What are the Biggest Questions About AI?

The term “artificial intelligence” was coined at the famous Dartmouth Conference in 1956, put on by luminaries like John McCarthy, Marvin Minsky, and Claude Shannon, among others.

These organizers wanted to create machines that “use language, form abstractions and concepts, solve kinds of problems now reserved for humans, and improve themselves.” They went on to claim that “…a significant advance can be made in one or more of these problems if a carefully selected group of scientists work on it together for a summer.”

Half a century later, it’s fair to say that this has not come to pass; brilliant as they were, it would seem as though McCarthy et al. underestimated how difficult it would be to scale the heights of the human intellect.

Nevertheless, remarkable advances have been made over the past decade, so much so that they’ve ignited a firestorm of controversy around this technology. People are questioning the ways in which it can be used negatively, and whether it might ultimately pose an extinction risk to humanity; they’re probing fundamental issues around whether machines can be conscious, exercise free will, and think in the way a living organism does; they’re rethinking the basis of intelligence, concept formation, and what it means to be human.

These are deep waters to be sure, and we’re not going to swim them all today. But as contact center managers and others begin the process of thinking about using AI, it’s worth being at least aware of what this broader conversation is about. It will likely come up in meetings, in the press, or in Slack channels in exchanges between employees.

And that’s the subject of our piece today. We’re going to start by asking what artificial intelligence is and how it’s being used, before turning to address some of the concerns about its long-term potential. Our goal is not to answer all these concerns, but to make you aware of what people are thinking and saying.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is famous for having had many, many definitions. There are those, for example, who believe that in order to be intelligent computers must think like humans, and those who reply that we didn’t make airplanes by designing them to fly like birds.

For our part, we prefer to sidestep the question somewhat by utilizing the approach taken in one of the leading textbooks in the field, Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig’s “Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach”.

They propose a multi-part system for thinking about different approaches to AI. One set of approaches is human-centric and focuses on designing machines that either think like humans – i.e., engage in analogous cognitive and perceptual processes – or act like humans – i.e. by behaving in a way that’s indistinguishable from a human, regardless of what’s happening under the hood (think: the Turing Test).

The other set of approaches is ideal-centric and focuses on designing machines that either think in a totally rational way – conformant with the rules of Bayesian epistemology, for example – or behave in a totally rational way – utilizing logic and probability, but also acting instinctively to remove itself from danger, without going through any lengthy calculations.

What we have here, in other words, is a framework. Using the framework not only gives us a way to think about almost every AI project in existence, it also saves us from needing to spend all weekend coming up with a clever new definition of AI.

Joking aside, we think this is a productive lens through which to view the whole debate, and we offer it here for your information.

What is Artificial Intelligence Good For?

Given all the hype around ChatGPT, this might seem like a quaint question. But not that long ago, many people were asking it in earnest. The basic insights upon which large language models like ChatGPT are built go back to the 1960s, but it wasn’t until 1) vast quantities of data became available, and 2) compute cycles became extremely cheap that much of its potential was realized.

Today, large language models are changing (or poised to change) many different fields. Our audience is focused on contact centers, so that’s what we’ll focus on as well.

There are a number of ways that generative AI is changing contact centers. Because of its remarkable abilities with natural language, it’s able to dramatically speed up agents in their work by answering questions and formatting replies. These same abilities allow it to handle other important tasks, like summarizing articles and documentation and parsing the sentiment in customer messages to enable semi-automated prioritization of their requests.

Though we’re still in the early days, the evidence so far suggests that large language models like Quiq’s conversational CX platform will do a lot to increase the efficiency of contact center agents.

Will AI be Dangerous?

One thing that’s burst into public imagination recently has been the debate around the risks of artificial intelligence, which fall into two broad categories.

The first category is what we’ll call “social and political risks”. These are the risks that large language models will make it dramatically easier to manufacture propaganda at scale, and perhaps tailor it to specific audiences or even individuals. When combined with the astonishing progress in deepfakes, it’s not hard to see how there could be real issues in the future. Most people (including us) are poorly equipped to figure out when a video is fake, and if the underlying technology gets much better, there may come a day when it’s simply not possible to tell.

Political operatives are already quite skilled at cherry-picking quotes and stitching together soundbites into a damning portrait of a candidate – imagine what’ll be possible when they don’t even need to bother.

But the bigger (and more speculative) danger is around really advanced artificial intelligence. Because this case is harder to understand, it’s what we’ll spend the rest of this section on.

Artificial Superintelligence and Existential Risk

As we understand it, the basic case for existential risk from artificial intelligence goes something like this:

“Someday soon, humanity will build or grow an artificial general intelligence (AGI). It’s going to want things, which means that it’ll be steering the world in the direction of achieving its ambitions. Because it’s smart, it’ll do this quite well, and because it’s a very alien sort of mind, it’ll be making moves that are hard for us to predict or understand. Unless we solve some major technological problems around how to design reward structures and goal architectures in advanced agentive systems, what it wants will almost certainly conflict in subtle ways with what we want. If all this happens, we’ll find ourselves in conflict with an opponent unlike any we’ve faced in the history of our species, and it’s not at all clear we’ll prevail.”

This is heady stuff, so let’s unpack it bit by bit. The opening sentence, “…humanity will build or grow an artificial general intelligence”, was chosen carefully. If you understand how LLMs and deep learning systems are trained, the process is more akin to growing an enormous structure than it is to building one.

This has a few implications. First, their internal workings remain almost completely inscrutable. Though researchers in fields like mechanistic interpretability are going a long way toward unpacking how neural networks function, the truth is, we’ve still got a long way to go.

What this means is that we’ve built one of the most powerful artifacts in the history of Earth, and no one is really sure how it works.

Another implication is that no one has any good theoretical or empirical reason to bound the capabilities and behavior of future systems. The leap from GPT-2 to GPT-3.5 was astonishing, as was the leap from GPT-3.5 to GPT-4. The basic approach so far has been to throw more data and more compute at the training algorithms; it’s possible that this paradigm will begin to level off soon, but it’s also possible that it won’t. If the gap between GPT-4 and GPT-5 is as big as the gap between GPT-3 and GPT-4, and if the gap between GPT-6 and GPT-5 is just as big, it’s not hard to see that the consequences could be staggering.

As things stand, it’s anyone’s guess how this will play out. But that’s not necessarily a comforting thought.

Next, let’s talk about pointing a system at a task. Does ChatGPT want anything? The short answer is: as far as we can tell, it doesn’t. ChatGPT isn’t an agent, in the sense that it’s trying to achieve something in the world, but work into agentive systems is ongoing. Remember that 10 years ago most neural networks were basically toys, and today we have ChatGPT. If breakthroughs in agency follow a similar pace (and they very well may not), then we could have systems able to pursue open-ended courses of action in the real world in relatively short order.

Another sobering possibility is that this capacity will simply emerge from the training of huge deep learning systems. This is, after all, the way human agency emerged in the first place. Through the relentless grind of natural selection, our ancestors went from chipping flint arrowheads to industrialization, quantum computing, and synthetic biology.

To be clear, this is far from a foregone conclusion, as the algorithms used to train large language models is quite different from natural selection. Still, we want to relay this line of argumentation, because it comes up a lot in these discussions.

Finally, we’ll address one more important claim, “…what it wants will almost certainly conflict in subtle ways with what we want.” Why think this is true? Aren’t these systems that we design and, if so, can’t we just tell it what we want it to go after?

Unfortunately, it’s not so simple. Whether you’re talking about reinforcement learning or something more exotic like evolutionary programming, the simple fact is that our algorithms often find remarkable mechanisms by which to maximize their reward in ways we didn’t intend.

There are thousands of examples of this (ask any reinforcement-learning engineer you know), but a famous one comes from the classic Coast Runners video game. The engineers who built the system tried to set up the algorithm’s rewards so that it would try to race a boat as well as it could. What it actually did, however, was maximize its reward by spinning in a circle to hit a set of green blocks over and over again.

biggest questions about AI

Now, this may seem almost silly – do we really have anything to fear from an algorithm too stupid to understand the concept of a “race”?

But this would be missing the thrust of the argument. If you had access to a superintelligent AI and asked it to maximize human happiness, what happened next would depend almost entirely on what it understood “happiness” to mean.

If it were properly designed, it would work in tandem with us to usher in a utopia. But if it understood it to mean “maximize the number of smiles”, it would be incentivized to start paying people to get plastic surgery to fix their faces into permanent smiles (or something similarly unintuitive).

Does AI Pose an Existential Risk?

Above, we’ve briefly outlined the case that sufficiently advanced AI could pose a serious risk to humanity by being powerful, unpredictable, and prone to pursuing goals that weren’t-quite-what-we-meant.

So, does this hold water? Honestly, it’s too early to tell. The argument has hundreds of moving parts, some well-established and others much more speculative. Our purpose here isn’t to come down on one side of this debate or the other, but to let you know (in broad strokes) what people are saying.

At any rate, we are confident that the current version of ChatGPT doesn’t pose any existential risks. On the contrary, it could end up being one of the greatest advancements in productivity ever seen in contact centers. And that’s what we’d like to discuss in the next section.

Will AI Take All the Jobs?

The concern that someday a new technology will render human labor obsolete is hardly new. It was heard when mechanized weaving machines were created, when computers emerged, when the internet emerged, and when ChatGPT came onto the scene.

We’re not economists and we’re not qualified to take a definitive stand, but we do have some early evidence that is showing that large language models are not only not resulting in layoffs, they’re making agents much more productive.

Erik Brynjolfsson, Danielle Li, and Lindsey R. Raymond, three MIT economists, looked at the ways in which generative AI was being used in a large contact center. They found that it was actually doing a good job of internalizing the ways in which senior agents were doing their jobs, which allowed more junior agents to climb the learning curve more quickly and perform at a much higher level. This had the knock-on effect of making them feel less stressed about their work, thus reducing turnover.

Now, this doesn’t rule out the possibility that GPT-10 will be the big job killer. But so far, large language models are shaping up to be like every prior technological advance, i.e., increasing employment rather than reducing it.

What is the Future of AI?

The rise of AI is raising stock valuations, raising deep philosophical questions, and raising expectations and fears about the future. We don’t know for sure how all this will play out, but we do know contact centers, and we know that they stand to benefit greatly from the current iteration of large language models.

These tools are helping agents answer more queries per hour, do so more thoroughly, and make for a better customer experience in the process.

If you want to get in on the action, set up a demo of our technology today.

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Business Text Messaging Statistics You Need to Know

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

Fast forward to today.

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

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

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

Business text messaging is growing.

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

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

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

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

Americans are attached to their phones.

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

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

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

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

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

You can’t sleep on text messaging.

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

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

What about business text messaging?

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

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


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How effective is SMS marketing?

Do people really read text messages from businesses? Yes!

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

Key SMS marketing statistics to know.

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

Here are some enlightening statistics from Forbes:

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

And why are customers opting into text messaging?

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

The impact of SMS text messaging on customer service.

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

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

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

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

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

Top brands see tangible results from messaging.

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

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

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

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

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

Text messaging: Good for your bottom line.

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

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

Customer Journey Mapping 101—With Examples!

Do you know what your customer journey looks like? (Hint: It’s not as simple as it used to be!)

Back before the ubiquity of online shopping (we like to call it the stone age), the customer journey was fairly simple.

So your maps looked something like this:

Pre-online shopping customer journey

It’s pretty linear, right?

Now, the customer journey is much more complex, and customer mapping needs to be an even bigger part of your marketing and sales processes.

Before we dive into how to use your customer journey map, let’s take a step back and learn what it is and how to build your own.

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map (sometimes called the buyer journey or user journey) is a visual diagram that charts every customer touchpoint with your brand. This can include in-person interactions, visits to your website, social media DMs, exposure to Google search ads, etc.

You see how quickly things get complicated.

The average customer uses ten channels to communicate with businesses, reports Salesforce. And not all customers are going to take the same path. It’s best to segment customers or specific customer journeys (for example, the journey through purchasing online goods vs. in-store services) to narrow how each group interacts with your brand.

