Top 5 Benefits of AI for Hospitality

As an industry, hospitality is aimed squarely at meeting customer needs. Whether it’s a businesswoman staying in 5-star resorts or a mother of three getting a quiet weekend to herself, the job of the hospitality professionals they interact with is to anticipate what they want and make sure they get it.

As technologies like artificial intelligence become more powerful and pervasive, customer expectations will change. When that businesswoman books a hotel room, she’ll expect there to be a capable virtual assistant talking to her about a vacation spot; when that mother navigates the process of buying a ticket, she’ll expect to be interacting with a very high-quality chatbot, perhaps one that’s indistinguishable from an actual human being.

All of this means that the hospitality industry needs to be thinking about how it will be impacted by AI. It needs to consider what the benefits of AI for hospitality are, what limitations are faced by AI, and how it can be utilized effectively. That’s what we’re here to do today, so let’s get started.

Why is AI Important for Hospitality?

AI is important in hospitality for the same reason it’s important everywhere else: it’s poised to become a transformative technology, and just about every industry – especially those that involve a lot of time interacting through text – could be up-ended by it.

The businesses that emerge the strongest from this ongoing revolution will be those that successfully anticipate how large language models and similar tools change workflows, company setups, cost and pricing structures, etc.

With that in mind, let’s work through some of the ways in which AI is (or will) be used in hospitality.

How is AI Used in Hospitality?

There are many ways in which AI is used in hospitality, and in the sections that follow we’ll walk through a number of the most important ones.

Chatbots and Customer Service

Perhaps the most obvious place to begin is with chatbots and customer service more broadly. Customer-facing chatbots were an early application of natural language processing, and have gotten much better in the decades since. With ChatGPT and similar LLMs, they’re currently in the process of taking another major leap forward.

Now that we have models that can be fine-tuned to answer questions, summarize texts, and carry out open-ended interactions with human users, we expect to see them becoming more and more common in hospitality. Someday soon, it may be the case that most of the steps involved in booking a room or changing a flight happens entirely without human assistance of any kind.

This is especially compelling because we’ve gotten so good at making chatbots that are very deferential and polite (though as we make clear in the final section on “limitations”, this is not always the case.)

Virtual Assistants

AI virtual assistants are a generalization of the idea behind chatbots. Whereas chatbots can be trained to offload many parts of hospitality work, powerful virtual assistants will take this dynamic to the next level. Once we have better agents – systems able to take strings of actions in pursuit of a goal – many more parts of hospitality work will be outsourced to the machines.

What might this look like?

Well, we’ve already seen some tools that can do relatively simple tasks like “book a flight to Indonesia”, but they’re still not all that flexible. Imagine an AI virtual assistant able to handle all the subtleties and details involved in a task like “book a flight for ten executives to Indonesia, and book lodging near the conference center and near the water, too, then make reservations for a meal each night of the week, taking into account the following dietary restrictions.”

Work into building generative agents like this is still in its infancy, but it is nevertheless an active area of research. It’s hard to predict when we’ll have agents who can be trusted to do advanced work with minimal oversight, but once we do, it’ll really begin to change how the hospitality industry runs.

Sentiment Analysis

Sentiment analysis refers to an automated, algorithmic approach to classifying the overall vibe of a piece of text. “The food was great” is obviously positive sentiment, “the food was awful” is obviously negative sentiment, and then there are many subtler cases involving e.g. sarcasm.

The hospitality industry desperately needs tools able to perform sentiment analysis at scale. It helps them understand what clients like and dislike about particular services or locations, and can even help in predicting future demand. If, for example, there’s a bunch of positive sentiment around a concert being given in Indonesia, that indicates that there will probably be a spike in bookings there.

Boosting Revenues for Hospitality

People have long been interested in using AI to make money, whether that be from trading strategies generated by ChatGPT or from using AI to create ultra-targeted marketing campaigns.

All of this presents an enormous opportunity for the hospitality industry. Through a combination of predictive modeling, customer segmentation, sentiment analysis, and related techniques, it’ll become easier to forecast changes in demand, create much more responsive pricing models, and intelligently track inventory.

What this will ultimately mean is better revenues for hotels, event centers, and similar venues. You’ll be able to cross-sell or upsell based on a given client’s unique purchase history and interests, you’ll have fewer rooms go unoccupied, and you’ll be less likely to have clients who are dissatisfied by the fact tha you ran out of something.

Sustainability and Waste Management

An underappreciated way in which AI will benefit hospitality is by making sustainability easier. There are a few ways this could manifest.

One is by increasing energy efficiency. Most of you will already be familiar with currently-existing smart room technology, like thermostats that learn when you’re leaving and turn themselves up, thus lowering your power bill.

But there’s room for this to become much more far-ranging and powerful. If AI is put in charge of managing the HVAC system for an entire building, for example, it could lead to savings on the order of millions of dollars, while simultaneously making customers more comfortable during their stay.

And the same holds true for waste management. AI systems smart enough to discover when a trash can is full means that your cleaning staff won’t have to spend nearly as much time patrolling. They’ll be able to wait until they get a notification to handle the problem, gaining back many hours in their day that can be put towards higher-value work.

What are the Limitations of AI in Hospitality?

None of this is to suggest that there won’t also be drawbacks to using AI in hospitality. To prepare you for these challenges, we’ll spend the next few sections discussing how AI can fail, allowing you to be proactive in mitigating these downsides.

Impersonality in Customer Service

By properly fine-tuning a large language model, it’s possible to get text output that is remarkably polite and conversational. Still, throughout repeated or sustained interactions, the model can come to feel vaguely sterile.

Though it might in principle be hard to tell when you’re interacting with AI v.s. a human, the fact remains that models don’t actually have any empathy. They may say “I’m sorry that you had to deal with that…”, but they won’t truly know what frustration is like, and over time, a human is likely to begin picking up on that.

We can’t say for certain when models will be capable of expressing sympathy in a fully convincing way, but for the time being, you should probably incorporate systems that can flag conversations that are going off the rails so that a human customer service professional can intervene.

Toxic Output, Bias, and Abuse

As in the previous section, a lot of work has gone into finetuning models so that they don’t produce toxic, biased, or abusive language. Still, not all the kinks have been ironed out, and if a question is phrased in just the right way, it’s often possible to get past these safeguards. That means your models might unpredictably become insulting or snarky, which is a problem for a hospitality company.

As we’ve argued elsewhere, careful monitoring is one of the prices that have to be paid when managing an AI assistant. Since this technology is so new, we have at best a very vague idea of what kinds of prompts lead to what kinds of responses. So, you’ll simply have to diligently keep your eyes peeled for examples of model responses that are inappropriate, having a human take over if and when things are going poorly.

(Or, you can work with Quiq – our guardrails ensure none of this is a problem for enterprise hospitality businesses).

AI in Hospitality

New technologies have always changed the way industries operate, and that’s true for hospitality as well. From virtual assistants to chatbots to ultra-efficient waste management, AI offers many benefits (and many challenges) for hospitality.

If you want to explore using these tools in your hospitality enterprise but don’t know the first thing about hiring AI engineers, check out the Quiq conversational CX platform. We’ve built a proprietary large language model offering that makes it easy to incorporate chatbots and other technologies, without having to worry about what’s going on under the hood.

Schedule a demo with us today to find out how you can catch the AI wave!

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Customer Service in the Travel Industry: How to Do More with Less

Doing more with less is nothing new for the travel industry. It’s been tough out there for the last few years—and while the future is bright, travel and tourism businesses are still facing a labor shortage that’s causing customer satisfaction to plummet.

While HR leaders are facing the labor shortage head-on with recruiting tactics and budget increases, customer service teams need to search for ways to provide the service the industry is known for without the extra body count.

In other words… You need to do more with less.

The best way to do that is with a conversational AI platform. Whether a hotel, airline, car rental company or experience provider, you can provide superior service to your customers without overworking your support team.

Keep reading to take a look at the state of the travel industry’s labor shortage and how you can still provide exceptional customer service.

Travel is back, but labor is not.

In 2019, the travel and tourism industry accounted for 1 in 10 jobs around the world. Then the pandemic happened, and the industry lost 62 million jobs overnight, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

Now that most travel restrictions, capacity limits, and safety restrictions are lifted, much of the world is ready to travel again. The pent-up demand has caused the tourism and travel industry to outpace overall economic growth. In 2021, the GDP grew by 21.7%, while the overall economy only grew by 5.8%, according to the WTTC.

In 2021, travel added 18.2 million jobs globally, making it difficult to keep up with labor demands. In the U.S., 1 in 9 jobs went unfilled in 2021.

What’s causing the shortage? A combination of factors:

  • Flexibility: Over the last few years, there has been a mindset shift when it comes to work-life balance. Many people aren’t willing to give up weekends and holidays with their families to work in hospitality.
  • Safety: Many jobs in hospitality work on the frontline, interacting with the public on a regular basis. Even though the pandemic has cooled in most parts of the world, some workers are still hesitant to work face-to-face. This goes double for older workers and those with health concerns, who may have either switched industries or dropped out of the workforce altogether.
  • Remote work: The pandemic made remote work more feasible for many industries, and travel requires a lot of in-person work and interactions.

How is the labor shortage impacting customer service?

As much as we try to separate those shortages from affecting service, customers feel it. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, hotel guests were 2.7% less satisfied overall between 2021 and 2022. Airlines and car rental companies also dropped 1.3% each.

While there are likely multiple reasons factoring into lower customer satisfaction rates, there’s no denying that the labor shortage has an impact.

As travel ramps back up, there’s an opportunity to reshape the industry at a fundamental level. The world is ready to travel again, but demand is outpacing your ability to grow. While HR is hard at work recruiting new team members, it’s time to look at your operations and see what you can do to deliver great customer service without adding to your staff.

What a conversational AI platform can do in the travel industry.

First, what is conversational AI? Conversational AI combines multiple technologies (like machine learning and natural language processing) to enable human-like interactions between people and computers. For your customer service team, this means there’s a coworker that never sleeps, never argues, and seems to have all the answers.

A conversational AI platform like Quiq can help support your travel business’s customer service team with tools designed to speed conversations and improve your brand experience.

In short, a conversational AI platform can help businesses in the travel industry provide excellent customer service despite the current labor shortage. Here’s how.

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Resolve issues faster with conversational AI support.

When you’re short-staffed, you can’t afford inefficient customer conversations. Switching from voice-based customer service to messaging comes with its own set of benefits.

Using natural language processing (NLP), a conversational AI platform can identify customer intent based on their actions or conversational cues. For example, if a customer is stuck on the booking page, maybe they have a question about the cancellation policy. By starting with some basic customer knowledge, chatbots or human agents can go into the conversation with context and get to the root of the problem faster.

Conversational AI platforms can also route conversations to the right agent, so agents spend less time gathering information and more time solving the problem. Plus, messaging’s asynchronous nature means customer service representatives can handle 6–8 conversations at once instead of working one-on-one. But conversational AI for customer service provides even more opportunities for speed.

Anytime access to your customer service team.

Many times, workers leaving the travel industry cite a lack of schedule flexibility as one of their reasons for leaving. Customer service doesn’t stop at 5 o’clock, and support agents end up working odd hours like weekends and holidays. Plus, when you’re short-staffed, it’s harder to cover shifts outside of normal business hours.

Chatbots can help provide customer service 24/7. If you don’t already provide anytime customer service support, you can use chatbots to answer simple questions and route the more complex questions to a live agent to handle the next day. Or, if you already have staff working evening shifts, you can use chatbots to support them. You’ll require fewer human agents during off times while your chatbot can pick up the slack.

Connect with customers in any language.

Five-star experiences start with understanding. You’re in the travel business, so it’s not unlikely that you’ll encounter people who speak different languages. When you’re short-staffed, it’s hard to ensure you have enough multilingual support agents to accommodate your customers.

Conversational AI platforms like Quiq offer translation capabilities. Customers can get the help they need in their native language—even if you don’t have a translator on staff.

Work-from-anywhere capabilities.

One of the labor shortage’s root causes is the move to remote work. Many customer-facing jobs require working in person. That limits your labor pool to people within the immediate area. The high cost of living in cities with increased tourism can push locals out.

