How Messaging Delivers a Modern Customer Experience

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

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

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

What customer service looks like at the end of 2022.

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

The consumer mindset.

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

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

Digital expectations remain high.

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

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

More conversations.

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

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

Messaging has revolutionized the customer experience.

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

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

1. Deliver personalization with data.

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

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

2. Enhance conversations with AI.

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

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

3. Uplevel conversations with rich messages.

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

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

Optimize customer interactions with Quiq.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download as a PDF instead

1. Streamline your current system.

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

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

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

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

2. Boost agent productivity and efficiency.

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

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

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

3. Drive down costs.

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

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

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

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

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

4. Manage seasonal spikes and fluctuating demands.

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

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

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

5. Remove friction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Engage more qualified leads.

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

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

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

8. Increase conversions.

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

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

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

9. Increase customer satisfaction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Use Live Chat Throughout Your Customer Journey

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

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

But live chat is so much more than that.

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

What is customer journey mapping, anyway?

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

Traditionally, it consists of five stages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be helpful during the awareness stage.

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

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

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

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

The best way to do that? With a chatbot.

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

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

Wow them at the consideration stage.

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

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

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

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

Push them over the decision hump at the acquisition stage.

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

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

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

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

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

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Increase retention with always-on support.

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

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

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

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

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

Make advocates out of all your customers.

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

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

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

Embrace live chat in the customer journey.

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

Do You Know Your Customer Churn Rate?

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

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

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

What is customer churn?

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

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

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

How to calculate churn:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find the problem areas.

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

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

1. After their first purchase.

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 ways to reduce customer churn.

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

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

1. Revamp new customer onboarding.

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

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

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

2. Revisit brand and product messaging.

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

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

3. Make customer service fast and accessible.

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

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

4. Be proactive with at-risk customers.

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

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

Embrace messaging to lower customer churn.

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

How to Anticipate Customer Needs (With Examples)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What will you gain by anticipating customer needs?

In a word: loyalty.

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

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

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

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

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

Start by identifying customer expectations.

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

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

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

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

Simplicity.

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

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

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

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

Give customers convenient service.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stop communication inefficiencies before they start.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Empower CSAs to make the right decisions for customers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Equip your team with the tools to meet future needs.

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

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

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

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.

How to Rewire Omnichannel Service with Messaging

Omnichannel customer service is changing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The customer service stakes are higher than ever.

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

And omnichannel is an expectation—not a benefit.

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

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

How is messaging changing the omnichannel strategy?

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

1. Customers are eager for help.

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

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

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

The benefits of omnichannel customer service.

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

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

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

Meet your customers everywhere.

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

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

Deliver a flawless customer experience.

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

Increase selling opportunities.

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

Collect more relevant customer information.

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

How to improve your omnichannel strategy.

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

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

Be omnichannel, not just multi-channel.

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

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

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

Don’t pick channels over service.

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

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

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

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

Pick the right channels for your customers.

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

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

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

Ensure customer service agents have information at their fingertips.

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

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

Include self-service in your omnichannel strategy.

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

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

Lean into omnichannel marketing.

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

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

Quiq: Your omnichannel solution.

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

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

Your Guide to Developing a Crisis Management Plan

Unfortunately, crises can happen.

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

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

It’s a matter of if, not when.

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

The pandemic caught people off guard.

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

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

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

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

What is a crisis management plan?

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

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

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

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

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

What makes a crisis response successful?

A successful crisis response plan:

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

How to create your crisis response plan.

Follow these steps to build your own crisis response plan.

1. Gather a crisis team.

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

Here are some departments to consider:

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

2. Define what constitutes a crisis.

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

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

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

3. Conduct a risk assessment.

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

4. Predict the business impacts.

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

5. Put together your contingency plans.

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

6. Develop a communications strategy.

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

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

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

Remember: The key is to be excessively accessible.

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

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

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

Don’t forget to temper expectations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Put it all together.

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

Here’s what you should include:

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

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

What makes a crisis management plan effective?

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

Work on long-term resilience solutions.

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

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

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

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

Don’t fail to plan.

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

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

Business Text Messaging Statistics You Need to Know

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

Fast forward to today.

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

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

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

Business text messaging is growing.

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

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

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

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

Americans are attached to their phones.

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

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

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

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

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

You can’t sleep on text messaging.

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

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

What about business text messaging?

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

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

How effective is SMS marketing?

