to solve customer problems, but you’re also acting as a sales rep for the brand. Validating purchases, offering product suggestions, and upselling/cross-selling should fall into your digital customer service strategy.
  • Privacy-led personalization: While personalization is still important to serving customers online, privacy is also a big concern. This means you should only collect information that’s absolutely necessary and always be completely transparent about what data you collect and how you use it.
  • Service in third-party channels: Brand-owned channels like websites and apps are still a popular option, but customers want to connect with you no matter where you are. Consider an omnichannel solution that brings the entire customer experience to the customer in the platforms they prefer.

6 reasons digital customer service is critical.

Post-pandemic, the question is no longer why use digital customer service—it’s how. Digital customer service is critical to a well-rounded customer experience. Here are 5 reasons you can’t ignore it.

1. You’re building relationships.

Your customers want experiences that are smooth, convenient, and hassle-free, regardless of whether it happens face-to-face or online. Since 230.5 million Americans shopped online in 2021—and the number is growing every year—the digital customer experience is more important than ever.

With the number of options available to consumers in nearly every industry, building relationships is vital to success.

2. It differentiates your business.

Mobile devices have put the power of apps, machine learning, automation, and rich messaging into the hands of pretty much every consumer. Tech-savvy customers are fully aware of what technology can do for them, and they expect to get what they want exactly when they want it.

Putting your digital customer experience first enables your organization to take advantage of this expectation.

We see the proof in our own customers. Companies like Tailored Brands are experiencing success doing just that.

“Retail is a highly competitive space, so we strive to set ourselves apart based on the service we provide our customers, whether online or in-store,” said Melissa Porter, VP of Customer Relations. “Adding text messaging from Quiq has allowed us to differentiate even more.”

3. You’ll upgrade your brand perception.

Customers want fast and easy interactions with brands, but they also want those experiences to be personal. In fact, Accenture found that 91% of customers are more likely to purchase from companies that recognize them by name, remember their purchase history, and provide personalized offers and product recommendations.

The right digital customer service strategy can help you get there. Quiq Messaging enables you to easily integrate messaging into your existing systems or customize the user interface to include data from your internal operations systems.

Your employees have visibility into the customer data that makes interactions personalized, including customer info, order history, and past conversations.

4. You can practice proactive outreach.

Your contact center agents aren’t limited to waiting by the phone or refreshing their email inbox to resolve issues. Digital customer service strategy can now include proactive outreach.

Sending notifications letting customers know that a product in their order is out of stock or that a flight has been delayed is the norm.

By being proactive, you can identify issues and resolve them before they become problems, which reduces the number of tickets you receive

5. It’ll boost efficiency and lower costs.

One-to-one phone calls with your human agents can reach capacity quickly. That’s why so many companies have diversified their engagement channels to provide more convenient options to their customers and cut down costs.

Digital channels not only improve the digital customer experience by providing effortless support and service but also reduces overall costs. Leveraging digital channels to scale service efforts saves on hiring new agents to handle increased volume and the 24/7 service needs from constantly connected consumers. On digital channels, agents can respond to multiple conversations at one time. That’s just not possible on a phone call.

6. You’ll increase revenue opportunities.

The pandemic created drastic consumer behavior shifts toward digital purchasing, and providing digital customer service goes hand in hand with increasing sales.

Even though retail has reopened, many consumers still plan on continuing the digital trends.

An Accenture survey revealed some key insights:

Consumers who increased usage during the pandemic.
Consumers who plan on continuing the trend.
In-app ordering
54% 84%
Social media sales
44% 80%
Curbside pickup
42% 78%
Livechat/chatbot/voice assistance
46% 77%
Shopping on the company website
36% 77%

All of these habits are revenue-generating and rely heavily on digital customer service to drive sales.

How to deploy digital customer service.

There’s a huge difference between offering multiple online channels and offering a seamless digital customer experience. Customers want instantaneous, convenient, and easy engagement—exactly how you should design your customer service experience.

Let’s take a closer look at the steps to add digital customer service to your existing channels.

1. Identify common questions.

The first step in your digital customer experience journey should be to take a look at the most common reasons your customers are contacting your contact center. Most of our clients can quickly identify a handful of the most common questions.

Some inquiries will be obvious like:

  • Where’s my order/when will I receive my order?
  • What is my login?
  • What is my account balance?
  • How do I change my reservation?
  • How do I make a return?

Start by creating digital self-service options. You can start with a simple FAQ page or dig a little deeper and build a chatbot to answer common customer questions and relieve the burden on your call center.

For example, outdoor apparel company Stio mails out 1.2 million catalogs a year. Before they expanded into digital customer service with business messaging, customers had to call customer service to remove themselves from the mailing list.

The company implemented messaging with a bot, enabling their customers to unsubscribe with just a few clicks. No human agent interaction needed. The company saw an immediate 9% decrease in phone calls and saved 83 agent hours in just the first two weeks of implementation.

2. Choose the channels your customers already use.

Once you have a good grasp of your customers and their needs, identify which channels you want to start with. Many of our clients tackle the highest volume channels first, which (surprisingly) often starts with the call center itself.

Think about streamlining the customer experience by getting the answers before they need them and getting them to the right person to solve their problems.

Here are the top 4 things our clients have done to integrate digital customer service:

  1. Integrate messaging into your IVR to give customers the option to immediately abandon a phone call to start chatting with an agent.
  2. Take a look at your desktop vs. mobile traffic. If you see a substantial portion of your traffic visiting your mobile page, it indicates that customers are willing to engage with you via SMS/text messaging. If it is still fairly high on desktop, that may indicate that you should deploy web chat.
  3. Don’t ignore your website traffic. Implement live chat on your website so that website visitors get the same benefits from messaging as your mobile customers do.
  4. Make sure you register with Google Business Messages and Apple Messages for Business so that customers can find and engage with you through search and maps on their mobile devices.