Why should you create a customer journey map? It helps you see your brand experience from your customers’ perspectives. What messaging points are missing? Where are you oversaturated? Is there a gap in customer service coverage? You can answer all of these questions and more with a detailed customer journey map.

There are four common types of customer journey maps:

1.  Current state

This focuses on what you currently have in your customer journey today. It’s the most widely used since you can see the gaps in your current process.

Here’s an example of a narrow-focused current state customer journey map from Spotify. They specifically tracked the music-sharing experience to see how they could make it better for their users.

spotify customer journey mapping example

2. Day-in-the-life

This type of map details thoughts, actions, and emotions your customer goes through in a day, whether it includes your company or not. It’s helpful when conducting market research and identifying customer pain points.

3. Future state

Use future state customer journey maps to identify how your customers will act, feel, and think in the future. It’s helpful when creating product roadmaps or making significant changes to the overall customer journey.

This Carnegie Mellon future customer journey map details what they want their students to feel between admission and their first day in class, including the changes the team wants to enact to make it happen.

customer journey

See the PDF version here.

4. Service blueprint

A service blueprint typically works in tandem with one of the other customer journey maps. You start with a current or future state map and layer on everything responsible for building that journey, including people, processes, technology, etc.

When you’re just getting started, a current state customer journey map will be the most helpful in creating a high-level, end-to-end visualization.

How to build your customer journey map.

Ready to build one of your own? Here are five steps to get you started.

1. Determine your goals.

What are you measuring? Do you want a full picture of your entire customer journey, or are you looking to solve a specific problem? In the Spotify example above, they mapped the customer journey of sharing music with friends. Once they charted the entire journey, they could see where they should place share buttons to be more visible and to create a better user experience.

You can also measure customer service touchpoints to identify more opportunities to engage with customers.

2. Research your customer journey.

Use surveys and interviews to determine how your customers interact with your brand. Compare this with data from your Google Analytics and other customer tracking software to create a complete view of the customer journey.

Don’t forget to ask your customer service and sales team about their interactions with customers. Find out which questions they get most and how knowledgeable customers are when they reach out. That’ll help you figure out when customers reach out and what information they need to know sooner in the process.

3. Go through it yourself.

Yes, you have more familiarity with your brand than your customers. However, walking through the process will show you exactly what’s not working. Step into your customers’ shoes, and maybe it’ll spark some ideas on what can make it better.

4. Build a map for each of your goals.

Time to start building! Pick out your buyer personas and map each one, paying close attention to patterns.

With your research in hand, connect customer touchpoints with intent. From left to right (or even in a circle), describe each customer journey phase. The most common stages are awareness, consideration, decision, retention, and advocacy. However, this is your map! Make it as specific to your customer journey as possible.

5. See what’s missing.

A customer journey map is only helpful if you use it to improve your brand experience. Review your map and see what’s missing. Where are customers dropping off? Where do they need more information to get to the next stage? Are you spending too much time upfront and losing leads throughout the process?

Identify what’s missing and figure out how to fix it.

Identifying holes using your customer journey map.

Here’s the crux of why you should use customer journey maps in your business: It helps you identify the weak points of your current strategy.

When you’re just starting, it’s easy to throw things at the wall and see what sticks. You start with a website, a call center, live chat, and maybe some social media. You’re trying to do your best with the little you have.

But the bigger you get, and the more channels you add, the more convoluted your customer journey becomes. Things fall through the cracks, some channels get ignored, and customer questions are left unanswered. Without a customer journey map, you miss out on opportunities to message and engage with your customers.

What’s missing from your current customer experience strategy? We’re willing to bet most companies have some information gaps.

To start, you’ll need to find the holes in your current customer journey. Use customer questions in customer journey mapping exercises to identify the gaps you need to fill.

Filling in the communication gaps with messaging.

There are two places most businesses have covered: At the decision/purchase stage and the post-purchase stage.

The decision/purchase stage is when your customers know your product or service and just need a little push. It’s at a point where marketing and sales work together to get customers over the finish line. There’s usually a combination of retargeting ads, text messages with discounts or free shipping, and other offers. Your sales or customer service team can also respond to customer messages through live chat (also known as web chat), text messages, or social media.

You also likely have a dedicated customer service team to manage any post-purchase issues, whether that be returns, product tutorials, or troubleshooting.

But what about the rest of the customer journey?

3 reasons why messaging is important throughout the customer journey.

You have the essential stages of the buying decision process covered. That’s enough, right? Here are a few reasons you should hit every touchpoint.

1. Stop customers from bouncing.

Good customer service is being available when the customer needs you. But great customer service involves anticipating customer needs. Proactively reaching out during various customer journey stages through web chat, in-app messaging, or outbound text messaging can keep customers engaged and prevent them from bouncing to a competitor.

2. Customer journeys aren’t linear.

As we mentioned earlier in the article, customers don’t take a straight path from being problem-aware to making a purchase. Since they’re unpredictable, you should engage with customers no matter which stage they might be in. Answering a pricing question through Google’s Business Messages may be what triggers the sale.

3. Advocates don’t have to be customers.

An important part of the customer journey is turning your customers into advocates. But you don’t have to wait until a customer has purchased before turning them into advocates. Answering questions across channels at various stages can win customers to your side before they pull out their wallets. Impressing them early will give them more chances to spread the word about your amazing brand.

How to incorporate messaging at every customer touchpoint.

Take your customer journey map and turn it into a tactical strategy.

1. Review your map.

Look at your customer journey map to determine what customers want at each stage. If they’re in the problem-aware stage, they’re looking for a solution. If they’re solution-aware, they’re looking for a brand/product to solve it. What questions are they asking at this stage?

In this example, Lancôme incorporates these questions directly into their customer journey map.

lacome customer journey map example
Image source

2. Align your answers with the customer journey stage.

You have the customer questions in hand—now you need answers. Craft responses with the customer journey stage in mind. If your customers’ main question at the problem-aware stage is “Should I stay in an Airbnb or a boutique hotel in Hawaii?” they may not be ready for you to tell them all about your breakfast options. Be strategic with your answers and gently lead them to the next step.

3. Who can answer these questions best?

Once you’ve determined the answers, figure out how they’ll get that information. Adding answers to your website, social media posts, and emails are all great places to start—but don’t stop there. Be proactive with outbound text messages, entries in your self-service knowledge base, or chatbot scripts.

4. Implement and iterate!

Your next step is to put your plan into action and see how it works. Mapping your customer journey is important, but it won’t give you all the answers. Only through testing and analyzing your results can you ensure a smooth customer journey from start to finish.

Engage customers with messaging.

Mapping your customer journey is an essential part of ensuring a seamless brand experience. You can gently nudge customers from stage to stage with the help of well-timed, proactive messaging.

Collecting Feedback From Customers: A Step-By-Step Guide

Ugh, surveys… Right?

You talk to customers; your support team talks to customers. You feel like you have a pretty good idea of what’s working, what’s not, and what needs to improve.

But are you sure?

We know collecting and analyzing surveys can be a pain. It’s time-consuming, produces lots of information to sift through, and it doesn’t always give you the results you were hoping for.

The latter complaint (getting unexpected results) is why you should send out regular surveys. You might think you know what customers want and what is and isn’t working in your business, but you can’t be sure until you get direct feedback from customers.

And collecting and analyzing the data? It doesn’t have to be a pain. And that’s exactly what this post is about.

Keep reading to learn how to collect feedback from customers.

Set a foundation for collecting feedback from customers.

Sending surveys without clear goals or purpose will lead to a lot of information without much use. Queue the information overload.

If you don’t identify your goals first, your survey quickly becomes a catchall. Companies tend to throw in every question they can think of and send it out to anyone that interacts with their business. This leads to breaking the two cardinal rules of consumer surveys: length and relevancy.

Very few people will make it to the end of your survey if it is too long. And if it’s too broad, you’ll bore customers or get skewed answers.

For example, maybe you have questions about your in-flight meals on your survey. Since you send the same survey to everyone, passengers on short flights without in-flight meals see the question too. While you might have a N/A option, you could also receive low scores from people irked that they didn’t get meal service—tainting your results.

Instead, start by answering these questions:

  • What information are you hoping to learn?
  • Who will you be surveying?
  • How will you be analyzing the results?

Pick your survey type.

Once you’ve decided on the information you’re hoping to learn from your survey, you need to determine which survey method will work best. You can choose from the many existing surveys that measure specific aspects of your business or create your own.

Here are a few popular survey types in the customer service industry:

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys ask customers, “How satisfied were you with [product/service]?” CSAT surveys are best for in-the-moment feedback. Try sending this out immediately after a customer service interaction or product purchase.
  • Customer effort scores (CES) ask customers, “How easy was it to interact with [company]?” CES surveys are good predictors of customer disloyalty. The more effort it takes to interact with your company, the less likely customers will return.
  • Net Promoter Scores® (NPS®) asks, “How likely are you to recommend [business/product/service] to someone you know?” NPS measures your customers’ perception of your brand. It’s a good indicator of return business and will help you identify your best customers.
  • Custom surveys measure whatever you want them to. You can pull together several existing surveys, ask questions specific to your business, and dive into customer motivations.

Since each survey measures different aspects of your business, there’s no reason you can’t use them all to inform your business. Start by rolling out one option, and add others where you see more opportunities. Just remember to send them to different customers so they don’t get survey fatigue.

Write your survey questions.

The next step is to write your survey questions. If you’re choosing one of the already established surveys, this task is pretty easy. Simply insert your company name and/or product/service into the standard questions per survey type, and you’re ready to go.

If you’re going the custom route, you’ll need to make some decisions. Decide which aspect of your business you’re focusing on and design questions that balance giving you the most information with the least friction for your customers.

Tips for writing survey questions.

Here are some helpful tips for writing your own survey questions:

  • Keep it short. The fewer the questions, the more likely you are to get high customer response rates.
  • Add optional questions. Give customers a place to explain their responses so you see the reasoning behind your scores.
  • Avoid leading questions. Asking customers how much they liked your service will skew responses. Instead, ask neutral questions like, “How do you feel about our service?” or “Were you happy or unhappy with the service?”

3 common types of customer survey questions.

Consider how you’ll ask the questions. Some common types of question formats are:

  • Rating questions like 0–10 or star ratings
  • Yes/no or thumbs up/thumbs down questions
  • Free-form, text-based messages

Qualtrics has a helpful list of questions you can peruse as well.

Feel like you’re getting enough information from your existing surveys? Consider testing optional responses for the longer, thought-provoking questions. Ask those who complete the surveys if they’re willing to take a follow-up questionnaire or speak with one of your representatives.

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Build your survey.

Once you’ve written your questions, it’s time to build your survey. First, identify which channels you’ll use to administer the survey. Many businesses use email to send surveys to customers.

Still, there are two big problems with that:

  1. Terrible email open rates.
  2. The length of time between the interaction and the survey completion.

The best way to get the most responses is to give your customers a frictionless experience. With Quiq’s customer surveys, you can send integrated survey questions directly on the messaging platforms where CX is happening.

And you can automatically send surveys within the conversation—no matter where it’s happening. That means if you’re texting customers, they’ll receive the survey via text message. Same if they’re in Facebook Messenger, live chat (also known as web chat), in-app, etc.

Decide when to send them.

When and how often should you send your surveys? It depends on the type of questions you’re asking.

For CSAT questions, you’ll get the most (and most accurate) responses if you send them immediately after the interaction you’re measuring. Or, if you’re looking for product feedback, send the survey within a day or two of when your customer received it.

When collecting customer feedback for customer service interactions, sending in-message surveys is the best way to get the most information.

Quiq in-message surveys have seen as high as 5x as many responses, plus a 40% increase in CSAT scores.

You’re not only getting more replies, but you’re getting higher results, too.

Deploy your survey.

Send out your survey! Whether sending out surveys in batches or immediately after a customer service interaction, use bots to automate your sends. It’ll be one less thing for your team to do and ensure consistency for your customers.

Build it once and automate sends with Quiq bots >

Quickly respond to poor feedback from customers.

Many customers don’t like taking surveys because they feel their answers disappear into the ether. Does anyone see them? Do their answers even matter?

With Quiq, there’s an easy way to show them how much you’re paying attention. Quiq bots launch surveys immediately after a customer service interaction. They’re automated—but not mindless.

