Your CX Strategy Should Include Apple Messages for Business. Here’s Why.

Your CX Strategy Should Include Apple Messages for Business. Here’s Why.

A common piece of marketing advice says you should “Meet your customers where they’re at.” These days, there are something like 23 billion text messages sent daily across the world, so your customers are probably on their phones.

Twenty years ago, you could be forgiven for thinking that text messaging was a method of communication reserved for teenagers sending each other inscrutable strings of hieroglyphic emojis, but more and more business is being done this way. It’s now relatively common for contact centers to offer customer support over chat, which means text messaging has emerged as a vital customer service channel.

In this piece, we will focus specifically on one text messaging service, Apple Messages, and how it can be leveraged to create personalized and efficient customer interactions. Along the way, we’ll talk about some of the exciting work being done to leverage AI assistants through text messaging so you can stay one step ahead of the competition.

The Advantages of Apple Messages in Customer Service

Here, we’re going to discuss the myriad advantages conferred by using Apple Messages. But before we do that, it’s worth making sure we’re all on the same page by discussing what Apple Messages is in the first place.

You probably already know that Apple’s line of iPhones supports text messaging, like all mobile phones. But Apple Messages is a distinct product designed to allow businesses like yours to interact with customers.

It makes it easy to set up a variety of touchpoints, like QR codes, an app, or an email message, through which customers can make appointments, raise (and resolve) problems, or pay for your services.

There are many ways in which utilizing Apple Messages can help you, which we’ll discuss now.

Personalization at Scale

First, tools like Apple Messages allow businesses to personalize communication at a scale and sophistication never seen before.

This personalization is achieved with machine learning, which has consistently been at the forefront of automated content customization. For instance, Netflix is well-known for identifying trends in your viewing habits and using algorithms to recommend shows that align with your preferences. Now, thanks to generative AI, this technology is making its way into text messaging.

Yesterday’s language models often lacked the flexibility for personalized customer interactions, sounding “robotic” and “artificial.” Modern models significantly bolster agents’ ability to tailor their conversations to the specific context. Though they do not completely replace the unique human element, for a contact center manager focused on enhancing customer experience, this represents a significant advancement.

Speed and Convenience

Another place where text messaging shines strategically is its speed and convenience. Texting became popular in the first place because it streamlined the communication process. But, unlike with a phone call, this communication could be done privately, without disturbing others.

Customers needing to troubleshoot an issue while they’re on the bus or somewhere public will likely want to do so with a chat interface. This provides the opportunity to

High Engagement Rates

One aspect of a customer communication strategy you’ll have to consider is what the likely engagement with it will be. Text messaging, particularly through platforms like Apple Messages, boasts higher open and response rates than other channels.

The statistics backing this up are compelling – 98% of text messages sent to customers are opened and eventually read, with fully 90% of them being read just three minutes after being received. Even better, nearly half (48%) of text messages sent to customers get responses.

On its own, this indicates the enormous potential for text-messaging strategies to get your customers talking to you, but when you consider the fact that only around a quarter of emails are opened and read, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that you should be investing seriously in this channel.

Leveraging AI in Apple Messages

Artificial intelligence, especially large language models, are all the rage these days, and they’re being deployed in text messages as well. Since Apple Messages allows you to use your own bots and virtual agents, it’s worth spending a few minutes talking about how generative AI can help.

There are a few different ways in which an AI customer service agent can streamline your customer service operations.

The simplest is by directly resolving issues—or helping customers to directly resolve their own issues—with little need for intervention by human contact center agents. There are many problems that are too involved for this to work, of course, but if all a customer needs to do is reset a password it could well be sufficient.

(Note, however, that Apple Messages requires you to include an option allowing a customer to escalate to a human agent. As things stand today, that part is non-negotiable).

Even when a human agent needs to get involved, however, generative AI can help. The Quiq conversational CX platform has a tool called “Quiq Compose”, for example, which can help format replies. An agent can input a potential reply with grammatical mistakes, misspellings, and a lack of warmth, and Quiq Compose will work its magic to turn the reply into something polished and empathic.

Improving Contact Center Performance with Apple Messages

Assuming that you’ve set up Apple Messages and supercharged it with the latest and greatest AI customer service agent, what can you expect to happen? That’s the question we’ll address in these sections.

Reducing Response Times

When combined with AI assistants and related technologies, Apple Messages can significantly reduce response times and increase customer satisfaction. It’s well known that contact center agents are often juggling multiple conversations at a time, and it can be hard to keep it all straight. But when they’re backed up by chatbots, Quiq Compose, etc., they can handle this volume in less time than ever before.

Generative AI is now good enough to carry on relatively lightweight interactions, answer basic questions, and help solve myriad issues; this, by itself, will almost certainly reduce response times. But it also means that agents can pivot to focusing on the thorniest, highest-priority tasks, which will further drive response times down.

Increasing Resolution Rates

For all the reasons just mentioned, AI assistants can increase resolution rates. Part of this will stem from the fact that fewer customers will fall through the cracks or end their calls early. But it will also come from agents being less rushed and more able to work on those tickets that really require their attention.

This is easy to see with an example. Imagine two people, each with daunting lists of chores they’re not sure they can finish. One of them is all on their own, while the other can outsource the most banal 30% of their tasks to robots.

Who would you bet on to have the highest chore resolution rate?

Implementing Apple Messages in Your Contact Center

The basic steps for getting started with Apple Messages are easy to follow.

First, you have to register your account. We’ve been using the name “Apple Messages” throughout this piece, but its full name is “Apple Messages for Business,” and your account must be tied to an actual business to be eligible.

Then, you have to create an account where your branding assets will live and where you’ll select the Messaging Service Provider (MSP) that you’d like to use. Apple will then review your submission, and, after a few days, will tell you whether you’ve been approved. As you’re planning your text messaging efforts, make sure that you’re factoring in the approval process.

With that done, you’ll have to start thinking in detail about your customer’s journey by filling out a Use Case template. You need to outline what you hope to achieve with text messaging, then decide on the entry points you want to offer your customers.

Next up, you’ll work out the user experience. This involves creating the automated messages you want to use, configuring Apple Pay if relevant, and designing customer satisfaction surveys.

Afterward, you need to set up metrics to figure out how your text messages are landing and whether there are things you can do to improve. If you’ve read our past articles on leveraging customer insights, you know how important data is to your ultimate success.

Last of all, Apple will spend a week or two reviewing everything you’ve accomplished in these steps and deciding whether anything else needs to be tweaked. Assuming you pass, you’re ready to go with Apple Messages!

Final Thoughts on Why Your Business Should Use Apple Messages

Contact centers are increasingly coming to resemble technology companies, and the rise of Apple Messages is a great illustration of that. Apple Messages makes it easy to deploy AI assistants to interact with your customers, thereby reaping the enormous benefits of automation.

And speaking of the benefits of automation, check out the Quiq platform while you’re at it. We’ve worked hard to suss out the best ways of applying artificial intelligence to contact centers, and have built a product around our findings. We’ve helped many others, and we can help you too!

Building Better Customer Relationships with Text Messaging

Customer engagement is constantly evolving and the trend towards more customer-centric experiences hasn’t slowed. Businesses are increasingly having to provide faster, easier, and more friendly ways of initiating and responding to customer’s inquiries.

Businesses that adapt to this continually changing environment will ensure they deliver superior service along with desirable products, thus boosting engagement rates.

This is where customer engagement strategies based on text messaging enter the picture. This mode of communication has overtaken traditional methods, like phone and email, as consumers prefer the ease, convenience, and hassle-free nature of text messaging.

Texting isn’t just for friends and family anymore and consumers are choosing this channel more often as it fits their on-the-go lifestyle.

The move to text messaging is a part of this new era of building customer relationships, and both businesses and consumers can benefit.

The old customer engagement marketing strategies are fading

As recently as two decades ago, the world of business and customer service was a completely different place. Company agents and representatives used forms of customer engagement like trade shows, promotional emails, letters, and phone calls to promote their products and services.

While these methods are still used in a wide range of industries, many companies today are turning to new ways of maintaining customer loyalty.

According to the Pew Research Center, about 96% of Americans own a cell phone of some kind. Text messaging is a highly popular form of communication in people’s everyday lives. As such, it only seems natural that companies would use texting as a service, sales, and marketing tool. Their results have been astounding, and that’s what we’ll explore in the next section.

The advantages of digital customer engagement strategies

While sending text messages to customers may be a new frontier for many companies, businesses are finding the personal, casual nature of this medium is part of what makes it so effective.

Some of the benefits that come with text-based customer service include:

Hassle-free customer service access

Consumers love instant messaging because it’s easy and allows them to engage, ask questions, and get information without having to make a phone call or meet face-to-face.

One of the hallmarks of our increasingly digital world is how hard businesses work to make things easy – think of 1-click shopping on Amazon (you don’t have to click two buttons), how smartphones enable contactless payment (you don’t have to pull your card out), the way Alexa responds to voice commands (you don’t have to click anything), and the way Netflix automatically plays the next episode of a show you’re binging (you don’t even have to move).

These expectations are becoming more ingrained in the minds of consumers, especially young ones, and they are unlikely to be enthusiastic about needing to call an agent or go into the store to resolve any problems they have.

Timely responses and service

Few things turn a customer off faster than sending an email or making a phone call, then having to wait days for a response. With text message customer service, you can stay connected 24/7 and provide timely responses and solutions. Artificial intelligence is one customer engagement technology that will make this even easier in the years ahead (more on this below).

The personal touch

Customers are more likely to stick around if they believe you care about their personal needs. Texting will allow you to take a more individualized approach, communicating with customers in the same way they might communicate with friends. This stands in contrast to the stiffer, more formal sorts of interactions that tend to happen over the phone or in person.

A dynamic variety of solutions

Text messaging provides unique opportunities for marketing, sales, and customer support. For example, you might use texting to help troubleshoot a product, promote new sales, send coupons, and more.

