Is AR Chat the New Retail Battleground?

Augmented reality or AR has been growing in popularity and has continued to evolve, even since the days of Google Glass and Pokémon Go. Technology has progressed enough to make AR available on mobile phones and ripe for commerce. Retailers are taking advantage of the popularity of messaging to offer conversational commerce to consumers. Now, retailers are combining messaging with the advances of AR to create yet another innovative way to engage with consumers called AR Chat.

The use of text messaging via SMS, Facebook Messenger, and web chat is on the rise as consumers look for more convenient ways to engage with their favorite brands. In this post, we’ll take a look at how messaging has become a retail must-have and discuss what kind of impact AR will have on the messaging movement. 

AR Chat – A Must-Have Retail Tool

Messaging has been changing the face of commerce. This hasn’t been a stealth transition by any means. Consumers have been forthcoming about their need for more convenient ways to engage with companies.

Frustration with today’s channels has played out with consumers screaming into their cell phones at hold music, and repeatedly pressing zero to get out of phone tree purgatory when they need help from a retailer. In the worst case, consumers don’t bother to pick up the phone or write an email and instead jump sites to choose a retailer that is easier to do business with.

Savvy retailers have recognized AR Chat as an opportunity; offering interactions on more convenient, mobile channels such as SMS and social media. Two-way engagement with customers on messaging platforms such as social media has been a focus for retailers as shoppers turn to platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, not only to discuss things among their community, but to engage with brands as well. 

Digital engagement isn’t just taking place on social media platforms and isn’t just seen as a novel, one-time thing. In the report, The Future of Customer Conversations, research shows that 65 percent of consumers have engaged with brands over SMS or messaging apps, while 70 percent have done so at least twice in the previous month. 

Retailers’ strategy to use digital channels to increase engagement has paid off in big ways. Offering digital channels has made it easy for consumers to handle pre-sales questions and post-sales service with the touch of a button. These asynchronous conversations happen anywhere and anytime that is convenient for the consumer. From increasing conversion rates to improving customer satisfaction and driving repeat customers, messaging has been a win for both consumers and brands.

Uniting AR and Messaging for a Better Customer Experience

While messaging is already a highly personalized experience for consumers, AR Chat enhances the shopping experience by adding an additional layer of personalization and customization. With AR, shoppers can view objects, like a chair or rug in their living room, allowing them to “try before they buy”. 

According to AR Insider, as more and more consumers interact with brands through messaging, augmented reality will help them visualize a product, bring more dimension to the conversation, and increase sales. Some brands, like design and home renovation company, Houzz, credits AR for increased engagement with their products. According to an article in Techcrunch, AR helped increase dwell time, with users spending 2.7 times more in the app compared to those who did not use AR.

Increased engagement onsite or in-app translates to a consumer who is more heavily vested in your product. In fact, Houzz credits AR for an 11% increase in a consumer’s likelihood to buy. The convenience of messaging, coupled with the personalization of AR leads to an increase in sales.

Enhanced Messaging for Retailers with Quiq

Quiq supports a number of enterprise retailers, such as Overstock.com, Pier 1, Tailored Brands, and Office Depot to name a few. These particular retailers are a perfect example of how brands can take full advantage of all that messaging can provide. These etailers have implemented messaging and have increased efficiency, improved engagement, and made substantial impacts to their bottom line because of it. 

For example, both Overstock and Office Depot offer Apple Business Chat on the Quiq business messaging platform. This rich messaging channel allows these retailers to present their products in ways that go beyond simple SMS/text exchanges, including the ability to engage AR within a messaging conversation. Rich messaging enables brands to present product pickers, schedule appointments, and process payments all within the messaging conversation.

With Quiq, messaging conversations are transaction-enabled, meaning customers can browse and buy products, all without leaving the conversation.  Customers have a seamless experience on the channel they prefer. 

Quiq’s retail clients have quickly realized the value of messaging for customer experience and have been reaping the financial benefits that conversational commerce provides. Join some of the most successful brands in their use of messaging. Schedule a demo with Quiq to explore how our platform can enhance your brand experience.

The Future of Digital Channels for Business Messaging

A couple of years ago, we were focused on educating the market on messaging and if messaging was right for their company. Fast forward to today and we’re working with over 120 clients such as Overstock.com, Pier 1, and Brinks Home Security. These brands have improved customer interactions with connected conversations and they are setting a new standard for the customer experience.

Messaging will continue to shape the way companies and customers engage as a growing number of consumers expect companies to be available through multiple digital channels. New research reveals that 70% of consumers have communicated with a business over text messaging or webchat 2 or more times in the last month.

The accessibility of messaging has been the primary driver for consumers adopting text as a preferred method to contact a company. As we mentioned in our post “7 Reasons Why Customers Want to Text You”, 97% of smartphone owners regularly use text messaging, making it the most widely-used basic feature or app.