When our bot sees a bad score, it can immediately escalate the message to customer service and into a queue so you can figure out what went wrong and address it then and there.

Analyze your results.

Don’t let valuable customer data go to waste. Make sure you have a system in place to help you review and assess the customer feedback you receive. Will you look at the data once a week? Once a quarter? Figure out what makes sense for your business and stick to it.

You’ll also want to determine how you’ll validate the feedback you receive. Throw out unhelpful or hurtful responses before using them to make decisions. Anything with hate speech, unconstructive criticism, or simply false responses can pollute your data.

Implement your learnings.

The best thing about collecting frequent customer feedback is that it helps you make your customer experience better. Use the information you’ve collected and analyzed to improve your processes, products, and services.

Ensure you give your team proper guidance on using the data you collect. We love transparency, but sharing all the data without context can overwhelm your staff. Communicate to them which factors are most important, where the exceptions are, and how they can use the data to improve.

Iterate. Iterate. Iterate.

Test everything! Test your surveys to see what kind of questions get the most responses. Make changes to your products and services, then survey your customers to see how they respond to them.

The more you use surveys, the better you will understand your customers and deliver exactly what they want.

Get higher response rates and happier customers.

The process of building and implementing your surveys just got easier. Quiq surveys are integrated into your messages so customers can respond without clicking links, jumping into their emails, or picking up the phone.

We’ll work with you to collect customer feedback and hit your survey goals to deliver the greatest ROI for your business. Learn more in the video below!

How to Deal with Angry Customers

The worst part of customer service?

Dealing with angry customers.

It’s hands-down the most stressful, uncomfortable part of the job. But it can also make the biggest difference to your business—when you do it right.

Continue reading to see how to handle angry customers.

Why respond to angry customers’ messages at all?

Many of us were taught to turn the other cheek as children. Ignore the kid throwing a fit (it’s about them, not you). And while that is sage advice for many situations, it’s not the best way to handle your angry customers.

Even a casual, “This product sucks!” or “Worst service ever!” deserves a response. It’s easy to delete the comment or ignore the message, but addressing it has some benefits.

Customers are actually pretty forgiving of companies they already frequent. Zendesk’s CX Trends Report says that 74% of customers will forgive a company for its mistake if they receive excellent customer service.

Plus, 81% of customers are more likely to make another purchase after a positive customer service experience, while 76% of customers will switch to a competitor after several bad experiences.

In one study published in the Harvard Business Review, customers who received responses on Twitter from airline and wireless customer service teams saw Net Promoter Score® increases of 37 and 59 points, respectively—a big jump considering NPS® only has a range from -100 to 100.

For airlines, you can see the difference in dollars. When customers complain, how quickly an agent responds correlates with how much more the customer is willing to pay in the future.

  • Under 5 minutes: $19.83 more
  • 6–20 minutes: $8.53 more
  • 21–59 minutes: $3.19 more
  • 60 minutes or more: $2.33

Note that any response at all turns the situation around and helps improve customer perception.

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How to deal with angry customers.

When angry customers reach your customer service agents, there’s usually a legitimate issue. Take a look at some of the ways you can turn angry customers into happy ones.

Be proactive about known problems.

It happens. A service falls between the cracks, products get damaged, and shipments get delayed. It’s all about how you handle it.

Customers don’t want to feel like you’re trying to get one over on them. They’ll feel cheated, and you’ll lose their trust. Instead, get ahead of problems by communicating with customers as soon as your team notices an issue. Use outbound text messaging to ensure your message is received (and that it doesn’t end up in the junk mail folder).

When things go drastically wrong, send a message that hits these 5 points:

  1. State the issue.
  2. Apologize.
  3. Offer a solution/discount.
  4. Assure them it won’t happen again (if it’s in your control).
  5. Thank them for their continued support.

Lean into conversational support tools.

A positive (but sometimes negative) benefit of messaging is that you’re always easily accessible to the customer. So it’s not unusual to see more complaints through messaging than you might see through traditional phone and email communication methods.

Yet messaging is a great channel to work with angry customers, especially when you have the right tools in place to help you.

While customers might be more likely to offer negative or inappropriate comments through messaging, it also gives your service agents a chance to respond calmly and succinctly. (Something that isn’t so easy to do when someone is yelling at you on the other end of a phone call.)

As we mentioned earlier in the HBR study, responding quickly to angry messages goes a long way. How do you know which customers to prioritize? Look for conversational AI platforms that use sentiment analysis to help you prioritize tickets. Bump angry or unhappy customers to the top of the list to ensure a fast response time.

Diffuse the situation with empathy.

When customers send upset or angry messages, it’s still easy to get flustered or respond with short, superficial answers. Follow these 5 steps to diffuse the situation.

  1. Remain calm: We know—it’s easier said than done. But if you respond aggressively or defensively, it’ll only make things worse. Remember that the customer is angry at the company, not at you. If you’re having trouble keeping your cool, bring in a manager sooner than later (that’s what they’re there for).
  2. Show empathy and validate their concerns: Use phrases like “I understand” and repeat back their problems to show you’re paying attention. Feeling like they aren’t being heard is often a customer’s top complaint, so show that you’re listening.
  3. Don’t argue: We know it’s tempting, but don’t fall into a debate on the state of the world. Instead of trying to disprove every point, they’re making, stick to the facts and what you can do to solve the problem. If the customer keeps pushing, simply repeat what you can do for them and how you can make it right.
  4. Apologize: As long as your company policy allows it (and it should), apologize for the problem and accept responsibility. This will ensure the customer feels heard and knows you’re not just trying to push the issue under the rug.
  5. Offer a solution: Once you’ve figured out the problem, try to find a solution that works within the bounds of your capabilities and satisfies the customer. Sometimes that’s a full refund. Sometimes it’s just a discount on their next purchase. Identify the severity of the problem and respond accordingly.

Be kind to the customer and yourself.

Remember, a human being is behind that angry message, with their own lives, worries, and stressors. While the mistake or issue they’re coming to you with may have been the spark, their anger is fueled by other things going on in their lives. The best thing you can do for them is to remain positive (or, at the very least, neutral) and find a solution to their immediate problem.

But it’s also important to give yourself (and your team) some grace. Customer service agents face a lot of pressure on all sides, and sometimes that mean-spirited message can be the breaking point. If agents are feeling overwhelmed, do these 3 things:

  1. Bring in a manager: If you’re overwhelmed, or the customer is using threatening and inappropriate language, notify a manager immediately. They can help you de-escalate the situation or decide to terminate the relationship if the customer has crossed a line.
  2. Take a break: If possible, step away from your computer after a challenging situation. Stand up, stretch, take a quick walk, or have a bite to eat. Do what you can to shake off the conversation. (Sometimes, literally shaking your hands and limbs helps!)
  3. Disconnect: Make sure to use your vacation time to disconnect from your computer and truly relax. You’ll be better off for it.

Offense is the best defense.

You’ve heard that phrase, right? It means that if you get ahead and stay ahead, you won’t have to defend as often.

If you’re constantly getting bad customer feedback, there’s probably a disconnect between what you think the customers want and what they actually want.

Instead of going off assumptions, collect information from your customers.

  1. Figure out what type of feedback you want to collect: There are different kinds of information you can gather from your customers. Think product reviews, customer satisfaction surveys, and NPS surveys, to name a few. They all have their place but start with the ones that will have the biggest impact on your current customer concerns.
  2. Roll feedback requests into your existing processes: Send product survey requests shortly after customers receive the product, or ask customers to fill out satisfaction surveys at the end of customer service interactions. Use the processes you already have so you don’t add too much work to your already overwhelmed team.
  3. Measure, evaluate, adjust, and repeat: Metrics work best when you look at your numbers over time. Continue to collect customer feedback and improve your products, services, and processes.

Rebuild customer trust.

When customer trust is so hard to earn, you want to do whatever it takes to keep from losing it. Turning an angry customer into a loyal one isn’t as much of a lost cause as you might think.

Regain customer trust by:

  1. Admitting fault: Yes, we mentioned this earlier, but it’s a big sticking point for many customers. Admitting that someone somewhere actually made a mistake is the first step toward repairing the relationship.
  2. Use sincere, positive language: If you’re unsure how to solve something, use phrases like, “Let me find out for you” or “Let’s figure this out together.” The customer is more likely to exhibit patience, and you won’t add any fuel to the fire with negative language.
  3. Follow up when you say you’re going to: If you can’t solve the issue immediately, schedule a time to follow up with the customer—and don’t forget. Even if you haven’t been able to solve the problem yet, reach out to keep them informed. Doing what you say you’re going to do will help build trust, but it’ll backfire if you forget.

Move forward.

We all have to deal with angry customers, but it’s about how you repair the relationship and move forward. These steps are just a starting point. They’ll help rebuild the bridge between your company and your customer.

Are You Tracking These 10 Help Desk Metrics?

Metrics are the lifeblood of help desks and contact centers. Most help desk leaders are using a variety of metrics to measure their team’s performance, but which data should you track?

Data can help drive success, but collecting the wrong metrics (and too many) can cause overwhelm and unnecessary stress on your team.

Traditionally, a help desk refers to IT or internal support. Over time, people have expanded the use of the phrase to include a service desk, general customer support, and customer service teams.

We’ve put together the 10 most vital help desk metrics you should track. Keep reading to learn what they are and how you can use them to improve your customer service.

1. Ticket volume

Your basic metric: How many tickets does your helpdesk receive over a given period of time? Use this information to track busy periods and make important decisions like how many agents you should hire.

2. Ticket channel distribution

This metric helps you track where your tickets are coming from. Do most of your customers use live chat (or web chat)? How many tickets come from Apple Messages for Business? Knowing how many tickets come through each channel will help you allocate resources. You’ll also know which channels to spend more time training your agents on.

3. Response time

Response time measures how fast your agents first respond to customers. This is a big deal for your customer experience. In fact, 83% of customers expect to interact with someone immediately when they contact a company, according to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report.

Response time expectations often vary between channels. For example, customers reaching out on web chat expect an answer within minutes (if not seconds). Yet with channels like SMS/text messaging or email, customers are more forgiving of slower response times.

4. Open tickets vs. resolved tickets

How many tickets are coming in each day and how many are being resolved? This is a good indicator of agent performance and workload. A healthy help desk team will see roughly the same number of new tickets and resolved tickets each day.

You can quickly identify a problem with your team by looking at this metric. Too many unresolved tickets could mean you need to hire more agents, spend more time on training, or redistribute work so that tickets get resolved faster.

5. Average resolution time

Your average resolution time is a vital metric for measuring your help desk’s performance. How long it takes to resolve a customer inquiry directly impacts the customer experience. Resolution times will vary depending on the complexity of the tickets and your industry, but faster is almost always better.

Be sure to include the total time from when a customer first submits a ticket to when the agent closes it out. Yes, this includes response times too!

6. Conversations per agent

Track how many conversations your agents can manage over a given time period. Identify which agents are taking the most calls to see how you can redistribute the workload.

In a similar vein, you can also track your agents’ utilization rate (time spent solving customer issues divided by total time working). This will tell you which agents are overworked and which have time for extra tasks. Here’s a quick tip: Never aim for a 100% utilization rate. You’ll burn out employees and leave no time for administrative tasks.

7. First-contact resolution rate

Your first-contact resolution rate (FCR) measures how many tickets are solved on the first try. Since 80% of customers expect to solve complex problems by speaking to one agent, according to Salesforce, tracking this metric helps you identify if you’re meeting customer expectations.

Getting customers quick and painless answers often comes down to agent training and easy access to information. Use a conversational platform that easily integrates with your CRM or information databases so agents can pull product or customer info for a frictionless customer experience.

8. Containment rate

Containment rate measures how many people interact with a chatbot or IVR help options without speaking with a live agent. This metric helps you track how effective your chatbot conversations are. If too many people still need to switch to a live agent after talking to your chatbot, it can impact customer satisfaction.

Containment standards vary across industries, but with Quiq’s Conversational AI, contact centers see a 70% containment (or contact deflection) rate.