Do people really read text messages from businesses? Yes!

Admittedly, specific SMS marketing open rate statistics are hard to come by. A common text messaging stat asserts text messages have a 98% open rate, but the real number is closer to 95%.

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

Key SMS marketing statistics to know.

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

Here are some enlightening statistics from Forbes:

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

And why are customers opting into text messaging?

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

The impact of SMS text messaging on customer service.

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

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

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

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

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

Top brands see tangible results from messaging.

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

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

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

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

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

Text messaging: Good for your bottom line.

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

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

Omni-Channel Customer Service

Omni-Channel Service: The Customer-Driven Path Forward

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

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

Focus on What You Can Control

Tip 1: Present a Unified Front

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

Tip 2: Quality First, More Channels Second

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

Tip 3: Pick the Right Channels

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

Tip 4: Quality Service Over Quantity

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

Tip 5: Try New Channels

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

Summary

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

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.

Part 2: 10 Criteria for Choosing the Best Messaging Vendor

The Messaging Mandate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Determine your business objectives

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

What demographics are you targeting with messaging?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How will you use messaging?

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

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

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

What are your goals?

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

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

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

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

Which messaging channels will you need?

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

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

Here are some common messaging channels to consider:

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

How to Select Business Messaging Tools and Vendors

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

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

1. Experience and knowledge

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

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

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

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

2. Customer-obsessed culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Product features and capabilities

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

But don’t stop there.

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

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

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

4. Security features

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Automation and artificial intelligence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Ease of use

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

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

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

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

A dense, complicated product will make onboarding a struggle.

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

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

8. Integrations

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

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

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

7. Templates

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

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

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

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

9. Value

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

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

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

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

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

10. Innovation

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

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

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

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

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

Is Quiq on your list?

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

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

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

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

9 Reasons Why Customers Want to Text You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Customers want options.

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

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

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

2. Your customers are busy.

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

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

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

Customers want businesses to value their time.

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

3. Your customers don’t want to wait.

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

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

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

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

4. They just need a quick answer.

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

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

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

5. Texting isn’t limited to millennials.

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

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

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

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

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

6. They can text on their terms.

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

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

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

7. They just prefer texting.

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

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

Why do so many of us dread phone calls?

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

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

8. Customers want a better experience.

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

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

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

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

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

9. Customers want more than words.

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

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

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

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

  • Completing transactions
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Browsing and selecting products

Your customers want to text you.

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

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

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

Using Business Text Messaging? Here’s Why You Should Be!

Business_Messaging_Channels_Text_SMS_Chat_Rich_MobileEmails get buried, hidden in other tabs, lost in spam folders. Facebook can go unchecked. Voicemails ignored. But there’s one channel your customers are sure to notice: Their text messages.

While many businesses rely on email to communicate with their customers, business text messaging is growing in popularity. According to Zendesk’s 2021 CX Trends report, the number of customers who say they prefer text messaging to resolve customer service issues grew 75% in the last year.

And it’s easy to see why. People are connected to their phones nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While there are plenty of opportunities for other messages to get lost in the shuffle, text messages always hit the mark.

Are you using business text messaging to communicate with your customers? Here are the top 7 reasons why you should be.

1. Text messaging crushes other service platforms.

Sending messages through SMS/text messaging is way more effective than other customer communication methods. It has a nearly 100% read rate, compared to an average of around 20% for emails. And 90% of people open text messages within three minutes of receiving them.

Why are text messages so effective? People use text messaging to communicate with those they love most. Because of this, there’s a higher level of inherent trust that comes with a text. Consumers are also typically more protective of their phone numbers than their emails.

There’s also an element of novelty to business text messaging. Since it hasn’t been overrun with spam and marketing messages, like email, people don’t automatically dismiss them.

2. Customers are easily accessible.

Remember a time when everyone just made phone calls because it was easier? That’s text messaging. There’s no going online, no downloading apps, no searching for your brand on social media. It’s nearly foolproof.

Plus, unlike many other messaging platforms, text messaging doesn’t require an internet connection. As long as your customer has a phone plan, they can receive text messages virtually anywhere in the world. This makes it a more easily accessible option for your customers—no matter where they are.

3. Text message conversations are asynchronous.

Texting is a great medium to have two-way conversations that your customers can respond to in their own time. Even though people tend to read and respond to text messages faster than other mediums, it doesn’t require them to sit and wait for a response.