Give customers the freedom to choose their preferred channels depending on their specific problems. You’re also adding more bandwidth to your contact center by encouraging messaging over phone calls.

3. Improve digital customer experience.

Reaching out to engage with your brand should be simple and quick, as customers want their issues solved fast. Make it easy for customers to engage with the right department or agent that can resolve their inquiry most efficiently.

Here are a few things you can do to make it easier for your customer:

  1. Collect information from your customers by asking short questions that allow the customer to respond with a simple tap instead of typing in a response
  2. Implement a bot to collect information and apply rules to route the conversation.
  3. Make conversations sticky. If a customer spoke to a certain agent in a previous conversation, route the customer to that same agent or make sure the conversation history is easy to access for anyone that speaks to the customer.

Quiq makes it easy to set rules to route conversations to specific agents, departments, or queues based on set criteria.

4. Promote your new digital channels.

Let people know once your digital channels are available. Promote your new digital channels across your existing marketing channels:

  • Add a message to your IVR informing callers that web chat or text is available, even if you haven’t integrated messaging with your IVR.
  • Put a message on your website homepage and a “text us” call to action button at the bottom of your mobile site.
  • Make sure that messaging is prominent in the contact us section of your website.
  • Advertise it in your newsletters and social posts.
  • Add a message to the signature of all your contact center agents responding to emails reminding customers that alternate channels are available.

5. Monitor and analyze engagement.

Use analytics to monitor, analyze, and address areas within your digital customer experience that may need work along the way. For example, you can review closed and active conversations in real-time to determine if integration with your CRM or other business intelligence platform will help agents find critical information easier.

You’ll also want to evaluate agent performance on key metrics. Quiq’s messaging platform allows you to monitor the performance of human agents, as well as bots, so you always have a pulse on which types of inquiries may be stumping your team.

We’ve also made it easy to import and export data to and from our software, so you have the data you need, wherever you need it. Our out-of-the-box reports enable you to have an immediate view of your contact center’s performance, or you can combine the data in your BI tool for a broader understanding of your contact center.

Deliver the digital experience your customers want.

From start to finish, your customer experience must deliver. From the moment a consumer becomes aware of your brand to the point they become a customer, your digital customer experience will be a part of it all.

Your customers are trying to reach you on all digital channels—even if you’re not there yet. We’re ready to help you transform your contact center.

How to Reduce Customer Acquisition Costs with Messaging

How do customers find your business?

Does your company frequently sponsor podcasts? Do you heavily lean into paid digital advertising? What about SMS marketing?

Here’s the ultimate question: What do all those methods cost you to get a customer in the door?

That’s right—we’re talking about customer acquisition costs.

It’s a metric every business owner should know by heart, every marketer should base their decisions on, and every customer experience specialist should work to improve.

Deep dive into customer acquisition cost, how to calculate it, why it matters—and tips to help you reduce it.
What is customer acquisition cost?
Customer acquisition cost, or CAC, measures how much money it takes to bring new customers to your virtual door.

It takes all the money you’ve spent to make the sale—from marketing costs to sales—and divides it by the number of customers you brought in.

There are countless formulas that dive into extremely granular and complex details to get exact numbers for marketing, sales, and operations costs.

But here is a simple customer acquisition cost formula:

The customer acquisition cost formula
$$ spent on sales and marketing / # of new customers = Customer acquisition costs

It’s easy to look at your paid advertising and think that’s all you’re spending to acquire customers—but that’s a mistake.

You need to assess many costs to get an accurate picture of your CAC.

Here are some often forgotten expenses to include:

  • Paid advertising
  • Sales staff salaries
  • Marketing staff salaries
  • Marketing vendors
  • Sales and marketing technology

One last tip for when you’re calculating your CAC: Be sure to pick a meaningful time period to assess, either monthly, quarterly, yearly, or lifetime.

If you have a three-month sales cycle, a one-month view of your CAC won’t give you accurate information.
Why does customer acquisition cost matter?
If you’ve ever seen an episode of Shark Tank, you’ve heard hopeful entrepreneurs and even the sharks mention CAC.

Hopefuls often boast high sales numbers only to be cut off at the knees when they admit their customer acquisition (and consequently their business expenses) costs are through the roof.

Why is it such a big deal to the sharks? (And why should it matter to you?)

Because you won’t last long if your CAC is higher than your revenue.

Some business owners pump money into sales and marketing in hopes that it’ll give their business a boost when they’re just getting started.

It’s a sound idea, but you need an exit strategy—a point when your business is generating enough revenue through other means that you can scale back and balance out your customer acquisition costs.

Think of a high CAC as pushing a snowball down a hill.

You need to give it a push to start, but eventually, it continues rolling and growing on its own.

You should get to a point where it takes less capital to get customers in the virtual door and keep them there. That’s the foundation of a sustainable business.
Never look at customer acquisition in a silo.
Your CAC is an important number, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Like many other KPIs in customer service, you can’t rely solely on the number in front of you.

There are two additional and vital metrics you should keep in mind when looking at your CAC:

  • Customer lifetime value (CLV): You can almost forgive a high customer acquisition cost when you have a high CLV. How long do your customers stick around? How much do they spend over a “lifetime”? Businesses can afford to pay a little more money to get customers in the door if they have a higher lifetime value.
  • Customer churn/customer attrition rate (CAR): Customer churn or customer attrition rate measures how many customers you lose over a given period of time. It’s essentially the opposite of retention. And it’s just as important as your CAC. If you spend all of your money getting customers in the door only to have them shop elsewhere after a couple of months, you’re not in good shape.