The proliferation of smartphones, tablets, apps, and social networking has brought us to our current reality, where consumers readily look for and expect messaging as an option to engage with a company. It’s the convenience, faster response, ease, and familiarity that makes these digital channels the preferred way to engage.

Download a complimentary copy of “The Future of Customer Conversations”. You’ll get a deeper look into consumer expectations around messaging and how your company can prepare to seize this opportunity.

New Apple iOS 13 Feature: Silence Unknown Callers

New iOS 13 Feature

Announced in June and being released in early September, iOS 13 is Apple’s next operating system for iPhones and iPads. Features include a Dark Mode, a Find My app, a revamped Photos app, new Siri voice, updated privacy features, new street-level view for Maps, and more.

While there are dozens of new capabilities in iOS 13, there are a couple new features that we find particularly notable and think you will too. The first is a great new addition that will continue to change how consumers and their favorite brands connect. This new feature builds on Apple Business Chat, released in December 2018, and is called Chat Suggest. The second is a new toggle button in Settings called “Silence Unknown Calls” that promises to make millions of iPhone users much happier, but may put your business even further than a phone call away.

Imagine you are enjoying family dinner on the one night you can get everyone around the table at the same time. Of course phones are not allowed at the table, but they are definitely laying on nearby countertops. All of a sudden, one starts vibrating and everyone pretends to ignore it while sneaking a look to see who’s phone is shimmying across the counter. At that point, someone inevitably gets up from the table to check their phone only to find it to be an unknown caller or unrecognized number. The call goes unanswered because we simply don’t answer calls from numbers we don’t know anymore.

Let’s be clear, no one actually wants to answer their phone in this day and age. Privacy-conscious Apple is just helping people do what they want – avoid calls from people they don’t know. Tucked away into the iOS13 release is a wonderful, new, little setting. Apple has come to our rescue by creating a setting to silence calls from unknown contacts. These calls will go directly to voicemail. This means you will need to find some more dinner table topics.

With iOS 13, your iPhone won’t ring if the incoming phone number is not known. Nuisance SPAM calls drive us crazy every day and with the iOS 13, Apple wants to fix the issue with the help of Siri, which will scan your Contacts, Mail, and Messages to see if you’ve previously been in contact with the caller. If you have, it will ring through. If not, it will go straight to voice mail.

While this is music to the ears of consumers, this could have a real impact on businesses that have legitimate reasons to call to reach people. For companies making outbound calls, their already low connect rate will plummet. It isn’t all gloom and doom. If your business has a mobile phone number, you can message someone instead. To comply with privacy laws and the TCPA, businesses need to have permission to text a number, but they also needed permission to call. With messaging, people open and read 96% of all text messages. With Quiq, those messages can be two-way. What does that mean? It means you can send a notification that a payment is due or something is ready to be picked up and the recipient can reply back to you.  This can be the start of a conversation that leads to more business and better customer satisfaction, and believe it or not, many messaging platforms can’t do this.

Leave the phone behind and connect via messaging

It’s been getting harder and harder to talk live to people on their phones, especially if you are not a family member or friend. Apple’s Silence Unknown Callers feature makes this even more difficult for all iPhone users. Instead of fighting this tidal wave, it is time to consider a better way to connect. Messaging is, without a doubt, the best way for businesses to engage with consumers. Messages get read. Messages get a response. Messages cost less than phone calls. Why wait? Make your life easier and your business more success. Get messaging.

As an authorized Apple Customer Service Provider, Quiq helps brands present their customers with consistently jaw-dropping customer experiences across SMS/text messaging, Apple Business Chat, Google Rich Business Messaging, web chat, and social channels. With Quiq’s Conversational Engagement Platform, companies can easily orchestrate commerce and service conversations involving both bots and humans. For more information about Quiq, go to www.quiq.com.

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How To Reduce Inbound Call Volume

The normal sounds of a contact center are usually a cacophony of ringing phones, one-sided conversations, clicks, and keyboard taps. These sounds, or at least some of them, and their association to call centers may soon be fading into the background. According to McKinsey & Company, 57% of executives consider reducing call volumes their number one priority for the next five years, which is music to the ears of customers and contact center employees alike.

57% of executives consider reducing call volumes their number one priority for the next five years.

To achieve this goal, technologies, such as chatbots, live chat, and text messaging, have been identified as the top ways to make that call reduction dream come true. These new channels are highly valuable to reduce calls and costs, as well as necessary investments for this generation of digital-first consumers. Let’s dive into the ways to reduce inbound call volume without sacrificing the customer experience.

Reducing call center volume may get a bad rap in some circles. Some may think of reducing calls as simply a way to cut costs. There’s more to the story than just that. It’s true, you’ll see an impact on your bottom line by reducing inbound call volume. Fewer calls can translate to fewer agents to handle those calls. But that’s not the only way fewer inbound calls can affect your bottom line.