Unlike phone and live chat, text messaging gives your customers a chance to respond in their own time.

Want to know more about the benefits of asynchronous messaging? See how to use it to deliver an exceptional customer experience in this blog post

This facet also benefits your team. Since text messaging doesn’t require the immediate response that live chat does, agents can handle multiple conversations at once.

4. Texting customers increases agent efficiency.

Increase customer service efficiency and let you agents handle multiple conversations at once with asynchronous messaging.Business text messaging isn’t just good for your customers. Your customer support agents benefit, too.

Live communication channels like voice and live chat can bog down your agents’ time. They have to give their full attention to whomever they’re speaking with, which could be an easy answer or a long-drawn-out conversation. It’s an efficiency killer.

Since text messaging is asynchronous, agents can handle multiple conversations at once. In the time it would have taken to complete one phone call, a customer service representative can handle 6–8 conversations. That’s increasing their efficiency seven-fold.

5. Simply put: It’s what your customers prefer.

Most of your customers use text messaging to communicate with their favorite people every day. But they also want to chat with businesses, too.

Not only is it tapping into a medium they already know and love, but it’s also more casual than other channels. Younger generations especially prefer having more casual conversations with brands. Email can feel overly formal and phone conversations even more so. Text messaging, however, strikes the right balance.

6. It has multimedia, or “rich”, capabilities.

These days, there’s so much more to text messaging than just text. SMS/text messaging gives you the ability to give customers engaging and unique interactions.

Are they having a hard time implementing your product? Share a how-to video. Are they loving your service and want to connect with other customers? Send a link to your online community. You can even have them send images or videos to explain their needs so you can provide customized product suggestions. The opportunities are endless.

Want to enrich your text messaging but not sure how or where to start? First, learn more about rich messaging here >

7. Your competitors are using it.

We know what your parents would say… “If Johnny jumped off a bridge, would you?”

Snarky responses aside, there are definite drawbacks to being a late-adopter of a messaging medium. While offering text messaging to your customers now is still considered a differentiator, it won’t be that way for long.

Offering text messaging as a customer support option and enabling customers to opt-in to marketing offers now will give your business an advantage—or at least allow you to keep up with your competitors.

How to begin using business text messaging

So how should you use text messaging for your business? Focus your efforts on three main areas: Marketing, customer service, and customer loyalty.

Marketing

More and more businesses are offering discounts with text messaging opt-ins. And they’re extremely effective.

To market your business through text messaging, follow these important tips:

  • Increase engagement with compelling content: Use all of text messaging’s rich features to spark interest in your audience.
  • Personalize messages: Cultivate the 1:1 experience your customers crave. Instead of relying on mass messaging, experiment with tags and segmentations—group customers based on interests, past purchases, or even locations.

The right conversational platform can even help you turn texting into a powerful revenue generator. See how you can process secure transactions with Quiq

Customer support

Utilizing two-way texting for customer service is a great way to meet customer needs (for many of the reasons listed above). Your customers want to hear from you via SMS/text.

Leverage these tips for amazing customer service over text messaging:

  • Be personable: Customers use text messaging because it’s a familiar and conversational platform. Tap into those feelings with personable communications. Have agents introduce themselves, use appropriate texting shorthand, and even throw out an emoji or two.
  • Customer service messaging chatbotConvert calls to text: Increase efficiency and customer satisfaction by converting phone calls to text messages. Customers can opt-out of long wait times and get their problems solved faster.
  • Integrate chatbots: Part of the appeal of texting is that it’s a 24/7 channel. When your customer service agents aren’t available, ensure there’s a friendly chatbot on the other end that can provide helpful answers or respond with a timeframe for connecting with a live agent.

Customer loyalty

Think beyond customer support and go the extra mile to encourage customer loyalty. Use business text messaging to have conversations with your customers about their purchases, send appointment reminders, notify them of upcoming sales or expiring warranties… There are tons of opportunities to engage with your customers to generate loyalty.

Here are a few strategies to keep in mind:

  • Pick points throughout the customer journey: Sending a coupon is just one step in the process. Reach out to customers at various points throughout their purchase journey. Send them appointment reminders, notify them of re-stocks, ask for feedback, or even offer loyalty perks.
  • Don’t abuse the privilege: Just like other forms of customer communication, too many marketing messages can have the opposite effect.

Remember: Bad interactions weigh heavier on customers’ minds than ones that go above and beyond.

