Quiq Compose: Learning the Language of your Contact Center

Hi! I’m Kyle, Head of AI Engineering at Quiq, and I’m excited to share our latest product with you: Quiq Compose!

What is Quiq Compose?

Quiq Compose is generative AI technology that provides your agents with adaptive, contextually relevant response suggestions. The result? Agents spend less time typing and more time helping customers!

How does it work?

Compose learns by studying past conversations. Every message sent by live agents represents a teachable moment for AI. The AI’s job is to learn a mapping from the context in which the agent authored the message to the message content that was ultimately sent.

The context refers not only to prior messages in the conversation (including outbound notifications and prior bot interactions), but also to important non-conversational data like whether or not we know the customer’s email address, the time of year, and more. By providing Compose with a complete view of the context, we enable it to generate more accurate responses.

How does it compare to other LLM technology?

Since the release of ChatGPT, the world has been abuzz about LLMs and their capabilities. Compose uses the same underlying technology as ChatGPT (transformers), but there are some important differences to consider:

  • Compose has a much smaller scope of language that it needs to learn compared to a general-purpose model like ChatGPT. This enables us to train AI that is more lightweight and cost-effective
  • Compose is trained specifically on your data with the option to skew training to act more like some agents and less like others. It will learn important phone numbers and URLs that a general-purpose LLM won’t know about
  • Compose has a more explicit understanding of rich messaging concepts (e.g. payment messages) and non-conversational (CRM) data
  • General LLMs may exhibit overconfidence as a result of their eagerness to complete your prompt, whereas Compose simply remains silent in situations where it’s unconfident
  • Compose doesn’t require an integration. It can learn from any conversations that occur within the Quiq platform.
  • Compose has important enterprise features such as full control over the AI’s vocabulary, support for the isolation of different brands within a single business, SOC2 compliance, and more.

In short, Compose is laser-focused on learning the language of your contact center and streamlining live agent workflows in digital CX.

The Journey

At Quiq, we’re always working hard to bridge the gap between the latest AI breakthroughs and cost-effective solutions that are ready for enterprise deployment, and Compose is no exception. We’ve spent more than a year adapting cutting-edge AI algorithms to digital CX and rich messaging use cases and are proud of the impact it’s had on our customers to date.

Learn more about Compose here.

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7 Ways AI Chatbots Improve Customer Service

If you’ve been using business messaging for a while, you know easy and convenient it is for your customers—and its impact on your customer service team’s output.

With Quiq’s robust messaging platform, it’s easy for contact centers to manage customer conversations while boosting conversion rates, increasing engagement, and reducing costs. But our little slice of digital nirvana only gets better when you add chatbots into the mix.

Enter the business messaging bot. Bots can help increase your agent productivity while delivering an even better customer experience.

We’re diving into seven times business messaging bots made a customer conversation faster and better.

1. Collect customer information upfront.

Let’s say, for example, you own an airline with a great reward program. With Quiq, you can create a bot that greets all your customers right away and asks them to enter their rewards number if they have one.

This “reward bot” will use the information gathered to help recognize platinum-status members—your most elite program. The reward bot reroutes platinum members to a special VIP queue where wait times are shorter and they receive higher support. This is done consistently and without hesitation. Your platinum members don’t have to wade through the customer service queue. It makes them feel more valued and more likely to continue flying with you in the future.

The reward bot can also collect other information, such as confirmation numbers for reservations, updated email addresses, or contact numbers. All of this data gathering can be done before a human agent steps into the conversation. The support chatbot has done the work to arm the agent with the information they need to deliver better service.

2. Decrease customer abandonment.

Acknowledging customers with a fast, friendly greeting lets them know they’ve started on a path to resolution. Agents may be busy with other conversations (we’ve seen agents handle upwards of eight at a time), but that doesn’t mean the customer can’t start engaging with your business. A support chatbot can greet customers immediately while agents are busy.

Instead of waiting in a stagnant queue over the phone or trying to talk to a live chat agent (also known as web chat) who has disappeared, a bot can send a welcome message and let the customer know when they’ll receive a response from a human agent.

3. Get faster, more accurate customer responses.

Remember the last time you had to spell your name out over the phone or repeat your birthday again and again because the call bot couldn’t pick it up? Conversational chatbots eliminate that frustration and ensure it collects fast and accurate information from the customer every time.

Over messaging, the customer can see the data they’re providing and confirm right away if there’s an error. The customer can at least reference the information and catch any typos in their email address or that they’ve provided their old phone number. It happens.

4. Prioritize customer conversations.

In our above example, the reward bot was able to recognize platinum rewards members so they could get the perks that came with their membership. Chatbots can help you prioritize conversations in other ways too.