A word of caution: Use this metric with context. Containment shouldn’t be your top priority—helping customers should. While reducing agents’ workload (and operating costs while you’re at it) is beneficial, you don’t want to risk the customer experience to make it happen. Don’t make it more difficult for customers to reach live agents just to improve this metric. Instead, work to make your chatbots as helpful as possible while still giving customers the option to chat with a human.

9. Customer satisfaction

A fast and efficient help desk with the best metrics in the industry will still be the worst performing if customers aren’t happy. While numbers are important to keeping costs down, providing excellent customer service is the best way to keep sales up. According to Salesforce, 94% of customers say a positive customer service experience makes them more likely to purchase again.

Survey customers immediately after helpdesk interactions to ensure customers are leaving those conversations with answers and good feelings about your brand.

10. Agent satisfaction

While most of these metrics rely on agent performance, this one is surveying you. It’s easy to think you need agents to work harder and lower your operational costs. But don’t forget that pushing them too far will lead to stressed employees, burnout, and high turnover. Finding and training agents will cost you much more in the long run.

Survey agents on a regular basis to gauge their workload levels, see if they have the right tools and equipment, and ensure all levels of management are providing the support your agents need.

3 help desk best practices to keep in mind.

Metrics are important to keep your customer contact center running smoothly, but they can’t measure everything. Here are a few additional help desk metrics best practices to keep your contact center running smoothly.

1. Design chatbot conversations to solve problems—not put up roadblocks.

Chatbots are an integral part of a winning customer service strategy. They give customers 24/7 access to help, they help streamline agent conversations, and they reduce ticket volume. But don’t design the conversations as barriers to overcome to reach your live agents. Your customers shouldn’t have to perform the 12 labors of Hercules to reach Mt. Olympus.

Instead, design chatbots to answer common FAQs, collect information, troubleshoot problems, and other helpful tasks. Make sure you include an easy way for customers to connect with live agents and review the conversation so no one will have to repeat information.

2. Don’t keep help desk metrics in a silo.

These metrics are incredibly valuable for your customer service team, but they can also benefit the rest of your organization. If you suddenly have an influx of new ticket requests, maybe there’s a problem with a product. Maybe your web team needs to redesign a customer flow. If you’re seeing a shift from tickets via web chat to Facebook, that’s a good indicator that your customers spend more time there—information that will be helpful for your social media team.

It’s also important to look at your own help desk metrics in context with what’s going on in your organization. Don’t penalize agents for a large backlog when a new product release isn’t going well.

3. Build up your self-service options.

Whether it’s a knowledge-base, FAQ page, or AI chatbot (or hopefully all three), spend time and effort building out these resources. Giving customers the option to help themselves will reduce call volume and reduce the number of menial questions agents have to answer (which they’ll likely thank you for).

And it’s not just for the sake of your help desk team. Customers actually want more self-service options. According to Zendesk’s CX Trends report, 89% of customers will spend more with companies that allow them to find answers online without having to contact anyone.

Pick the right metrics to see your help desk performance soar.

There are so many potential help desk metrics that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Zero in on those measuring the customer experience and your agency performance to gather the most relevant data and make the biggest impact on your business.

7 Mistakes You’re Making in Customer Service

We hate to break it to you, but the customer experience is getting worse.

Okay, maybe you already knew that.

With staffing shortages, supply chain disasters, inflation, and a looming recession, there’s a lot going on. And customer service seems to be bearing the brunt of it.

Forrester’s Consumer Index Ratings showed a big drop in the quality of customer experiences. CX fell for 19% of brands in 2022—the highest proportion of brands to drop in one year since the survey’s inception. Airlines and hotels are among the top industries seeing a drop, brought on by both internal and external factors.

While you can’t control the many economic factors contributing to this dip, there are some things you can control. Like your focus on customer service.

Avoid the pitfalls by fixing these top seven most common mistakes in customer service.

1. Making customers wait.

The mistake

Customers don’t like to wait. We repeat: Customers don’t like to wait. It’s an obvious point, yet in the past couple of years, customers have had to wait longer and longer for service.

There are some outside factors that have nothing to do with your business. The fast and thorough shift to online shopping left many businesses overwhelmed. Toward the beginning of the pandemic, almost 90% of customers experienced longer wait times than usual, according to CallMiner research.

And staffing shortages continue to be an issue, especially in positions that can struggle with keeping up morale. Even chattier callers (who’ve been devoid of human contact for much of the pandemic) have contributed to extended wait times.

But there are some things you could be doing to exacerbate customer wait times. Relying exclusively on one-to-one communication, like phone calls, can tie up agents’ time.

The fix

Turn to asynchronous communication channels, like text messaging, social media messaging, and in some cases web chat (also known as live chat). Asynchronous messaging doesn’t require both parties’ attention at the same time.

Pairing asynchronous channels with communication platforms, like Quiq, can make agents more efficient and cut down on your customer wait time. Agents can handle up to eight conversations at once—instead of being locked into a single phone call.

Embracing AI chatbots will also help reduce customer wait times by acting as your first line of defense. Chatbots help customer service teams move faster by fielding FAQs, collecting customer information, troubleshooting, and more.

2. Failing to create the right communications mix.

The mistake

There are two types of companies that make this mistake:

1. Company A: This is the “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” company. They likely offer support through phone and email. Maybe they have a lightly-manned web chat feature on their site. The problem is, they don’t know that this way IS broken.

These companies are holdovers from a bygone era. They probably still think customer service is a drain on their company resources (instead of the moneymaker that it is).

Then there’s Company B…

2. Company B: They are excited and ready to hit the ground running. They’re on all the platforms, but they don’t have a strategy and they definitely don’t have a conversational platform.

While their enthusiasm counts for a lot, agents will be stretched too thin to serve customers everywhere at once. Being everywhere without a plan is just as likely to leave customers frustrated and unhappy.

Both companies are making the same big mistake: They’ve selected the right communications mix for their business, but not the right mix for their customers.

The fix

The fix for both companies is actually the same. Start with a strategy.

Meet the basics first. Give customers a way to instantly connect with your team. Ideally, that’s web chat (also called live chat), SMS text messaging, and voice.

Once you have their instant needs met, look to be available to customers on their terms. Do they hang out on Twitter? Instagram? Choose the platforms that make sense for your customer base. And don’t forget to add channels like Google Business Messaging and Apple Messages for Business to be easily accessible from your customers’ phones.

A key piece to making these multiple platforms work is having a conversational platform like Quiq. It can help agents manage multiple conversations across channels and ensure seamless customer experiences.

3. Using outdated methods of customer service.

The mistake

In the past, tiered customer service models reigned supreme. It treated customer service like a video game. Customers start at the first level, a typical IVR system or intake agent, and level up to the next “boss” until their problem got solved.

There’s a lot wrong with that model.

It perpetuates the “let me speak to your manager” attitude, making customers think they can get different answers than your agents are providing if they go one step up the leadership chain. Agents might not feel supported by their leaders, which could lead to low morale and faster burnout as a result. Methods like these are likely partially responsible for how customer service agents feel about their jobs. According to Zendesk’s CX Trends report, 38% say the service team is not treated as well as others in the organization.

It’s also not great for your customers. They’ll likely have to repeat themselves with each new person they speak with, which is a big pet peeve for many. In fact, 71% of global customers expect a company to share information so they don’t have to repeat themselves.

Plus, it simply takes longer to resolve. It prohibits you from giving customers the fast, frictionless experience they expect—and deserve.

The fix

Move to a collaboration model of customer service. Customer service tools like CRM software and conversational platforms make it easy for agents to work together to solve customer issues as they come up.

Managers, technicians, engineers, IT, or anyone on your team can pop into customer conversations to solve problems. They can read the conversation history, take a look at snippets, and review the sentiment analysis to see how the conversation is going and how they can help solve the problem. Customers are happy because they don’t have to repeat themselves, and agents don’t feel like they’re the blunt end of a battering ram.

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4. Ignoring touchpoints in your customer service journey.

The mistake

Is your team especially helpful until the customer hands over their credit card? Good customer service doesn’t stop at the sale. It also doesn’t exist just to answer post-purchase questions. What makes good customer service great is the attention to the entire customer service journey.

54% of customers say that customer service feels like an afterthought, according to Zendesk.

The fix

When you’re small, it’s easy to just wing customer service. You’re so busy that you simply deal with problems as they come up. But once you’ve scaled your customer service team, it’s time for a thoughtful strategy.

Take a look at every customer touchpoint and see what you can do to improve the customer service experience. After your guests purchase an airline ticket, can you provide FAQs about their travel destination? Can you do more early in the buying process to help ease decision-making? What about questions that pop up on social media?

5. Not proactively engaging with customers.

The mistake

Businesses with high volumes of customer server inquiries are especially prone to making this mistake. Your agents are busy handling myriad customer requests, which run the gamut from simple FAQs to more complex problems. Every day is a mixed bag, and it’s hard to adequately prepare.

The bigger problems are the complaints not being addressed. What are your customers dealing with that you don’t hear about? How much of your customer churn is related to service and product issues that you never even hear about?

The fix

The best kind of customer service is the kind that solves problems before they happen. Make note of the top FAQs and see what you can do to help customers find these answers without having to reach out. Some common questions, like “Where’s my order?” can be solved by sending outbound messages with tracking links and order updates. Minimize sizing questions by proactively offering sizing consultations. Share video tutorials. Getting ahead of these questions can free up your team for more complex problems.

6. Expecting agents to learn on the fly.

The mistake

You have a CRM. You have your product guide books/service manuals/insert whatever written learning materials you have—that should be enough to get new agents started, right? Not quite.

Only 20% of customer service agents are extremely satisfied with their training, according to Zendesk. But they’re not the only ones that notice it. Your customers do, too, with 68% saying it feels like most businesses need to improve their customer service agents’ training.

The fix

At the very least, ensure your agents have access to product and customer information at their fingertips. Your CRM software and product databases should be integrated into your conversation platform. Your agents should be able to access information easily and quickly to give your customers that seamless experience they crave.

But just because your agents don’t need to memorize as much product information as they used to doesn’t mean you can skimp on training. Shift training to focus on soft skills, like effective communication, conflict resolution, and creative problem-solving.

7. Not actively listening to your customers.

The mistake

Customer service often feels like “the complaint department.” When your customer service team deals with frequent complaints, there’s a risk of apathy. Agents can get overwhelmed and stop caring about customer issues. It’s too easy to deal with immediate problems without looking for long-term solutions.

The mistake isn’t just about not listening to your customers. It’s also about showing that you’re listening to your customers. You may have closed-door conversations about how to improve products and services—but if customers don’t hear it or see it, did it really happen?

The fix

This mistake takes a multi-pronged approach, depending on which feedback facet you’re facing.

When customers don’t feel valued when chatting with agents: It’s time for some empathy training. Sometimes it’s not enough to solve customers’ problems, they want to be heard and understood. Offer empathy training to your agents as part of the onboarding process, and offer refresher courses a couple of times a year. Your agents likely face the same outside stressors that your customers do, so help them manage stress during difficult times.

When customers feel like their feedback goes right into the trash bin: When customers voice larger complaints, the last thing they want to hear is a trite “Thank you, we’ll elevate this issue to the appropriate channels.” They want to know their complaint or suggestion was heard by the right people—and that someone is doing something about it. Create a systemized way to collect feedback and put it into action, then share your system.

When you’re only hearing crickets: No complaints. Great, right?! Maybe. Maybe you aren’t giving your customers the space to do so. Be sure to solicit customer feedback through frequent customer satisfaction surveys. Customers will have a place to be heard, and you’ll have valuable information to improve your products and services.

Refocus on your customer service.

When so many things are out of your control, the best thing to do is refocus on your customers. Avoiding these common mistakes in customer service will help you provide a frictionless experience that keeps them coming back for more.

Do You Know Your Customer Churn Rate?

Customer churn rate is a scary metric. Left unchecked, it’s a silent business killer.

It’s especially important for companies who rely on recurring revenue, such as subscription clothing services, meal delivery, or membership programs. But that doesn’t mean other types of businesses should ignore it. Repeat customers are important to any business—which is why understanding churn is critical.

Before we give you the strategies to improve your churn rate, let’s back up and discuss what it is and why it matters to your business.