Tap into business messaging with Quiq

No matter how you choose to use business text messaging, Quiq is here to help.

Message one or millions with Quiq’s messaging platform, whether you’re a package tracking link, sharing the latest sale details, or notifying customers of a service outage. Reach your customers wherever they are on the channel they prefer.

Using AI to Streamline Messaging

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

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

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

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

The Need for Conversational AI

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

All of this implies a system that can:

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

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

2. Manage the agent’s workload.

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

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

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

Let’s consider some examples to explore why.

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

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

No.

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

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

We need NLP/AI here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If scenario 2 happens, what should we do?

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

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

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

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

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

The Impact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Approach

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned as we build out more!

Business Messaging 101: Best Practices by Channel

If you haven’t heard yet, business messaging is a big deal.

We’re moving away from endless phonebanks and multi-hour wait times to multiple business messaging channels. And customers love it. 89% of customers would like to use messages to communicate with businesses, reported Twilio.

The pandemic accelerated messaging popularity in 2021. According to Zendesk’s 2021 CX Trends Report, in-app messaging popularity grew by 36%, SMS/text messaging by 75%, and social messaging by 110%.

While it has become an essential part of your customer communication strategy, it’s admittedly confusing. There are multiple platforms, endless rules, and many nuances between each.

We’ve created a best practices guide to help you embark on your business messaging initiative. It covers:

Adding messaging can elevate your customer satisfaction, increase agent efficiency, reduce call volumes, and more.

Continue reading for business messaging best practices.

The basic principles of business messaging

  1. Start with a plan. What type of goals are you setting? Are you simply trying to lower costs? Reduce call volume? Or do you have a long-term strategy to improve your CSAT and increase revenue? Whether starting with incremental goals or going all in, lay it out clearly in the early planning stages. This will determine which channels you focus on, how you’ll train your staff, and which conversation platform you invest in.
  2. Keep conversations organized. Juggling multiple channels of asynchronous communication gets chaotic. Switching between platforms, monitoring multiple conversations—it just doesn’t work if support agents don’t have a way to keep it organized. Conversational platforms are the way to do this. Quiq’s intuitive interface keeps conversations organized, with easily accessible history, simple conversation switching, and help only a click away.Conversational Customer Service reduce call volume
  3. Stay true to your brand voice and tone. Your customer service agents are the voice of your company, so they should follow your brand voice and tone guidelines when interacting with customers. Some businesses write chatbot scripts to be overly formal: avoiding contractions, using proper English, and completing their thought in one long sentence. But this isn’t an English paper! If your brand voice uses conversational language, so should your chatbot. It’ll feel more natural to your customers AND your support agents.
  4. Create a messaging style guide. Your marketing team has a style guide—what about your customer service team? Give your customer support agents a comprehensive guide covering everything from emoji use (as in, use this ? but never this ?) to contractions to appropriate text-speak (LOL, JK, TL;DR, IYKYK, but never WTF). Utilizing a tool like Quiq’s predictive text can also help support agents with messaging. It’ll help support team members stay on brand, have good grammar, and get answers to customers faster.
  5. Tailor your strategy by channel. Although you want to keep your brand voice consistent, you should tailor your communication strategies to the platform you’re on. For example, talking to a customer using live chat on your website should be a different experience than Facebook Messenger. You get to decide what works best for each platform. Consider message length, emoji usage, and formality when designated platform best practices.

Messaging best practices by channel

Web chat and live messaging

Web chat or live chat is when you embed a chat box directly on your website. Expect this channel to get a lot of action—especially if you’re in e-commerce.

Customers often come to your site for two reasons: to purchase something or get a question answered. Live chat should help them do both.

  1. Send a welcome message. While you don’t want to bombard web visitors with popups, make sure they know live chat is available. Send a friendly welcome message letting them know how they can use the chat function, if they’ll be connecting with a person or a bot, or even a featured sale. The point is not to be aggressive but to let them know they have support whenever needed.
  2. Tailor messages based on where they’ve been. Use Quiq to track which website pages a customer has visited to guess intent. Are they fishing around on your support page? They likely have a question they can’t answer with your knowledge base. You can even get creative and offer sizing help or product suggestions based on the items they’ve viewed.
  3. Make your teams’ availability clear. Manning live chat 24/7 is difficult, but there are ways to ensure your customers get their questions answered. Program a Quiq chatbot to offer away messages when no one’s available, share wait times, or even answer questions and point customers to other self-service options.