Putting these metrics together will tell you if your marketing and sales efforts are working and how your customer service is measuring up.

Then you can figure out when something isn’t working, what it is, and how to fix it.
Why business messaging?
Business messaging is an underutilized tool—and customers are practically begging businesses to use it more often.

That’s not to say business messaging isn’t growing. Juniper Research has found that global mobile business messaging traffic will increase by 10% in 2020 to 2.7 trillion, up from 2.5 trillion in 2019.

Need some ideas for reducing customer acquisition costs? Look no further than business messaging.

Messaging has the potential to be a key pillar in your CAC reduction strategy.

There are ample opportunities to harness messaging, from SMS/text messaging to Facebook Messenger to web chat, to lower your customer acquisition cost.
7 ways to reduce customer acquisition costs with messaging.
Many parts of your business impact acquisition costs, and you can make changes to everything from your advertising campaigns to your products and services to help reduce them.

Here are 7 ways you can use messaging to lower your customer acquisition cost:

1. Get to know your customers better.

The quickest way to a high CAC is to spend tons of money on advertising with no strategy. It’s like a “spray and pray” approach. You’re paying big advertising dollars and talking to many people with a general message.

Sure, sometimes it works—but it fails more often than it succeeds.

Instead, get to know your customers better so you can spend more time talking to the right people with the right message.

With a conversational AI platform, you can use business messaging to collect customer preferences and integrate them with your other CRM tools, like Salesforce, Oracle, or Zendesk.

With better insights into your customers, you can spend less money on general marketing messages to lower your CAC.

2. Shorten the sales cycle with SMS/text messages.

If your sales team works more closely with your customers, the sales cycle quickly gets bogged down with emails, from pitches to meeting invites. It’s easy for them to get lost and go unnoticed.

However, SMS/text messaging is a great way to keep conversations flowing throughout the sales process.

Text messages have a nearly 100% open rate—compared to email, customers are much more likely to read and respond. It’s also more casual than email, and it helps facilitate easy conversations.

Your sales team can get to know customers better before launching into the sales pitch.

Bonus tip: You can even automate part of the lead process to start the conversation and collect qualifying information. That way, you can ensure your sales team only spends their time on hot leads that are more likely to lead to a sale.

3. Be more available to customers at peak decision times.

How easy is it to chat with your customer service?

If website visitors have to go searching through your website or make a phone call to ask a simple customer service question, you’re missing out on sales (and effectively driving your customer acquisition cost through the roof).

Instead, increase your conversion rate by always having your customer service team a click away.

Not only should you have web chat available on your site, but also time it to ask customers questions at peak decision points.

More than two-thirds of customers want an organization to reach out and engage with proactive customer notifications, according to Microsoft’s Global State of Customer Service report.

Send a welcome message when customers visit your site, offer product suggestions as they start to add things to their cart, or pop up with FAQs if they land on your help page.

You’re more likely to capture customers, lower your conversion rates, and improve your customer acquisition cost.

4. Lean into marketing automation.

Automation is a great way to continue your marketing efforts at a much lower cost systematically.

You can leverage AI-powered bots to assist your team at various points of the sales process.

Your sales team can use customer acquisition chatbots to engage leads early and even qualify them before reaching a salesperson.

See how General Assembly used Quiq to engage leads with an interactive quiz.

Leaning into automation early will help lower your costs overall and improve your CAC.

5. Improve your omnichannel strategy.

The move to online sales has increased the need for an omnichannel strategy, which can sometimes stretch your marketing team thin.

The majority of customers continue to use 3 to 5 channels to get their issues resolved, according to Microsoft, so it’s vital that you’re set up to serve them across channels.

Offer a variety of messaging options across channels, like Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and even your own app.

Being ready to help builds customer loyalty.

Plus, you’ll have more opportunities to upsell and cross-sell with messaging, improving your average order value and CLV.

A conversational AI platform that works across channels will also ensure customers can always pick up a conversation where they left off.

6. Use messaging to enhance retargeting advertising.

Retargeting emails can be too reactive. Instead of sending “Oops, looks like you forgot something” emails, try using SMS marketing instead.

Send a text with rich messaging, and delight customers with friendly GIFs, product images, or even appointment schedulers.

You can even send a timely coupon or discount code to encourage the purchase. Engage customers with more friendly conversations instead of irritating them with abandoned cart reminders.

7. Don’t forget about your current customers.

Customer service is often overlooked when it comes to customer acquisition since it focuses on current customers over prospects.

But improving your customer retention is a sound strategy to help you lower your CAC.

Building customer loyalty through customer service will help improve your customer’s lifetime value. They’re more likely to stick around and continue buying when they feel valued.

You can also use existing customers to bring in new ones. Use messaging to collect customer reviews.

Microsoft reported that 89% of customers globally want to be given the opportunity to provide feedback—so make it easy for them to share it.

Send surveys via SMS/text or send CSAT surveys after customer service interactions.

Turning your customers into advocates will improve your social clout, and it’ll require less advertising spend to get customers in the door.
Message your way to a lower CAC.
Customer acquisition costs touch every part of your business. Without a sound strategy to keep costs low, it’s easy for them to spiral out of control.

Business messaging is a great way to automate processes, connect with customers, and improve sales—all without exponentially increasing your overhead.

Reach out to our experts for more messaging strategies.

Part 2: 10 Criteria for Choosing the Best Messaging Vendor

The Messaging Mandate

This post is part 2 in a three-part series. Part 1 focused on why messaging is so critical for customer service. This article shares how to evaluate potential messaging providers. Finally, part 3 will discuss factors to consider as you implement your new messaging service.

From our last post, you know that customers are demanding messaging options from customer service providers. (When they don’t even call mom, what makes you think they want to call your support agents?)

Your customer service center needs the latest technology to facilitate meaningful, effective communication.