Moving to a remote-capable conversational tool will expand your applicant pool outside your immediate area. You can attract a wider range of talented customer service agents to help you fill open positions.

Build automation to anticipate customer needs.

A great way to reduce the strain on a short-staffed customer service team? Prevent problems before they happen.

A lot of customer service inquiries are simple, routine questions that agents have to answer every day. Questions about cancellation policies, cleaning and safety measures, or special requests happen often—and can all be handled using automation.

Use conversational AI to set up personalized messages based on behavioral or timed triggers. Here are a few examples:

  • When customers book a vacation: Automatically send a confirmation text message with their booking information, cancellation policy, and check-in procedures.
  • The day before check-in: Send a reminder with check-in procedures, along with an option for any special requests.
  • During their vacation: Offer up excursion ideas, local restaurant reservations, and more. You can even book the reservation or complete the transaction right within the messaging platform.
  • After an excursion: Send a survey to collect feedback and give customers an outlet for their positive or negative feedback.

By anticipating these customer needs, your agents won’t have to spend as much time fielding simple questions. And the easy ones that do come in can be handled by your chatbot, leaving only more complex issues for your smaller team.

Don’t let a short staff take away from your customer service.

There are few opportunities to make something both cheaper and better. Quiq is one of them. Quiq’s conversational AI Platform isn’t just a stop-gap solution while the labor market catches up with the travel industry’s needs. It will actually improve your customer service experience while helping you do more with less.

6 Tips to Build Your Customer Referral Program

Do you have a customer referral program yet? If you don’t, you’re missing out.

Long before the internet, before the rise of Madison Ave and ad men, and even the printing press, there was word of mouth. While we keep coming up with new and unique ways to sell products and services, we’ll never be able to beat organic word-of-mouth marketing.

But we can incentivize it.

Referral marketing does just that. Referral marketing activates your biggest source of marketers—your customers—and encourages them to share your products and services with their friends, family, coworkers, and community.

Before we share some of the top customer referral ideas, let’s take a look at referral marketing and how you can develop a program to acquire new customers on autopilot.

Why spend time on customer referrals?

Marketers have a lot on their plates already. From paid media to content marketing, they’re balancing a lot. Why should they add a customer referral program? Because the data says so.

Referral marketing is one of the most underrated, underutilized, and yet most effective types of marketing out there. In fact, 28% of people say word of mouth is their preferred way to learn about new brands, products, or services, according to RRD.

People who discover products through customer referrals are also more likely to buy them. The study showed word of mouth has a higher research-to-purchase ratio (40%) than social media (30%), online/digital ads (27%), or print ads (16%).

The most telling number of all? Purchases. The study found that 40% of consumers actually purchased a product after discovering it via word of mouth, topping all other channels.

Plus, referred customers are 18% more loyal, have a 16% higher lifetime value, and have a 13.2% higher spending rate, according to Finances Online. So not having a solid referral program means you could be leaving a lot of money on the table.

If you’re starting from ground zero…

Always start by assessing the state of your current referrals. Gather your marketing, sales, and customer service teams and ask them the following questions:

  • Are we getting referrals?
  • Where are they coming from?
  • What’s their relationship with your customer?
  • Which products/features are they most interested in?
  • Who’s our ideal customer?

With that information in hand, you can start to build your customer referral program. Identify which customers you should target and what you can do to turn them into long-term advocates.

Make customer referrals super easy.

Moving customers from liking (or loving) your product to making a referral is a big step. One is passive (enjoying your product), and the other is active (sharing it with someone and telling them why they should like it too). So the first step in building your customer referral program should be to make sharing your product as easy as possible.

Here are some steps to remove the friction of a referral.

Automate the ask.

Sometimes, referrals just aren’t on your customers’ minds—they need to be asked. The best way to do that? Automate it. Build an SMS referral campaign to get the word out. Send a customer referral text message (it’s much more likely to be read than an email) that shares your referral program and asks customers to join. Whether they take action or not is up to them, but at least you’re ensuring they’ll see it and are fully informed of the benefits.

Write the referral for them.

You want your customers to write effusively about your products or services, but that takes work! When their brains have turned to mush at the end of the day, give them something to work with. Have a copywriter write a short and simple customer referral message and share it with your customers. That way, they’re free to write their own if they want, but at least they have a starting point.

Pick the type of customer referral program.

Your customer referral program can be as simple or as complex as you like. Depending on what you sell, tracking referrals one at a time may be sufficient—especially if you’re just looking for a foot in the door with new customers.

But if volume is your game, then asking for continuous referrals could be more beneficial. If that’s the case, a tiered loyalty program might be for you. Set up different tiers associated with various incentives. As customers refer more friends, or more of their referrals convert, they’ll accrue more points and prizes. Just make sure you set up an easy way for your team and your customers to track their referrals as they climb the ladder.

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6 ideas for customer referral incentives.

Once you’ve identified your target customer and how you want to approach them, it’s time for the fun part. How will you reward referrals?

You can choose to reward either party or both. For example, you may give the referrer a free gift and give the person they’re referring a discount code for your product. Alternatively, you can give the new customer a free gift, giving your customer advocate the credit.

There’s no shortage of great ideas for customer referral incentives. Consider these options when putting together your program.

1. Gift product add-ons.

An easy referral gift to start with is a product add-on. This includes things that you would normally sell to enhance your product or improve its quality or longevity. Since your customer has already shared that they like your product by purchasing and then referring it, it only makes sense that they want something to enhance it.

Consider things like sunglasses cleaner for the sunglasses they just bought, tote bags for the items they just stocked up on, or a heat protectant to go with the curling iron they purchased. You get the idea. Give them something that complements your product and that you know they’ll like.

2. Reward referrals with a donation to charity.

Social enterprises have become more popular over the last decade as consumers partner their purchasing power with social goods. Companies like Toms, Bombas, and Warby Parker all have social giving built into the way they run their businesses.

Offer your customers the chance to do some good. Offer a donation to a charity as their referral reward. Whether you pick one that aligns with your brand or gives them several to pick from, it’s a chance to do some good while simultaneously growing your business.

3. Host a referral sweepstakes.

Everyone loves a good sweepstakes, right? Instead of giving a lot of customers a small gift or reward, sweepstakes let you give a few customers large gifts. This can incentivize more people to participate who would otherwise scoff or ignore small gifts.

You can even up the ante by giving customers multiple entries for completed tasks. You can even weigh them depending on how much effort it takes. For example, you can give them one entry for following your brand on social media and two entries for sharing a review.

We like this type of referral program for spreading the word about new products or services. It’s a great way to share your brand, but it doesn’t work as well with relationship-based businesses.

4. Offer product upgrades.

Sometimes monetary and physical gifts aren’t necessary to kickstart your referral program. For customers who already love your product (enough to share referrals!), upgrades can be a big incentive.

If you’re a SaaS product, offer referrers the next product tier or add-on to make their experience better. Service-based businesses can offer an extra hour of their time.

5. Unlock exclusive content.

For many people, the promise of exclusivity is hard to resist. Consider creating bonus content for customers who refer their friends. It could be as small as branded phone wallpapers or as big as a library of templates. You can even help boost sales with an exclusive opportunity to buy new products before anyone else. The sky is the limit.

6. Give a mystery gift.

Another way to play on people’s sensibilities is to give them a mystery gift. Some customers can’t resist a good surprise—and everyone loves a free gift.

Don’t forget the follow-up.

Sharing your referral program shouldn’t be a one-a-done affair. Just like you have to gently remind your customers about sales or product features 6–7 times before they notice, you may need to repeat yourself a few times. Plus, referrals often need some time to marinate. Some customers may love your product right off the bat, but depending on what you sell, it may take a while for them to appreciate it.

Send retargeting messages to remind customers of your referral program at several key points in the sales process. Or set up retargeting ads via social media. Sometimes all your customers need is a little push.

Make referrals a no-brainer.

With a great product or service and a great program in place, referrals should be a no-brainer. A good referral program simply capitalizes and encourages what your customers already do: enjoy your product and share it with friends and family.

Cart Abandonment Skyrocketing? Try Live Chat

You see it all the time. You’ve probably done it yourself. It’s one of the highest abandonment rates of any kind.

You guessed it: Shopping carts.

The poor, lonely online shopping cart. Filled with items you thought you wanted, you hoped you could convince yourself to buy, and maybe some misguided additions from late-night browsing.

It has practically become a national pastime. And while it’s expected, it’s also difficult to manage in the e-commerce world. Finding cart abandonment solutions can feel like an uphill battle, but it’s all about making small changes to your online shopping experience.

Keep reading for some strategies to reduce cart abandonment rates with live chat.

Let’s dive into cart abandonment statistics.

For the uninitiated, shopping cart abandonment is when online customers add items to their shopping carts and exit the page without making a purchase. It’s an expected but frustrating part of the e-commerce experience.

And it happens way more than you think. According to SaleCycle, the average shopping cart abandonment rate in 2021 was 80.68%. Here is how it breaks down by industry:

  • Retail: 73.86%
  • Fashion: 83.98%
  • Travel: 86.3%
  • Utilities: 86.85%

Now, what is the standard cart abandonment rate in 2022? Statistics vary widely, so the Baymard Institute took the average of 48 sources and came up with 69.99%. That’s not a small number.

Why do online shoppers abandon their shopping carts?

Not all cart abandonment is the same—and we shouldn’t treat it as such. There are many different reasons customers stop shipping mid-purchase, and only some of them have to do with your business.

  1. Difficult checkout processes: Online shoppers are greatly influenced by how easy it is to make a purchase. Do they have to create an account? Can they pay through Paypal or other easy payment methods? Or do they have to search for their credit card and enter their information physically? SaleCycle found that 34% of retail shoppers abandon checkout because they are forced to create an account.
  2. Unexpected costs: According to SaleCycle, 23% of retail shoppers abandoned carts due to shipping issues. When shipping costs and other fees aren’t tacked on until the very end of a purchase, customers may abandon the checkout process altogether.
  3. Unfriendly mobile experience: If there’s any friction in the checkout process due to a poor mobile experience or any other technical issues, only committed customers will try to troubleshoot the problem. Many will give up, and you’ll lose the sale.
  4. Price shopping: E-commerce has made it really easy to shop around for low prices, so many customers will add items to their cart and then head to other websites to search for a lower price. SaleCycle says 18% of retail shoppers abandoning their carts are doing this.
  5. Low buying intentions: Some use shopping carts as a way to curate their top selections, treating them more like a favorites list. These shoppers are more likely to add tons of items to their carts without any intention of finalizing the entire purchase.
  6. Distractions: Some customers simply get bored, distracted, or pulled away from their devices.

Start by collecting customer feedback.

Before you spend too much time and effort on finding a solution to your cart abandonment problem, spend some time figuring out why your customers aren’t completing the purchase. First, identify your abandonment rate, then survey customers to see why it’s happening. It could be a problem with your checkout process, mobile responsiveness, or return policies.

Start by surveying your customers with live chat (also known as web chat). Place a chatbot on your shopping cart page and trigger a survey when customers turn to leave. While you won’t be able to get information from every cart abandoner, you’ll get a general idea of the problems you need to solve.

Once you’ve checked in with your customers, you can start searching for the right cart abandonment solutions.

Start conversations at the right time.

Live chat gives customers an easy way to talk to your service team directly from your website. If you’re not already using live chat on your business’s site, you’ve probably seen or interacted with it before. It’s typically a chat window that pops up on the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.

Live chat can be helpful or annoying, depending on how well you use it. A welcome message is typically expected—or at least tolerated—when users first visit a website, but any additional messages might be unwelcomed unless you reach out strategically.

Using AI-enhanced chatbots and live chat, you can help guide your site visitors through the purchase journey. Based on which pages they view and how long they spend on each page, shopping cart bots can infer when customers have stalled and need some assistance.

Maybe a customer has gone back and forth between sizes and needs assistance finding your sizing chart. Or maybe they’ve bounced back and forth between pages and can’t decide which membership tier is right for them. A well-timed message can help them make the decision and keep them from abandoning their shopping cart altogether.

Build trust with 24/7 availability.

Trust is a big factor in online shopping—more now than ever before. In fact, 88% of customers believe trust is more important in times of change, according to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report.