Fewer inbound calls also mean that agents can dedicate more time providing a higher level of service to each customer. Fewer calls equal shorter queues, less wait time, and faster response times, and higher quality interactions with agents. These incredible benefits are also the inherent traits of companies who have made the customer experience the way to differentiate themselves and win repeat business.

Take, for example, Tailored Brands. The retail holding company responsible for multiple brands, including the Men’s Wearhouse and Joseph A. Bank, strives to set themselves apart from their competition based on the service they provide customers. In the highly competitive and fast-moving retail space, that means more than just offering a wide product line, since consumers literally have a world of options at their digital fingertips.

Instead of competing solely on clothing quality, inventory, and price, Tailored Brands implemented messaging to make their customer’s purchase journey a uniquely convenient and easy experience. They aren’t alone in their race to make changes to their customer experience using digital transformation. Customer Experience Futurist, Blake Morgan, reported in Forbes that enterprise decision-makers have given themselves a two-year horizon to make significant changes in digital transformation before they fall behind their competitors and financially suffer.

Enterprise decision-makers have given themselves a two-year horizon to make significant changes in digital transformation before they fall behind their competitors and financially suffer.

When you view your contact center as more than just a cost center, the importance of reducing inbound calls become clear. Reducing inbound calls to your contact center has less to do with cutting costs and more to do with adding value for customer through easier pre and post-sales interactions.

How to Reduce Call Center Volume

Tailored Brands, like so many other companies from retail to financial services, want to make doing business with them much more convenient. Opening up their “messaging doors” with channels like ,web chat, SMS/text messaging, rich messaging, and Facebook Messenger, are how these companies are slashing inbound calls without sacrificing the customer experience. In fact, these channels are enhancing the experience by providing easy, convenient ways for consumers to engage with companies at their convenience.

Here’s how companies are reducing their call center volume with the help of technology:

Give customers the channel they prefer

This one’s easy. Not every customer wants to phone or email you. In fact, almost no customer today wants to call or email a company. For Tailored Brands, the addition of text messaging was a way to adapt to their consumer’s shift from traditional methods of contact, like phone and email, to more convenient engagement channels. Because Tailored Brands is catering to their customer’s preference for digital channels like chat and messaging, they’ve deflected expensive phone calls, realizing a 175% increase in text messages received by each brand.

Let the channel match the customers’ challenge

Other companies, like the popular ski destination Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, have also reduced calls through text messaging. Jackson Hole was specifically looking for web chat as a more cost-effective way to engage with their guests. The company rolled out both web chat and text messaging and saw a drop in calls and emails because many of the customer’s inquiries were simple and straightforward questions like, “What are the tram hours” or “What are the recent snowfalls”. Answering these questions via messaging meant that reservationists were more available to help customers with bookings.

Prepare for spikes ahead of time

Whether it’s tax season, the wake of a big promotion, a product release, or Black Friday, you know when to expect seasonal spikes in call volume within your contact center. As they say, the best defense is a good offense and preparing for those spikes well in advance can help reduce inbound calls.

Some companies, like Williams Plumbing, have the added complication of not knowing when those spikes will happen. Severe winter weather and high volumes of emergency calls used to create spikes for the civil construction and plumbing company with offices across Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota. The company now uses text messaging on their mobile site, chat on their desktop site, and Facebook Messenger to ensure that their customers can reach them whenever they are needed. William’s Plumbing has seen their customers choose text messaging rather than waiting on hold, which has helped decrease their call abandonment rate from almost 13% to 5-8% and allowed the company to capture more leads for future services.

Reducing inbound calls has a large impact on contact center productivity. Unlike asynchronous digital channels like web chat and SMS/text messaging that allow agents to handle multiple, simultaneous calls, agent-assisted inbound phone calls must be handled 1 to 1. As consumers shift to messaging, agents will also shift from handling one phone call at a time to 6-8 messaging conversations at a time.

As consumers shift to messaging, agents will also shift from handling one phone call at a time to 6-8 messaging conversations at a time.

According to the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), channel mix is one of the biggest drivers that affect agent productivity. High volume contact centers, like Office Depot have quickly gravitated towards these digital channels to decrease Average Handle Time (AHT), while increasing agent utilization and contacts per agent per month.

The First Step To Reducing Calls in Your Contact Center

Messaging channels such as web chat, SMS/text, Twitter, and Facebook have opened a whole new world of possibilities for reducing inbound call center volume. Quiq enables companies to provide pre-sales service and post-sales support across all of these channels through a simple, intuitive agent desktop that supports agents as they deliver exceptional customer experiences.

If you’re searching for an innovative, cost-effective way to reduce your inbound contact center volume, start by exploring Quiq Messaging. Schedule a demo today.

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