More and more, consumers want to speak directly with brands and businesses in the most convenient ways.

From SMS/text messaging to other familiar platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, your company can provide fun, easy messaging options that your customers prefer.

But first, you need to pick a messaging platform partner.

We know—it’s overwhelming if you’re just getting started. It takes thoughtful consideration, but we’re here to help.

Here’s what you need to know to choose the best messaging vendor for your business.

Determine your business objectives

It’s easy to jump into research without a plan and hit a wall of information overload. Before you even start your search for a business messaging vendor, you first need to decide how you’re going to use it. Start by asking a few key questions:

What demographics are you targeting with messaging?

Who’s your customer? While messaging is on the rise in nearly every generation, how you wield it may change depending on your target demographics.

For example, millennials and those from Generation Z (also known as Zoomers) are more likely to be comfortable with chatbots than their older counterparts.

According to Zendesk, 60% of millennials and zoomers agree that automation/bots are helpful for simple issues, while only 50% of baby boomers do.

And when in a hurry? The generational divide was even larger: 40% of millennials and zoomers said they’d prefer to interact with a chatbot rather than a human agent when in a rush.

In comparison, merely 28% of Gen Xers and 20% of boomers agreed.

Determining your target audience will help you decide which features are a must-have and which you may not even need.

How will you use messaging?

A business sending marketing messages via messaging will have very different needs than one using messaging for customer support.

Are you planning on messaging your customers? Do you also need to give them the capabilities to message back?

Hint: Your customers definitely want the option to message you.

What are your goals?

You know you want to grow your business, but what other objectives do you have for your messaging platforms? Are you simply trying to offer better customer service? How will you measure success?

Don’t forget to identify other peripheral goals, like cost savings.

Identify your cost-savings goals and how you plan to use your messaging platform to meet them.

For instance, do you hope to reduce the volume of inbound customer calls and lower staffing needs?

Which messaging channels will you need?

While many vendors offer multiple messaging channels, some may excel on certain platforms.

If messaging is part of your overall omnichannel support strategy, you’ll need to ensure you’re using the right platforms to reach your customers.

Here are some common messaging channels to consider:

Now that you know who you’re targeting, what your goals are, and which platforms you want to use, you’re in a better position to research and choose the right chat tools for your business.

How to Select Business Messaging Tools and Vendors

You know what you’re looking for, but now you need to start exploring which vendor is right for you.

Here are 10 criteria you can use to make your decision.

1. Experience and knowledge

Practicality wins over flash every time. While long features lists seem like an easy way to benchmark vendors, be sure to ask how those features work in the real world.

Ask for customer stories, previous clients, and reviews. Find out if all those features are tried and tested in real applications.

Also, consider if they’ve worked with customer service teams before. It’s an easy way to ensure that their chat apps have actually worked for your needs.

You’ll also get to tap into their industry knowledge for in-depth insights that help you address your company’s thorniest challenges.

2. Customer-obsessed culture

Make sure your new vendor has the same customer-first mindset you do.

Listen carefully to vendors pitch your organization or walk you through their pilot cycles. Are they asking thoughtful questions about your business?

Your goals should be their goals, so if you’re looking to increase customer engagement, they should have various resources to help you do that.

Do they have genuine insights for improving your customer service, messaging, and overall success?

Even small details of your messaging platform affect how you and your customers communicate.

A vendor that prioritizes customer needs helps you position your organization as a responsive industry leader.

3. Product features and capabilities

Features and functionality are vital factors to help you pick your vendor. To start, you need to know which messaging channels they offer (and ensure they align with your selected channels).

But don’t stop there.

Think about the platform’s functionality and how your customer support agents will use it on a daily basis. Don’t hesitate to spend a lot of your time working through the platform to ensure it meets your needs.

Since features are such an important factor, here is a list of questions to help you determine the right fit.

  • How does the product treat customer requests?
    • Does it create a ticket that goes into a queue, or does it facilitate a real-time conversation with a single customer service agent?
  • How many messaging and chat apps does it support within a single interface?
  • How skillfully does the tool allow agents to move between simultaneous conversations?
  • How well does the system prioritize customer communications? (Does it prioritize them at all?)
  • Can agents quickly consult with a colleague or supervisor when they need help?
  • Can supervisors easily monitor conversations and step in to assist as needed?
  • Do supervisors have reporting tools to help them track agent productivity and results?
  • Can the platform work on its own and integrate with other customer service applications or order management systems?
  • How easily can the platform scale as you grow your business?

4. Security features

Trust but verify. The days of blindly assuming your (and your customers’) data is safeguarded are long gone. The average cost of a data breach in 2021 was $4.2 million, according to IBM.

Most people today know how vulnerable their personal data is, and they want to ensure it’s protected.

To protect your data and reassure your customers, you need to find a messaging platform vendor that prioritizes security.

When you talk to different vendors, ask them what security protocols they use for their messaging tools.

Inquire about both the technology and servers on which it runs. If you’re looking at cloud-based messaging tools, determine whether the vendors can ensure your data will never mix with other companies’ data.

Pull in your IT team and let them do their due diligence. Ask how often they perform security audits and what they’d do in the event of a breach.

5. Automation and artificial intelligence

If your goals include reducing costs and increasing efficiency, pay attention to this next part.

Automation helps your support agents streamline conversations. And artificial intelligence sends your automation into hyperdrive.

As you research vendors, figure out how they use automation to simplify and streamline your agents’ processes.

How do automation and AI help with your customer support workflows?

For starters, a platform could prioritize customer messages and decide which your agents should engage with next—ideally accounting for customer engagement and SLAs.

See if your platform vendor automates customer messages, no-contact lists, or even full-on conversations. Do they offer a chatbot? And is that chatbot merely a glorified FAQ, or is it powered with AI to answer customer questions?