Since shoppers can buy from your company at any time, they also expect service at any time. Over 80% of customers expect to interact with someone immediately when they contact a company, according to Salesforce. Not getting their questions answered (no matter what time of day) can lead to shopping cart abandonment.

Pairing live chat and chatbots allows you to serve your customers while your contact center is closed (because agents need to sleep!). Using AI and natural language processing (NPL), great chatbots can fill in for agents on a variety of customer service problems. This means you won’t lose sales when your team is offline.

Trigger discounts and special offers.

Sometimes customers need a little push to complete their purchases. When shoppers stall on a page or show the intention of closing out the page altogether, use shopping cart chatbots to trigger incentives.

Consider offering incentives like free shipping, sharing bundles and special offers, or discounts. This method is especially effective for new customers and can go a long way to converting them into long-term fans of your brand.

Bonus tips: 3 things that make a big difference.

Live chat is a phenomenal tool to increase your website conversions, but there are other things you can do that will make a big difference to your numbers.

Here are three bonus tips to help decrease your cart abandonment rate:

A mobile-responsive website: If your website isn’t easy to navigate on mobile devices, you’re missing out on a large customer segment. The cart abandonment rate differs by device, according to research by Baymard Institute:

  • Desktop: 69.75%
  • Mobile: 85.65%
  • Tablets: 80.74%

Make your cart mobile-friendly and see an instant reduction in your cart abandonment rate.

Transparent shipping costs and return policies: Many customers reach their shopping carts and go through the purchase process only to be shocked by shipping costs or other additional fees.

Fight this before it happens by sharing this information in easy-to-reach places on your website. Even if you charge for shipping, inform customers early to prevent sticker shock when they see their final total.

A frictionless checkout experience: Don’t make your customers jump through hoops to buy from you. Ensure you have plenty of payment options, only ask for the information you absolutely need, and ensure a guest checkout option. Make it as easy as possible to buy from your business, and the results will follow.

Prevent cart abandonment before it happens.

Don’t underestimate the power of conversations. Prevent cart abandonment and boost sales when you proactively engage with customers early and often with live chat.

5 Ways to Reinforce Your Product Messaging

People approach product creation differently. Some people wait for the aha moment to strike them, some think of a solution to their own specific need, and others still do extensive research and development before landing on the next product to take to market. But one thing all products need is a thorough product messaging strategy.

Yet, developing your product messaging is only part of the process. What makes a good messaging strategy great is how you reinforce it among your customers and your internal team.

Before we dive into how to reinforce your product messaging, let’s take a look at what it is and how to develop your own framework.

What is product messaging?

Let’s start with the basics. Product messaging is how you define your product (or service) and communicate it to your customers. But it’s not just what you say. It’s the design of the product, what others say about it, and how your customers perceive it.

Product messaging (hopefully) helps your customers intuitively understand the answers to these questions:

  • What are you?
  • What will you do for me?
  • Why you (and not someone else)?
  • Why should I trust you?
  • Why now?

By looking at your webpage, your product packaging, or talking to anyone on your team, customers should receive the same information and be able to answer those questions.

Yet, product messaging doesn’t have one format. Since it encompasses the words and visuals surrounding your product, a lot more goes into it than the copy on your product page. Here are some product messaging examples:

  • Sales page
  • Product description
  • Social media posts
  • Chat bots
  • Product design
  • Push notifications
  • Social media ads
  • Product videos

All of these things (and more) go into how customers perceive your product—and it all matters.

Why is product messaging important?

Okay, we know what you’re thinking. It’s been said by countless people across hundreds of industries: Why do we need to create a product messaging framework? Can’t our teams just look at the product page?

While product pages are very helpful for creating new assets and having sales conversations, it’s not enough. Here are some reasons why you should create a product messaging map:

Disseminate the information to the rest of your team.

Your product team knows all the details. They know why you created the product, what makes customers want to buy it, and all the special features. So how are you getting that information to your marketing team? To your sales team? What about PR?

Creating a product messaging map is a great way to get the information your product team just knows to the rest of your organization.

Ensures messaging consistency.

Do you walk by a sales team member and cringe at what they’re saying? Does your CEO describe the product differently every time they talk about it? While this frustrates you, it’s probably really confusing for your customer.

The message only sinks in when everyone on your team is writing and saying the same thing about your product.

It makes it easier for your other team.

This writer may be a bit biased, but having a product messaging guide makes creating new assets infinitely easier. Your marketing, PR, and sales teams are constantly creating things to bring attention to your product. Without a guide to help them, it feels like they’re reinventing the wheel.

Pre-made messaging can speed things up tremendously. Not only is it pre-approved (and therefore will go through approval channels much faster), but it’s already researched and proven effective.

Your product is more recognizable.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could tell someone something once and it would stick? It takes a lot of repetition (and in different forms) for customers to digest information—especially when messaging is coming at them all day, every day.

And when you don’t have a clear differentiation from your competitors, consumers may confuse your products—which leads us to the next reason.

It prevents price shopping.

This is what makes the difference between generic products and premium ones. There are no singular products that don’t have competitors—but what makes them different is their messaging.

The most obvious example of this? The iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy. Both are phones. Both have top-of-the-line features like advanced cameras, processing power, and speed. Yet the iPhone outsells the Galaxy (although Samsung currently outsells Apple overall). Even though there’s a clear difference in price, the iPhone has more recognizable messaging and more powerful marketing.

How to build your product messaging strategy.

So, where do you start? Building a product messaging strategy preferably begins at the product development stage. What’s easier: Creating a product and then looking for customer benefits and competitor differentiators or creating a product with those built-in? The research stage should be part of the product development lifecycle—but don’t let that hold you back. Whether you’re starting at the beginning, reinventing your current product messaging, or wanting to build a framework on your already existing product, it all starts in the same place.


Whether you do this during product development or at a later stage, there are a few critical questions you need to answer about your product before moving forward.

Who is your target market? Well, anyone can use it isn’t the best answer. There’s an old Seth Godin quote that has driven the marketing landscape for years: “When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one.” Deciding who your ideal customer is for your product will make it a million times easier to reach them.

Consider everything from demographics, like age, education, and income, to psychographics, like their values, interests, and habits.

What pain points is your product solving? For example, sponges are either not strong enough or so strong that they scratch your dishes. Enter Scrub Daddy, the popular Shark Tank product that has sold over 25 million units (by 2019).

Identify what problems your target market faces and how your product solves them. This becomes the beginning of your core messaging.

How does your product benefit your target market? Talk about benefits to the customer, not your features. For example, a raincoat feature is that it’s made with waterproof material. The benefit is that you can stay dry while still looking good. A brand’s coffee features caffeine. The benefit is feeling energized. Make sense?

Product features are not benefits, but you can certainly start with your features and explain the benefits of each. For example, a feature of Billie razors is that they have 5 blades. The benefit is a closer shave.

How is your product different (re: better) than the competition? What makes your product special and unique? There are tons of meal delivery services out there, but only Daily Harvest is made with vegan, organic, and sustainably sourced produce.

As we mentioned earlier, showing how your product is different helps customers identify you in the market. When all the products in a market are too similar, consumers see this as a commodity. Instead of focusing on what’s better, they focus on what’s cheaper.

Road-test your product.

You’re probably already testing your product with users (or if your product is already on the market, you’re doing this in real-time). This is the perfect time to listen in and see how your customers talk about your product. Taking their words and using them in your product marketing is a great way to speak your customer’s language.

Beyond listening in, you can even ask probing questions to mine them for information. Start with these:

  • What prompted you to seek out this product? What’s happening in your life/work that made you need this solution? Here, you’re looking for their pain points. While you probably already have a good idea of what they are, hearing it directly from your customers—using their language—will make it resonate more.
  • How would you describe this product to a friend? Customers can typically describe your product much simpler than you and your product team will.
    Who in your life do you think needs/would benefit from this product? More than a referral tool, this will help you see who the target audience is from your customer’s perspective.
  • How did you benefit from this product? What were you able to do because of it? Or what did it prevent you from doing? Here, you’re asking for the customers to share benefits in their own words. You may even get learn about benefits your team hadn’t thought of.

Craft a core value.

What is your product’s core value? At this point, you should have enough information to make this decision. It’s essentially your one-liner or elevator pitch.

Take the information you’ve gathered and put together a simple, succinct sentence that explains the problem and how you solve it.

Start writing.

Now that you have a core value proposition, pull the benefits and features together to create your product messaging map. Add key phrases, and include examples of how you talk about the product in different settings and to different audiences.

For example, messaging on Instagram may look different than in a case study. Explain the differences and include as much context as possible.

Demonstrate your product value.

Now that you have an internal idea of your messaging, gather external data that helps support it. Start by pulling testimonials from your product research and customer reviews. Add the quotes that lead you to your current messaging so other team members can see how your customers feel about the product in their own words.

Also, depending on how far along in product development you are, consider creating some case studies or even product demos and adding them to the messaging map.

Pull all this information into a single, easy-to-use document. You can create a messaging map, battle cards, or even pull together a Google doc. Just ensure everyone has access to the information, and you point them to it frequently.

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5 ways to reinforce product messaging.

We’d love to say your job is done when you’ve packaged the messaging and sent your product out into the world. Unfortunately, you can never tell someone something important just once.

Now, you need to find ways to reinforce your messaging (with your customers and your team).

Once your product is out there in the world, and you’ve nailed the messaging to the best of your ability, you need to find key ways to reinforce it.

Check out these 5 ways to reinforce your product messaging.

1. Distribute your messaging. Yes, again.

Hopefully, your team already has access to your product messaging framework (and knows where to find it). But that doesn’t mean they remember—or heard you the first few times you said it.

When marketing is creating assets or your PR team needs information, don’t just send them to your product page on the website. A product page is a great starting point, but they’re missing often missing insights your product team has, and the customer has likely already seen it, so it’s not as helpful as you think. Make sure you point your teams to your product messaging again and again so no one feels like they’re starting from scratch.

2. Equip customer service agents with product messaging, too.

Hopefully, your customer service agents are intimately familiar with your product. However, just giving them the product specs without sharing your messaging doc can confuse customers. Everyone on your team, from the CEO to the CSAs to salespeople should all talk about your product in the same way. Consistency is the name of the game.

You don’t have to write out entire scripts, but arming CSAs with product messaging examples can go a long way in ensuring consistency.

3. Program chatbots with the right product messaging.

Chatbots often fall under the purview of customer service, which is great for overall brand identity and messaging. But when it comes to product messaging, they’re often lacking.

Be sure to infuse chatbots with product messaging language so that any time a customer reaches out to your company, they hear about the products in the same way, with the same vocabulary.

4. Incorporate messaging into marketing channels.

It’s likely your product messaging strategy was developed with marketing in mind. Yet, oftentimes messaging gets lost once it’s filtered down to writers and designers creating smaller marketing pieces.

Channels like SMS marketing, email marketing, push notifications, and social media marketing should all talk about your product in the same way. Ensure everyone on your team is referencing the guide to reinforce your product messaging.

5. Spin pain points into content.

Here’s a more creative way to tap into the research you did. Take your customer pain points and turn them into pieces of content. From blog posts to podcasts to webinars, you can create content that appeals to your customers and lead them directly to your product.

Embrace your product messaging.

Product messaging isn’t a quick exercise at the end of your product development cycle. It’s an ongoing process that takes buy-in from your entire organization and should involve everyone who touches your product. Only then will your product truly stand out. See Quiq’s platform today too see how you can get started!

Using Outbound Messaging in Field Services (Ft. Terminix)

We talk a lot about outbound messaging here on the Quiq blog. And it’s easy to make connections between better CX, more revenue, and outbound messaging across many different industries.

But there’s one industry in specific that benefits from outbound SMS messaging that we don’t talk about nearly enough: field services.

The field services industry relies heavily on phone calls and other cumbersome technologies to connect the home office, field agents, and customers. Yet we’ve seen just how effective it can be to adopt outbound messaging in place of the good ‘ol telephone: Just ask Terminix.

Continue reading to see how to use outbound SMS to increase efficiency, sales, and customer satisfaction in your field services business.

Why Terminix was itching to make the switch.

Terminix, which helps businesses and residents get rid of common household pests, needed a better way to manage outbound calls to their customers. So they switched from phone calls to Quiq’s outbound messaging for appointment scheduling and other customer communications.