Business SMS/text messaging

Text messaging has become an increasingly popular way to connect with customers and often crushes email open rates. And unlike many of the other messaging platforms, text messaging doesn’t require an internet connection. Anyone with a phone plan can receive text messages, making it an easily accessible option for your customers.

  1. Keep it casual. Text messaging is still a primarily personal medium. You use it to chat with friends and family more than businesses, and your customers are the same. This means a casual, friendly tone is best over text messaging. Avoid being too formal and keep messages short and to the point.RichMessaging_Integration_iPhoneX
  2. Personalize messages. Text messaging is all about cultivating a 1:1 experience with your customers. While you can use text messages to send mass communications to your customers, try segmenting based on interests, past purchases, or even locations. And add personalization tags for that extra touch.
  3. Make it a two-way conversation. While text messages are great for communicating deals and exclusive content, customers want to respond and ask questions. According to Attentive, almost 70% of customers say they would be extremely likely or likely to receive customer service over a text message.
  4. Message one or millions. Quiq’s messaging platform can be configured to send one-to-one text messages or reach an entire customer segment. So whether you’re sending a package tracking link, notifying customers of a service outage, or offering a coupon, you can reach your customers quickly, and in the manner they prefer.
  5. Convert calls to text. Give customers who call your busy customer support center the option to send a text message instead. Phone IVRs work well, but giving your customer the option to text when agents are busy is an easy and effective way to surprise and delight them. Instead, integrate texting with your IVR for an easy “press 1 to text” experience.
  6. Embrace multimedia. Over half of customers (51.1%) are more likely to make a purchase if they receive a text message with media (GIFs, images and video), reports Attentive. Show off personalized product suggestions, share knowledge base articles, or have fun with memes—if your brand voice allows for it.

Facebook Messenger

Since 1.3 billion people use Facebook Messenger globally, it’s safe to say you can find your customers there, too. But there are some social media pitfalls to navigate as you go.

  1. Be responsive. Facebook adds “Very responsive to messages” badges to company pages that have a 90% response rate and consistently respond in 15 minutes or less.
  2. Follow the customers’ lead. Judging your customers’ cadence is a big part of messaging on a social platform like Facebook. Some highly active users may expect a naturally flowing conversation with quick answers. But some may jump in and out of the platform while doing other things. When that happens, agents need to be able to pick up the conversation where it left off. Quiq’s intuitive platform keeps the conversation history and pertinent information handy, so agents can jump in and out of conversations without ever missing a beat.
  3. Take advantage of rich messaging. Emojis? Memes? Gifs? Videos? Facebook Messenger supports it all. While you still want to talk to your customers in a way your brand would, there’s more freedom to have a little fun in Messenger. Use these sparingly and in the right setting to appeal to your customers. Fair warning: Overuse can make you sound glib or out of touch. You can also use Facebook’s multimedia capabilities to get to the bottom of a customer issue faster. They can send images of damaged items, and agents can share how-to videos or other resources. Overall you can shorten your resolution time and leave customers happy.
  4. Use bots in multiple ways. Many Facebook users expect the same response times on nights and weekends as they do during the week. Use Quiq’s customer service chatbots to welcome guests and collect information to route them to the right customer service agent. Since social media is the place for quick answers, Quiq’s chatbots can also answer simple questions within Facebook Messenger.

Instagram Direct Messages

While businesses aren’t new to Instagram, Instagram only recently embraced business messaging. 90% of IG users are already following a company, and they often reach out to businesses on Instagram to resolve issues with existing or previous sales, according to Instagram. With Instagram’s API, you message your customers within the Quiq platform.

Many of the same best practices for Facebook and other social media platforms apply to Instagram direct messaging.

  1. Be the trendy relative. Instagram is like Facebook’s cool cousin. It’s more visual, demographically younger, but has relatively the same features as its predecessor. Adapt your voice to fit. It’s still best to avoid “internet slang,” but insert emojis and youthful language where appropriate. IYKYK.
  2. Take advantage of unique features. Instagram offers features that not all platforms have. You can send voice or video messages, drop a pin to a store or event location, and even create chat rooms when appropriate.
  3. Have a Stories strategy. When users reply to Instagram stories, it goes directly into your inbox. It’s a great way to strike up conversations naturally with your customers or potential clients. Ask questions, add prompts, and don’t forget to ask customers to message you.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp is another heavy hitter. With 2 billion active users worldwide, there’s a good chance your customers use it—and they wish you did, too.