What is customer churn?

Customer churn rate (or customer attrition rate) measures how many customers you lose over a given period of time. It’s also the exact opposite of your customer retention rate.

It’s important to look at churn along with your customer acquisition (which measures how effectively you’re acquiring customers). The two measurements and their respective strategies essentially keep your business running: One gets customers in the door, and the other tells you how to keep them.

Why is customer churn rate important? Because your average customer needs to stick around long enough (or make high enough purchases) to more than cover your customer acquisition costs. If they don’t, you’re operating at a loss.

How to calculate churn:

  1. Figure out how many customers you have at the beginning of a period of time.
  2. Find the number of customers you lost in that time period (don’t forget to account for new customers).
  3. Divide the number of customers you lost by the number of customers you started out with.
  4. Multiply by 100 to determine the percentage.

For example, here’s what it would look like if we had 100 customers at the beginning of the month and 90 customers at the end of the month:

  • Customers lost ÷ customers at the start of the month x 100 = customer churn
  • 10 ÷ 100 x 100 = 10%

In this example, your customer churn rate would be 10%.

The first step to reducing customer churn is to understand it.

Now that you’ve calculated your customer churn rate, it’s time to understand what that number really means.

Before you jump to sweeping conclusions (we’ve all been there!), take a wider look at your business. Was there anything unique happening in your business, the industry, or even globally that could be skewing your numbers? Make sure to account for it.

Next, figure out how to benchmark your numbers. Is there an industry standard? Are you comparing year over year? There’s no wrong way to do it—you just need to be consistent.

It’s also important to remember that despite your best efforts, you will have customer churn. And it isn’t always bad. If you’re revamping a service, targeting a new customer, or redesigning products, some churn is expected, or even a good thing, as long as it’s controlled with a new influx of customers.

Another example of expected churn is when subscription services, be it clothing, meal delivery, or SaaS, see a drop-off in the first month or two of service.

New customers are trying your service or product and determining if it’s a fit for them. When the product doesn’t click, they drop off quickly.

Now, if it gets out of control and you have a hard time keeping clients, you need to rethink your service. But it’s mostly an expected and planned occurrence.

Keep that in mind when you take a first look at your numbers.

Find the problem areas.

Once you have your churn rate, you can start figuring out how to reduce it. The best place to start? Customer surveys.

Survey customers at pivotal moments in their customer journey—particularly where you see the biggest drop off. Start with these three key junctures.

1. After their first purchase.

Theoretically, this is when they’re most excited. Use this survey to see how to capture that excitement and share it with all of your customers. Of course, the opposite could also be true. This is when they feel that first wave of disappointment. As uncomfortable as that is, you need to know when it’s happening and why so you can prevent it from happening again.

2. When they haven’t logged in or made a new purchase.

When customers aren’t excited, they often go silent. They forget you exist, forget they signed up for a program, or even that they purchased a subscription. Pick a time period that makes sense for your business and reach out with a survey. Maybe it’s 15 days or even a month. (Pro tip: Try to avoid those passive-aggressive, “Did you forget about us?” emails that no one likes.)

3. When they’ve canceled or gone completely silent.

At this point, you know something is wrong. Whether they haven’t made a purchase in six months or outright canceled your services, it really helps to know why. While it can be difficult to ask a customer who no longer uses your product to help you improve, this will give you the most valuable feedback on how you can reach customers like them in the future.

Once you have your churn rate and feedback from customers at these key stages, you can take decisive action.

4 ways to reduce customer churn.

There are many factors that go into your churn rate, but messaging is a big one. How you connect and engage with customers impacts their experience, whether you’re selling a flight to Rome or a healthy version of cacio e pepe.

Here’s how messaging helps reduce churn rate and where you should implement it.

1. Revamp new customer onboarding.

We tend to think that customer onboarding only applies to software technologies or online classes, and the like, but any business can build an onboarding experience. When a customer makes their first purchase, don’t just send an order confirmation. Craft an experience that walks them through the first purchase and leads them toward the next. Start with these messaging ideas:

  • Send a welcome email.
  • Share product or service information.
  • Point them toward a knowledge-base or FAQ page.
  • Invite them into a brand community and to connect on social.
  • Text them a discounted offer on their next purchase.
  • Tell them about your rewards program.
  • Encourage them to connect with customer support when they have questions.

Welcoming your customers with support and extra benefits will demonstrate your brand’s value right from the start.

2. Revisit brand and product messaging.

Your churn rate heavily depends on customer expectations. If customers expect something that your product or service doesn’t give them, they’ll be disappointed—no matter how great it actually is.

Take a look at your brand messaging, your product descriptions, and any other marketing materials. Is everything accurate? Are you overpromising? Make sure you leave some room to overdeliver and wow your customers from the first interaction.

3. Make customer service fast and accessible.

Churn rates are often attributed partly to the customer service team (although it’s merely a very important piece of a larger puzzle). And it makes sense to involve your customer service team. After all, the opposite of customer churn is customer retention. In Zendesk’s CX Trends Report, 60% of business leaders agreed that customer service improves retention.

Make your support team easily accessible from wherever your customers are. Save the call center for complex problems, and instead answer questions with business messaging. Start by identifying which digital channels they frequent most and make your service team available on them.

4. Be proactive with at-risk customers.

After you’ve collected data to help you determine your customer churn triggers (think immediately after the tutorial, after a week of not logging in, or on the checkout page), engage customers at those key points. See if they need extra support, resources, or help checking out.

Being proactive helps you prevent customer churn by solving issues early in the process before a customer disengages.

Embrace messaging to lower customer churn.

Now that you have a better idea of what churn rate is, you can take the steps to reduce it. When you spend time on keeping your customers instead of just attracting new ones, your business benefits on both ends (revenue and costs).

How to Rewire Omnichannel Service with Messaging

Omnichannel customer service is changing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The customer service stakes are higher than ever.

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

And omnichannel is an expectation—not a benefit.

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

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

How is messaging changing the omnichannel strategy?

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

1. Customers are eager for help.

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

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

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

The benefits of omnichannel customer service.

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

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

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

Meet your customers everywhere.

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

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

Deliver a flawless customer experience.

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

Increase selling opportunities.

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

Collect more relevant customer information.

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

How to improve your omnichannel strategy.

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

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

Be omnichannel, not just multi-channel.

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

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

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

Don’t pick channels over service.

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

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

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

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

Pick the right channels for your customers.

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

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

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

Ensure customer service agents have information at their fingertips.

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

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

Include self-service in your omnichannel strategy.

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

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

Lean into omnichannel marketing.

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

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

Quiq: Your omnichannel solution.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Guide to Developing a Crisis Management Plan

Unfortunately, crises can happen.

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

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

It’s a matter of if, not when.

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

The pandemic caught people off guard.

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

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

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

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

What is a crisis management plan?

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

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

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

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

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

What makes a crisis response successful?

A successful crisis response plan:

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

How to create your crisis response plan.

Follow these steps to build your own crisis response plan.

1. Gather a crisis team.

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

Here are some departments to consider:

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

2. Define what constitutes a crisis.

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

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

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

3. Conduct a risk assessment.

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

4. Predict the business impacts.

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

5. Put together your contingency plans.

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

6. Develop a communications strategy.

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

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

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

Remember: The key is to be excessively accessible.

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

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

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

Don’t forget to temper expectations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Put it all together.

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

Here’s what you should include:

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

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

What makes a crisis management plan effective?

  1.  It’s concise. People in a crisis won’t have time to swipe through hundreds of pages to find what they need. They’re more likely to throw out the whole book. Instead, keep it short, scannable, and easy to follow.
  2. Action-oriented. Your crisis plan isn’t the place to go over the company goals and why you thought the technology you purchased was better in line with your values. It needs easy-to-decipher statements about which actions to take. The simpler, the better.
  3. Mobile-enabled. There’s no excuse for having a physical book for a crisis response plan. No one’s going back for a 10-pound binder when the office is no longer safe. And for that matter, spreadsheets and word documents aren’t great either. At the very least, have a PDF that’s mobile-enabled and searchable. The best option? Find a crisis management plan solution with the latest features for the best accessibility.

Work on long-term resilience solutions.

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

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

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

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

Don’t fail to plan.

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

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

Omni-Channel Customer Service

Omni-Channel Service: The Customer-Driven Path Forward

The Omni-channel experience has been hailed as the Holy Grail of customer service for a great reason. It provides the highest level of seamless, personalized customer experiences.

Studies have shown that companies with an omni-channel program enjoy 24% greater annual returns in company revenue and a 55% decrease in the number of customer complaints. As stated by Aberdeen: “Omni-channel programs are not hype or a temporary best practice.  When implemented properly, omni-channel serves as a key long-term differentiator.” All the evidence points to the fact that the omni-channel experience is a “must have”, not a “nice to have”. However, it is important to note that less than 1% of all organizations have deployed an omni-channel strategy.

Focus on What You Can Control

Tip 1: Present a Unified Front

Customers don’t see a company as individual departments, but an overall brand. They expect consistency in their experience, whether their issue is about the latest sales promotion or dealing with a support complaint.  In order to provide the best customer experience, it is imperative to eliminate silos. Make sure the lines of communication are open internally and that departments share the common systems, goals, and metrics. Providing your frontlines with the authority to do what is in the best interest of the customer and company will ensure small issues don’t blow up into social media nightmares. A unified and consistent approach to service will be a significant step forward to improving the customer experience.

Tip 2: Quality First, More Channels Second

Of course customers want you to be where they are, but it is counterproductive to be somewhere and not effectively serve your customers. A prime example of this is live chat. While a growing number of companies are offering chat, a good channel option, it must be resourced correctly.  In many cases, customers have to wait for an agent to join a chat session, or they receive the dreaded “Not Available” screen, or they start a chat conversation and walk away from their computer for a moment only to come back and find the chat closed. All this showcases that companies are not efficiently managing resources and are spreading themselves too thin. Customers can forgive you for not offering a channel at all, but they won’t forgive bad service on channels you do offer. The lesson here is that customers do not care about the breadth of your “omni-ness”, but rather about the quality of the service delivered. It’s better not to be in a channel at all if you’re not able to do it well.

Tip 3: Pick the Right Channels

More channels do not necessarily equal greater success. However, being in the right channels for your customer, does.  Make sure you know which channels your customers want to engage you on and focus on those first.  How do you know the right ones?  Do you keep phone support, cut email support, and add messaging? Study your customers. Understand not only their age demographic, but also how and when they typically try to connect with your organization. Other option is to just ask your customers! Based on that valuable insight, focus on the channels where you know your customers are most active and would benefit from direct, two-way communication with your company. Then, make sure you staff, resource, and empower your employees in those channels to best represent the brand.

Tip 4: Quality Service Over Quantity

Many companies are subscribing to the philosophy that more channels are better.  Too many channels actually strain resources.  A Harvard business study reveals that customers are actually very flexible; few customers care about the means they use to engage companies. Most choose to make contact through whatever channel they perceive best meets their needs for the specific task. In fact, the same Harvard study found that only 16% of customers are “means-focused” (committed to a certain channel of preference, regardless of rather it fits the task), while 84% of customers are “ends-focused” (focused on solving their issue, regardless of the channel used).  So, limit your customer service channels to the ones you can support well.  Once again, customers can forgive you for not being there, but they won’t forgive a bad customer service experience.

Tip 5: Try New Channels

While the phone remains the go-to communication method of choice for some difficult or urgent use cases, text messaging and Facebook Messenger channels are fast gaining acceptance, and not just with millennials. All age groups are using SMS/text messaging more than ever. In fact, the fastest growing channel is “text messaging”. A recent Forrester study highlights that “The pervasiveness and familiarity of text messaging makes it an ideal channel to win, serve, and retain customers who require assistance from a contact center agent.” Consumers agree. In one study, 66% of respondents said that one of the reasons they preferred to send a text to a company’s customer service department was because it was less time-consuming. In addition, 42% said they preferred to do so because it was more convenient than using the telephone, and nearly a third said that sending a text was less frustrating than calling the company.