The problem with phone calls.

Many businesses—especially in the field services industry—rely on phone calls for most of their customer communications. We get it. Calls are an easy way to connect instantly with your customers. But they come with their own set of challenges.

1. Calls are inefficient.

According to Verizon’s Fleet Technology Trends Report, 44% of surveyed field services companies say costs were their biggest challenge in 2021. There’s no denying that the inefficiency of phone calls leads to increased costs.

You typically have two options when managing phone calls. You either have your field agents call customers (usually to confirm time, location, and availability), or you centralize your phone operations to your home office. Neither is an elegant solution.

The success of your field service agents relies entirely on how many visits they can make in a day. Asking them to stop and make phone calls does the complete opposite. Not only do the phone calls take time (especially when talking to especially chatty customers), but it also increases the chance of interruptions. If customers call back in the middle of a job, that hinders your field agents’ productivity.

Centralizing calls in your home office or using a dispatch service is another popular option that comes with its own set of frustrations. While it leaves your field agents to work uninterrupted, it requires dedicated staff. Paying staff salaries adds to your costs. Plus, having a large home office staff means you have to manage staffing issues, balancing the number of staff members you have between your slow and busy seasons.

2. Calls are harder to track.

Who manages your calls? Whether it’s your field agents, home office, or a mix of both, the more people you have making and receiving calls, the harder it is to track.

But you should be tracking your numbers. Whether you’re calling to remind customers about their existing appointments, scheduling new visits, or notifying them of changes, you should track your numbers. Call volume can help you forecast staffing needs (instead of using the It feels busy, we should hire more method). Tracking call times can help you determine how efficient your team is. There are vital metrics that are difficult to measure without expensive call-tracking tools.

3. Customers don’t like phone calls.

It’s no secret that Millennials and Gen Z despise talking on the phone. The memes and the Tiktoks are abundant. And almost no one these days answers calls from numbers they don’t recognize. So spending time calling to reach new and younger customers is like rolling a boulder uphill.

And when customer service is so important, concerns like preferred communication methods are vital. According to Verizon, 40% of field services businesses report customer demands as one of their biggest challenges in 2021. And it makes sense since 94% of customers say how a brand treats them is their most important buying decision.

Using a communication method customers prefer will make them more likely to see it and respond—and view your brand more favorably overall.

We know what you’re thinking. Okay, but what about emails? Why can’t we just use what every other business uses on a daily basis to interact with our customers?

And you’re not wrong. Every business uses email communication in some form. But that’s just the problem. Sending appointment reminders via email means it’s going to be in among the retail sales and the tech newsletters and the work communications and the endless notices from kids’ schools and… *enhancement* emails that somehow managed to slip through the junk mail filter. The odds of your customer seeing that email and opening it are stacked against you.

The benefits of switching to text messaging.

Switching to text messaging is a huge change in operations, so for a business like Terminix (and many others), ROI has to be huge. Here are some of the benefits you can expect from switching from phone calls to SMS text messaging.

Increase open rates with text messaging.

Whether you’re sending appointment reminders or notifying customers of a discounted service, it won’t matter if they don’t see them. Email open rates run anywhere from 3% to 30% depending on whose stats you use, and standing out in a crowded inbox is just plain hard to do.
Text messages don’t have that problem. Terminix, for example, uses rich text messaging to connect with its customers, and to date, it boasts a 100% open rate. If nothing else, customers will actually read your outbound text messages.

Service on your customers’ terms.

Customers don’t always want to engage with your team—but then again, sometimes they do! Terminix was able to use Quiq’s AI technology to let the customers lead the conversation. Customers got to decide if they wanted to communicate via text, when, and how often.

More efficient field services management.

Using automations and Quiq’s chatbots, staff will spend less time on transactional phone calls (like appointment setting, rescheduling, reminding, etc.) and more time providing value to your customers. Chatbots can handle everything from appointment scheduling to answering simple questions, while your team can focus on deploying field agents and solving more complex customer issues.

Plus, instead of contacting customers on a one-to-one basis, your team can pick and choose how to connect with customers. With Quiq, your team can deploy text messages to thousands of your customers at once or send a personalized message to one customer.

How does outbound text messaging work?

So how will you actually use outbound text messaging to reach your customers? Take a look at these examples.

Send appointment reminder texts.

Sending SMS reminders is a great way to notify customers of upcoming appointments without draining your staff’s time. Automatically send appointment reminders, and give customers the option of canceling or rescheduling without involving your team.

Customers get to communicate how they want, asynchronously, and you’ll have fewer no-shows as a result.

Increase sales with texts.

The fastest way to more revenue is to keep current customers coming back. Employ bots and automation to send regular appointment reminder text messages so customers never go too long without their next appointment.

Terminix took its sales pipeline to the next level with outbound messaging. They used chatbots to engage with cool and warm leads so customers could respond in their own time. When those leads didn’t respond, they used customer service agents to follow up.

By adding Quiq’s outbound messaging, Terminix saw $7M in ROI in just 9 months.

Boost efficiency with SMS notifications.

Sending a “time for service” reminder text message is a great way to generate more revenue, but if you use them strategically, it can increase field efficiency, too. For example, you can send out service reminders to customers in one geographic area to group them together. You’ll save on fuel costs and commute time without changing anything fundamental in your business.

You can also use it as a sales tool. Once you’ve booked one service in a geographic area, send out text message reminders to other customers in that area to generate more revenue. You can even pass along the fuel savings to your customers with a special discount if they book on a certain day you’re already in the area.

Put “service” back into field services.

The weight of customer expectations hang heavily over the field services industry. With rising demands and changing preferences, traditional methods of communication just can’t cut it anymore.

Companies that opt for outbound messaging, like Terminix, will see big rewards in both efficiency and revenue. Don’t hesitate to ditch voicemails and embrace the text.

How Messaging Helps Hospitality Get Personal

The hospitality industry is, by nature, a very human business. Whether you’re in hotel and lodging, travel and transportation, food and beverage, or recreation, hospitality is all about creating a unique and personal experience for your guests. Have you considered how technology like SMS hospitality messaging can actually make guest experiences more personalized?

While technology has changed the game, it can sometimes feel antithetical to the warmth the hospitality industry is beloved for. However, when messaging tech is used correctly, it helps you do what the hospitality industry has always done best: Make human connections.

SMS hospitality messaging connects you to guests on their terms.

It’s exactly for this reason that messaging can help transform the customer experience by giving service providers a way to connect and engage with guests in an easy, convenient, and preferred way.

There are major opportunities to leverage SMS hospitality messaging in a way that doesn’t detract from the human connection—but adds to it. Messaging liberates guests from standing in line, waiting for an email, or sitting on hold.

In this article, we’ll explore how you can use SMS hospitality messaging to connect with customers and personalize the industry.

High tech and high touch.

Providing a memorable guest experience is part physical and observable. What thread count are the sheets? What’s the ambiance of the restaurant (do they have table cloths and sommeliers or barstools and air hockey)?

The intangibles are just as important to the overall experience—the care and attention of the staff, the ease of changing bookings, how payments are handled, etc. These smaller details are often your differentiators and play a big factor in how you make your customers feel.

SMS messaging can make all the difference. Instead of forcing customers to stand in lines, wait on hold, or hunt down information on in-room pamphlets, you can bring the service to them.

In fact, guests now expect it as a standard part of their hospitality experience.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused major disruption in the hospitality industry.

While travel is starting to return to 2019 levels (along with occupancy rates and room revenue, according to Accenture), it has permanently influenced customer expectations.

There are fewer business travelers, more local vacationers—and more digital nomads. This is reshaping the hospitality industry in everything from loyalty programs and digital amenities to a demand for SMS booking.

And customer service has only increased in importance.

Accenture’s Life Reimagined report says 53% of consumers think customer service has become more important than price—and 54% of consumers believe it will continue to be so over the next 12 months.

Transparency, clarity, and simplicity have become top decision drivers. More than half of customers who have reimagined life due to the pandemic say they would switch brands if the brand doesn’t create clear and easy options for contacting customer service, according to Accenture’s report.

For hospitality, text messaging is a natural step toward delivering high-touch experiences. Customers are already using their mobile devices to find fun things to do (70%), research destinations (66%), and book transportation or airfare (46%).

With so much emphasis already placed on mobile, a move to messaging is a natural and organic option that customers are likely already looking to do. Continuing to use customers’ mobile devices throughout their stay just makes sense.

In fact, messaging can enhance the customer’s experience across the entire guest journey.

Tap into the power of SMS hospitality messaging.

Messaging allows you to connect and engage with guests in a way that is already an important part of how they communicate daily.

SMS text messaging upgrades your customer communications with more than simple text conversations. Rich messaging brings the hospitality experience to your guests long before they reach your doorstep. With rich messaging, you can:

  • Process secure transactions, from SMS booking for hotel rooms and excursions to in-room upgrades and payments.
  • Send reservation reminders, confirmations, and up-to-the-minute notices.
  • Increase guest excitement with content like images, GIFs, videos, and more.

Easy ways to start using SMS/texting in hospitality.

Getting started with hospitality text messaging may seem overwhelming at first, but there are many ways to introduce it into your existing customer journeys.

Here are some examples of ways you can use SMS hospitality messaging to elevate experiences in hotels, restaurants, and recreational activities.

SMS for hotels.

  1. Answer pre-booking questions. While your website is a great booking tool, nothing beats one-on-one conversations. Your guests may have simple questions about things like early check-in or room preferences. Messaging helps you address these questions quickly and secure the booking right from your customers’ text messages.
  2. Use SMS booking. Schedule stays and process payments right from SMS/text messaging using rich messaging features. Your guests can book their trip right from their phones without ever having to make a phone call or wait on hold.
  3. Get guests excited about their stay. Your guest experience begins before they even arrive. Build the anticipation with a welcome message, semi-personalized itineraries, and local sites and events. If you know guests are there with children, send them itineraries that include amusement parks, a trip to the local zoo, or some family-friendly live shows. For couples on a romantic getaway, suggest date night ideas, local spas, or more secluded beaches. Sending a text message with these personalized touches will go a long way to build excitement and make guests feel welcomed.
  4. Streamline the check-in process. While we love vacations, traveling to get to them is another story. And it’s only gotten worse in the last few years with travel restrictions, fewer flights, and more crowds. When travelers finally reach their destination, they’re tired, frustrated, and likely want as little interaction as possible before reaching their beds. (In other words, they’re 3 of Snow White’s 7 dwarves: Grumpy, Sleepy, and Bashful.) Have guests complete the check-in process through SMS messaging so that all they have to do when they get to their destination is pick up their key. Digital keys are also becoming more popular and complete the contactless check-in experience.
  5. Handle in-room requests. Instead of forcing guests to decide between the front desk, guest services, maid services, and other departments on the hotel phone (not to mention waiting on hold), centralize in-room requests via SMS/text messaging. Quiq’s clients, including those within the hospitality segment, have found that servicing customers via messaging has reduced service costs and work time and increased customer satisfaction scores by 5–10 points.
  6. Close out stays with a bang. Offer a contactless checkout, removing the last bit of friction guests face as they leave your hotel. Plus, give them one final reminder of the excellent service and attention they received with a thank you message.
  7. Ask for reviews. If you’ve given the guest a memorable experience, they may be enticed to share it with others and become your brand ambassador.

Today, reviews are a critical part of the buyers’ process, and word of mouth can build or block that path to purchase.

Not only is this a great opportunity to instantly address any negative feedback, but you can also send exclusive offers and discounts to encourage guests to come back.

You can also encourage guests to share their positive comments about your business with their social networks.

SMS for restaurants.