None of these things are impossible to do with older approaches to customer service but think of how pain-free it would be for a busy single mom to ask a question, check the reply when she stops to pick up her daughter from school, ask another question, check the new reply when she gets home, etc. This is vastly easier than finding a way to carve three hours out of the day to go into the store to speak to an agent directly.

To make these ideas easier to digest, here is a table summarizing the ground we’ve just covered:

The Old Way The New Way
Method of Delivery Phone calls, pamphlets, trade shows, face-to-face conversations Text messaging
Difficulty Requires spending time on the phone, driving to a physical location, or making an appointment. Only requires a phone and the ability to text on it.
Timeliness Can take hours or days to get a reply. Replies should be almost instantaneous.
Personalization Good agents might be able to personalize the interaction, but it’s more difficult.  Personalizing messages and meeting a customer on their own terms because natural and easy.
Variety Does offer ways of solving problems or upselling customers, but only at the cost of more effort from the agent.  Sales and customer support can be embedded seamlessly in existing conversations, and those conversations fit better into a busy modern lifestyle.

​​Why this all matters

These benefits matter because 64% of Americans would rather receive a text than a phone call. It’s clear what the consumers want, and it’s the business’s job to deliver.

Because text messaging can help you engage with customers on a more personal level, it can increase customer loyalty, lead to more conversions, and in general boost engagement rates.

What’s more, text-based customer relationships will likely be transformed by the advent of generative artificial intelligence, especially large language models (LLMs). This technology will make it so easy to offer 24/7 availability that everyone will take it for granted, to say nothing of how it can personalize replies based on customer-specific data, translate between languages, answer questions in different levels of detail, etc.

Texting already provides agents with the ability to manage multiple customers at a time, but they’ll be able to accommodate far higher volumes when they’re working alongside machines, boosting efficiency and saving huge amounts of time.

Some day soon, businesses will look back on the days when human beings had to do all of this with a sense of gratitude for how technology has streamlined the process of delivering a top-shelf customer experience.

And it is exactly this customer satisfaction that’ll allow those businesses to increase profits and make room for business growth over time.

Request a demo from Quiq today

In the future, as in the past, customer service will change with the rise of new technologies and strategies. If you don’t want to be left behind, contact Quiq today for a demo.

We not only make it easy to integrate text messaging into your broader approach to building customer relationships, we also have bleeding-edge language models that will allow you to automate substantial parts of your workflow.

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Before You Develop a Mobile App For Your Business—Read This

Remember when every business was coming out with an app? Your favorite clothing brand, that big retail chain, your neighborhood grocery store, and even your babysitter jumped on the bandwagon and claimed real estate on their customers’ mobile devices.

It probably made you think: Do we need an app for our business?

Despite the many benefits of an app, diving headfirst into development can drain your team’s time and resources without the guarantee of a return. Done poorly, it can even hinder your customer experience. Before you do any mobile app development, you need a plan.

This article will take you through some of the lessons learned from working with brands that deliver world-class experiences within apps and beyond.

Why do companies build apps?

Apps are powerful marketing tools for all kinds of businesses—and none more than e-commerce. Here are some of the top reasons why businesses build an app.

A place for loyal customers.

Almost by default, a mobile app is an exclusive space for your loyal customers. Think about the last time you downloaded an app. It probably wasn’t for a business you buy from once a year. It’s almost always a brand you follow closely or a service you use frequently.

Providing an app is basically like creating a direct line of communication with your best customers. You can create exclusive content, provide a better shopping experience, and unlock early access to products and services. Apps are great ways to turn good customers into great ones.

Mobile device real estate.

On average, Americans check their phones 344 times per day—or once every 4 minutes. And 88% of the time we spend on our phones is spent in apps, according to Business Insider. Having your brand logo as an icon on your customers’ home screens is invaluable real estate.

Push notifications.

When customers have push notifications turned on, it’s another way to speak directly to your customers. Push notifications are great engagement tools, and you can connect with customers using timely and personalized communications and ultimately drive in-app sales.

Beating out or keeping up with competitors.

Standing out from the competition is another reason many businesses build apps. If your competitors are using apps to stand out from the crowd, then it often compels businesses to do the same.

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What are the drawbacks of using building an app?

While mobile apps are still extremely popular, they have some major drawbacks for brands not ready to invest in them.

Phones are overcrowded.

Whereas building an app five years ago meant you stood out from the crowd, now you’re just one of many. People have an average of 80 apps on their phones, but they’re only using around nine a day.

Basically, that means mobile users are downloading apps and not using them on a regular basis. In fact, 25% of apps are used once and then never opened again, according to Statista.

Having an app doesn’t guarantee your customers’ attention or engagement—that’s still up to your marketing team.

There’s a big upfront investment.

Whether you enlist the help of your development team or outsource app creation, it’s a big lift. Getting a mobile app up and running takes significant resources, and while there may be a return on investment, it isn’t guaranteed.

When you’re already overwhelmed with your current development efforts, adding another microsite to manage could just make it worse.

You’ll double your marketing efforts.

More push notifications, more campaigns, more content. An app just means you have to do more to see an increase in revenue. While it could be a valuable asset, there are other, smaller steps you can take that will help you see the same revenue boost without the exponential effort.

Can you deliver rich customer experiences without an app?

Yes! But don’t think we’re anti-app. In fact, a lot of our clients create great apps that are sticky because they provide ongoing value to their customers. These clients are able to reach a whole set of people in their moment of need and build trust as they continue to look to the app for help.

However, many of the marketing and customer service goals that drive businesses to create an app can be achieved through rich business messaging. Here are a few examples.

Want to speak directly to your customers? Try outbound SMS.

Push notifications are extremely effective at connecting with customers, but it only takes a few taps to turn them off.

A similar communication method is outbound SMS messaging. You can personalize messages and deliver real-time communications via text messaging. Plus, with rich messaging capabilities, you can send interactive media like images, cards, emojis, and videos to enhance every conversation.

Want to engage with your customers? Use Google Business Messages.

Get customers from Google directly in communication with your customer service agents using Google Business Messages.

Customers can tap a message button right from Google search to connect with your team. (And since 92% of searches start with Google, there’s a good chance your customers will take advantage of this feature.)

Want to enhance your customer experience? Use Apple Messages for Business.

If you’re after a branded experience and want to meet user expectations, Apple Messages for Business delivers. Apple device users can simply tap the message icon from Maps, Siri, Safari, Spotlight, or your company’s website and instantly connect with your team.

You’ll deliver a rich messaging experience, plus your branding upfront and center. Your company name, logo, and colors will be featured in the messaging app, delivering a fully branded experience for your customers.

Want to be more social? Connect Quiq with social platforms.

Clients using Quiq are uniquely equipped with a conversational engagement platform that provides rich experiences to users across chat and business messaging channels.

This means that companies can provide content-rich, personalized experiences across SMS/text business messaging, web chat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

Your brand can be on social platforms without working across them. Quiq gives your team access to all these messaging channels within one easy-to-use message center. So, unlike an app, adding more channels doesn’t necessarily increase the workload. It just gives your customers more ways to connect with you.

Should you consider business messaging over an app?

There’s no either/or choice here. Both can be part of a thriving marketing and customer service strategy. But if you’re looking for a way to engage your customers and haven’t tried business messaging—start there.

If you’re on the fence, consider this:

  1. You don’t have to build an app—you only have to implement business messaging.
  2. Customers don’t have to download and learn anything to connect with you. Business messaging is right there in communication channels they already know and love, like texting and social media.

Engage customers with or without an app.

The main goal of most apps is to help build long-term relationships with customers. Whether you choose to build an app or not, business messaging supports this goal by providing information, support, and help at the customer’s exact moment of need.

Quiq powers conversations between customers and companies across the most convenient and preferred engagement channels. With Quiq, you’ll have meaningful, timely, and personalized conversations with your customers that can be easily managed in a simplified UI.

Ready to see how business messaging can help you engage your customers with or without an app? Request a demo or try it for yourself today.

Agent Efficiency: How to Collect Better Metrics

Your contact center experience has a direct impact on your bottom line. A positive customer experience can nudge them toward a purchase, encourage repeat business, or turn them into loyal brand advocates.

But a bad run-in with your contact center? That can turn them off of your business for life.

No matter your industry, customer service plays a vital role in financial success. While it’s easy to look at your contact center as an operational cost, it’s truly an investment in the future of your business.

To maximize your return on investment, your contact center must continually improve. That means tracking contact center effectiveness and agent efficiency is critical.

But before you make any changes, you need to understand how your customer service center currently operates. What’s working? What needs improvement? And what needs to be cut?

Let’s examine how contact centers can measure customer service performance and boost efficiency.

What metrics should you monitor?

The world of contact center metrics is overwhelming—to say the least. There are hundreds of data points to track to assess customer satisfaction, agent effectiveness, and call center success.

But to make meaningful improvements, you need to begin with a few basic metrics. Here are three to start with.

1. Response time.

Response time refers to how long, on average, it takes for a customer to reach an agent. Reducing the amount of time it takes to respond to customers can increase customer satisfaction and prevent customer abandonment.

Response time is a top factor for customer satisfaction, with 83% expecting to interact with someone immediately when they contact a company, according to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report.

When using response time to measure agent efficiency, have different target goals set for different channels. For example, a customer calling in or using web chat will expect an immediate response, while an email may have a slightly longer turnaround. Typically, messaging channels like SMS text fall somewhere in between.

If you want to measure how often your customer service team meets your target response times, you can also track your service level. This metric is the percentage of messages and calls answered by customer service agents within your target time frame.

2. Agent occupancy.

Agent occupancy is the amount of time an agent spends actively occupied on a customer interaction. It’s a great way to quickly measure how busy your customer service team is.

An excessively low occupancy suggests you’ve hired more agents than contact volume demands. At the same time, an excessively high occupancy may lead to agent burnout and turnover, which have their own negative effects on efficiency.