Talk to your potential vendors about the level of automation they provide and how they tailor the automated solutions to your needs.

6. Ease of use

How easy is it to use the platform? How steep is the learning curve?

A messaging platform should have an intuitive, easy-to-navigate interface. It should offer quick, efficient messaging options and practical ways for agents to move between simultaneous conversations.

Bring in support agents and managers to help you test out the product for yourselves.

You want to ensure you can use it, but also that the people using it every day enjoy it too. It’s likely they’ll also be the ones to help with training new hires on using the platform.

A dense, complicated product will make onboarding a struggle.

The platform should also be easy to implement on multiple devices, such as desktops, laptops, iPhones, and Android phones or tablets.

It needs to provide simple, at-a-glance ways for supervisors to use reports to track agent productivity if necessary.

8. Integrations

A conversational platform works best when it works with the flow of your business operations. Ask if it integrates seamlessly with your CRM platforms like Microsoft Dynamics 365, Zendesk, Salesforce, or Oracle.

With easy integrations, you can do things like pull up customer information, view knowledge base articles to help answer customer questions, and track interactions for next time.

Be sure to discuss your overall business operations and existing platforms with your vendors to determine how well your new messaging software will fit in.

7. Templates

Templates are a great feature to improve messaging software usability. Just like call scripts for agents, messaging templates ensure faster response times and help agents speak with a unified brand voice.

You can collect frequently asked questions and create templates that agents can then personalize during customer conversations.

Ask potential vendors about their templates. Do they have a library of pre-made templates to help you get started? Can you add new ones and customize them to fit your brand? How easy are they to use?

Templates can be a valuable asset to your bag of chat tools.

9. Value

We’d be remiss if we didn’t discuss the price. While you want to get the messaging platform that’s a perfect fit for your business goals, make sure it’s in line with your budget.

The most sophisticated business messaging app in the world, with seemingly limitless bells and whistles, won’t be worth it if it significantly restricts your budget in other areas.

On the other hand, price shopping will leave you with the bare minimum product that you’ll need to upgrade in a few short years.

Be upfront with each messaging provider as you evaluate your options.

Have a realistic idea of your budget, and select a conversational platform that will give you the best return on your investment.

10. Innovation

When you choose a messaging platform, you want to know it’ll only get better and better.

As you talk to vendors, ask about their product roadmap and plans for future development.

Find out what new capabilities they want to see in their tools and how they plan to make those goals a reality.

Does your chosen vendor have plans for increased automation, or does it have ideas for how to make agents more efficient and productive?

Enthusiasm, conviction, and clear plans for the future are valuable indicators. They can often tell you how well you’ll work and grow with your messaging tool over the long term.

Is Quiq on your list?

Choosing the right messaging platform takes thoughtful consideration and careful research.

Ask us these questions and see if Quiq is the messaging platform of your dreams.

Our platform blends performance and value to deliver intuitive, meaningful conversations with your customers.

Get best practices for implementing messaging into customer service in part 3. And if you didn’t catch part 1 in our Messaging Mandate series, go here to read how important messaging is for your customers.

9 Reasons Why Customers Want to Text You

People love their phones. The average American will spend nearly a month and a half (44 days) on their phones in 2022, according to a survey from Reviews.org. And they check their phones a staggering 344 times per day—up 31% from 2021.

But making a phone call? That they don’t love.

So if people aren’t making calls, what are they using their phones for? They’re checking social media apps, consuming news, replying to emails, and texting. People prefer SMS text to connect with family and friends—even businesses.

In fact, Juniper Research reported that global mobile business messaging traffic hit 2.7 trillion in 2020, up 10% from 2019. And customer service requests over SMS jumped 28% in 2021, according to Zendesk’s CX Trends Report.

Customers know what they want, but businesses are slow to respond. Nearly 93% of consumers want to communicate via text message, says Forbes, yet less than a third of consumers report getting text messages from them.

People want to send text messages. So why do so few companies offer it?

Business messaging includes SMS/texting, but it isn’t limited to it. There are many text apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, as well as messaging support through Google Business Messages and Apple Messages for Business.

What does this mean for your customer service team? It’s time to embrace business text messaging. Your customers want to text you, and here are 9 reasons why.

1. Customers want options.

Too many choices may lead to feeling overwhelmed, but that doesn’t stop customers from wanting them. There are countless ways to reach out to businesses. Customers have tasted the power to choose, and they want more.

People pick the method of communication that fits their problem. According to Zendesk’s 2020 CX Trends report, 40% of customers choose a channel based on the complexity of their issue. Simple questions may only merit a text, while explaining more complex issues over a phone call is probably easier.

It’s important to remember that you’re not replacing your call centers. You’re merely providing another option.

2. Your customers are busy.

Multitasking has become an art form with your customers juggling hundreds of tasks daily. They’ve been taught to maximize their productivity and not let one second of downtime go to waste. They even spend their free time (which they value more than ever) bettering themselves with restorative activities.

So it’s a big deal when they have to drop what they’re doing to call customer service—let alone wait on hold. Calling a support center when all they need is a quick answer breaks up the flow of their day.

Meanwhile, email support still feels like a more formal medium. People spend longer drafting messages, which wastes more of their day. Plus, they don’t know how quickly (or how long) it’ll take to receive a reply.

Customers want businesses to value their time.

Sending a text message fits your customers’ lifestyles and won’t disrupt their hectic days.

3. Your customers don’t want to wait.

They’re too busy optimizing their day for maximum productivity to wait on hold for customer service. According to a survey conducted by Arise, nearly two-thirds of customers say they’re only willing to wait 2 minutes or less before hanging up.