While the omni-channel experience may be the holy grail of customer service, the true prize is a loyal customer.  The priority should always be to provide a helpful, positive experience that will enhance the relationship with a customer.  Therefore, continue striving for customer service excellence.  Dedicate the resources, embrace relevant new technologies, and know your customer’s channel preference.  The investment will ultimately be worth it.

6 Ways to Boost Customer Retention—and Stats to Know

So much time and effort is spent on customer acquisition. Marketing and sales consistently combine their efforts to attain the most customers at the lowest price.

But few businesses dedicate as many resources to customer retention.

And that’s a big mistake. Keeping customers happy and continuing to buy from your e-commerce business deserves (and often requires) as many resources.

Customer retention is a struggle for e-commerce businesses, and it’s only become more difficult since the pandemic.

Even as more people move their shopping online, there’s more competition than ever before.

Despite the struggles businesses across industries faced, 61% of customers say the pandemic has actually raised their customer service standards, according to Zendesk.

Challenges continue to plague e-commerce businesses, from staffing shortages to supply chain issues.

With higher standards and more difficulties, retaining customers is a struggle.

But focusing on customer retention strategies will help your e-commerce business keep customers happy and revenue high.

In this guide, we’ll deep dive into customer retention and provide tips on how to improve it.

What is customer retention?

The meaning of customer retention is the measurement of a company’s ability to keep customers. It’s important because it helps a company measure how good they are at satisfying customers.

It’s also often less expensive to retain customers than acquire new ones.

There are many metrics related to retention, including customer churn (also customer attrition), customer lifetime value, purchase frequency, etc.

Evaluating your customer retention rate starts with a simple formula, but it’s important to look holistically at your numbers to see what’s working and what you can improve.

How do you calculate customer retention?

Here’s a simple calculation to identify your customer retention rate (CRR):

(# of customers at the end of a given time period – # of new customers in a given time period ) / # of customers at the start of a given time period x 100 = CRR

For example, here’s what the number would look like if we were measuring customers from January 2022 to March 2022:

[2,000 (total customers in March 2022) – 1000 (new customers between January and March)] / 2,000 (total customers in January 2022) x 100 = 50% CRR

How do you calculate your churn rate?

The customer churn rate is the opposite of your customer retention rate. So in the above example, your CRR is 50%, and your churn rate will also be 50%. If your CRR was 75%, then your customer churn (or attrition) rate would be 25%.

Why do e-commerce businesses struggle with customer retention?

Many businesses struggle with customer retention, but e-commerce and e-tail businesses face an uphill climb.

Some businesses struggle to increase their retention rates, while others simply don’t even put together a customer retention strategy.

Here are a few reasons why e-commerce companies might be struggling.

E-commerce differentiators are harder to spot.

Customer retention often relies on brand loyalty, but e-commerce businesses often have a harder time standing out.

Because many retailers offer similar products with similar levels of quality, customers find it difficult to spot differentiators.

Without a branded storefront, an in-store customer service experience, and other tactile identifiers, it’s easier to compare e-tailers based on things like price and convenience.

Since these factors change often, it makes e-commerce companies appear interchangeable.

Brands think retention is only about their product or service.

While we know the mantra “so good it sells itself” rarely works, people are much more inclined to think it’s true when it comes to customer retention.

A common opinion is if the product or service you’re selling is truly great, retention should be a no-brainer.

But that’s not always the case.

While the quality of what you’re selling is a vital factor, retention takes careful strategy just like any other business tactic. Ignoring retention and hoping for the best is a recipe for disaster.

Acquisition is easier to track.

Anything that’s easier to track (and prove ROI) is much easier to justify. There are certain indicators that help track retention, like CRR, but they don’t paint a bigger picture of the business and take a while to see.

While customer acquisition has immediate metrics, retention metrics like customer lifetime value (CLV) are harder to nail down.

Companies with monthly subscriptions or those that sell frequently-used products can determine fairly quickly how they’re performing.

However, companies selling long-lasting products might have a harder time.

For example, a retailer that sells computers won’t have retention numbers until after they release multiple new models.

Since people only get new computers every few years, it’ll take at least that long to see if customers are returning to buy the new product.

It’s harder to see what’s not working.

Since customer retention rarely has a start and end date, making changes and tracking the results is a much slower process than high-speed customer acquisition.

It’s hard to see if customers are just enjoying their previous purchases longer or if customer retention strategies aren’t working.

Taking the computer example from above, it’ll likely take years to implement customer retention strategies, measure them, and make adjustments accordingly.

Customer retention statistics you should know.

A great way to get started and ensure you have a thorough understanding of customer retention is to dive into the statistics. Here are a few insights we pulled based on recent data.

Customer retention is a high-stakes game.

While Statista reported in 2020 that online retail businesses see a 22% churn rate (which equates to a 78% customer retention rate), Omniconvert reported that e-commerce businesses average only 30% CRR.

While these stats vary widely, it’s easy to see how retention could remain low for e-commerce businesses. The best CRR to benchmark your business against is your own.

Competition is tough, and it doesn’t take much for customers to switch retailers.

According to Zendesk’s CX Trends 2022 report, 61% of customers would now defect to a competitor after just one bad experience. Bump that up to two negative experiences, and 76% of customers are out the door.

Customer retention is cheaper.

Despite the flashy appeal of customer acquisition, it’s actually easier and more cost-effective to focus on customer retention.

According to American Express, it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer versus keeping the customer you already have.

There’s also an old Bain & Company statistic quoted by almost everyone who talks about customer retention that says a 5% increase in customer retention can increase company revenue by 25-95%.

However, we advise you to take this with a grain of salt since it’s an outdated (and frankly vague) stat. We only include it here since it frequently makes the rounds on social media and in the blogosphere.

Despite dubious statistics, no one doubts that customer retention is an underused and undervalued tactic for increasing revenue.

Customer service and customer retention are intertwined.

Customer service is a big part of customer retention. While many business leaders think of customer support as an expense, it’s actually a big revenue generator.

In fact, Zendesk reported that 60% of business leaders agree that customer service improves customer retention.

Customers feel the same way: 81% say a positive customer service experience makes them more likely to make another purchase. This makes a lot of sense.

When customers have as many choices as they do today, they’re not likely to make multiple purchases after a bad experience.

Customer service’s impact also extends to revenue: 73% of business leaders report seeing a direct link between customer service and business performance.

Customer loyalty is all about emotion.

Customer loyalty is also talked about in the same breath as retention. Loyal customers are often your biggest source of sales, in addition to being brand evangelists.

So what does it take to endear a customer and make them loyal to their brand? Emotion.

According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report, 53% of customers say they feel an emotional connection to the brands they buy from the most.

Remember the old adage: People won’t remember what you do, but they will remember how you made them feel.

Personalization is quickly becoming table-stakes.

Customer expectations have a big influence on whether they continue to purchase from your e-commerce business. And personalization is something they’ve come to expect.

Salesforce found that 52% of customers expect offers to always be personalized. This number has jumped from 49% in 2019, and experts expect it to continue increasing.

While privacy concerns are at the top of customers’ minds, they also want businesses to know them and their preferences.

Convenience is the ultimate factor.

One thing the pandemic has taught us is that e-commerce brands must put convenience above almost everything else.

In the Zendesk CX Trends Report, customers admitted that 70.5% prioritize convenience over brand.

That means things like your checkout process, shipping procedures, and customer support features must all be frictionless to keep customers coming back.

The good news: Customers are interested in automated services if it makes their lives easier.

Here are some statistics of customers who are using or interested in using the following services:

  • Self-service account portals: 82%
  • Pre-orders for new or out of stock items: 80%
  • Chatbots for customer service: 70%

That means customers are open to automation, and you can take advantage of these services to streamline your customer service processes.

Investment in customer service and support is far behind business growth.

If customer service has such a direct impact on retention (and retention is cheaper and more effective than acquisition), that means the budget should reflect that. Right?

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Only 27% of business respondents strongly agree that their organization is adequately investing in support initiatives, according to Zendesk.

Customer service is growing, but is it enough?

Half of companies expect to increase funding by 25% by next year and another 25% the year after that.

Part of the problem is that many companies still view customer service as a cost center rather than a vital factor in customer retention and revenue growth.

What do these statistics tell us about customer retention? That there’s a lot of room for growth.

6 tips to improve customer retention in e-commerce.

Are you just starting to track your numbers or need some additional customer retention tips? Tap into these 6 customer retention strategies to boost your bottom line.

  1. Track the right metrics.

Your CRR and churn rate are good starting points, but you should also track recency rates (how recently a customer has made a purchase), frequency rates (how frequently a customer makes a purchase), and customer lifetime value.

Gathering these numbers will help you identify customer pain points and figure out the best time to engage with them.

It’s also important to track metrics that speak to deeper brand relationships, like Net Promoter Score®.

NPS® measures customer loyalty, which has a strong correlation with overall business growth. Figure out which metrics make the most sense for your business.

2. Lean into customer relationship-building strategies.

It takes personalization to build customer relationships en masse. As we mentioned above, it’s table stakes.

Customers expect simple personalizations like using their names on websites and in emails or offering product suggestions based on past purchases.

In order to stand out, you need to do more.

Consider curating product collections for customers. Try putting together customer profiles and deliver suggestions based on their preferences. Identify shopping patterns and craft email or text message touchpoints to reengage them at the right time.

There are many opportunities to give your customers the personalized shopping experience they crave.

3. Invest in the post-purchase customer experience.

What is your customer experience like after a purchase? Just ask your customer service agents.

While it’s likely they’re also answering questions and cross-selling before customers click buy, much of what your customer service team does happens after the purchase.

Here are some quick wins that have a big impact on whether customers come back:

  • Make the return/exchange process frictionless.
  • Provide order tracking via text message.
  • Ask for customer reviews.
  • Send helpful emails that go beyond transactional exchanges.
  • Ensure customer support is available should anything go wrong.

4. Don’t forget about the entire customer journey.

Retail loyalty is all about how you make the customer feel.

Every step of the customer journey has an impact on whether a customer makes a second purchase.

What was your checkout process like? Did they have to go searching for a phone number on your website to reach customer service? Were the products delivered damaged?

Any inconvenience can throw up a red flag and prevent customers from purchasing from you again.

5. Keep customers engaged.

Engaged customers stick around and buy more. There are several ways to keep customers engaged post-purchase:

  • Start a loyalty program. Customers love free stuff, and they’re willing to engage with your brand in order to get it. Loyalty programs offer endless opportunities for engagement, from posting product pictures to writing a review.
  • Build social communities. Brand communities are a hot topic. Try bringing customers together with a Facebook page or use a branded hashtag to highlight a promotion.
  • Offer exclusives. Exclusive deals are hard to pass up. Offer past customers early access, exclusive discounts or special merchandise to drive repeat sales.

6. Craft a customer listening program.

This goes beyond reviews. To encourage repeat business, you need to improve products and services—and the customer experience.

Deploy customer surveys, like NPS, customer satisfaction, and customer effort scores, but don’t stop there.

Try out different surveys and see which ones get the best feedback from customers that actually help your business improve.

Not only will you end up with a better product and customer experience, but customers will feel heard and respected—endearing them to your brand.

Make customer retention a top priority.

Focusing on customer retention won’t yield overnight success, but it helps improve customer satisfaction and boosts your bottom line.

With these customer retention tips, you can craft a long-term strategy to make every customer feel appreciated and come back for more.

CSAT Score vs. NPS (and How to Raise Both)

There are lots of metrics floating around the customer service industry—it’s hard to keep them straight! But the two we hear most often are CSAT scores and NPS®.

You know they’re both important, but what’s the difference?

They’re both short, often one-question surveys that use numerical scales. The big difference? CSAT scores (customer satisfaction) measure one specific interaction, while NPS (Net Promoter Score®) evaluates the overall opinion of your business.

Hint: You need both in your business.

Keep reading to learn how to use CSAT and NPS surveys, and what you can do to raise your scores.

What is a CSAT score?

A customer satisfaction (CSAT) survey asks customers a single question: On a scale from one to five, how satisfied were you with [company/service/product/interaction]?

To get the CSAT score, you take the average number of respondents who answered either fours (satisfied) or fives (very satisfied).