  1. Follow the guidelines. WhatsApp has strict guidelines as to what counts as spam and how you can use discount codes, promotions, or giveaways. Be sure to read through the guidelines before using WhatsApp for business purposes.
  2. Get consent via an opt-in. Before you can start messaging users, you need both their phone number and an opt-in.
  3. Create groups and broadcasts. WhatsApp gives you two options to reach out to multiple users at once. The first is a WhatsApp Group. It allows you to have exchange messages with up to 256 users. Conversation happens altogether in one big group.

The other is a WhatsApp Broadcast. Broadcasts only allow the broadcaster (you) to send a message to everyone. If other users reply, they’re routed to private messages.

Apple Messages for Business

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

  1. Support transactions with Apple Pay. Using Apple Messages for Business and Quiq, you can complete sales right within iOS native messaging. It’s secure, and customers likely feel more comfortable using a trusted payment provider.
  2. Go beyond text messaging. Create a fully realized shopping experience. Pair Apple Messages for Business with Quiq to authenticate users, schedule appointments, and collect information.
  3. Use Apple Message Suggest. Message Suggest automatically gives your customers the option to message your business with one tap. Use this feature to shift early conversations to messaging over more costly and time-consuming phone calls.

Take your messaging to the next level with Quiq

Managing multiple messaging channels—keeping track of notifications, ensuring smooth conversations, and providing customer satisfaction—can all be achieved using Quiq’s conversational platform.

Is Your Service Center Busy? Don’t Turn Off Messaging!

Knee-jerk reactions happen. It gets busy. You see your agents struggling. And when your agents are overwhelmed, it’s natural to want to go back to what you know. So you turn all your agents to the phone while turning messaging off.

But this can make things ten times worse.

Instead of controlling the funnel of customer requests, you simply create a ticket backlog that frustrates your customers and further overwhelms your team.

Hear us out about why you should resist the urge to suspend messaging when you get busy. 

Don’t turn off messaging. Here’s why.

1. Customers prefer it.

Business professional woman holding a cell phoneGlobally, messaging has increased in popularity significantly in 2021. According to Zendesk’s 2021 CX Trends Report, in-app messaging popularity grew by 36%, SMS/text messaging by 75%, and social messaging by 110%.

While customers value human connection, younger generations don’t consider emotional connections and text communications mutually exclusive. 

If your customers are used to messaging options, they’re likely to get frustrated when you take it away. The worst-case scenarios? They become unsatisfied, switch to a competitor, or take their complaint to social media.

2. Messaging is more efficient.

It might seem counterintuitive. Rather than focusing on a single call, agents are juggling multiple customer messages at the same time. But with the right tools and sufficient planning, messaging can be a lot more efficient.

With phone calls, agents can only serve one person at a time. They’re wholly tied down to one call. And they may or may not know how serious the problem is, the customer’s mood, or how long it’ll take to resolve their issue. It’s often a crapshoot. 

But messaging gives agents the ability to serve six to eight requests, compared to one phone call. They can prioritize messages based on urgency, dollar amount, VIP and more. Plus, agents can chat with other customers while waiting for one to respond, maximizing their time.

3. Messaging is asynchronous.

Except for live chat, messaging doesn’t require an immediate response. It lands somewhere between phone conversations and email. Customers often send a message but rarely wait for a response. This gives customers a chance to go about their day while having their issues resolved or their questions answered. 

Your customer service agents then have more flexibility in their responses. You can afford to slow down communications without upsetting the customer.

Yes, it’s good to answer customers as quickly as possible. But when it’s busy and your agents are overwhelmed, taking longer to respond to a text message is better than leaving them on hold for the same amount of time.

4. Integrate chatbots to alleviate urgency.

The biggest advantage messaging has over phone calls? Chatbots.

Online customer service chatbot conversations with a customerSalesforce reported that 66% of service professionals credit self-service for reducing call volumes—and that includes chatbots. There are many ways to integrate bots and AI into the customer support experience to reduce the burden on your agents. 

Chatbots can act as your first line of defense, greeting customers and collecting information on their issues. During busy times, you can triage support issues. Customers with urgent problems can be helped first, while those with simpler problems can wait a little longer. For frequently asked questions, you can even write a script for your chatbots to respond and complete the ticket without involving your team at all.