An aside: Though not the topic of the survey, 15% of Arise survey respondents said they do not contact customer service by phone. This implies that these customers never use the phone to connect with brands.

Customers also don’t want to wait for a response over email. That’s why texting is the goldilocks of the customer service world. It falls somewhere between instant in-person answers and delayed email responses.

Efficiency is critical for your customers as much as it is for you. Being able to ask a question, get a quick response, and move about their day will make them more productive and give them the confidence to do business with you again.

4. They just need a quick answer.

Simple questions don’t need a phone call. Getting answers to common queries like, “When will this be back in stock?” or “Where’s my order?” shouldn’t require a phone call and a potentially long wait on hold.

You likely have this information on your website, but you want to make it as simple as possible for customers to get answers. Sending a text is the simplest way for people to get answers—and it’s even faster when you use AI chatbots to tackle them.

Then customers get service without tying up your customer support agents on phone calls or even text responses.

5. Texting isn’t limited to millennials.

If you serve any generation other than millennials and Gen Z, you might think texting doesn’t apply. But it does—messaging isn’t just a young kids’ game.

It’s true that the younger the generation, the more likely they are to send a text message over making a call. But text messaging is still used by baby boomers and older generations.

AARP reported in 2018 that 9 in 10 adults over 50 use their smartphones to send instant messages, texts, or emails—and it’s likely that number has gone up dramatically since.

Because almost everyone uses text messaging to communicate with someone, it’s also a less technical way for people of any age to reach customer service.

Other messaging channels may require downloading an app or using unfamiliar social media. Text messaging, however, is ready to go on everyone’s device.

6. They can text on their terms.

What if your customers have a question outside of business hours? Waiting until 9–5, Mondays through Fridays, crushes their need for instant gratification. More than that, problems rarely occur on a set schedule.

Not only is sending a text faster than connecting over email and phone, but it’s also asynchronous. In short, that means both parties don’t need to be present for the conversation to continue. Your customer can send a message and then go about their day while waiting for a response. They control the cadence of the conversation.

This also benefits your customer service team. Instead of spending all their time on one call, agents can manage up to 8 conversations in the time it would take for one call.

7. They just prefer texting.

We’re all guilty of hitting ignore on a well-intentioned phone call or putting off making an appointment. More and more, people perceive a phone call as invasive and time-consuming.

According to a Bank My Cell survey, 75% of millennials avoid phone calls as they’re time-consuming. And 81% get apprehension anxiety before summoning up the courage to make a call. While millennials have a reputation for being phone-averse, it doesn’t stop with them.

Why do so many of us dread phone calls?

Among many reasons, it’s because they’re unpredictable. A customer service call can take a few minutes or half an hour, so customers don’t know how to prepare.

Business texts are quick and efficient, but they’re also just really convenient.

8. Customers want a better experience.

Your customer service team’s goal is to give your patrons the experience they want. Adding business messaging as a customer support channel and also a tool in your text message marketing arsenal—a relatively moderate lift on your end—will exponentially improve the experience for many of your customers.

In fact, customer satisfaction scores over messaging are 8–14 percentage points higher than other channels.

And the value of a great customer experience is higher than you might think. Customers are even willing to pay for it. PwC reports that 73% of people say customer experience is an important factor in their purchasing decisions.

From sending support messages to answering questions and even making purchases, you can create a complete customer experience right within a native texting app.

Plus, you’re likely to improve customer perception and help boost revenue as a result.

9. Customers want more than words.

When you think about business text messages, sending GIFs, emojis, and product videos may not be the first thing that comes to mind.

But it should be, especially if you’re doing SMS marketing, because “rich messaging” (as it’s been named) can seriously boost engagement with your messages. Think about it: How many times do you race to open an incoming message with a GIF or video link, vs. a standard text message?

Rich messaging can mean the difference between customers feeling like they’re texting a business, and feeling like they’re messaging a family member or friend.

By enabling additional media via SMS/text, you can help customers complete a whole slew of actions, including:

  • Completing transactions
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Browsing and selecting products

Your customers want to text you.

What are you waiting for? Companies that have enthusiastically embraced messaging have taken the customer experience to a whole new level.

Texting a customer and accepting incoming messages is one of the best ways to connect with them.

Whether you’re looking to strengthen your customer service game, or simply provide another avenue for customers to share feedback, messaging is the way forward.

Best Practices for Call Center Agents

No, the call center isn’t dead.

In the last few years, digital channels have seen tremendous growth. People can go online to find answers, send a text, chat with a bot, or even reach out on social media.

But while the industry’s focus has shifted to text-based communications, call centers aren’t going anywhere.

Last year, Salesforce reported that customers ranked “phone” as their second most preferred customer service channel. That’s up from their #3 spot in 2019—overtaking in-person interactions (for obvious reasons).

Since customers are still dialing, we’ve put together some best practices to help call center agents shine.

Show customers you care.

Providing great customer service starts and ends with emotions. Answering customers’ questions is vital, but you’re really there to connect with them. And it starts with communicating effectively.

Listen.

Listening is the first step. It needs to be said because it sometimes conflicts with other productivity goals. Take the time to listen to a customer’s complaints before diving into a script. Not only will you be better equipped to solve their problems (without a bunch of clarifying questions), but you also give the customer a chance to vent their frustrations and feel heard.

Demonstrate empathy.

There’s a big gap between customer expectations and reality. Salesforce reports that 68% of customers expect brands to demonstrate empathy, only 37% of customers feel brands actually do.

Make sure to use phrases like “I understand,” or try repeating back what your customer said to show you were listening. These types of responses are especially important over the phone when you can’t rely on visual cues like eye contact and head nodding.

Go off-script.

Scripts are great tools to help call center agents solve customer problems, but they can sound stiff and stale. Customers can tell when you’re reading from a script, and it can immediately put a wall up between you.