The CSAT formula
Total number if 4 and 5 responses ÷ Total number of responses x 100 = % of
satisfied customers

Simple, right? That’s the beauty of CSAT surveys. They’re easy to answer because it’s multiple-choice and comes immediately after the interaction. Customer responses tend to be higher than other forms of surveys.

What makes CSAT scores such powerful metrics is their ability to be used across the organization in a variety of ways. The best way to use it in customer service? Immediately after a customer interaction.

It can also evaluate products and services, the e-commerce experience, a piece of content, and more.

How do you use CSAT scores in your business?

Customer satisfaction scores are a quick and easy way to get immediate customer feedback. And with Zendesk reporting that over 60% of customers admitting that the pandemic has raised their customer service expectations, staying on top of customer satisfaction is critical to business success.

CSAT is a numbers game. The more customers you get to answer the survey, the better picture you’ll have of your customer service as a whole. While responses tend to be higher than those of other surveys, customers already show signs of survey fatigue.

Here are a few ways to increase response rates.

Best practices to increase CSAT score response rates

  • Include the survey in their preferred messaging channel. Don’t rely on an email after the interaction (which comes with a meager open rate and an even lower response rate). Instead, send customers the survey right within the messaging platform they’re already using. If the conversation happened over text messaging, send the survey via text at the end.
  • Use a chatbot to administer the survey. Automate survey distribution and capture sentiment while it’s still fresh in your customers’ minds. Program your chatbot to jump into the conversation once the customer’s problem is solved. Better yet? Have your agent introduce the bot for a streamlined handoff. Then your customer knows it’s coming before they sign off.
  • Make the survey visually engaging. Use rich messaging to make your surveys stand out. Try emojis when appropriate, test out stars vs. a number scale, or even try incorporating gifs. See what it’ll take to get your customers to click!
  • Be specific. Make sure you say exactly what you’re asking for. A vague “rate us” won’t elicit a good response, but something like “How did Jenny do on this request?” might.

If you’re thinking, “This is great! But what does it really tell me about our customer service team?”, then it’s time for some deeper questions.

Live-Chat-Software-Chatbot-Messaging-WindowYou have a few options. Consider adding an optional question that asks why your customers scored the way they did. This captures in-the-moment information to help you discern the problem or what made that customer service experience stand out.

But adding additional questions (even optional ones) could keep customers from answering the survey altogether. Maybe they feel like they need to think through their answers a bit more or feel like it’s just too much.

If that’s the case, you can also let them opt-in to receive a follow-up survey that goes into more details. If they agree, send them an email with questions that dig into the heart of the problem. For severe issues or standout surveys, you can even request an interview (and offer an incentive to participate).

It’s also important to note that you’re more likely to hear from customers on either end of the spectrum. The people who had very positive experiences (fives) and extremely dissatisfying experiences (ones) are the most likely to respond to your surveys. Keep that in mind when assessing your customer service experience.

What can you do to improve your CSAT score?

That depends on what you’re measuring.

Let’s assume you’re measuring your customer service interactions. Every customer wants a few key things when they reach out to your support team.

  • Quick resolutions: 61% of customers define a good customer service experience as one that solves their problems quickly. Make sure your staff is well-trained and has access to all the information they need to serve your customers.
  • Timely responses: Customers expect access to support agents 24/7. While this isn’t always possible, there are several options to serve customers when agents aren’t available. Many customers want self-service options, so spend the time and effort to enhance your knowledge base. You can also rely on chatbots to answer common questions and set expectations for when an agent will be available. Relying on asynchronous messaging, like text messaging, will also help with more flexible response times.
  • A friendly customer service agent: Now more than ever, customers are looking for empathy from your customer service agents. Train your agents to practice patience and kindness (and ensure they can translate those emotions into text), and empower them to flex the rules and do what it takes to make the customer happy.

What is NPS?

NPS stands for Net Promoter Score, and it calculates how likely your customers are to recommend your brand.

An NPS survey asks the question, “How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?” Customers then rate their likelihood from 0–10, with zero being not at all likely and ten being extremely likely.

csat score vs. NPS

When calculating your NPS, only customers who select nine or ten are considered your promoters, while passives score seven and eight, and detractors score zero through six. So calculating your NPS looks a little different than calculating your CSAT score.

The NPS formula
% of promoters — % of detractors = NPS

Pros and Cons of Net Promoter Scores (NPS)

Your NPS identifies overall brand perception rather than a specific transaction. This leads to several pros and cons.

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Pros Cons
There’s a strong correlation between NPS (which measures loyalty) and business growth. Since NPS measures perception instead of performance, it’s harder to pinpoint specific problem areas.
NPS is standardized across brands, so it’s better at providing benchmark numbers on which to base your business’ performance. It requires a deep analysis of both industry-wide and internal trends to decipher the results.


Like CSAT surveys, NPS surveys often need a little help to get usable feedback from your customers. Ask respondents to explain their reasoning in a follow-up question. While asking another question may limit your responses, it’s better to have insights on what matters most to your customers.

So how often should you measure NPS? Since it’s an assessment of your overall experience, you’ll need to evaluate the best frequency and delivery method for your brand. Opt for at least once a year.

If your customer base is large and you change tactics frequently, you might want to consider sending out surveys once a quarter to get more immediate feedback.

What is considered a good NPS?

Since NPS scores are standardized, it’s easy to identify a benchmark score.

According to Sametrix, the average NPS for online shopping brands in 2021 was 41, and the industry leader’s NPS was 59.

Once you start tracking your own data, pay attention to internal and external trends that influence your score. For example, many brands may be experiencing lower than average scores due to supply shortages or long wait times.

How do you increase your NPS?

Once you’ve established your NPS baseline, you have a benchmark for future results. But since you aren’t measuring a specific interaction, it’ll take a little more digging to identify ways to improve it. Here are some ways to get started:

  1. Dive into the data: Instead of looking at your NPS as a standalone metric, compare it to what you know about your customers. Are your promoters Gen Z and your detractors Gen X? Did all your promoters buy a particular service? Look at what other metrics you can pull in so you have a bigger picture of the results.
  2. Look at the internal context: What was going on when you sent out that survey? Had you just released a new product? Was your customer service team understaffed? See what could have influenced your responses. It may not give you the whole picture, but it can help you identify where to start.
  3. Review industry-wide trends: It’s no secret that the pandemic caused net promoter scores to drop due to a variety of factors. But it doesn’t have to be a global problem to impact your customer service. See what external trends may have contributed to the score.

To increase your NPS, you need to do some investigating and then rally your customer service team around the solutions. With the right tools and understanding, it’s absolutely possible to increase your scores.

Should you use NPS or CSAT to evaluate your customer service?

Ideally, you should use both NPS and CSAT scores to get a full understanding of how your brand is performing. While NPS is great at measuring the overall sentiment around your customer service, product, etc., CSAT surveys will provide specific, actionable insights into support interactions.

Unlock your customer metrics with Quiq

Not just another conversational platform. Quiq uses powerful AI to connect your customer service team with your customers.

  • Meet customers where they are with multi-channel support
  • Use chatbots to automatically deploy CSAT and other surveys
  • Serve more customers with asynchronous messaging and efficiency tools

Interested in seeing what Quiq is all about? Watch our video here.

Using AI to Streamline Messaging

Conversational AI typically refers to leveraging bots to satisfy your customers while scaling your contact center.

At Quiq, we love bots, but we also take a broader view of Conversational AI. After all, bots are only part of digital CX.

In our view, Conversational AI also means helping your live agents work more efficiently and streamlining your operations.

In this article, we’re going to focus on how AI can (and should) be used to manage the nuances of messaging as part of a broader suite of Conversational AI.

The Need for Conversational AI

In The Nature Of Messaging, we described how messaging is a unique channel. It fluctuates between synchronous and asynchronous communication styles. It’s informal. Live agents can work on multiple messaging conversations concurrently.

All of this implies a system that can:

1. Track and prioritize the conversations assigned to a live agent.

In order to prioritize, we must understand who is expected to respond next.

2. Manage the agent’s workload.

  • Keep them busy, but not too busy.
  • Prioritize customers who are actively engaged.
  • Move inactive customers out of the way, without losing their session.

3. Map free-flowing streams of messages into tickets in traditional CRM systems.

In order to achieve the above, you need a purpose-built system (like Quiq) that handles the fluctuating synchronicity of conversations amidst the backdrop of agent concurrency. The system is also going to need a hefty dose of AI to do the best possible job.

Let’s consider some examples to explore why.

Here’s a pretty typical inbound service conversation that was routed directly to a live agent.

The agent sent the last message, but is it the customer’s turn to respond?


The agent essentially promised a follow-up. The system should still prioritize this conversation.

The traditional algorithm employed in email management systems is that the two parties should take turns, but that doesn’t work in conversational settings because messages are shorter and less formal.

We need NLP/AI here.

Here we have the opposite situation. The system shouldn’t prioritize this conversation or set any sort of SLA timer because the burden of response is on the customer.

If the customer fails to follow up within a reasonable timeframe (10 minutes?), the system should move this conversation to an inactive state to make room for customers who are more engaged.

Do you remember choose your own adventure books? In this example, you get to pick what happens next:

  1. Nothing. The conversation is over.
  2. An hour passes. The customer responds with “You too!”
  3. An hour passes. The customer responds with “Actually, I don’t want green after all.”
  4. An hour passes. The customer responds with “I have a different question for you.”

Compared to phone and email, it’s less clear when a messaging conversation is actually over.

Obviously, we don’t want to just leave the conversation open; that delays helping other customers.

So the system should automatically inactivate and/or close it.

If scenario 2 happens, what should we do?

We definitely don’t want to open another tracking ticket, and we may not even want to reopen the conversation and route it to the agent (especially if that agent isn’t online anymore). We call this the ‘long goodbye’ problem, or more generally, an unimportant response.

If scenario 3 happens, we need to reopen the conversation and it should be associated with the same ticket in the CRM and ideally routed to the same agent.

If scenario 4 happens, we should start a new conversation associated with a new ticket and route the conversation to our entry point (e.g. a bot) rather than directly routing to the agent.

In messaging apps, there isn’t a clear start and end point to a conversation—and there isn’t an equivalent of an email ‘Subject’.

It’s just a stream of messages with potentially long delays between them. So in order to solve the above problems, we need a deep understanding of the message content.

The Impact

The examples we explored above aren’t just academic. They’re impactful to your operations.

Consider the following stats taken from across our user base (your org’s exact numbers might differ):

10% of conversations will have a late, ‘unimportant’ message arrive.

  • Failure to recognize these as continuations of the previous conversation causes superfluous records that impact analytics.
  • Agents are unnecessarily distracted.

The traditional ‘take turns’ response algorithm is wrong 30% of the time in messaging.

  • If we fail to prioritize a conversation where the customer is expecting a response, we risk missing SLAs and angering customers, while forcing agents to attempt their own prioritization.
  • If we prioritize a conversation that is actually waiting on the customer, we decrease efficiency by distracting the agent and delaying service to other customers.

20% of your messaging conversations will reopen in a 72-hour period.

It’s important to recognize when an important message arrives and determine if it represents a new topic or a continuation.

Our Approach

At Quiq, our goal is to leverage AI to have a positive and immediate impact on our customers and their businesses.

We follow the latest research and pragmatically adapt and apply AI to the context of conversational business messaging.

For the majority of our AI modeling tasks, it’s not sufficient to simply consider the text of a single message in order to make a decision.

Instead, we must consider all of the recent transcripts, including the sequence of individual messages and their authors. This deep understanding of the conversation transcript enables us to achieve high accuracy on problems like the ones presented in this article.

Stay tuned as we build out more!

7 Customer Experience (CX) Predictions for 2022

The last two years have been hard to predict. Actually, it’s been hard to predict what will happen in the next few weeks, let alone for the entire year.

While we may be sick of hearing about unprecedented times, we can’t deny that the last two years have turned multiple industries upside down. The pandemic forced many businesses online and accelerated digital transformation for countless others. 

Throughout it all, you’ve worked hard to maintain a seamless customer experience (CX)—rising to elevated expectations even while battling supply shortages, staffing challenges, and delayed delivery services.