3. Customer satisfaction.

The most important contact center performance metric, customer satisfaction, should be your team’s main focus. Customer satisfaction, or CSAT, typically asks customers one question: How satisfied are you with your experience?

Customers respond using a numerical scale to rate their experience from very dissatisfied (0 or 1) to very satisfied (5). However, the range can vary based on your business’s preferences.

You can calculate CSAT scores using this formula:

Number of satisfied customers ÷ total number of respondents x 100 = CSAT

CSAT’s a great first metric to measure since it’s extremely important in measuring your agents’ effectiveness, and it’s easy for customers to complete.

There are lots of options for measuring different aspects of customer satisfaction, like customer effort score and Net Promoter Score®. Whichever you choose, ensure you use it consistently for continuous customer input.

Bonus tip: Capturing customer feedback and agent performance data is easier with contact center software. Not only can the software help with customer relationship management, but it can facilitate customer surveys, track agent data, and more.

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How to assess contact center metrics.

Once you’ve measured your current customer center operations, you can start assessing and taking action to improve performance and boost customer satisfaction. But looking at the data isn’t as easy as it seems. Here are some things to keep in mind as you start to base decisions on your numbers.

Figure out your reporting methods.

How will you gather this information? What timeframes will you measure? Who’s included in your measurements? These are just a few questions you need to answer before you can start analyzing your data.

Contact center software, or even more advanced conversational AI platforms like Quiq, can help you track metrics and even put together reports that are ready for your management team to analyze and take action on.

Analyze data over time.

When you’re just starting out, it can be hard to contextualize your data. You need benchmarks to know whether your CSAT rating or occupancy rates are good or bad. While you can start with industry benchmarks, the most effective way to analyze data is to measure it against yourself over periods of time.

It takes months or even years for trends to reveal themselves. Start with comparative measurements and then work your way up. Month-over-month data or even quarter-over-quarter can give you small windows into what’s working and what’s not working. Just leave the big department-wide changes until you’ve collected enough data for it to be meaningful.

Don’t forget about context.

You can’t measure contact center metrics in a silo. Make sure you look at what’s going on throughout your organization and in the industry as a whole before making any changes. For example, a drop in customer response time might have to do with the influx of messages caused by a faulty product.

While collecting the data is easy, analyzing it and drawing conclusions is much more difficult. Keep the whole picture in mind when making any important decisions.
How to improve call center agent efficiency.
Now that you have the numbers, you can start making changes to improve your agent efficiency. Start with these tips.

Make incremental changes.

Don’t be tempted to make wide-reaching changes across your entire contact center team when you’re not happy with the data. Select specific metrics to target and make incremental changes that move the needle in the right direction.

For example, if your agent occupancy rates are high, don’t rush to add new members to your team. Instead, see what improvements you can make to agent efficiency. Maybe there’s some call center software you can invest in that’ll improve call turnover. Or perhaps all your team needs is some additional training on how to speed up their customer interactions. No matter what you do, track your changes.

Streamline backend processes.

Agents can’t perform if they’re constantly searching for answers on slow intranets or working with outdated information. Time spent fighting with old technology is time not spent serving your contact center customers.

Now’s the perfect time to consider a conversational platform that allows your customers to reach out using the preferred channel but still keeps the backend organized and efficient for your team.

Agents can bounce back and forth between messaging channels without losing track of conversations. Customers get to chat with your brand how they want, where they want, and your team gets to preserve the experience and deliver snag-free customer service.

Improve agent efficiency with Quiq’s Conversational AI Platform

If you want to improve your contact center’s efficiency and customer satisfaction ratings, Quiq’s conversational customer engagement software is your new best friend.

Quiq’s software enables agents to manage multiple conversations simultaneously and message customers across channels, including text and web chat. By giving customers more options for engaging with customer service, Quiq reduces call volume and allows contact center agents to focus on the conversations with the highest priority.

How To Be The Leader Of Personalized CX In Your Industry

Customer expectations are evolving alongside AI technology, at an unprecedented pace. People are more informed, connected, and demanding than ever before, and they expect nothing less than exceptional customer experiences (CX) from the brands they interact with.

This is where personalized customer experience comes in.

By tailoring CX to individual customers’ needs, preferences, and behaviors, businesses can create more meaningful connections, build loyalty, and drive revenue growth.
In this article, we will explore the power of personalized CX in industries and how it can help businesses stay ahead of the curve.

What is Personalized CX?

Personalized CX refers to the process of tailoring customer experiences to individual customers based on their unique needs, preferences, and behaviors. This involves using customer data and insights to create targeted and relevant interactions across multiple touchpoints, such as websites, mobile apps, social media, and customer service channels.

Personalization can take many forms, from simple tactics like using a customer’s name in a greeting to more complex strategies like recognizing that they are likely to be asking a question about the order that was delivered today. The goal is to create a seamless and consistent experience that makes customers feel valued and understood.

Why is Personalized CX Important?

Personalized CX has become increasingly important in industries for several reasons:

1. Rising Customer Expectations

Today’s customers expect personalized experiences across all industries, from retail and hospitality to finance and healthcare. In fact, according to a survey by Epsilon, 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences.

2. Increased Competition

As industries become more crowded and competitive, businesses need to find new ways to differentiate themselves. Personalized CX can help brands stand out by creating a unique and memorable experience that sets them apart from their competitors.

3. Improved Customer Loyalty and Retention

Personalized CX can help businesses build stronger relationships with their customers by creating a sense of loyalty and emotional connection. According to a survey by Accenture, 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that recognizes them by name, recommends products based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history.

4. Increased Revenue

By providing personalized CX, businesses can also increase revenue by creating more opportunities for cross-selling and upselling. According to a study by McKinsey, personalized recommendations can drive 10-30% of revenue for e-commerce businesses.

Industries That Can Benefit From Personalized CX

Personalized CX can benefit almost any industry, but some industries are riper for personalization than others.

Here are some industries that can benefit the most from personalized CX:

1. Retail

Retail is one of the most obvious industries that can benefit from personalized CX. By using customer data and insights, retailers can create tailored product recommendations and personalized support based on products purchased and current order status.

2. Hospitality

In the hospitality industry, personalized CX can create a more memorable and enjoyable experience for guests. From personalized greetings to customized room amenities, hospitality businesses can use personalization to create a sense of luxury and exclusivity.

3. Healthcare

Personalized CX is also becoming increasingly important in healthcare. By tailoring healthcare experiences to individual patients’ needs and preferences, healthcare providers can create a more patient-centered approach that improves outcomes and satisfaction.

4. Finance

In the finance industry, personalized CX can help businesses create more targeted and relevant offers and services. By using customer data and insights, financial institutions can offer personalized recommendations for investments, loans, and insurance products.

Best Practices for Implementing Personalized CX in Industries

Implementing personalized CX requires a strategic approach and a deep understanding of customers’ preferences and behaviors.

Here are some best practices for implementing personalized CX in industries:

1. Collect and Use Customer Data Wisely

Collecting customer data is essential for personalized CX, but it’s important to do so in a way that respects customers’ privacy and preferences. Businesses should be transparent about the data they collect and how they use it, and give customers the ability to opt out of data collection.

2. Use Technology to Scale Personalization

Personalizing CX for every individual customer can be a daunting task, especially for large businesses. Using technology, such as machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI), can help businesses scale personalization efforts and make them more efficient.

3. Be Relevant and Timely

Personalized CX is only effective if it’s relevant and timely. Businesses should use customer data to create targeted and relevant offers, messages, and interactions that resonate with customers at the right time.

4. Focus on the Entire Customer Journey

Personalization shouldn’t be limited to a single touchpoint or interaction. To create a truly personalized CX, businesses should focus on the entire customer journey, from awareness to purchase and beyond.

5. Continuously Test and Optimize

Personalized CX is a continuous process that requires constant testing and optimization. Businesses should use data and analytics to track the effectiveness of their personalization efforts and make adjustments as needed.

Challenges of Implementing Personalized CX in Industries

While the benefits of personalized CX are clear, implementing it in industries can be challenging. Here are some of the challenges businesses may face:

1. Data Privacy and Security Concerns

Collecting and using customer data for personalization raises concerns about data privacy and security. Businesses must ensure they are following best practices for data collection, storage, and usage to protect their customers’ information.

2. Integration with Legacy Systems

Personalization requires a lot of data and advanced technology, which may not be compatible with legacy systems. Businesses may need to invest in new infrastructure and systems to support personalized CX.

3. Lack of Skilled Talent

Personalized CX requires a skilled team with expertise in data analytics, machine learning, and AI. Finding and retaining this talent can be a challenge for businesses, especially smaller ones.

4. Resistance to Change

Implementing personalized CX requires significant organizational change, which can be met with resistance from employees and stakeholders. Businesses must communicate the benefits of personalization and provide training and support to help employees adapt.

Personalized CX is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have for businesses that want to stay competitive in today’s digital age. By tailoring CX to individual customers’ needs, preferences, and behaviors, businesses can create more meaningful connections, build loyalty, and drive revenue growth. While implementing personalized CX in industries can be challenging, the benefits far outweigh the costs.

Live Chat: Is it Effective for Online Customer Service?

Implementing new technology in any department can be scary—but it’s even scarier when it’s customer-facing. We’re sure you’ve heard of live web chat, and even used it in your personal life, but you’re hesitant to launch it in your customer service team.

Will your customers want to use it? What will your customer service agents think? Is web chat (also known as live chat) even effective?

With a sluggish economy on the horizon for the foreseeable future, you can’t afford to implement new technology without doing your due diligence and putting in the research. Should you implement web chat?

Let’s dive in.

What is live web chat?

Web chat, aka live chat, is a two-way, text-based conversation that happens on your website. A chat box typically lives on the bottom right corner of your site. It pops up when the chat is active but can be minimized when not in use.

The best part? The conversation follows your customer as they navigate across different pages of your website.

While it’s often called live chat, the name is a big misnomer. A major benefit of live chat is its immediacy, but it doesn’t always have to happen in real-time. With the right conversational platform, you can have asynchronous conversations with your customers as they come and go from your site.