  1. Accept reservations. Use rich messaging features to schedule reservations right from your guests’ mobile phones.
  2. Send reservation reminders. Help customers remember the reservation they made (especially if you’re booked out for weeks) with a friendly reservation reminder. A text message won’t get lost in junk mail, and you’ll decrease no-shows. SMS hospitality messaging to the rescue!
  3. Enable easy cancellations and rescheduling. Instead of holding a table for no-shows and missing out on potential revenue, give guests an easy way to cancel or reschedule their reservation ahead of time. They’ll be happy with the streamlined customer experience, and you’ll be able to fill those seats with last-minute reservations and walk-ins.
  4. Provide directions and parking information. Sure, everyone has Apple Maps or Waze, but parking can be a beast if you live in a high-tourism city. Add a link for directions and parking information to your appointment reminder to ensure your guests make it to your restaurant.
  5. Streamline take-out orders. Take-out has grown in popularity over the last few years. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, even fine-dining restaurants have jumped in on the action. 54% of adults say purchasing takeout or delivery food is essential to the way they live, including 72% of millennials and 66% of Gen Z adults, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry report. Use SMS/text messaging to confirm you’ve received an order, that it’s ready for pickup, or that it’s out for delivery.
  6. Ask for reviews. Restaurants live and die by their online reviews. Encourage guests to leave feedback on a popular review site and offer them an incentive. If you’d rather collect feedback directly, send them a link to a survey and be sure to answer any questions and address concerns quickly.
  7. Get the opt-in. SMS marketing is a great way to connect with customers, and the open rate for text messages often far exceeds that of email.

Ask for permission to send marketing messages, then craft a strategy that personalizes offers and earns repeat business.

SMS for recreational activities.

  1. Book through text messaging. Rich text messaging is a simple way to answer questions, book a reservation, and securely collect payments all in one place.
  2. Take special requests. SMS/text messaging is a convenient and private way for guests to ask about special accommodations like wheelchair accessibility, assistance for people who are hard of hearing, or private tours.
  3. Send links to helpful information. Don’t send guests hunting for information on your website. Send them links to details, like what type of attire participants should wear, dos and don’ts, parking information, and more.
  4. Send reminders. Email reminders get lost in all the itinerary bookings (and junk email) your customers are likely dealing with. Send reservation reminders and any up-to-the-minute notifications via text messaging.
  5. Suggest their next adventure. SMS messaging is a great marketing tool for small business operators, like tour guides, but it’s also easy to scale for larger operations. Once your guests have finished their activity, use text messaging to suggest their next adventure.

If they took a ghost tour of downtown, offer suggestions to other haunted hotspots. If they went on a guided hike, suggest kayaking or another outdoor activity. Personalize messages and include timely discounts to increase the next booking.

Disrupt with SMS hospitality messaging or be disrupted.

The time for hospitality text messaging is here. There’s endless opportunity for hotels, resorts, restaurants, and others within the hospitality segment to simplify and personalize the customer experience.

With new expectations born from the pandemic and an ever-increasing number of millennial and Gen Z travelers, it’s even more critical for the hospitality industry to embrace text messaging.

At Quiq, we help companies in the hospitality industry (and others) engage with guests in personal and meaningful ways. Our Conversational AI Platform makes it easy for customers to connect with your business, so you can provide the information they want in the way they want to receive it.

Connect with customers—and let them connect with you—using Quiq.

9 Ways to Reduce Customer Returns with Messaging

Looking into reducing customer returns? You’re in the right place.

And you’ve been there as a consumer yourself, I’d venture to guess.

Maybe your nephew is between sizes. Your partner tends to overestimate their technical ability. The 100-lb model does little to show you what the clothing item looks like on the average person. You didn’t realize how big a 9-foot rug actually is. The color of the product looks nothing like the image.

So you returned it.

Returns are a problem for most retail businesses—even more so for online stores. Some larger retailers have even made a successful business out of easy, free returns.

The problem is not every e-commerce business is set up for free, easy returns. But customers expect them to be.

Between 2019 and 2020, online retail sales more than doubled (for obvious reasons).

Shoppers took to the interwebs in drove—much more frequently or for the first time. But with increased sales came a deluge of returns.

The National Retail Federation reported that approximately $102 billion of e-commerce merchandise was returned in 2020. That came from $565 billion in e-commerce sales in the United States.

And 2021 didn’t do much better. E-commerce websites saw a 15% return rate, according to an IRMG report.

It has become a problem. Reducing customer returns is (or should be) a top priority for online, product-based businesses.

While returns are undoubtedly the cost of doing business online, a little customer service problem solving can go a long way. Continue reading for some strategies to reduce product returns with messaging.

The actual cost of returns.

Returns don’t just signify lost sales—they cost you money. The National Retail Federation survey found that for every $100 in returned merchandise accepted, retailers lose $5.90 to return fraud.

But fraud isn’t the only cost of high returns. Here are a few other costs incurred by frequent returns:

  • Shipping costs
  • Warehouse time spent verifying returns
  • Customer service time spent emailing customers
  • Operations time tracking shipping status
  • Warehouse time spent restocking items
  • Lost inventory due to damaged products

Simply ignoring returns and chalking them up to the cost of doing business online won’t work. It’s important your team learns about reducing customer returns—and even how to prevent them.

9 ways customer service can reduce returns.

When done well, customer service problem solving can help customers decide on the right product to begin with and help them post-purchase.

All it takes is thoughtful and frequent customer communication.

Here are 9 ways your support agents can use messaging to prevent frequent returns—and encourage repeat business from your customers.

1. Get ahead of problems with a few simple questions.

The first big question you should ask your customers is why. Why are they returning your products? Some returns are unavoidable, but some can be prevented with a little more information.

Is your sizing chart off? Is there a defect? Are the product photos misleading? Ask these questions with every return to identify easy changes you can make to your website or sales process to prevent them in the first place.

Have a more technical product? Collect frequently asked questions from your customer service team to post on your website or even send to customers once they’ve made a purchase.

Send an SMS/text message with common FAQs to ensure your customers see it (instead of getting buried in emails).

2. Use AI assistants to walk customers through simple troubleshooting first.

Is there an easy fix you can share with customers before they chat with your support team? Use bots and AI assistants to collect customer information, identify their support requests, and walk them through simple troubleshooting.

Make sure to keep it simple: Think “turn it off, wait ten seconds, then turn it on again” type instructions. Then loop in an agent to tackle more complex problems.

This could prevent returns from customers who think they may have purchased the wrong item, might have a defective product, or believe it’s too complicated.

3. Prioritize unhappy customers.

Customers (especially the unhappy ones) hate waiting for customer service. But during peak periods, a short wait is inevitable.

Using messaging and a conversational AI platform like Quiq can help you identify irate customers and prioritize them first with sentiment analysis. Quickly responding to angry customers gives your team the chance to turn the conversation around and troubleshoot issues before it leads to a return.

4. Get the message to the right person.

Another issue that leads to customer frustration: Call transfers. Even though they’re commonplace in call centers, customers hate them. They want you to solve their problems quickly and efficiently, but complex issues require extra help.

The last thing you want is to have frustrated customers giving up and returning their products.

Instead, lean into messaging. If you’re strategizing around reducing customer returns, messaging makes it easy to quickly identify the customer’s problem and get it to the right person (without multiple transfers, extensive hold times, repeating information, or awkward introductions).

5. Be optimistic instead of apologetic.

While empathy is a great customer service tool, you should always follow it up with optimism.

Try swapping out statements like “I’m sorry I don’t know how to fix this” for “Let’s get this solved. I’m going to bring in an expert to help us out.” Customers are more likely to respond to the second statement since it’s outcome-oriented.

Since you lose voice inflection with messaging, showing enthusiasm is even more important.

Don’t be afraid to use exclamation points (if your brand voice allows it). Find a balance between helpful eagerness and to-the-point problem-solving to fix customers’ issues and make them feel good about it.

6. Give customers a record of the conversation.

Giving customers information and directions over the phone is difficult. They could mishear things, skip steps, or forget the instructions immediately after the conversation.

Written instructions via messaging are much easier to follow.

You can walk your customers through troubleshooting at their own pace, and they can refer back to them whenever they need to. You can even email conversations to your customers so they can reference them whenever they need them.

7. Offer visual and interactive instructions.

Are instructions getting lost over the phone? Some customers respond better to visual instructions over voice and written directions.

With rich messaging, you can bring in diagrams, pictures, videos, and even augmented reality to help customers solve their product issues.

Rich messaging also works both ways. When customers have trouble describing their issues, they can send videos and pictures to show your customer service agents.

Your team will figure out the problem and how to fix it much faster than relying on imperfect customer descriptions alone.

8. Make it easy to loop in third parties.

Sometimes longer resolution times are unavoidable. Maybe there’s a system problem that needs help from a developer, or you need to reach out to a third party for replacement parts.

With messaging, customers can pick up conversations at a later date to check-in. Or they can opt to have the conversation emailed to them for quick follow-ups.

Plus, everything is documented. You can easily pass along the conversation to the third party without anything getting lost along the way.

9. Identify real problems.

Messaging makes it easy to track and document problems. This allows you to take a step back and identify opportunities to tweak other pieces of the sales puzzle.

Are shoppers surprised by what the product looks like? Maybe there’s a problem with your product images. Are customers disappointed with the results? Maybe your descriptions are overpromising. Are products arriving damaged? Are you not selling the product to the right demographic?

Use customer service messaging to identify problems that need to be addressed by your larger team, ultimately reducing customer returns.

Bonus tip: What to do when the product is actually defective.

Sometimes it’s not a user error or a problem that can be fixed from afar. Or maybe the customer is just genuinely disappointed with the product. What should you do then?

Restore their faith in your company. When you can’t prevent a return with excellent service, show your customers why they should continue doing business with you.

How companies handle returns (are they gracious and helpful, or do they make it as difficult as possible) has a big impact on customer perception. This is where you earn a repeat customer.

Reduce customer returns with messaging.

You may not be able to get rid of returns completely, but you can certainly lower them.

Messaging is a great way to engage your customers before and after a purchase to ensure they’re getting the right products and know how to use them.

Reducing customer returns starts with a good website, amazing products, and great customer service. Once you have those things in place, it just takes a little strategy.

6 Ways to Improve Online Retail Customer Satisfaction with Messaging

Retailers have had a tough few years. The pandemic threw businesses into a tailspin. If you’re like the rest of the industry, you either had to build an online shopping experience from scratch or seriously ramp up your web-store capabilities.

This meant your customer satisfaction took a hit.

E-tailers were still struggling in 2021. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, customer satisfaction with online retailers dropped 1.3% in 2021—more than double the 0.5% decrease across the retail industry.

At the same time, customer expectations increased. And online retailers have a harder time building brand loyalty. If customer expectations aren’t met, Microsoft reports that 58% of customers show little hesitation in severing the relationship.

So what’s an e-tailer to do to improve online retail customer satisfaction?

Embrace messaging.

Even if you’ve adopted various forms of business messaging, there are many ways to elevate your strategy and improve your customer satisfaction.

Read on to see why messaging has become a vital part of online retail, along with 6 ways to use it to improve customer satisfaction.

Why messaging is essential in online retail.

Messaging is changing the way online retailers do business, but it’s more than a box that needs checking. You shouldn’t just roll out an SMS/text messaging or WhatsApp program and staff it with customer service reps from your contact center. To make the most of it, you need a well-developed strategy.

Text messaging especially has the potential to improve the online shopping experience. Four out of 5 customers send a text message on a daily basis, and nearly half of consumers prefer messaging as a means to connect with businesses. Your customers are telling you that they want to interact via messaging—why not listen?

Here at Quiq, we’ve seen rapid adoption of messaging by online retailers. Brands like Overstock, Pier 1, and Tailor Brands have experienced tangible benefits, including more natural customer engagement, lower service costs, and a reduced workload.

6 ways to improve online retail customer satisfaction with messaging.

E-tailers struggle with customer satisfaction. There are some aspects out of your control (ahem: shipping and manufacturing anytime after March 2020), but there are things you can do to alleviate your customers’ struggles.

Messaging is a big part of that. Having reliable communications—and using them strategically—helps promote customer satisfaction. Here are 6 ways you can use messaging to improve your online shopping experience.

1. Help shoppers find the perfect product.

The biggest argument against online shopping for years has been the lack of personalized customer service. Shoppers can’t ask for recommendations (and algorithms hardly make up for it), sizing help, or general advice.

Messaging helps your team close that gap (along with the support of chatbots and AI). Yes, it’s great for post-purchase interactions. But customers also want help before they checkout. In fact, nearly two-thirds (64%) of customers use messaging when they want to make a purchase or a booking/reservation, according to our Customer Preference for Messaging report.