Customer experience has become a higher priority for all types of businesses. 63% of CX managers say their company prioritized CX more than a year ago, according to Zendesk. And half of customers say that customer experience is more important to them than a year ago.

Last year’s priority shift has set the stage for a game-changing 2022. Here are our predictions for the CX industry.

1. Personalization will become table stakes.

For years, CX professionals have advocated for more personalized experiences—especially in the online space. While it used to be a differentiator, It’s now a must-have. 

According to a report from Segment, 70% of consumers wish brands knew more about them, particularly their style preferences and household needs. And 45% will actually take their business elsewhere if they don’t receive a personalized experience.

So what does this look like in practice? It’s more than remembering a customer’s name. Lean into a well-rounded omnichannel experience. Maintain customer conversations across media channels and devices, curate personalized collections, and always ensure user data is secure.

2. Customers will embrace social commerce.

Have you bought something directly from Instagram in the last year? What about Facebook?

About half of U.S. adult social media users have made a purchase via social media in the past year, according to a survey from Insider Intelligence. And we expect the trend to pick up steam in 2022.

Instead of sending customers from social platforms to your own website, customers can make purchases right within the platform. Between marketplaces, influencers, and your own brand presence, it’s often more effective to keep transactions within the platform’s ecosystem. 

As a result, expect to spend more money on social media sites like Instagram to increase purchases directly within the platform. 

Marketplaces have made it easier to display goods and services, and selling through direct messaging has grown in popularity, too. Customers can see a product, ask questions, and make a secure purchase without ever having to leave the platform.

With its increasing popularity, it might be easier to send traffic to these platforms over brand-owned websites. It’s certainly worth some testing in 2022.

3. Brands will face the same old customer issues.

Whether in the contact center or on the sales floor, customer conversations will continue to center around the same age-old questions:

  1. Where is my order? 
  2. When will it get delivered? 
  3. When will you have more available?

The supply chain woes and overburdened last-mile delivery services we all faced the last two years will still be a problem. Unfortunately, we can’t say goodbye to it just yet.

As a result, your contact center will continue to face these repetitive but easy-to-answer questions. You can lean on AI-driven chatbots to handle the influx or hire more agents to keep up with customer demand.

Bonus lesson: We’ve also learned over the last couple of years that current events can send customer inquiry volumes skyrocketing. With this knowledge, you can prepare your team whenever global issues trickle down to the customers

4. The talent shortage will shift contact centers’ tactics.

With unemployment low and the demand for talent high, staffing your contact center will continue to be a challenge. 

To continue delivering a stellar customer experience, brands need to focus on productivity solutions and conversational platforms that will streamline customer interactions. 

There will also be an emphasis on flexibility within the contact center. Brands will focus on solutions that quickly and easily scale up or down with customer needs. Because hiring challenges will continue, it’s likely this need will be filled with other options, including AI, chatbots, and self-service options.

5. Contact centers will focus on empathy.

Empathy was the big topic of 2021, and we expect to see brands taking action on it in 2022. Expect to see it play out on two levels: brand empathy for customer service agents and agent empathy for customers.

49% of people want customer support agents to be more empathetic, according to Zendesk.

The talent shortage will force brands to increase agents’ wages—and give them higher-value tasks as a result. The push to streamline customer service and create more self-service options means live agent interactions will be even more valuable as a result. Instead of answering “where’s my order” questions, agents will be available for more high-touch interactions at every step of the buying process. 

What does this mean for the customer service agents? Brands will be competing for talent, so perks like flexible working arrangements matter. Higher wages and higher-value tasks will lead to better engagement and hopefully more overall job satisfaction.

6. Adoption of digital payment platforms will accelerate.

pay to chat apple payMillennials and Gen Z will continue to expand their buying power, and as digital natives, they’re more likely to use digital payment platforms. No one wants to manually enter their credit card data anymore (we can relate).

Brands will need to adapt to the next generation’s buying habits. In 2021, 4 out of 10 smartphone users in the U.S. have made a contactless mobile payment at least once, according to Statista. And digital/mobile wallets are responsible for 29.3% of e-commerce transactions in the U.S

We expect to see these numbers grow as more people resist manual credit card entry and rely on mobile payment platforms, like Apple Pay or Paypal.

7. People will put down their phones. 

A crazy concept—we know. People have felt like they need to be available at all hours of the day, and the pandemic only increased this “always-on” mentality. It’s led to a rise in burnout and just an overwhelmed society. According to McKinsey & Company, 42% of women and 35% of men reported feeling burned out often or almost always in 2021.

We expect to see more customers silencing their email notifications and turning off their phones in 2022. What does it mean for the customer experience? A heavy reliance on asynchronous messaging.

Rather than dealing with customers through live messaging and voice conversations, expect customers to pop in and out of conversations as their day permits. In fact, this 2021 Gartner press release predicts that 80% of customer service organizations will abandon native mobile apps in favor of messaging by 2025.

For your CX team, this requires a different approach to conversations. They’ll need to juggle multiple requests across platforms and be able to pick up conversations where they left off. To give customers the best experience, lean on a conversational platform that helps your staff manage it all.

Strengthen Your Customer Experience in 2022

Even though the future is uncertain, brands have the ability to give customers a top-notch experience with every interaction. You can be the bright spot in a customer’s day, a moment of reprieve in an otherwise tumultuous week. 

Use these CX predictions to anticipate what’s to come in 2022 and plan ahead. And if you need help facilitating customer conversations, scaling, or meeting your customers where they are, Quiq can help.

Ready to take a deeper look at the power of a conversational platform and see what Quiq can do for your customer service team? Schedule a quiq demo

3 Key Customer Success Metrics to Go After in 2022

With jingle bells ringing and cash registers chiming, it’s clear we’re still smack dab in the middle of the holiday rush. But off in the distance, you can hear an orchestra play the first few familiar notes of Auld Lang Syne.

2022 is quickly approaching, and you’re likely gearing up for new initiatives, process changes, and everything else that comes with the beginning of a new year.

Have you figured out how to measure it yet?

The beginning of the year is a great time to start tracking your customer success metrics. Measuring how happy your customers are with your service and how likely they are to return is a great predictor of overall business success.

Use success metrics to:

  • Gauge the success of new initiatives
  • Identify weak points in the customer journey
  • Measure the success of your customer service team
  • Track the growth of individual team members
  • Predict customer loyalty

But the world of customer data is massive. Where do you start?

There are many ways to gauge and improve your customer service, but we’ve identified three customer success metrics that will give you the best, well-rounded view of how you’re performing in your customers’ eyes.

Keep reading to see what they are and how to use them. 

Why should you measure customer success?

To put it simply, you can’t make customer-centric decisions without any input from the customer. While we always have our customers’ best interests at heart, what we think customers want and what they actually want can be vastly different.

But more than identifying needs, giving customers the opportunity to provide feedback makes them feel valued. Customers with service issues often just want to be heard, which also applies to the feedback they offer. They want to know their complaint has been taken and addressed.

Plus, 1 in 3 customers share their contact center experiences with others, and half of those do so on social media, according to a 2020 report from the CFI Group. Hearing about customer issues from social media has the potential to damage your brand.

That’s where customer surveys come in. 

Success metric #1: Customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction, or CSAT, often asks customers one question: How satisfied are you with your experience? 

Customers respond using a numerical scale to rate their experience from very dissatisfied to very satisfied. Numerical scales are typically 1 to 5 or 1 to 10, but they can vary based on your business’s preference.

How do you calculate CSAT scores?

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

On a 1 to 5 scale, 4s and 5s are typically the highest predictors of customer retention.

This short survey works best when asked immediately after a specific experience. You can offer the survey after a purchase, an interaction with your customer service team, or a return.

What can you do to improve your CSAT scores?

  • Improve response times
  • Resolve issues quickly
  • Ask follow-up questions to discern the context behind customer dissatisfaction

While CSAT is an excellent monitoring tool, it has its limitations. It works best when measuring specific interactions but doesn’t give you an overall picture of the customer experience. While it can indicate customer satisfaction, it isn’t the best at identifying whether a customer is likely to return or recommend your business to someone else.

You’re also more likely to hear from customers at either extreme: either terrible experiences or outstanding experiences. Customers in the middle are less likely to take the time and fill out the survey.

Success metric #2: Customer effort score

Customer effort score, or CES, measures how easy it is to do business with your company. For this survey, you ask customers to rate the ease of interaction with your customer service team, typically from 1 to 7, with low numbers corresponding to very difficult and high numbers very easy.

How do you calculate CES?

Sum of all scores ÷ total number of responses = CES average

This more recent measurement originates from a Harvard Business Review study that found “little relationship between satisfaction and loyalty.”

Their main conclusion?

“When it comes to service, companies create loyal customers primarily by helping them solve their problems quickly and easily.”

So while customer delight and satisfaction are vital goals, HBR concluded that the level of effort required is a greater predictor of disloyalty. The more effort customers have to expend, the less likely they are to continue patronizing your business.

What can you do to improve your CES?

  • Simplify the checkout process with message-based payments
  • Solve customer issues with fewer interactions
  • Give customers self-service options on your website

The main issue that pops up with CES is that it’s ambiguous. Customers don’t always interpret “effort” in a manner that is useful to your business. It also doesn’t translate well across cultures.

Success metric #3: Net Promoter Score®

A Net Promoter Score, or NPS®, is a proprietary customer success metric that asks the question: How likely are you to recommend [business/product/service] to someone you know?

Customers answer based on a 10-point scale, and answers are categorized as follows:

  • Detractors: 0 to 6
  • Passives: 7 and 8
  • Promoters: 9 and 10

Detractors are customers who were completely dissatisfied with your service and have the potential to damage your business. It’s best to follow up with these customers to ask them why they feel the way they do and to solve any persistent problems they might have.

Passives are typically customers who were satisfied with your business but overall unenthusiastic about it. They’re more likely to switch to competitors depending on their needs.

Promoters are the ultimate goal. They’re enthusiastic about your brand. Promoters are most likely to purchase frequently and share your business with people they know. According to Bain & Company, a promoter has a lifetime value 6 to 14 times that of a detractor.

How do you calculate NPS?

% of promoters — % of detractors = NPS

While NPS is designed to gauge the overall performance of your business, you can also use it transactionally to measure the success of products or services. If your goal is overall company reputation, it’s best to send out the survey at regular intervals, like quarterly or yearly. If you’re measuring a specific product or service, send the survey shortly after the purchase is complete.

What can you do to improve your NPS?

Since NPS is measuring your customers’ perception of your brand, there aren’t one or two things that can drastically improve it. Everything matters.

NPS brings a different dynamic to survey results, but the answers without any context aren’t constructive. Since you’re more likely looking at the overall impression of your brand instead of specific interactions or customer emotions, it can be pretty hard to decipher the results in a meaningful way.

That’s why it’s essential to ask for reasonings either within your survey or as a follow-up. Give your customers the opportunity to explain their decisions, and then use that information to improve your score.

Customer success survey best practices

What do all of these customer success metrics have in common? They require surveying your customers.

Here are some best practices to help increase your response rates.

  • Send surveys using the method customers prefer. If they reached out to you via web chat, Facebook Messenger, or Google’s Business Messages, send a survey immediately after their interaction. 
  • Combine communications. If you send an email thanking customers for their patronage, add the survey to that message. If you send a text with their order details, include it with the message. They’re less likely to ignore it when it’s paired with important information.
  • Use chatbots. Set up your chatbot to trigger a survey message immediately after a ticket is closed, so you can ensure you’re serving every customer.
  • Offer incentives. Low response rates can skew your data. Encourage customer participation with discounts, free shipping, or an entry into larger giveaways.

While there are some tricks to encourage customer participation, there’s no silver bullet. Regularly engaging with your customers will get them used to frequent conversations with your brand and make them more likely to get involved.

Capture customer success metrics with Quiq

Measuring customer success metrics is an essential part of your customer experience. But you need a reliable way to capture feedback, no matter which platform your customers prefer.

Quiq’s integrated surveys let customers answer questions directly within the conversation, and it doesn’t send them to another page. Use these in-conversation surveys to increase your response rates—and even increase your CSAT scores.

What’s Quiq all about?