What’s an asynchronous conversation? It’s a conversation where both parties don’t have to be present at the same time. It’s also typically characterized by not having a specific beginning or end. So instead of a customer coming to you with a specific problem, getting their answer, and leaving the conversation, asynchronous conversations are much more fluid. Customers can ask a question as they’re perusing your site, get distracted by daily life, and come back with their questions answered.

What the statistics say.

The numbers speak for themselves when it comes to the effectiveness of web chat. According to Shopify, 41% of consumers want live chat while shopping online, and Salesforce reports 42% prefer it. While those numbers are impressive by themselves, they don’t tell the full story.

When it comes to customer satisfaction, live chat beats out almost every other form of customer service communication. Phone calls (talk) are the only medium that customers report having higher satisfaction ratings.

While it seems unusual at first blush, it makes sense when you consider response time and first-resolution time—two things that customers often rank as high on their list of important customer service factors.

satisfaction by channel

Source: Zendesk

Better customer satisfaction ultimately turns into higher customer conversion rates and more positive reviews, which is often a large contributing factor to business success over time.

It is easy to understand why live chat increases customer satisfaction rates when your customers know they can get the convenience of service at their fingertips rather than waiting on hold or sending an email and waiting for a response. The immediacy of live chat is the more modern way customers get answers and complete transactions.

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What are the benefits of using live chat?

Customer service effectiveness can be measured by changes in consumer satisfaction and conversion rates. Live chat is a boon to both customers and agents because it offers both sides a more frictionless way to engage. Take a look at some of the benefits.

Provide immediate, intuitive service.

Just because a conversation has the opportunity to be asynchronous doesn’t mean you should make your customers wait. According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report, 83% of customers expect to interact with someone immediately when contacting a business. Design your asynchronous live chat strategy around flexibility for your customers, not more time for your agents to respond.

Create customer-centric experiences.

As e-commerce replaces more traditional in-person shopping experiences, customers want more convenient and personalized service. According to Zendesk, 71% of customers demand natural, conversational experiences. Live chat is the perfect medium to deliver that.

The chat feature is naturally more conversational than email and other cumbersome communication methods. Live chat also won’t interrupt their shopping experience—something 66% of customers prefer.

Boost your bottom line.

Did you know that 78% of surveyed shoppers have abandoned their carts at least once? Web chat can help prevent cart abandonment by making it easy to ask quick questions and enabling sales and service agents to interact proactively with customers. Helping customers when they’re actively engaged on your site helps reduce the likelihood of them bouncing to another page.

Increase brand loyalty.

Businesses ready to answer their customer’s questions quickly and in a friendly way begin to create a lasting bond built on trust and respect. Live chat is an open door to consumers who want to engage with your brand. Brands that make themselves available more often to their customers will reap the rewards of customers who feel that their time and attention are valued by your brand, earning their repeat business and referrals.

How do you make live chat more effective?

Live chat is effective—and even more so when paired with Quiq’s AI conversational platform. But like any tool, your success depends on how well you use it. Here are a few strategies to improve your live chat experience.

Have conversations with context.

Context is a vital piece of the puzzle when interacting with customers online. In fact, 70% of customers expect anyone they interact with to know their shopping history.

Quiq’s conversational AI platform helps conversations follow the user no matter which channels they use. It also ensures that every customer service agent has the customer’s history through integrations with ERPs and CRMs.

Pair chatbots with live chat.

Companies that enable chatbots, as well as human agents, as part of their live web chat strategy are able to manage an even higher number of customer inquiries. Companies like Brinks Home Security have enabled multiple purpose-built chatbots that route customers to the most appropriate queue or agent, automate the referral process, and even boost conversions of promotional offers.

A dazzling example of live chat in action.

Quiq customer and diamond dealer Blue Nile knew their online shopping experience needed to be top-tier for such a luxury product. When customers interacted with their diamond experts, they converted at a rate 15x higher than when they visited the website alone. So Blue Nile knew they needed to create the best live chat experience possible.

With help from Quiq, they designed a chatbot to send customers to the appropriate person for their needs. If they had a post-purchase question, they went to customer service. But if they had a product question, they went directly to a Blue Nile Diamond Expert. This increased their sales interactions by 70%.

70% growth in sales interactions and 35% increase in successful sales transactions using Quiq web chat and chatbot.

Launch your live chat strategy with Quiq

No matter what industry you work in, live chat can have a major influence on your business’s success. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how Quiq can help enhance your customer service experience.

10 Benefits of Business Messaging for Customer Service

You send messages to your friends, family, and coworkers—so why not your customers?

Just the idea of call centers evokes the drone of bored customer service agents, long hold times, and endlessly ringing phones. But there’s a better way.

Business messaging.

Business messaging benefits your customers, your agents, and your business. Keep reading to find out how.

Why should you use business messaging? Here are 10 reasons.

Customer service is all about meeting customer needs, and business messaging hits many of those pain points. But it also comes with benefits for your agents and your bottom line. Take a look at these 10 reasons you should adopt business messaging.

For customers

Customers are your number one priority, so embracing ways to connect with them on their terms with their preferences in mind just makes sense. Why should you adopt customer service messaging? For your customers, of course.

  • It’s more convenient.

What’s the problem with phone conversations? They require both parties’ full attention. Today’s customers don’t want to stop what they’re doing to call customer service about a faulty product (or something even less dire).

According to Zendesk, 66% of customers don’t want customer service interactions to interrupt what they’re doing. Sending a message, whether it be an sms text or a message in Facebook Messenger, is much less disruptive to their day.

It’s inherent in business messages. Since they’re asynchronous (meaning both parties don’t have to be present at the same time), a customer can send a message and continue on with their day. There’s no waiting on hold or giving their full attention to a phone call.

  • There are more opportunities for personalization. 

According to a McKinsey report, 76% of customers get frustrated when customer service interactions aren’t personalized.

And it’s more than just knowing a customer’s name. Seventy percent of customers expect anyone they interact with to have full context of their shopping history and past conversations, according to Zendesk.

Customer service messaging makes personalization much more feasible. A good conversational AI platform will have the customers’ conversations follow them across channels and makes the agent-to-agent handoff seamless.

There’s also something to be said about allowing customers to choose the channel they want to use. Instead of forcing them into one method of communication, you’re letting customers pick the option that best suits their needs. 

  • Customers will be more satisfied.

When you provide this level of convenience and personalization, customers are more satisfied with your service.

Customers are also less likely to spend time on hold while waiting for your customer service agents. Since agents can handle multiple conversations (often 6–8) at once, customer wait times will go down—and satisfaction will go up.

  • Conversations will flow more easily.

Facing a few misunderstandings over the phone? Using business messaging can clear up miscommunications with more organized and concise interactions.

Plus, you can send media with messaging that you can’t do over the phone. With rich messaging features, you or your customers can share pictures, videos, and more. Use it for things like video walkthroughs, diagrams, directions, etc.

  • You’ll engage customers before they hit roadblocks.

Customer service goes well beyond solving customer problems. Many times, it’s about anticipating needs—and customer service messaging is the perfect communication method to do so.

There are far more opportunities to engage with your customers using business messaging than when you’re relying on email and voice calls. Through sms messaging for business, live chat (also known as web chat), and other forms of messaging, you can interact with customers without disrupting their day. Send well-timed messages while they browse your website, and customize them based on their browsing history.

Consider the following:

  • The welcome message triggered when they first visit your site
  • A discount code if they’ve stalled on a product page
  • An offer of help when something is added to a cart

More engagement early on also leads to a better overall customer experience. You’re going to your customers before they have a question or problem, not dealing with one after the fact.

For agents

You can’t forget your customer service agents! They’re in the trenches every day, fielding calls from irate customers and trying to hit their goals. Business messaging helps them do both.

  • It streamlines productivity.

Customer service messaging gives your agents the ability to chat with multiple customers at once. Instead of being tied to the phone with one on one conversations, they can pop in and out of multiple at once. On average, customer service agents can handle 6–8 conversations at once with business messaging.

A conversational AI platform will help agents keep all the conversations straight so no customers fall through the cracks.

  • It promotes more efficient conversations.

When agents are overwhelmed, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to serve customers quickly. Business messaging makes that possible.

Using a conversational AI platform to facilitate business messaging supports your agents with intelligent tools. Here are few features that can speed up conversations and increase agent efficiency:

  • Sentiment analysis
  • Queue routing
  • Predictive text
  • Chatbot support

All of these features are built to help agents help customers faster.

For the bottom line

Customer service is often seen as a cost center instead of a profit center, but a good support center absolutely impacts your bottom line. According to Zendesk, 70% of customers spend more with companies that offer a fluid, personalized, and seamless customer experience. Supporting your business with customer service messaging is the way to do it.

  • It’s more cost-effective.

Since customer service agents can handle multiple conversations at once, you need fewer resources to manage the same number of customer interactions. 

  • You can collect real-time feedback.

Messaging makes it easier for customers to share product and service feedback in real-time. You can even send out automated surveys at the end of every interaction to get a peek into customer satisfaction rates.

  • You’ll gain a competitive advantage.

With all the benefits to your customers, messaging can quickly become your business’s competitive advantage. Customers will want to work with organizations that provide excellent and convenient service, which you’ll be more equipped to provide with messaging.

Which business messaging channels are best?

You can’t be everywhere all at once—or can you? Messaging with a conversational AI platform makes it easy for agents to connect with customers across channels.

According to Zendesk benchmark data, just 42%of businesses offer two or more support channels, so offering multiple ways to connect will help you stand out. You don’t need to dive into every channel right away, but it’s easier than you might think. (Check out this article for best practices by channel.)

Here are the top messaging channels for customer service.

SMS text messaging

If you need a fast and convenient way to connect with customers, sms customer service is the way to do it. SMS text messaging uses a communication method nearly everyone is familiar with. There’s no app downloading, phone calling, or tricky emails to remember.