Quiq lets you help customers when they need it most. You can provide the on-demand service they need while shopping your site, viewing your products on social media, or browsing your app. You’re giving them that in-store, personalized experience while they’re going about their day. And it doesn’t hurt that helping them before they make a purchase can boost sales.

2. Provide transparent interactions.

When customers call your support line, are they greeted with a “This call may be recorded” message? That’s a great tool for your business, but what about the customer? Once they end the conversation, they have no record of the interaction. They can’t refer back to it later, check to make sure they heard everything correctly, or prove that the conversation even existed. Yes, some companies offer a confirmation number, but that does little to help your customer access the information.

Even popular web chat solutions can be session-based—meaning when the session is over, the conversation disappears. Customers can’t refer back or naturally start the conversation back up when a related question pops up.

We know the importance of asynchronous communication. Customers aren’t always available to respond instantly, and sometimes new questions appear once their first ones have been answered. That’s why Quiq’s web chat conversations are persistent—they start right where they left off. Plus, customers can request to have their web chat transcripts emailed to them.

You get an even longer messaging history on channels like SMS/text and Facebook Messenger.

Mobile messaging adds an additional layer of transparency. Message history can stretch back even further than the last conversation on SMS and Facebook Messenger, giving the customer access to older messages and more conversation details.

3. Staff for multiple messaging channels.

An omnichannel messaging strategy can greatly enhance your online customer experience—when it’s done right. Customers frequently ping-pong across platforms. Zendesk’s 2022 CX Trends report found that 73% of customers want the ability to start a conversation on one channel and pick it back up on another.

Yet, it’s all too easy to add messaging channels and hand them over to your call center agents. While it’s feasible to cross-train your customer support team on both phones and messaging, there’s a little more to it than that.

First, you need to ensure you have available staff to cover multiple messaging channels. Asynchronous messaging does save time over traditional phone calls. But if your team is already stretched thin, adding additional channels will just feel like a burden. Plus, we all know that customers hate to wait.

Try assigning staff members to your messaging channels. While Quiq clients can serve customers on the platform the customers prefer, it takes a trained and available support team for a great omnichannel experience.

4. Reduce wait times.

Speaking of waiting—customers hate it. While you might think the pandemic has made customers more patient and understanding, the opposite is true. Frustrated customers want things to return to “normal” and have higher expectations of all business—e-tailers included. According to Zendesk, 60% report that they now have higher customer service standards after the pandemic.

And with 61% of customers willing to switch brands after just one bad experience, all it takes is one surge in call traffic to create call center chaos and cause you to lose business.

Messaging helps smooth the peaks of inbound support requests when you need it most. Since agents can respond to messages at different speeds, they can handle multiple inquiries at once. A message doesn’t require their full attention for a fixed amount of time. As a result, Quiq clients report work time is often reduced by 25–50%.

5. Delight your visually-driven audience.

Why spend 5 minutes describing a problem when you can take a picture of it in 5 seconds? Phone calls only give you one way to interact with your customer, and emails are too slow for problems that need immediate attention.

Rich messaging is the next step to improving your customer service experience. Found in Apple Messages for Business, Google’s Business Messaging, and more, rich messaging amplifies your customer conversations. From GIFs to images to videos, there are plenty of features to engage your audience visually.

You can even take it to the next level and build an entire customer experience with rich messaging. Process secure transitions, schedule appointments, and send reminders, all through messaging.

See how TechStyleOS integrated rich messaging with Quiq >

Improve your customer satisfaction and boost engagement with these advanced features that are sure to delight shoppers.

6. Entice customers to come back.

Remember those high customer expectations? Unfortunately, customers are quick to switch brands—which means you need to consistently give them the best online shopping experience.

It doesn’t stop at the sale. A good messaging strategy includes post-purchase engagement to encourage customers to come back. While email is currently the preferred method for online retail, it comes with low open rates and even lower click-through rates.

Instead, lean into outbound text messaging for post-purchase communications. Here are a few easy examples to get started:

  • Send an order confirmation
  • Share a shipment tracking link
  • Ask for a product review
  • Send a special discount code
  • Notify them when similar products go on sale
  • Ask them to join your rewards program

With nearly a 100% read rate, outbound text messaging is a more engaging way to connect with customers.

Messaging is the way to customer satisfaction.

Online retailers face many challenges, but engaging with customers shouldn’t be one. Messaging is already helping many online retailers establish a stronger relationship with their customers by tackling common shopper struggles. For many retailers, adopting a messaging platform gave them a customer-centric way to chat with their shoppers.

Messaging has become a vital part of the online shopping experience, and implementing these smart strategies will help skyrocket customer satisfaction. And Quiq is there to help.

5 Types of Customer Service Software for E-Commerce Businesses

Customer service takes more than a team of hardworking agents. It takes a solid technology strategy, too.

E-commerce brands, in particular, face chaotic customer service challenges. Between omnichannel support, the demand for 24/7 availability, and higher overall requests, there’s a lot to manage.

Unfortunately, it’s getting even more challenging. Many retailers know their customer service needs to improve, and customers aren’t making it easy. Customer engagement is up 14% in 2022, and so are customer standards. 60% say they have higher customer service standards than before, but only 26% say the overall quality of their customer service is extremely strong.

This year is tough. There’s a big gap between customer expectations and reality, and the talent shortage isn’t helping. But there is a way to fill that gap and deliver exceptional service to your customers.

You need customer service software.

Dive in to see how you can make things easier for your customer service team while improving customer satisfaction, and see the five must-have support tools that can help you do it.

What is customer service software?

Customer service software helps your support agents serve your customers. From CRM to analytics, you can put together an ecosystem of tools to enable efficient and effective customer support.

What kind of software do you need for e-commerce customer service?

Your support team is spread thin. They’re handling the rapid influx of inquiries, dealing with shipping delays, and stressed customers—plus they’re likely dealing with a short staff.

Give them the gift of efficiency. Here are the five must-have types of software to streamline your customer service.

1. CRM

Customer relationship management (CRM) is software that helps your team organize customer information, from storing historical information to analyzing data to facilitating conversations.

CRM software is a foundational purchase for an e-commerce business. Many of the following tools are available as add-ons or integrations so that everything can work together as one.

2. Ticketing system

Simply put, a ticketing system keeps track of customer issues. It helps customer service agents to organize and manage all customer inquiries, no matter which channel they come through, to ensure nothing slips through the cracks.

You can also automate ticketing systems to help route customers to particular departments, prioritize based on category, or even tag using perceived customer sentiment.

3. Conversational engagement platform

Conversational commerce for customer serviceA conversational platform, like Quiq, seamlessly connects agents and customers through a variety of messaging channels. Messaging has proven to be a more efficient and affordable form of customer engagement than voice and enables agents to manage multiple conversations at once.

You can also use conversational engagement platforms to connect with your customers where they are, like Facebook Messenger, Apple Business Chat, WhatsApp, and more. Zendesk even reports that third-party messaging apps receive the highest average CSAT score (98%).

Quiq also delivers enhanced conversational AI to connect your customers through chatbots. Chatbots lighten the load for your customer service agents, filling in at various points in the conversation.

Designate a chatbot as the welcome wagon to collect customer information and route the issue to the appropriate department, automatically capture customer feedback at the end of an interaction, or even have bots answer common customer service questions.

4. Analytics software

Every team can benefit from more data. Analytics software helps you understand customer behavior, trends, and pain points. Use this information to identify areas of improvement in your customer service team or uncover problems before they happen.

For example, if you see a jump in “Where’s my order?” inquiries, test what happens when you send tracking links via text message, which has a much higher open rate than email.

5. Knowledge base

This software allows you to create and manage a customer self-service portal. Customers can find answers to their questions without having to contact customer service. According to a 2022 Zendesk survey, 83% of customers will spend more money with companies that allow them to find answers online—without having to ask anyone.

Knowledge-based software can be as simple as a content management system, but there are also specialized services that help you catalog information so that it’s easier for your customers to find.

How customer service software can all work together

As you piece together best-of-breed solutions for your customer service, look for software that integrates with each other to enhance your workflows. Investing in solutions that play well together is vital for the success of your customer service team.

For example, Zendesk’s Quiq integration enables your customer support agents to work with customers right from the Zendesk interface. When customers send a message to your company, no matter which platform, it automatically creates a ticket and fills in information like assignee, ticket type, priority, and more.

Agents can also use the customer information that’s already in Zendesk to help them solve issues. Access information like order history, past conversations, and more. Quiq will even scan conversations to identify pain points and pull up answers from Zendesk’s knowledge base.

You can find other Quiq integration opportunities here.

What are the benefits of customer service software?

Enhancing your team’s workflows with customer service software provides tons of benefits, felt by your customers, your agents, and your bottom line.

  1. Quicker response times: When customer service agents have the right information at their fingertips, they can respond to customer questions faster. Customer order information or past interactions can be stored within a CRM and automatically pulled up a the beginning of a conversation. Or, when agents are asked a question they don’t know, they can simply search their knowledge base.
  2. Faster resolutions: Above all else, customers want their problems solved quickly. Since agents have a more comprehensive picture of the customer and their problem, they’re more likely to resolve their issue with fewer messages.
  3. Reduced costs: Automating manual tasks and improving efficiency enables customer service agents can handle more customer requests in a shorter time.
  4. Happier agents: Customer service agents spend a lot of time dealing with unhappy customers, which can really take its toll. Only 15% of agents report that they’re extremely satisfied with their amount of work. When work is easier to manage—and customers are happier—your team benefits, too.
  5. Improved customer service: Support agents can deliver even better customer service with insights pulled from customer analytics. They can track things like sentiment and easily escalate problems to a manager when needed.

Plus, customers don’t need to repeat themselves when their information and conversation history is readily available. That itself provides a premium customer experience—one they’re willing to pay for. 88% of surveyed shoppers said they would spend more money with companies that ensure they won’t need to repeat information. (Wow!)

Start with Quiq

If you’re looking for customer service software to deliver exceptional customer experiences, Quiq’s conversational AI is the place to start.

Unlock the power of conversations with rich messaging, intelligent chatbots, and tools to help your agents thrive. Plus, you can meet customers on whatever platform they prefer.

Start using asynchronous messaging and deliver stellar customer service.

With customers flocking to messaging channels, it’s a great time for your customer service team to adopt asynchronous messaging. The best way to set your team up for success? With a conversational platform, like Quiq.

Turn any messaging channel into an asynchronous experience. With Quiq, you can:

  • Manage conversations across multiple channels
  • Serve customers based on sentiment
  • Increase agent efficiency and boost customer satisfaction

Sign up for a Quiq demo and see how it can help you deploy asynchronous messaging and elevate your customer service.

How Messaging Creates Seamless Credit Union Member Engagement

Prior to the pandemic, online and mobile banking already represented the primary banking channels for two third of Americans. As the pandemic forced branches to close, credit unions and consumers readily embraced more online banking options including chatbots to provide members with 24/7 automated service. 

Whether it is to help manage account transactions or process loan applications, everything has had to move online. In this post, we’ll show you how credit unions have quickly deployed technology to manage unexpected changes and better connect with members.

Follow The Technology Your Members Are Using

Every company out there has had to take a closer look at how they connect with their customers. Credit Unions have not been an exception. 

Buddy Bennett, COO at Cyprus Credit Union spoke about it during Quiq’s webinar entitled,  “Digital Member Connections That Are Seamless and Compliant”. Buddy recalls how his organization, which manages 1.3 billion in assets, examined how to better connect with their members as part of their strategic planning sessions for a number of years.

The 30 person contact center at Cyprus used to service its 119,000 members primarily through emails and phone calls. The organization wanted to make it easier for members to connect and get the help they need. 

The vision motivated Cyprus to look at text messaging and chat so they can meet members in the channels of communication in which they live. Consumer’s growing reliance on their cell phones and texting made messaging the more appealing option. As Buddy puts it “Really, we felt like to get to members and to be able to communicate with them, text was going to be the way to go.”

“Really, we felt like to get to members and to be able to communicate with them, text was going to be the way to go.”

The accounting group at Cyprus was one of the first groups to use messaging within the credit union. The department uses messaging to notify business members when checks over a certain amount have cleared. From there, the lending department started successfully using Quiq to reach out to members to follow up on loan applications and soon the collections department will use Quiq to notify members when payments are past due.