While it’s helpful to follow the general outline to ensure you don’t miss any important information, inject some of your own personality and mannerisms into it.

Add humor when appropriate, double-back if a customer didn’t give a clear answer, or pull together language from a variety of scenarios.

Customers will appreciate it. (Just make sure it’s within company policy first.)

Avoid transferring calls.

This one’s tough because it relies on so many other determining factors. But customers have come to expect quick resolutions to their problems, especially when choosing to call customer service over other channels.

In fact, Salesforce reports that 83% of consumers expect to solve their complex problems by speaking with one person.

The truth is, customers don’t want to speak with multiple people to solve their problems. It often means they have to repeat themselves (something customers don’t like), and it increases the time they spend on hold.

The best way to limit transfers?

It often comes down to infrastructure—something that is outside of call center agents’ control. This often includes bigger organizational initiatives like:

  • Setting up a knowledge base: Information should be easily accessible. That way, when you don’t know the answer, you can pull it up in the knowledge base instead of transferring the call to someone who does know.
  • Utilizing call center software: There are tons of call center software options that enhance agent and customer experience alike. Some offer options to notify a manager and have them listen to a call to help agents navigate more complex interactions.
  • Having a system to direct calls: If your company has multiple specialized departments, customer service centers should immediately direct calls to the right person. Call centers can accomplish this using an interactive voice response (IVR) system, web chat, or other self-service tools.
  • Training agents thoroughly: A knowledge base and customer service software are great tools, but they can’t replace thorough training. Agents should spend time learning the ins and outs of the business, in addition to customer service tactics.

Prepare to tackle complex issues.

Call centers aren’t the hub for information anymore. Online communications are growing in popularity.

Between easily accessible information and various other communication channels, making a phone call isn’t the go-to reflex for many customers.

According to Zendesk’s 2020 CX Trends report, 40% of customers choose a channel based on the complexity of their issue. That means when customers have a difficult problem, they’re reaching out to the call center.

Their problem is either too difficult to explain in an email, they’ve tried and failed to search for answers themselves, or they had a bad experience with online customer service in the past. Heck, some people just prefer to talk to someone over the phone. (Yes, they still exist!)

So what does that mean for call center agents? You need to be prepared for anything.

In addition to knowing your products and services inside out, consider conflict resolution training to help upset customers.

Keep these steps in mind when you have to deal with an angry customer:

  1. Stay calm: Easier said than done (we know), but you’ll only escalate the problem if you respond aggressively or defensively. Take deep breaths, and try not to take any of it personally.
  2. Validate your customers’ concerns: Tap into that empathy we talked about earlier. Show you’re listening and actually try to understand the core issue. Most of the time, customers just want to know that they’re talking to someone who can actually fix their problem.
  3. Try not to argue: As much as you want to give the customer all the facts, now’s not the time to correct them. If they’re upset, they aren’t thinking rationally. So trying to rationalize with them won’t make a difference.
  4. Take responsibility: Check with your company policy on this one first, but it’s generally a good idea to accept responsibility. Apologize when necessary.
  5. Find the solution: Once you’ve figured out the problem, try to find a solution that works within the bounds of your capabilities and satisfies the customer.

Sometimes it’s walking them through a difficult application setup. Other times it’s offering a replacement product when there’s failed. Ask call center supervisors for guidance on what’s acceptable to offer a customer to keep them coming back.

Measure what matters.

There are all kinds of measurements used to evaluate call center agents. A lot of them have to do with speed. How quickly do you resolve calls? How many calls can you take in a day? How quickly do you answer calls?

As a call center agent, it’s important to know which measurements matter to management. But it doesn’t stop there.

To blow customers away with excellent service, focus on these metrics:

  1. First-call resolution: Like we mentioned before, customers expect even their complex problems to be solved with just one call to customer service. If you focus too much on speed, this number is likely to drop.
  2. Customer satisfaction: Many call centers send a CSAT survey immediately after a customer service interaction. In this case, that survey reflects directly on the call center agent.
  3. Customer effort score: CES measures how easy the interaction was for the customer. Customers are hoping for easy interactions, so do your best to keep things simple. This often translates to not putting them on hold for too long, not transferring them to multiple departments, and providing answers that are easy to understand.

Call center agents are the frontline.

Call centers are still the backbone of the customer service industry. And the most important thing to remember as a call center agent is this: You are your company’s representatives.

Follow company policy, but don’t stop there. Put these best practices to use to deliver stellar customer service experiences.

7 Tips to Increase Customer Survey Response Rates

You’ve learned about the benefits of customer surveys. (Maybe you even read our blog post 3 Key Metrics to Go After in 2022 and took it to heart.) You decided which surveys are right for your company, put together a few different types, and placed them throughout your customer journey…

…And you got crickets.

Without any responses (or too few to be statistically significant), you can’t measure how well your support team is doing, if a new product is resonating with your customers, or if your online cart experience is frustrating your customers.

You need a way to increase your customer survey response rates.

Keep reading to dive into some top strategies.

Why are customer survey response rates important?

Are you secretly asking, why is this even a big deal? We get it. You’re getting responses, so you have some data to work with. But here are a few reasons your response rates need a boost:

  • A small sample size skews your data: Just because a couple of people don’t like your product doesn’t mean the majority of your customers don’t. The larger the sample size you collect, the more accurately it will represent your customers.
  • Your survey may suffer from non-response bias: There could be something in your survey design, tactics, or questions that makes it more likely for a certain type of customer to answer. Maybe only people that buy kitchen utensils respond, or only people who are at home on Tuesdays, resulting in more skewed data. You could inadvertently skew your service to help respondents and leave non-respondents out.
  • The more data you have, the easier it is to draw conclusions: Just a handful of results all over the place won’t do your team any good. It’s easier to identify trends and craft the appropriate action plan.