Google Business Messaging

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. It’s a great way to connect organically with customers directly from Google.

Apple Messages for Business

Apple Messages for Business connects iOS and macOS users to your business in brand-new ways. It takes no additional downloads from your customers and provides a holistic experience. Customers can find your business and start conversations from Safari, Maps, Search, Siri, or your website.

Web chat

Web chat or live chat is when you embed a chat box directly on your website. Web chat is a great tool to support customers throughout the buyer’s journey since they need to be on your website to use it.

Facebook Messenger

Since 1.3 billion people use Facebook Messenger globally, it’s safe to say you can find your customers there, too.

With Messenger, you can send text, pictures, video, and link messenger. Customers message you directly (and vice versa) using your company page from the Messenger mobile app or the chat window via desktop.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp may not be a traditional method of communication, but it boasts 2 billion active users worldwide, so you shouldn’t sleep on this communication giant.

Put customer service messaging to work for your business.

The benefits of business messaging are clear: convenience for your customers, efficiency for your agents, and a boost to your bottom line for your business.

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How to Create an Effective Business Text Messaging Strategy – The Ultimate Guide

U up? Text messaging replaced other communication methods for consumers all over the world. So why wouldn’t that extend to businesses?

Business text messaging is a great way to communicate with customers on their terms in their own messaging app. But it can be a challenge when you don’t have a plan.

Customer service is complex on its own, so taking it to a new medium only makes it harder. Knowing how to create an effective customer service text message strategy is the key to succeeding in today’s competitive market.

Why bother with business text messaging?

If you still think text messaging is a new-fangled fad, we’re here to open your eyes to the possibilities. (If you’re already rocking a text messaging strategy and just want to know how to improve it, feel free to skip to the next section—we won’t be offended.)

Your competitors are using it.

While you’re sleeping on text messaging (maybe you still think texting is for sending memes to friends, not business conversations), your competitors have jumped on business messaging and are seeing great returns.

In 2020, business messaging traffic hit 3.5 trillion. That’s up from 3.2 trillion in 2019, a 9.4% year-over-year increase, reports Juniper Research.

You can use business text messaging for all kinds of applications. Here are a few ideas to get your thought train started:

  • Customer support conversations
  • Outbound marketing messages
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Call-to-text in your interactive voice response (IVR) system
  • Complete one-off transactions
  • Use it as an engagement tool

Many businesses have found ways to use text messaging to interact with their customers, and now customers want and expect it.

People respond faster to text messages.

Text messaging has the benefit of being both a quick form of communication and a forgiving one.

Here’s what we mean. According to Forbes, it takes the average person 90 minutes to respond to an email but only 90 seconds to respond to a text message. So customers generally expect quick responses during a text conversation.

However, since the other person’s availability isn’t expected (like it might be with live chat), there’s typically some wiggle room.

So conversations are more likely to follow the customers’ preferred pace. It works when they’re ready for a quick chat, but they can step away whenever they need to.

Your customers want to message you.

Forbes also reported that 74% of customers say their impressions improve when businesses use text messaging. And it makes sense. Customers know how to use text messaging. They don’t have to download a new app or find your website.

When you use text messaging, you fit into your customers’ lives. You’re not asking them to do anything out of the ordinary—and they appreciate that.

If you’re still not convinced, here are nine more reasons why you should consider business text messaging.

Start by dissecting your current text messaging strategy.

Since text messaging is a unique medium with so many aspects to consider, you need a thorough strategy for success. Start by identifying the essentials.

What’s your purpose?

How are you using text messaging? Is it a revenue-driving channel? Are you using it for IVR system overflow? Customer service?

Pick a starting path. Trying to do all the things at once leads to a muddled strategy. Identify why you’re adding text messaging to your business. By starting small and focused, you’ll have the bandwidth to see what’s not working and fix it.

Who’s your audience?

Identify who you’re texting. While nearly every generation uses text messaging on a regular basis, they all use it in different ways. To start, identify who you’re targeting with text messaging. Consider:

  • Demographics like age, location, and income
  • Psychographics like lifestyle, preferences, and needs

Figure out how different audiences want to interact with you using messaging. For example, twenty-something single men will have different preferences than 40-something mothers.

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Use what you know to create a voice guide.

This is where phone-based customer service and text messaging customer service start to diverge. Since words have more weight when written (said the writer), it’s important to give your customer service team some direction.

Put everything you learned in the last section and put it together to decide on the tone of voice for your audience. If you’ve gone through this exercise with your marketing team, you can certainly use what they have and adapt it to fit your customer service and text messaging applications.

Pick your tone.

Text messaging is inherently a more casual medium than email or even voice. But that doesn’t mean you should send text slang. Tailor to your audience and your industry.

For example, if you’re selling luxury air travel to middle-aged business travelers, a professional tone is warranted. Avoid text acronyms, and skip the emojis and memes.

For an audience full of elder millennials with an affinity for plants, include emojis and memes. Stay friendly, upbeat, and as positive as possible.

However, if your audience is filled with college students, keep your tone friendly and to the point, but skip the emojis. Apparently, they’re cheugy 🤷‍♀️.

Create parameters.

Deciding on your tone of voice is only as helpful as the guidelines that go with it. Think about telling your customer service team that emojis are okay, only to see this: 😺🐵🐵🐀❣️❣️❣️😝

That might be overkill, but you get the point. Put guidelines in place, like maybe they can use three to five emojis per conversation but never more than one per text message.

Do the same for the tone of voice. Provide examples of what “professional” means and how it compares to “friendly.” If you’re already using text messaging in your customer support center, pull some examples directly from past conversations.

How to solve problems in a bite-sized format.

SMS texting has 160 characters—that’s not a lot of space to solve customer problems. There’s a lot to consider to keep the conversation flowing toward a quick resolution. Start with these steps.

Step 1: Introduce yourself.

There’s a lot of spam in the texting world. Whether the customer reached out to you or you’re sending a message (after they’ve opted-in, of course), make sure to introduce yourself just as you would on any other channel.

Step 2: Ask the customer to describe the problem.

Before you can solve the problem, you have to know what it is. Ask probing questions to determine the issue. If it’s an issue that can be seen visually, you can even ask for pictures or videos so you can identify the problem easier and exceed user expectations.

Step 3: Keep answers as simple as possible.

With so little space, you want to ensure messages are easy to understand. While SMS is limited to 160 characters, don’t be afraid to send two messages if that’ll help your customer understand the solution better. Just don’t forget to include an indicator that you’re sending multiple messages (e.g., 1 of 2).

Step 4: Include relevant links, videos, or diagrams.

If you’re using rich messaging, send whatever medium will help your customer solve their problems.

The dos and don’ts of business text messaging.

As you plan and launch your messaging strategy, keep these dos and don’ts in mind.

Do develop a prioritization system.

Prioritization plays a major role in organizing the process and improving customer service efficiency. As questions arise, it can help prioritize them based on urgency and order of importance. This helps ensure that troubleshooting questions and general issues are addressed as quickly as possible. Less urgent questions may be able to wait a little longer if necessary.

Here are a couple of examples of ways you can segment customer service questions in order to prioritize them:

  • The order the questions come in: Do you have a first-in-first-out method?
  • Customer sentiment: Are they frustrated or neutral?
  • Urgent question vs. non-urgent question: What can wait?
  • The service or product they’re asking about: Are some more important? Are there certain team members who can handle certain questions?
  • Members vs. nonmembers: Do members get special priority if you have a special program?
  • Self-prioritization: Ask customers directly how urgent their request is.

The best method is to combine these factors to create a foolproof prioritization system. For example, how would you prioritize a frustrated member with a nonurgent question over a neutral, nonmember’s urgent question? Make sure your AI conversational platform and/or customer service agents prioritize according to your guidance.

Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions.

Text messaging is a short medium—but it also lends itself to quick back-and-forth communication. When one small miscommunication can derail a conversation and drive away your customer, it’s imperative that you ask clarifying questions.

Without understanding the problem, you can’t find a solution. If someone has a complex or confusing question, break the question down into parts or ask for clarification. You can send messages like these:

  • “What do you mean when you say [X]?”
  • “Do you mean [Y] when you said [X]?
  • “Can you give me some background on the issue?”
  • “Can you give me an example of when [Z] happened?

Since text messaging can be a limited medium, it’s important to follow up so you understand the problem as best as you can. If you’re still having trouble, don’t be afraid to move to a voice call.

Do make answers clear and understandable.

Communicating with consumers is all about being clear and concise. People come from all types of situations and educational backgrounds, so every customer support agent needs to know how to type a message that’s easy to understand and digest.

A customer who is engaged in the conversation will be more likely to seek help again. Instead of texting long, detailed messages, it’s best to simplify replies into one or two sentences that contain the necessary information. This helps drive more productive conversations and leaves more consumers satisfied at the end of the day.

Don’t forget to follow up with customers.

When a customer has an issue or question, they want to know they’re not just a number. One effective way to show this is by following up after addressing the issue.

Is the consumer satisfied? Do they have any more questions? Do they have any constructive feedback to offer? By asking what they can do to make the customer experience better, customer support agents show that they’re willing to listen and adapt as needed. This can go a long way toward building strong professional relationships.

Do use artificial intelligence to enhance customer service.

There are many ways to use artificial intelligence (AI) to make your business text messaging better. AI can make your agents faster, help serve customers when no one’s around, and even reduce your customer service ticket volume.

  • Predict customer sentiment: A conversational AI platform, like Quiq, can pick up on queues from customers to predict how their feeling so you can prioritize customers whose anger is escalating.
  • Help agents compose messages: Some platforms use natural language processing (NPL) to observe your agents’ responses and suggest sentences as they type. This will help agents stay on tone and write messages more quickly.
  • Respond to customers: Unless your message center is staffed 24/7, messages won’t get answered when no one’s available. That’s where chatbots come in. They can contain conversations by answering simple questions, automating surveys, and even collecting information to route questions to the right agent.