The credit union has since rolled out messaging to their contact center to manage inbound inquiries from members. Members and employees have welcomed the new channel with enthusiasm and Buddy says they’ve been surprised at the volume they’re seeing in the messaging channels.

Delivering a seamless and convenient customer experience was vital to the future success of credit unions before the onset of the pandemic. Now, there’s more of a spotlight on the vital importance of enabling members to conduct business at a time and place that is most convenient to the member. Messaging is the channel your members prefer that allows self-service to happen on their terms.

Seamless Member Engagements Starts with Simplifying The Experience For Agents

Black Hills Federal Credit Union manages 15 locations throughout South Dakota along with 1.5 billion in assets and 70,000 members. Even before the pandemic, the organization started to see challenges in their contact center which motivated the team to look at messaging.

John Buxton, SVP and CIO at Black Hills recalls how his organization started to see high abandonment rates and long wait times. As he recalls, “it just didn’t feel like we were maybe providing the service that we wanted to.”

Black Hills also wanted something that simplified the messaging channels for agents instead of a bunch of different systems that agents would have to navigate. When Black Hills went live with Quiq, agents were up and running after only 1 hour of training.

As far as agent adoption, John says, “It was very easy to get them involved because they have requests all the time from members – that’s how members want to communicate. And so they were excited to be able to use something that members want. It was literally just go through a power training and then start doing some testing between each other, texting back and forth….it was very quick for our agents to become familiar with it.” 

It didn’t take long for members to notice the change either. John recalls how surprised the team was when the credit union went live with messaging in their mortgage department. “As soon as we text enabled those phone numbers, and we hadn’t even trained our staff internally or announced it, we were receiving messages. Members were just instinctively thinking that they can text the credit union. They were texting the mortgage phone numbers that were on the website before we even trained our staff internally.” 

Black Hills started with messaging in the contact center, mortgage department, card services and are now moving it into their branches. The credit union has also integrated messaging into their IVR. If a member has been on hold for a certain amount of time, they are presented the option to have the conversation via text. 

The conversation is handed off to the messaging channel where it’s easy for the agent to respond. All conversations are handled in one intuitive workspace where agents can use features such as canned responses (also known as snippets), routing, transferring, and response timers to manage conversations. 

Gain Operational Efficiency Throughout Your Credit Union

If making it easier for your customers to do business with you and simplifying workflows so agents can deliver better members experiences isn’t enough, consider this. Messaging enables your credit union to gain operational efficiency and boost productivity, which is a win for everyone. 

For example, IH Mississippi Credit Union uses text messaging in multiple departments including the financial solutions department, the contact center, and within their retail team. The organization rolled out messaging in the financial solutions department first, using Quiq to send out messages to members who were delinquent or on the path to payment delinquency. 

Credit Union member texting representativeNormally, IH Mississippi would use email and phone calls to contact these members. This process was time-consuming and usually didn’t yield a high response rate. The team now uses messaging which has reduced processing time and boosted response rates.

The financial solution team pulls a report of members who are delinquent on payments or nearing delinquency. A CSV file is uploaded and text messages are sent to those members automatically. What used to be a time-consuming process now takes 5 minutes to execute.

The credit union has realized a higher response rate to these messages compared to those delivered through email or phone. Now, members can discreetly respond and let the credit union know when they will make their payment or simply say “Hey, I forgot, can you transfer the funds now?”

Messaging Will Continue To  Be Your Members Preferred Channel

Prior to the pandemic, there was already a high adoption rate of messaging among credit union members. Covid-19 pushed branches and members to adopt digital technology overnight. Your members will continue to seek safe, secure, and convenient ways to bank with you and messaging will continue to be a channel they expect to be available to them.

Quiq’s digital engagement platform is used by top brands and a list of credit unions that grows by the day. Our business messaging, web chat and bot technology helps credit unions deliver an amazing member experience. Before you develop the next phase of your self service strategy, schedule some time to meet with one of our conversation experts to discuss how messaging can go to work for your organization.

Text Messaging for Government: How to Connect With Citizens

It’s more than just reporting potholes. Cities are transforming through the use of 311 by providing citizens with information on anything and everything – from where they can take defensive driving, to when the library on Main Street opens, to getting building permits. When citizens need non-emergency government information, 311 is quickly becoming where they turn. Since its inception, 311 has evolved with technological advances into a multi-channel service that connects citizens with their government, while also providing a wealth of data that improves how cities are run.

Cities are now thinking about 311 as if citizens are customers, and doing a lot of the same things you see innovators in the private sector doing today. Ideas that embrace user-centered design and improved customer experience are becoming a focal point of local government’s strategy.

As a growing number of businesses recognize the ubiquitous nature of messaging, municipalities are asking themselves how they can adopt text messaging as a means to provide better service to their constituents.

Text messaging is surfacing as a clear way to better service by:

  • Reducing wait times for citizens to reach advocates within the 311 call center,
  • Facilitating more effective connections by enabling the ability to instantly collaborate with the right department staff, and
  • Permitting citizens to send pictures, links, and videos to better communicate their concerns

The need for text messaging for government

These are lofty goals to pursue considering the constraints that most 311 departments operate under. If you’re like most 311 departments, you’re running pretty thin and have to do more with less. According to research conducted by the City of Minneapolis, cities that have over 600,000 citizens are fielding an average of 24,150 calls per agent/advocate per year, or close to 70 calls a day. What this all boils down to is when budget cuts occur and service levels spike, everyone suffers.

Before 311, routing phone calls and emails to the right department (hopefully) was the only way to connect with a municipality. There was a lack of consistency, coordination, and citizen focus when handling requests for information and services. Now with 311, citizens have a central place to get the help they need, but the challenge now lies with managing the volume of calls, and delivering a consistently high-quality citizen experience at a good value to taxpayers.

This is the driving force for many municipalities to look at text messaging for government departments as a means to hand large call volumes at a fraction of the cost. As a larger number of people become more comfortable with text messaging as a primary method of communications, both public and private sector organizations will need to adjust.

Improving Citizen Satisfaction through Messaging

Naturally, today’s citizens want to be able to interact with government from their phones ortablets, wherever and whenever they want. Quiq can help you deliver consistently high-quality information and service regardless of the communication channel.

Public sector clients clearly see how Quiq Messaging delivers major improvements to 311 operations:

Greater responsiveness

Accessibility through SMS/Text, Facebook Messenger,  and Web Chat means that citizens are able to submit inquiries or request services using their preferred channel. The ability to attach pictures and links to conversations, a feature most smartphone users are comfortable with in any of these channels, makes each message more effective and helps municipalities understand the issue more clearly and therefore respond more quickly and appropriately.

Agents are able to handle multiple sessions at once, so several customers can be served by one advocate. Solutions like email and phone calls, which can only be handled 1-on-1, typically result in wait times, voicemails, back and forths, and abandoned calls.  With Quiq Messaging, 311 advocates can be working six or more simultaneous text conversations, resolving citizen inquiries faster and more effectively than ever.

Increased transparency

Earning trust and the favorable opinion of citizens can support a strong future for a city. Increased transparency and better communication helps achieve those goals. Cities with improved communications that deliver exceptional customer service attracts more residents, visitors, and businesses because people recognize that the city is responsive and makes customer experience a priority.

Governments can increase transparency and open the lines of communication with Quiq Messaging. Municipalities can send outbound messages to alert neighborhoods of shutoffs to repair water lines or car owners to use off street parking as city plows prepare for winter storms. Citizens can also be alerted of community events, which bolster the local economy by encouraging businesses and citizens to partake.

Providing citizens with the ability to communicate with local government through platforms they already use like text messaging, Facebook and Kik empowers citizens to easily file a report whenever they spot a problem. Collectively, the data that citizens submit through these platforms create a citywide sensing network that gives city officials transparency to where resources need to be deployed.    

Reduced time and cost per inquiry

In 2011, it cost taxpayers in the city of Minneapolis $9.15 for each 311 report. Every broken spotlight reported and question about permits and licenses carried the same burden. As labor and benefit costs continue to increase, the price tag to request government services through 311 have escalated.

One of the biggest hurdles many municipalities face is the cost to run a 311 call center. Staffing 311 call centers with well trained agents increases the cost per contact. These agents, however, can still only handle one call at a time. Deflecting calls to messaging means that costs drop dramatically to pennies per call as text messaging is a far cheaper communication channel and agents are able to handle multiple calls at once.

Employing text messaging has the possibility to touch every dimension of government—from emergency response to public health, and from policing to disability services. Leveraging this technology today can help build a stronger community tomorrow.

Quiq Messaging can help you reduce costs, facilitate more effective customer service by reducing the time to connect with the customer, and enable instant collaboration with the right department staff. Request a demo to see how easily your municipality can implement Quiq messaging.

Update citizens with alerts

It’s important for citizens to stay up to date about what happens in their communities. With a single mass text comprised of a few words, government representatives can send notifications to thousands of people at one time. This standardizes communication and minimizes delays, allowing citizens to access the information they need quickly, right from their mobile devices.

For example, citizens may need to be notified right away about city-related schedule changes and public safety issues. Municipalities can make sure their citizens receive accurate information in a timely manner with the help of SMS texts. Common alerts used by governments may include:

  • Street parking information: If there are any street parking adjustments due to law changes, street cleanings, construction, or other significant events, a quick SMS message can keep nearby residents informed. Municipalities may also provide information on local road closures and detours.
  • Severe weather information: Incoming snowstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorms can delay travel and pose safety risks. Weather alerts and preparation directories help people stay up to date in case of emergencies.
  • Public safety issues: Quiq SMS messaging solutions allow government agencies to alert citizens of potential public safety issues immediately. Instead of having to turn on the television or check online, residents can simply look at their phone notifications for the answers they need.

Support safety net programs

SMS marketing solutions for governments help agents reach out to residents about local and federal safety net programs. Citizens who may have specific financial or healthcare needs can register to have details sent directly to their mobile devices.

For example, SMS and MMS marketing can extend to SnapFresh benefits. If someone uses food stamps to put meals on the table each month, a quick message can make them aware of nearby stores that accept food stamps. This is an easy way for residents to access affordable grocery items without having to go from store to store looking for support.

Government agencies can also send messages regarding low-income healthcare programs such as Medicaid. This support helps residents learn more about affordable healthcare, and it’s easier to stay in touch with these citizens throughout the year using SMS messaging platforms. SMS text communication benefits the local community while saving time for agents who may have other responsibilities.

Answer Citizen Queries With Quiq

Thanks to Quiq technology, government agencies can gather contact lists and send out mass text messages to the public without having to waste time or resources. Municipality residents deserve to have the information they need at their fingertips, and engagement is easier than ever with the help of SMS communication, social media messaging, app messaging, and live chat. Messaging solutions empower both support representatives and citizens to communicate and develop more beneficial relationships.

Quiq offers a platform designed to appeal to municipality and government communication requirements. For more information, contact us today.

Aspira Stakes out a New Way to Communicate With Customers

Besides technology, Aspira knows a thing or two about adventure and connection. For over 30 years, Aspira’s technology has allowed people to book outdoor recreation experiences at parks and conservation sites all over the US. Aspira’s customers contract directly with them to use their software, marketing services, and sometimes their centralized contact center to manage reservations for many of the most popular state and provincial parks as well as conservation agencies throughout the US.

Camping in Florida? Fishing in Ohio? Aspira is the technology behind many of those adventures
that connect individuals and families to the experiences they love.

When it was time to embark on an adventure of their own to discover new ways to connect with their customers, Aspira investigated business messaging with Quiq. The company wanted to look for ways that might help save money through reduced call volumes but also wanted to find a way to engage with their traveling, “on-the-go” customers. Aspira knows that customers who are on their way to a campground, setting up a site at the park, or preparing for a day of fishing don’t want to call in and sit on hold to get a question answered.

“You constantly have to think about the customer experience. Messaging lets us engage with customers who are active and mobile. This is the direction that people are going. If you’re not looking at innovating, then you probably aren’t going to get very far.”

~Jessica Himmel, Senior Manager

The Path to Messaging

Aspira securely facilitates nearly 50 million transactions between people and outdoor experiences each year. The process involves fielding over 1 million phone calls to their contact center annually. There could be a many as 250 agents handling calls during the peak season between Memorial Day and Labor Day. During the fall and winter, the number of agents can dip to about 100.