What is a good customer survey response rate? According to Customer Thermometer, the typical customer survey response rate is 5–30%, and anything over 50% is considered fantastic.

Tip #1: Pick the right survey.

How many customer surveys are out there? The limit does not exist.

You can emulate tons of surveys, but many in e-commerce and other customer-facing industries focus on three vital ones.

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys ask customers, “How satisfied were you with [product/service]?”
  • Customer effort scores (CES) ask customers, “How easy was it to interact with [company]?”
  • Net Promoter Scores® (NPS®) asks, “How likely are you to recommend [business/product/service] to someone you know?”

While they all rely on similar rating systems, each question asks about a different aspect of your business.

You’re not bound to these three, but picking the appropriate customer survey for what you’re trying to measure is important. Not only will you get misleading data, but you’re also less likely to get customer responses.

Tip #2: Send it at the right time.

Don’t ask for a CSAT survey weeks after a customer service interaction. By then, your customer has already forgotten how the conversation went—unless it was really good or really bad.

Which surveys you use will dictate when you should send them. Per the example above, CSAT surveys work best when measuring something specific, like a support interaction or a product purchase. You should typically send these types of surveys within a day or two of whatever you’re measuring. Plus, response rates increase, and responses are more accurate if customers take surveys within 24 hours.

However, Net Promoter Scores are asking more about your customers’ loyalty to your brand. In that case, pick a regular interval to send out NPS surveys. It could be once a quarter or once a year—just make sure you’re giving your team enough time to analyze the results and make improvements in between.

Tip #3: Make it as short as possible.

We know you want to get as much valuable information as you can, but long surveys have much worse completion rates.

What’s the difference between survey completion rates and response rates? Completion rates measure how many people start the survey and finish it and compare it to people who began the survey and didn’t complete it.

Response rates simply measure how many people completed the survey against how many surveys you sent out.

Here are what the equations look like:

  • # of people who completed the survey ÷ total # of people who opened the survey x 100 = Completion rate
  • # of people who completed the survey ÷ total # of people you sent the survey to x 100 = Response rate

Both of these numbers decrease dramatically the more questions you ask. That’s why one to two question surveys like the three above are so successful. They don’t ask too much of customers, and customers can respond quickly.

You can still get the information you need to improve your products and services, just maybe not on that initial survey. Consider testing optional responses for the longer, thought-provoking questions, or ask those who complete the surveys if they’re willing to take a follow-up questionnaire or speak with one of your representatives.

Tip #4: Remove the friction.

Since you’re essentially asking customers for a favor, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to fill out your survey.

A great way to help you increase your customer survey response rates is to put your surveys in immediately accessible places. Think: Within your web chat platform after a customer service interaction.

The best part? Some conversational platforms like Quiq give you rich messaging capabilities to enable customers to answer surveys right within the channel. Customers won’t be scared off by unknown links, making it faster and easier for them to respond.

Tip #5: Send follow-ups.

Just because customers don’t respond right away doesn’t mean they won’t. Your customers are busy, and things slip their minds just like everyone else. The survey can land on the bottom of the to-do list or not make it on there at all. Sending a follow-up is not only a good idea—it’s a best practice.

Sending email follow-ups is standard, but try reaching out through other channels if customers ignore your survey. Things get lost in emails, sent to spam, or deleted.

Instead, consider outbound SMS/text messaging as an alternative. While email open rates are around 20%, text messages have nearly a 100% read rate. And you get the added benefit of rich messaging that allows customers to answer the survey questions right within their text messages.

Remember, you’re asking for a favor. Keep it friendly and keep follow-ups minimal. Sending multiple emails with “or else” messaging won’t get you anywhere.

Tip #6: Try incentives.

Incentives might not be a feasible long-term solution, but they’ve been proven repeatedly to encourage survey participation.

Here are a few incentives you could try:

  • Coupons and discounts
  • Free shipping
  • Monetary incentives
  • Donations to a favorite charity
  • Entry into a sweepstakes
  • Free swag
  • Free samples
  • Exclusive content
  • Rewards points

Keep in mind that small monetary gifts for everyone actually incentivizes responses more than entry into sweepstakes with large cash prizes.

Tip #7: Test everything.

You can learn all the best tips and tricks and still not produce surveys that resonate with your audience. How do you determine what will work? Test everything.

A/B test survey subject lines, find out the best time to send them, how long after a purchase or interaction, and even what type of questions you ask and how you ask them. You can even test which incentives work better: free shipping, a percentage discount, or a dollar discount.

A good way to use testing is to figure out how to talk and engage with your customers. Figure out if they like being called by their first names or just their last name. See if incorporating their purchase into the email copy works. Does “How are you liking that new spatula, Jane?” work better than “Rate your new spatula”? Test and find out!

Bonus Tip: Respond to submitted surveys.

A big reason people don’t respond to surveys? They don’t think it’ll make a difference.

Send automated thank yous immediately after the survey (as the bare minimum). But if you’re going through responses and see bad ones that you can address directly, do so and let your customers know. Alternatively, when they’re really good, let the customer know how appreciative you are of their response and their business.

If you’re really adventurous, you can even work their sentiment and feedback into future engagement messaging. If customers had a problem with an app, let them know that you’ve updated it. If they really liked a product, share when you get new color options.

While it might not immediately increase your survey response rate, customers will appreciate that their voice is being heard.

It takes a grab-bag of tricks to increase customer survey response rates.

If your customer survey response rates are low, try implementing several of these tips. It’s no secret that consumers are reaching survey fatigue, so the more you can do to make it easy, appealing, and beneficial for your customers, the better off you’ll be.