Build business messaging into your business.

Business messaging, whether for customer service, marketing, or even sales, is a great asset to your business—and a great way to engage your customers. But remember: don’t go in blind. Create a thoughtful strategy and see just how quickly your customers respond.

How Do You Balance Privacy with Personalization?

Consumers’ default expectations include personalized service when interacting with brands online. But they’re also increasingly concerned about data privacy. 

When it seems like every company is collecting data on them, consumers start to get worried.

So how do you deliver personalized customer service in the age of data privacy? It’s a delicate balance that depends on honesty, transparency, and thoughtfulness.

How important is personalization?

In a word: very. Personalization is table stakes these days, and customers make decisions based on how customized the shopping experience is to their preferences.

According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report, 73% of surveyed consumers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations. And even though privacy concerns have grown, customers’ preferences for personalization continue to grow. That number increased by 11% in the last two years. It makes sense—customer expectations have jumped since the pandemic. 

Plus, more than half of consumers (54%) expect offers to always be personalized.

That’s not all. According to a McKinsey report, 76% of customers get frustrated when personalization doesn’t happen. 

How to use personalization to influence buying behavior.

Personalization also influences purchasing decisions. Over three-quarters of consumers (76%) said that receiving personalized communications was a key factor in prompting their consideration of a brand, and 78% said such content made them more likely to repurchase.

McKinsey asked customers how important different types of personalization were to their first-time purchasing decisions. Here’s what they said.

How to Marry Data Privacy and Customer Personalization
Source: Next in Personalization 2021 Report, McKinsey

 

As seen in the above chart, the top five most important ways to personalize an interaction are

  • Navigating in-store and online: Customers want to get to what they like quickly, and they don’t want to scroll through too many options to find it.
  • Product and service recommendations: Much like a salesperson can suggest items based on the customer in front of them, your site should use the information you have to pull out items or services they might like.
  • Tailoring messaging: “Hi [First Name]!” is a great start, but how else can you talk to your customers like you know them? Can you segment based on life stage? Preferences? If you have the information, use it.
  • Sending targeted promotions: Is your customer overdue for a service? Send them a coupon to encourage another visit. 
  • Celebrating customer milestones: Celebrate milestones in your customer’s life, like birthdays, graduations, or their first home purchase—but don’t stop there. Celebrate their 100th purchase with you, their year anniversary, or the first time they buy from you. Make it personal so they don’t feel like a number.

“Players who are leaders in personalization achieve outcomes by tailoring offerings and outreach to the right individual at the right moment with the right experiences,” according to a McKinsey report.

The problem is when you compare these expectations with an increasing focus on information privacy. When it comes down to it, consumers know you have vast amounts of data on them already, so they want you to demonstrate that you know them on a personal level. They expect you to recreate in-person, intimate experiences at scale.

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Finding the balance between personalization and privacy.

Increased privacy concerns have made personalization a much more difficult task in 2023. Not only are there more laws and regulations around data collection, but customers are much warier about information-gathering tactics than they used to be.

Here are some best practices for gathering customer information in a privacy-centric way.

  • Always get permission from customers before gathering information. Data privacy laws have become more stringent, and third-party cookie bans have made collecting information more difficult. That means you have to get permission from customers, and eventually, it will be harder to track them at all. 
  • Start asking questions. As data tracking becomes more difficult, you’ll have to start getting that information directly from your customers. This means asking more questions in customer service and paying more attention to behaviors instead of demographics. 
  • Collect only what you need: Salesforce reports that 74% of consumers say companies collect more personal information than they need. It should go without saying, but don’t ask for things like their pet names when you’re booking a restaurant reservation. Customers might think you’re stealing their information for nefarious purposes (but we know you’re just being thorough). 
  • Explain why you’re asking for that information: According to Salesforce, 79% of customers say they’d more likely trust a company with their information if the company clearly explained its use. Be transparent about how you’re using the data, and customers are much more likely to give it to you.

How does AI factor into the privacy conversation?

Customer trust is hard won these days, so it’s worth paying attention to how you present the use of AI in customer service.

So how do you use AI in customer service without losing customer trust? 

Once again, transparency is the answer. 60% of customers would better trust AI if they had more control over how it’s used. 

Here’s what that looks like when you’re using AI-enhanced chatbots in customer service:

  • Have chatbots introduce themselves in the conversation. Customers should always know when they’re talking to a bot and when they’re talking to a human. No one benefits when you try to “surprise” customers—no matter how amazing the bot.

 

  • Provide chatbot guidance upfront: Have your chatbot explain what it can do and provide some quick directions. For example, explain that the chatbot can help answer simple questions or gather information, but more complex issues will require a human.

 

  • Give customers the option to connect directly with a human. Show customers, you respect them by giving them the option to chat with a human right away. Or if there’s no one available, let them know when a customer service agent can get back to them.

Win customer trust with honesty and great customer service.

If you take away one thing from this piece, it should be that customers will trust good service. Don’t collect endless data to sell, use for predatory practices, or just let it sit in a database waiting to be hacked. When you show customers you know who they are—and use it to their advantage—they’ll become customers for life.

How to Create Mobile-First Customer Service

Chatting with companies over the phone, even your favorite ones, isn’t a fun experience. It’s a necessity. It’s like going to the dentist—something you don’t look forward to but have to do nonetheless.

In today’s hectic, multi-tasking world, people don’t have time for phone calls. Their desire to make phone calls is inversely proportional to their age—the younger you are, the closer you get to zero. Voice menus, long hold times, bad music, incessant “Your call is important to us” recordings… It’s no one’s idea of a good time.

Meanwhile, email feels like a black hole.

Waiting and satisfaction are mutually exclusive. Having to wait for an emailed response can kill customer satisfaction. And if the issue isn’t something that can’t be answered in a simple response, the delay just gets worse as emails fly back and forth.

Despite all the effort spent by companies to provide good customer experiences, the communication channels they’ve made available require the customer to interact in ways that are convenient to only the company.

How much are we really on our phones?

A lot. On average, Americans check their phones 344 times per day—once every four minutes, according to Reviews.org.

With how much people are on their phones, you wouldn’t think a phone call would be that disruptive. (You’re already on your phone, right?) But phone calls require you to stop what you’re doing—even if what you’re doing is scrolling TikTok—and give your full attention to the person on the other end of the line.

Your customers don’t want to sacrifice their time like that—especially to do something they’ve already decided is a hassle. Instead, they want an easy way to communicate that doesn’t disrupt their day.

So it only makes sense that contact centers reimagine their customer interactions with a mobile-first focus in mind.

What does that look like? Keep reading to find out.

Optimize your website for mobile.

By now, there’s no excuse for websites that aren’t mobile-friendly. Google will penalize you, and customers won’t give you the time of day.

Besides, mobile phones are the top platform used for online shopping at 49%, followed by PCs at 43%, and tablets at 8%, according to BrizFeel. Even non-retail sites need to account for the public’s increasing reliance on mobile.

Many brands are designing mobile-first instead of mobile-ready websites, which means they expect their primary customer traffic to come directly from phones. Whichever you decide, remember that many of your customers will be searching for and attempting to connect with your customer service channels using their smartphones. That means giving them multiple ways to connect that aren’t just email and voice.

Where should you start? With the low-hanging fruit.

1. Start with text messaging.

People around the world connect through text messaging—whether talking with loved ones, business acquaintances, or friends. (Sixty-four percent of people even send texts from the toilet.) It only makes sense that they extend those communications with your brand.

What makes messaging so popular for communication with friends also makes it the preferred medium for engaging with brands:

  • Frictionless:  Messaging is asynchronous, which means customers can multi-tasking and don’t have to stop what they’re doing.
  • Immediate: Customers get assistance in their time of need.
  • Personal: One-to-one dialogue creates a strong customer relationship.
  • Easy: Consumers are already comfortable using messaging apps.
  • Multimedia: Everyone already knows how to send a picture via messaging (a picture is worth 1000 words in a support interaction!).

There are several ways you can use messaging for customer service:

Reach everyone with SMS text messaging.

SMS text messaging has a nearly 100% read rate—much higher than email (in any industry). SMS texting is texting in its simplest form. Your customers can connect with you from anywhere with a cellphone connection, and they don’t have to worry about service interruptions and unreliable Wi-Fi.

Using text messaging for customer service benefits both your customers and your support team. Customers are able to stop and start the conversation at their own convenience (instead of being tied to a phone call), and your team can manage multiple conversations at once.

2. Enhance customer service interactions with rich messaging.

Rich messaging takes your texts to the next level. With Quiq, your messages aren’t limited to plain-text capabilities. Rich messaging enables you to:

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

That means you don’t have to direct customers to the website and potentially lose them along the way. You can take care of transactions using conversational commerce, schedule appointments, and even share video walkthroughs. Everything is in one place for easy, contextual communication.

3. Keep customers engaged with outbound messaging.

Customer service isn’t just about reacting to needs—it’s about anticipating them. Outbound text messaging is one of the most effective ways to provide technical support, send shipping notifications, and create sales alerts.

Outbound messaging also emphasizes two-way communication with your customers. Instead of talking to them through advertisements and mass emails, you have engaging one-on-one conversations. This gives you a chance to tailor the customer service experience to individual customers.

Direct your web chat feature to mobile-friendly messaging.

Give customers a seamless customer service interaction by giving them the option to text your brand with a simple click of a button.

premiere retail chatbot
To create an even better brand experience, customers with Apple phones can chat with your agents right from their native messaging app. Using Apple Messages for Business, customers will see your logo and brand colors and get all the benefits of rich messaging. That includes:

  • Apple pay
  • Schedule appointments
  • Present choices with images
  • Verify identity
  • Link directly to an app

Quiq’s conversational platform makes integration with your CRM seamless, so you can add Apple Messages for Business without increasing the operational burden on your team.

Your customers can even text you directly from Google search. When they click on your phone number, there’s an option to send a text. It helps your brand follow your customers wherever they interact with you.