With that call volume, Aspira knew that messaging was a move in the right direction, but wanted to see what would happen in this uncharted territory. The company started with a soft launch that included 3 park locations that Aspira manages in New York, Delaware, and Ohio. Implementation of Quiq Messaging as a standalone platform went smoothly and launched on May 31, 2018. 

The new text messaging channel was promoted through Aspira’s private label websites including: and A “Contact Us” button was added to the private label websites showing visitors on desktop computers the phone number to text for questions, and if visitors are on their mobile website, they can text directly from their phone.

Visitors to are greeted with an invitation to text if they seek help through the “Contact Us” button.

Aspira has been surprised at the volume of calls they’ve been able to deflect to the text messaging channel. The company has now added messaging to 14 of their reservation sites and receives about 300 to 400 messages a day. Aspira conducted a survey at the end of every text message conversation and discovered that nearly 70% of the customers who texted would have called in if the “Text Us” option was not available.

Cultivating Connection Through Messaging

Since Aspira manages reservations for many of the most popular state and provincial parks, as well as conservation agencies throughout the US, about half of the inquiries that the company receives in the call center is about campsite availability. Although adventure seekers can go online to to check availability and reserve a campsite at over 35 camping, fishing, or hunting locations, they would often call to ask if what they saw online was accurate. 

With Quiq, instead of calling, customers can connect using their preferred channel: texting. Jessica Himmel, Senior Manager at Aspira, says the company finds it “extremely valuable that we are able to deflect a lot of these calls to the messaging channel. We prefer to text the customers who are just confirming availability because it’s such a quick and easy thing to respond to.” 

It’s not just booking availability inquiries that are handled quickly through the messaging channel. A lot of people want to cancel reservations, change dates or site location, while others want to know about facilities and amenities at specific locations. In general, Aspira finds that messaging conversations are a lot shorter and faster than phone calls. Agents have observed that it usually takes just 10 messages back and forth on average to get to a resolution. 

The company’s investment to make it easier for customers to engage with their agents is definitely getting a return. Aspira has seen a 4% decrease on the number of calls from their private label sites, as well as a 4% increase in reservations made online. With the volume of calls they receive hovering around a million per year, that’s no small feat.

Customers aren’t the only ones reaping the rewards of messaging. Agents really like being on the messaging channel and there are agents who ask to work that channel. This is great news for Aspira who hopes to increase staff for the messaging channel by 67%. Anytime there are extra hours that need coverage for the SMS/text channel, agents volunteer, due in part to how easy it is to use Quiq’s messaging platform. Agents not only handle multiple, simultaneous conversations at once but can use productivity-enhancing features like snippets to quickly share links to campsites and park policies. 

What’s Next

Results like these have Aspira looking for more ways to leverage messaging. To start, Aspira is exploring ways in which they can take payments over messaging, integrate Quiq into their workforce management system to help predict staffing, and expand the messaging channel to more of their contracts. One of the first things the company wants to do is to simply expand the hours messaging is available and supported. The company suspects that a lot of the messages they see come in during off-hours could be handled if messaging was available for just a couple more hours at night. 

Looking ahead to tornado, hurricane, and wildfire season, Aspira thinks that an increase in volume due to weather events may be on the horizon. The company anticipates a higher volume of questions such as “Is the park closed?” and “My site is flooded, what do I do?” In fact, Aspira is considering using outbound messaging as a proactive way to notify customers going to a park or location where the weather could adversely affect their reservation. If 

Aspira leadership believes it’s an exciting time for messaging and Quiq couldn’t agree more. The number of companies adopting business messaging continues to grow as more consumers demand the convenience, ease, and speed of the messaging channel. From the shopper that needs help with a purchase, to the camper that needs to make sure their dog is allowed at their campsite, messaging has become the preferred channel for our busy lives.

AFPA Provides First Class Member Service with Messaging

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) is the largest independent flight attendant union in the US. The organization, based in Texas, serves over 27,000 members who work for American Airlines and reside all over the world.

The nature of their profession requires members to spend a good portion of their time in transit. Members may be sitting at the back of delayed planes, waiting for flights at the airport, or riding in vans being shuttled from one place to another when they may need information. APFA, run by flight attendants themselves, fully understands the mobile nature of their membership, which is why they sought and found a better, more mobile way to engage with their members through Quiq.

“As we were evolving, so was our membership. We wanted to stay ahead of the tech curve and meet them where they are by using their favorite way to communicate.”

~Erik Harris, National Contract Chair

The Shift to Messaging

Prior to implementing Quiq, flight attendants were reaching out to AFPA primarily through phone and email. In 2018, the entire union handled over 33,000 calls spread out across 31 representatives. Calls regarding sick leave, vacation, rescheduling, and transfers are still the most common for the reps who each handle an average of 30-50 calls per day.

The organization also implemented live chat as another channel of engagement but was dissatisfied with having to switch between the live chat platform, a Facebook window, Twitter, and their own internal systems to help members

APFA chose to switch to Quiq because it allows them to serve their members on multiple platforms in one unified desktop

APFA chose to switch to Quiq because it allows them to serve their members on multiple platforms in one unified desktop. APFA leadership especially likes that reps can easily handle every incoming message because no matter how, over which channel, the flight attendant connects with APFA, it all comes into the same place and is handled the same way by the rep.

The ability to add text messaging was one of the biggest selling points to selecting Quiq. The organization’s leadership recognized there was a shift to mobile communications that was perfectly suited to their member’s on-the-go lifestyle.

The organization integrated Quiq into their existing website and customized the look with some additional coding. Afterward, they found a night to train their reps who live across multiple time zones. Reps have found the platform easy to use and intuitive, which is critical for a team that rotates out on a monthly basis. When reps return to the headquarters after weeks or months, they waste zero time relearning Quiq’s messaging platform.

To let their members know about their availability on these new channels, APFA promoted messaging in multiple ways. The organization sent an email to the union’s 25,000 email subscribers, posted a message on their Facebook page, added copy to their website, and asked leadership to share the news with their respective bases. Immediately, the contact center received feedback from members who “love the convenience of being able to text in” and shared delighted messages like “OMG I’m so glad I can finally text you.”

Contact Us

Brinks Home Security Customer Success Video

Brinks has been using messaging for almost 2 years now. In that time, the company has improved agent efficiency by automating routine interactions, realized double-digit increases in customer satisfaction, and experienced more engaged customers.

Watch this short video to peek under the hood at Brinks Home Security. Learn the many ways the company is using Quiq messaging and how this channel is making an impact throughout the organization.

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Brinks Home Security Makes Headlines with Messaging

ZDnet’s recent coverage of Brinks Home Security “Home security firm moves one in 10 customer service calls to Quiq mobile chat channel” highlights the company’s customer-centric motivation that drove the adoption of messaging for home security. The article states that Brinks “wanted to use a communications channel that would be chosen by its million customers to connect with the brand.” And connect they did. The article reports that Brinks has seen at least 1 in 10 of their customers switch from making phones calls to using messaging.

Brinks realized that their customers needed more convenient options to engage with their brand. It wasn’t hard to see messaging as the channel that could provide that and more.

Texting offers immediacy and convenience, highly desirable traits when it comes to engaging with the provider of your security and home automation system. But the requests that Brinks receives over messaging aren’t just the urgent kind. The company also receives messages from customers who need help troubleshooting a major issue or to just replacing batteries in their hardware.

When asked what motivated the company to look to messaging as an engagement channel, the company’s response clearly captured their commitment to delivering a superior customer experience with leadership stating “…We wanted to provide a channel that put the format back in the customer’s control.”

The switch is paying off in a number of ways. The article quotes Chief Customer Office at Brinks, Jay Autrey as saying “By adding the messaging channel, we have seen a double-digit improvement in customer satisfaction, improved agent effectiveness, improvements to the bottom line, and a more engaged customer experience.”

Brinks and ZDnet aren’t the only ones who predict more consumers and companies will prefer to engage with brands via messaging. Other industries such as education and financial services are rapidly adopting messaging to connect with their customers as well.

Read the full article on ZDnet.

How Smith Thompson Handles Multiple Customers at a Time

In business since 1978, Smith Thompson provides home security, wireless monitoring, and pest control. The company is proud to say that it is entirely US-based, requires no contracts, and they do everything in-house. From sales and installations to monitoring and service, this Plano, Texas-based company takes care of its customers from beginning to end.

Company employees are always looking for ways to make it easier for customers to protect their homes, families, and businesses. Even when they are on vacation.

During a vacation ski trip in Jackson Hole ski resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, VP of Sales, Ryan Thompson. noticed that the resort was using a text feature on their mobile app. The resort also uses Quiq to provide immediate help to ski resort guests and answers all types of questions about ski rentals, weather conditions, and even which lifts are open – all through the messaging channel.

Discovering Messaging

When Ryan saw how Jackson Hole Resort used messaging to effortlessly communicate with their guests, he was impressed with the ease and convenience this service offered and knew right away it was something he needed to look into for Smith Thompson.  As VP of Sales, Ryan recognized that no one wants to call a company and sit in a hold queue.

Ryan wanted a more welcoming way to engage with customers who otherwise might be hesitant to reach out because they think they are going to sit in a hold queue only to talk to a salesperson in a high-pressure situation. Smith Thompson doesn’t work that way and views messaging as the channel that would allow consumers to quickly and easily get the information they need to make a no-pressure buying decision.

“Consumers want the ability to take the conversation with them wherever they go.”
– Ryan Thompson, VP of Sales, Smith Thompson

The shift from handling thousands of calls daily

handle more customers with messaging

Before implementing messaging, Smith Thompson handled one to two thousand calls a day. Phone calls may fluctuate based on the season, but there is a pretty steady influx of daily email and phone calls handled by just the company’s service agents. After a quick implementation of Quiq, phone calls rapidly started to move to the messaging channel.

Similar to the phone calls received, half of the conversations are service related with the balance being sales inquiries. The company expects to see messaging conversations increase as more customers look to get their new system installed during the spring and summer before heading out on their own vacations.

In addition to phone and email, there was also the occasional Facebook message. Before Quiq, the direct messages received on Facebook didn’t fit into the normal workflow. Agents had to log into the company’s Facebook platform to handle these inquiries. Now, when agents log into Quiq, they can handle and resolve messages received from multiple channels – SMS/text, web chat, and Facebook – all in one place.

When the busy season rolls around, Smith Thompson will be well prepared to handle a spike in conversation volume. With messaging, agents can handle multiple conversations at a time because of the asynchronous nature of this channel. Quiq’s Adaptive Response Timer, which automatically prioritizes conversations based on how quickly or slowly the customer is responding to the agent, is one of many features that helps customer experience representatives increase productivity and handle multiple conversations at a time.

Driving Sales with Messaging

In providing a convenient new channel for their customers and prospects to easily engage with them, Smith Thompson made their sales process better as well. Prior to messaging, customers who wanted to switch monitoring services would have to have a technician come out to see if the security hardware they already had installed was compatible with Smith Thompson’s monitoring services.

Now, when prospects call in and request to switch to Smith Thompson, they can simply snap a picture of their current hardware and send it to the agent during the messaging conversation.

The company reports that the messaging channel converts about 30%-40% of their conversations to sales.

What’s next

Smartphones have become a central part of consumer lives and the ability to control smart devices around your home, such as doorbell cameras and thermostats, has become an often standard part of home security. Smith Thompson recently introduced home automation to its line of products and services, waiting for the more stable second-generation home automation capabilities. The company has just started to promote the new line of services which include full smartphone control of its available locks, lights, thermostats, and cameras with plans to promote this new service more heavily.

Women standing looking at temperature control pannel

In addition to promoting its home automation products, the company would like to use messaging as a way to further differentiate itself in the marketplace. Smith Thompson promotes the messaging channel across its website, as well as on their mobile “Contact Us” page. Smith Thompson sees this feature as a way to set itself apart from competitors. The company has set itself apart from others in the market by making it easy to work with them and sees the ability to text for pre-sales consultation and post-sales support an extension of their ability to serve families. Smith Thompson plans to broadcast the new feature in upcoming ads.