Chatbots and agents can also work in tandem, tag-teaming a conversation when agents get overwhelmed. Chatbots can ask questions or provide scripted responses, and agents can jump in with the solution. Plus, agents can see the entire conversation with the chatbot, so the transition is seamless, and there are no redundant questions.

5. It’s just better customer service.

If you’re a Friends enthusiast, do you remember the episode “The One with the Screamer”? Stay with us. In short, Phoebe misses Joey’s play because she’s on hold for hours trying to claim a warranty that’s about to expire.

While that’s poor customer service taken to the extreme, it’s still very relatable. A Zendesk survey found that  56% of customers say that long hold/wait times are one of the most frustrating customer service experiences. No one wants to wait on hold for hours. And when your support agents are busy, that’s a possibility. Sending a message allows your customers to go on with their day while waiting for a response.

What doesn’t work with messaging

While integrating messaging into your customer service is a great strategy, it’s not a silver bullet. It doesn’t solve all your support problems without some help. 

Here are some ways messaging can go seriously wrong.

1. You only use live messaging.

Live chat is a great way to engage with customers, but it’s not the most forgiving during busy times. Synchronous messaging (instant communication between you and your customer) requires both parties to be available and provide instant responses. It doesn’t adequately replace a phone call. When you’re busy, synchronous messaging can take up more of your agents’ time.

2. You’re using chatbots ineffectively.

Pairing chatbots with synchronous messaging lends to a lackluster customer service experience. Using simplistic chatbots in your web messaging often turns into hold messages (i.e., “Someone will be with you in 20 minutes”) or a glorified search bar (i.e., “What can I help you with?”).

Chatbot scripts and messaging trees are also vital to their success. Filling it with copy that lacks empathy, is too formal for your audience, or confuses them further will also create a bad experience.

3. You’re not adequately preparing your team.

According to Salesforce, 55% of agents say they need better training in order to do their job well. Messaging customers and handling issues over the phone are two different skill sets. There are many cues you can pick up on through someone’s voice to determine their state of mind. Your customer service team was likely trained to listen for these cues and respond accordingly. 

But messaging is different. There are fewer ways to pick up on a customer’s mood and fewer ways to build a rapport. If your team isn’t prepped to respond quickly while expressing empathy, it can come off as detached or fake.

How to ensure messaging success

Don’t panic. When you see a busy season on the horizon, there are a few things you can do to set your customer support team up for messaging success.

1. It’s all about the prep work.

It’s not a good idea to plug your current customer service strategies into a messaging platform as is. You need a strategy that works across voice calls and messaging, so you can transition customers between them seamlessly. 

2. Set up triage ahead of time.

Messaging Chat Bots Help Customer ServiceBefore the avalanche hits, decide how you’ll handle customer support questions. Who gets to go first when you can’t get to everyone right away? Will it be the most urgent problem? The VIP customers? Whoever has a problem that can be solved the quickest?

Then determine how you’ll assign issues to different service agents or even different departments. Lean into conversational AI and chatbots to help automate those decisions.

3. Reduce call volume with call-to-text.

Integrate call-to-text with your interactive voice response (IVR) system to give customers the option of transitioning to text instead of waiting on hold.

4. Ensure seamless integration across platforms.

It’s easy for customer communications to become fragmented. Silos can form between different messaging platforms, phone calls, and web chat. Find a communications platform that keeps track of customers across multiple channels so your agents have a complete history of the conversation before they jump in.

5. Create an escape plan.

Okay. Not an actual escape plan. But you should have a strategy in place to help get your customer service agents out of the hole—that doesn’t involve turning off your messaging entirely. Have some remote agents on call to take the overflow. Or try enlisting other team members to help out when your team is overwhelmed. Maybe even try turning off your phones and relying on messaging services until you catch up.

Whatever you do, set yourself up for success with better options than shutting down your customer service messaging and weathering the storm.

Master your messaging with Quiq

Don’t hit the panic button. Even if your team is under fire, resist the urge to go full phone. Instead of solving the problem, you may be creating several more.

What does it really take to reach customer service messaging success? A conversational platform that enhances your agents’ ability to deliver exceptional customer service. Prepare for the busy days ahead with Quiq.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of messaging channels out there. Regardless of how your customers or prospects engage, Quiq manages it all within our multi-channel conversational engagement platform.

Get a Quiq demo today.