Embrace other mobile-friendly messaging channels.

While text messaging is a valuable communication method for customer service, there are many other mobile channels that offer similar benefits.

Social media messaging

Meet your customers where they are, including social media channels. You can leverage Quiq’s platform to connect with customers using Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Twitter Direct Messages all from within one interface.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp has over 2 billion users worldwide, so it’s hard for businesses to ignore. It’s a great way to connect with international customers, and using Quiq to do it means you don’t have to worry about learning an entirely new platform.

Google Business Messaging

Google Business Messaging is ideal for connecting with customers who are using their smartphones. Customers can hit “Message” directly in Google Search or Maps to connect with your customer service instantly—all from within a branded experience.

In-app messaging

If you have a mobile app, complete the experience by offering in-app messaging. Users can access your customer service team without having to leave the app, creating a seamless and friction-free experience.

chatbots used in apps

Mobile customer service benefits businesses too.

While we spent most of our time focusing on customer benefits, there are many benefits to your bottom line, too. In addition to better customer engagement, messaging also offers your company a number of additional advantages:

1. Lower staff costs.

Customers know that messaging responses don’t always come immediately. By allowing agents more time to respond to customers that have a lower level of engagement, Quiq’s Conversational AI Platform enables the company to serve more customers with fewer agents and helps smooth out the staffing requirements during peak periods.

As compared to email, messaging can also be more efficient since a conversation provides start-to-finish problem resolution. With email, if additional information is needed, it could take multiple back-and-forth emails. Then you’re looking at involving multiple agents who each need to come up to speed on the problem. It all adds up to a lot more time.

2. Better and faster understanding.

A significant part of many customer service interactions is understanding the problem at hand. Since customers are already very familiar with sending images and videos, customer interaction on messaging is inherently multimedia.

Customers can send pictures of what they are seeing (e.g. the broken strap on the handbag or a video showing how the part doesn’t fit), and agents can respond with images and video as well. This leads to faster time to resolution, which improves customer satisfaction and lowers staffing costs.

How to supercharge your mobile messaging with Quiq’s Conversational AI Platform.

The power of Quiq lies in supporting your current systems and operations and making them better. This includes integrating with your CRM systems, like Oracle, Salesforce, and Zendesk—but also helping your customer service agents shine.

There’s no room for slow, cumbersome, and unintuitive software. Quiq is designed to make your agents’ lives easier. For example:

  • A simple and intuitive UI makes it easy to handle a large number of asynchronous conversations simultaneously.
  • Text Snippets with simple keyboard shortcuts reduce the time and effort needed to craft great customer responses.
  • Natural language processing (NLP) helps predict customer intent, so agents can prioritize conversations accordingly.
  • Response Time helps agents know which conversation needs attention and guides agents to respond within the customer’s expectations. Because of the asynchronous nature of messaging, different customers have different levels of engagement. Response Time helps agents prioritize customers who are highly engaged while allowing longer times for other customers that are less engaged.
  • Collaboration is built right in. Agents can invite others to silently join a conversation in the background, and when necessary, the agent can easily hand off the conversation to a collaborator.
  • Emojis allow agents to express emotion, sympathize with the customer’s frustrations, and celebrate successes.

chatbot screenshots

All of these features help your customer service agents engage with customers the way customers prefer—using their mobile devices.

 

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11 Ways to Navigate High Call Volumes

There are some high call volume spikes you can prepare for—like the holidays or a new product launch—and some you can’t.

When you get a sudden spike in calls, it can feel like the sky is falling. Your support team is overwhelmed with calls and struggling not to let it show in customer interactions.

While there are some things you can do when you’re in the thick of it, planning now for those intermittent spikes is the best way to set your team up for success.

And it all comes down to doing more with less, so you can make the most of finite agent resources while improving customer service.

Let’s look at what you can do now and in the future to prepare for unexpectedly high call volumes.

1. Dive into the data.

Unexpected call volume spikes always seem out of the blue—but are they really? Besides the obvious and expected busy periods (the holidays, the January return season, and new product launches), other reasons could trigger your support center surge.

Look at your call center data to see if there’s a rhyme or reason to your surges. Do they follow the busy season? Do they happen after new influencer launches? Do they align with college semesters?

Even if you can’t find any hard-and-fast patterns, maybe the data can help you with scheduling.

2. Optimize customer service agents’ schedules.

There’s something to be said for strategic scheduling. Poor scheduling can make a normal call day feel like a torrent. Take a look at what time of day your call volume peaks, and pull agents from other shifts to cover it.

More than that, you can get more granular by scheduling agents based on their strengths and abilities.

Move agents with faster resolution times to the busiest part of your day, and put agents with a slower, more methodical approach during your off time.

You can also schedule agents based on their specialties. For instance, if you’re dealing with a high volume of returns, make sure your team members with the most experience doing returns are working.

3. Cross-train other staff.

A great short-term solution to call volume spikes is to have additional staff you can call on to help. Cross-training a few team members on customer service means they’ll be ready to go when you need them most.

Call volumes aside, things happen. A bug can work its way through your customer service team, hiring can take longer than expected, the works. Having staff you can call on to help goes a long way.

Additionally, cross-training staff from other teams can also help reduce customer service agents’ burnout. When employees constantly handle high volumes of calls, it can take a toll on their mental and physical well-being.

By rotating staff from other teams, you can ensure that customer service agents are not overworked and are able to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

4. Embrace asynchronous messaging.

Asynchronous messaging (sometimes called async messaging or asynchronous chat) allows customers to converse with brands as it is convenient for them. Think about text messaging. While you can have a live back-and-forth conversation, you can also send a message and receive a reply an hour or two later.

Asynchronous messaging lets customers respond at their leisure and gives your customer service agents some breathing room to answer questions. Since customer responses stagger, your customer service agents can manage conversations with multiple people—as many as 8 at one time. That’s something you can’t do with live support.

File this under the category of “not something you can implement when you’re in a pinch.”

While embracing asynchronous messaging enables your customer service agents to handle multiple conversations at once, you need a runway to implement and train your team on using it to the fullest. Managing asynchronous messaging also works best with a powerful conversational platform behind it, like Quiq.

5. Take advantage of predictive text.

Another advantage of adding messaging to your help center tech stack is the use of predictive text. If you can’t deflect calls enough to lighten your team’s load, then the best thing to do is make them more efficient.

A conversational platform with AI-enhancing capabilities can actually make your team faster. AI-powered snippets in Quiq’s platform, for example, can help predict responses and provide answers for agents to tweak, personalize, and send off. That way, instead of searching for the answers, customer service agents always have them at their fingertips.

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

There’s no doubt that phone conversations take more of your agents’ time than messaging. Although you can’t keep customers from making phone calls to your help center, you can encourage them to message.

Most customers hang up after being on hold for 90 seconds, so when your call center is slammed, your customer satisfaction rates can plummet. Instead, give them the option to take the conversation to messaging.

Call-to-text can work through SMS text messaging or WhatsApp. Customers who don’t want to wait to get live support can get their answers via messaging as they go about their day. It’ll give your call center some much-needed relief.

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7. Outsource some of your calls.

When under pressure, you can always look for an outside team to pick up the slack temporarily.

Make sure you set them up for success by putting together your best practices, important product knowledge, and policies and procedures. While you may not have time to thoroughly train them in the short term, they can help in a pinch.

8. Implement a queue system.

Whether you stick with calls or add messaging to your customer service feature, implementing an automated (and intelligent) queue management system can manage high volumes.

Ideally, the system can let customers know how long they should expect to remain on hold and give them other options to contact customer service if they don’t want to wait. This can include call-to-text as we mentioned earlier, but it should also include options like receiving a callback or sending an email.

9. Make ai chatbots a part of your team.

Chatbots aren’t going to replace your team, but they can support it. If you’ve made the leap to messaging, leaning on AI-enhanced chatbots can lighten the load on your team. There are several ways chatbots can help you do more with less:

  • Charge your chatbot with answering basic questions: When call volume is high, use your team to answer the more complex questions and have a chatbot answer the easy ones.
  • Collect information upfront: Chatbots can help gather information and route calls to the right agent to cut down on service time.
  • Walk customers through troubleshooting: If the reason for your call volume spike is a product issue, use chatbots to walk customers through the first few phases of troubleshooting. If the problem persists, then a customer service agent can pick up where the bot left off.

10. Proactively get ahead of problems.

Take care of issues before they reach your call center. While you can’t anticipate every problem and prevent people from calling altogether (nor should you), you can get ahead of issues.

Sometimes it’s as simple as putting your return policy in a more easily accessible place on your website. Or when a product issue arises, send emails and outbound text messages to address it before it blows up your call center.

Being upfront and transparent with customers will prevent a lot of anger and frustration before it gets to your call center.

11. Scale up when you need to.

As efficient as you are, there are times when you’ll need to scale up your help center quickly. If a volume spike turns into a sustained deluge, then it might be time to look at the budget and see if hiring additional support is feasible.

Manage high-volume calls with Quiq.

Predict high-volume call spikes when you can, and turn to Quiq when you can’t. Quiq’s Conversational AI platform can help you improve efficiency across the board—and especially during busy periods. Let agent overwhelm become a thing of the past and start improving your customer service strategy now.

5 Tips for Delivering Exceptional Real-Time Support to Customers

How often do you talk to your customers in real-time? Playing email tag or seeing customer comments pile up on social media frustrates customers and support agents alike. It drags out conversations, delays customer solutions, and puts undue stress on your team.

With the rise of digital technology, businesses have a plethora of options for connecting with customers. But nothing compares to the immediacy and personal touch of real-time support.

Whether through live chat (also known as web chat), phone support, or social media, customers prefer (and often expect) immediate responses. In fact, Zendesk’s 2022 CX Trends Report found that 76% of customers say they expect to engage with someone immediately when contacting a company.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of real-time customer support and share tips to help you deliver it effectively.

Benefit #1: Increased customer satisfaction.

It’s no secret that modern customers expect immediacy, from same-day shipping to instant test results. The same goes for customer service. When customers have a problem or question, there’s no substitute for real-time conversations.

Here are a few ways real-time support increases customer satisfaction:

Customers get quick solutions.

Waiting 1–3 business days for an answer to a simple question is frustrating. What if a customer is buying airline tickets as a last-minute holiday gift, but they’re not sure if the tickets are transferable? Customers aren’t going to wait for an emailed response. They’re just going to go elsewhere.

Complex solutions get solved in one interaction.

Complex problems can drag out over asynchronous communications. From explaining the problem, finding a solution, and follow-up questions, it can take days for a customer problem to get resolved. Real-time support lets customers ask questions, test your solutions, and ensure they get their problems solved in just one interaction.

It’s easier to make connections in real time.

Making connections with asynchronous messaging is absolutely possible, but it’s easier to do over real-time online communication (and phone). A conversational cadence is essential when building rapport, and it’s easier to judge a customer’s mood when basing it on real-time information.

Benefit #2: Boost sales and customer retention.

There’s no denying that satisfied customers are more likely to buy from you again. Customer service has a big impact on buying decisions, whether it’s great customer service or bad customer service.

According to Zendesk, 61% of customers will defect to a competitor after just one bad experience—and 76% of customers are out the door after two. We don’t just underestimate the impact bad customer service has on sales. We also underestimate just have valuable good customer service is. Zendesk also found that 90% of customers will spend more with companies that personalize customer service.

Benefit #3: Enhanced reputation.

Real-time customer service can also help prevent negative reviews. When customers have an issue with a product or service, a quick response from your support team can turn a bad experience into a good one.

Your customer service itself can also have a big impact on your business reputation. Consider highly unpopular cable companies (that shall not be named). Their poor customer service, which includes long hold times and an unwillingness to value existing customers over new ones, was only tolerated because there were few options available. Now, more customers are cutting the cord and avoiding having to deal with cable companies altogether.

Embracing real-time support—and doing it well—improves your reputation and makes it easier for customers to choose to do business with you.

Benefit #4: Gain a competitive advantage.

In our increasingly digital world, it’s getting harder for customers to differentiate businesses from their competitors. Price and convenience are often the deciding factors for customers. But delivering outstanding customer service in real time can make you stand apart from the competition.

You’ll give customers peace of mind knowing that your team is available to answer questions as soon as they come up. There’s no waiting, back-and-forth, or fruitless searching for information. You’re there when customers need you.

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5 tips for enhancing real-time support.

Implementing real-time customer service is a big task, and going from zero to 60 is a lot to ask of your team. Start slowly, and use these tips to enhance your live support as you go.

Prepare support agents for real-time conversations.

Making the switch from email conversations to real-time support can be intimidating for your customer service team. They’ll be expected to quickly assess situations and provide solid solutions.

Spend a little more time training agents in conflict resolution, empathy, and improvisation. They’ll be better prepared than simply memorizing product knowledge.

Contextualize interactions.

Real-time customer support, whether online or over the phone, brings some unique challenges—mainly, getting customers the right information at the right time. In order to personalize the conversation and provide unique solutions to customer problems, your support agents need easy access to information.

From customer data like previous purchases and support history to product information, support agents need to be able to gather information quickly. Ensure they have a customer relationship management system or conversational platform they can pull from to solve unique customer problems on the first interaction.

Implement live chat on your website.

The key to real-time online communication is making it easy and accessible. While phone support is a good option for traditional businesses, there are many barriers that can prevent customers from having a good experience. Long wait times, a lack of visuals, or even social anxiety can make customers avoid phone conversations altogether.

Adding live chat software to your website with a communications platform is the best way to get started. Customers can reach out for immediate support whenever they’re having difficulties, and they won’t have to wait on hold.

Provide agents with the right tools.

Look for phone and web chat software with robust features to help your agents succeed. Quiq provides features like sentiment analysis and AI-powered text prediction to help agents with real-time online communication.

Customers get fast answers to their questions, and agents feel better prepared to answer complex questions on the fly.

Consider chatbots to support your team.

Offering real-time customer support means you have to make a few important decisions. Are you going to hire agents around the clock to provide 24/7 service? Will you set real-time service to business hours? What will you do during peak service seasons?

A great option to support your team, without making them work 24/7, is to add chatbots into your agent mix. Chatbots can help answer simple questions while your customer service agents are unavailable. They can even help agents be more efficient by collecting customer information upfront.

Collect customer feedback.

The best way to make live chat work for your customers is to continuously ask them how to improve it. Send surveys immediately after conversations to help you assess how your customer service agents are performing, what you can do to make it better, and how you can better personalize the experience for each customer.

Real-time support is the way to go.

Real-time support is a crucial component of your overall customer experience. There’s a place for asynchronous communication—but it takes a healthy mix of that and real-time support to serve your customers. By following best practices and continuously looking for ways to improve, you can ensure your team is providing top-notch, real-time service to your customers.

5 Tips for Retailers to Reduce Call Volume

It’s peak busy season in the retail industry, but we all know what comes after the holidays. Returns will be at their highest—and you’ll be looking for ways to reduce call volume.

So what do you do when you know the slow season is coming?

Many businesses batten down the hatches during times of economic uncertainty. It’s easy to look for simple cost-cutting measures and avoid major process changes. But instead of hunkering down, now’s the time to take a deeper look at your processes and see what you can do to streamline the customer experience.

The holiday season puts pressure on your call center. Calls are at an all-time high, you’re agents are overwhelmed, but you’re looking to cut costs. The best way to do that? Look for ways to reduce call volume.

Keep reading for five ways to lighten the load on your call center.

1. Mitigate hang-ups by embracing messaging.

Hangups happen. Whether a new, inexperienced agent accidentally disconnects, an angry customer is tired of waiting, or the line just goes dead, hang-ups add to your overall call volume.

Every time a customer has to call back, you have to create a new ticket. Customers have to start the conversation from scratch and repeat their problem—something that customers hate doing that will also take up valuable agent time—all before you can solve the problem.

Embracing messaging is a great way to reduce call inefficiencies at the source. Messaging conversations don’t have to have a defined beginning and end. With conversational platforms like Quiq, conversations flow more naturally between agents and customers. Customers can pop in with a question while browsing the website or follow up on their shipping confirmation post-purchase. Without the commitment of a phone call, conversations can happen more easily.

Plus, chat history never goes away. Your agents have access to previous conversations, so customers never have to repeat information. Agents can deliver exceptional and friendly service, deliver a more personalized experience, and improve customer retention.

2. Make it easy to connect from any channel.

When phone calls are your only option for real-time customer service, you’re going to have higher call volumes. Email is a helpful alternative, but it often comes with longer response times. When a customer wants a quick answer, they’re going to pick up the phone.

Messaging falls somewhere between phone calls and email. It’s not as immediate as a phone call, but they can get answers more quickly than waiting for an email response.

Offering multiple channels, from the immediacy of live chat (also known as web chat) to more forgiving options like business text messaging, gives customers options besides the phone.

And you’re not just reducing call volume artificially by moving conversations from phone calls to messages. You’ll actually save time—even with the same number of service tickets. Since messaging is asynchronous (meaning both parties don’t have to be present at the same time), agents can increase the number of customers they’re serving at once. Agents can help 6–8 customers at the same time while providing excellent customer service. Plus, Quiq customers that implement messaging see work time reductions of up to 35%.

3. Reduce call volume by adding call-to-text to your IVR.

Reducing your call volume does take some buy-in from your customers. If they’re still used to calling you for service-related questions, it can take time to get them to embrace using alternative communication methods.

A great option to encourage text messaging by adding call-to-text to your interactive voice response (IVR) system. When customers call in, they’ll be given the option to text your customer service team instead.

This is a great option to implement during peak volume periods. When wait times increase and your team is overloaded, you can lighten the burden by encouraging customers to use call-to-text. Besides reducing call volume, customers will be pleased they don’t have to wait on-hold to get their questions answered.

4. Answer customer questions 24/7 with an ai chatbot.

Your call center will always be limited by your hours of operation. When customers have to wait to call in during business hours, your agents can quickly become overwhelmed.

Instead, give customers a chance to get their questions answered 24/7 with an AI-enhanced chatbot. Gather the most frequently asked questions and program your chatbot with the answers. By offloading simple questions, your agents will have fewer calls to manage during the day and can spend their time working on more complex customer problems.

5. Get ahead of questions.

Some questions you can’t anticipate—but some you can. Take a look at your most frequently asked questions and see how you can implement the answers throughout your customer journey.

For example, one of the most frequently asked questions for most retailers is “Where’s my order?” Many retailers have gotten ahead of this and have been able to reduce call volume by emailing customers tracking links and order statuses. But you can go an extra step by sending an outbound text message at various points, like when the order is received and once it has shipped. Customers are much more likely to read a text message than an email, which means they’re less likely to call customer service and ask.

You can also place things like your return policy, shipping costs, and store hours (if applicable) more prominently on your website. While hiding the return policy may seem like a good idea, in theory, it’ll just lead to more calls to your customer service team.

Reduce call volume with messaging.

As retailers get through the holiday season and look to do more with less, reducing call volume should be a top priority. Adding messaging to your customer service offering can not only ease the burden on your call center, but it can also give your customers a better experience.

Keep your call volume down with messaging, and manage in all with Quiq’s multi-channel conversational platform.

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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:

9 ways to improve call center efficiency

Download as a PDF instead

The 9 effective call center strategies recap

Check out these call center strategies below:

  1. Streamline your current system.
  2. Boost agent productivity and efficiency.
  3. Drive down costs.
  4. Manage seasonal spikes and fluctuating demands.
  5. Remove friction.
  6. Improve the quality of your conversations with rich messaging.
  7. Engage more qualified leads.
  8. Increase conversions.
  9. Increase customer satisfaction.

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.

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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 during the holidays

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 the 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 effects on holiday shoppers

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.

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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 can you 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.

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