For example, you can set rules within Quiq to recognize keywords such as “buy” or “purchase” to prioritize customers who may need help with a transaction. Depending on the situation, the platform can prioritize that conversation (likely with high purchase intent) over a password reset or return.

A chatbot platform like Quiq can also use natural language processing (NLP) to predict customer sentiment and prioritize based on that. That way, you can identify a frustrated customer and bump them up in the queue to handle the problem before it escalates.

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5. Get customers to the right place.

Chatbots can help route customers to the appropriate department, agent, or even another support bot for help. Much like a call routing system (but more sophisticated), a chatbot can identify a customer’s problem and save them from bouncing around between support agents.

The simplest example is when a bot greets customers and asks, “What can I help you with today?” The bot can either present the user with several options or let them state their problem. A customer can then be routed directly to the support agent best fit for solving their problem.

This also eliminates the need for customers to repeat themselves at each step of the way. Instead of having to explain their situation to the call router and then again to the service agent, the chatbot hands off the messages to the human agent. The agent already knows the problem and can start searching for a solution right away.

6. Reschedule appointments.

Appointment scheduling and rescheduling is a time-consuming and frustrating process. Chatbots can help you reduce delays, ensuring customers avoid back-and-forth emails and long hold times just to move an appointment.

With Quiq business messaging, you can present customers with available dates and times. Customers can choose and confirm a date from available calendar options.

A support chatbot with the right integrations can help present customers with available dates to choose from and schedule the selected appointment.

7. Collect feedback for even more improvement.

Businesses shouldn’t underestimate the power of feedback. Believing you know what customers want and actually asking them can lead to completely different results. Yet, the biggest roadblock to collecting feedback is distributing the survey at the moment when it counts.

A support chatbot can ensure every customer service interaction is followed up with a survey. You can program the bot to send unique surveys based on the conversation and get specific feedback on the spot. Collecting that survey information and putting it into place will help your team improve.

Take the Leap with Quiq.

Implementing customer service chatbots within your organization may seem intimidating now, but Quiq can help you navigate it. We can help you orchestrate bots throughout your organization, whether you need one or many.

With Quiq, you can design conversational experiences your customers will love. Once you create a bot, you can run it across all of our supported channels to deliver a consistent experience no matter where your customers are.

11 Ways to Navigate High Call Volumes

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

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

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

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

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

1. Dive into the data.

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

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

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

2. Optimize customer service agents’ schedules.

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

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

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

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

3. Cross-train other staff.

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

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

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

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

4. Embrace asynchronous messaging.

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

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

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

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

5. Take advantage of predictive text.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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7. Outsource some of your calls.

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

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

8. Implement a queue system.

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

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

9. Make ai chatbots a part of your team.

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

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

10. Proactively get ahead of problems.

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

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

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

11. Scale up when you need to.

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

Manage high-volume calls with Quiq.

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

5 Tips for Delivering Exceptional Real-Time Support to Customers

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

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

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

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

Benefit #1: Increased customer satisfaction.

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

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

Customers get quick solutions.

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

Complex solutions get solved in one interaction.

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

It’s easier to make connections in real time.

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

Benefit #2: Boost sales and customer retention.

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

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

Benefit #3: Enhanced reputation.

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

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

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

Benefit #4: Gain a competitive advantage.

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

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

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5 tips for enhancing real-time support.

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

Prepare support agents for real-time conversations.

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

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

Contextualize interactions.

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

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

Implement live chat on your website.

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

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

Provide agents with the right tools.

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

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

Consider chatbots to support your team.

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

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

Collect customer feedback.

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

Real-time support is the way to go.

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

5 Tips for Retailers to Reduce Call Volume

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

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

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

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

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

1. Mitigate hang-ups by embracing messaging.

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

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

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

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

2. Make it easy to connect from any channel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Get ahead of questions.

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

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

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

Reduce call volume with messaging.

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

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

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How Messaging Delivers a Modern Customer Experience

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

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

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

What customer service looks like at the end of 2022.

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

The consumer mindset.

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

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

Digital expectations remain high.

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

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

More conversations.

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

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

Messaging has revolutionized the customer experience.

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

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

1. Deliver personalization with data.

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

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

2. Enhance conversations with AI.

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

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

3. Uplevel conversations with rich messages.

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

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

Optimize customer interactions with Quiq.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9 ways to improve call center efficiency

Download as a PDF instead

The 9 effective call center strategies recap

Check out these call center strategies below:

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

1. Streamline your current system.

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

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

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

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

2. Boost agent productivity and efficiency.

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

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

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

3. Drive down costs.

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

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

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

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

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

4. Manage seasonal spikes and fluctuating demands.

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

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

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

5. Remove friction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Engage more qualified leads.

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

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

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

8. Increase conversions.

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

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

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

9. Increase customer satisfaction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How to 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.

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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.

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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.

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 2023 was $4.45 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.

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.

7 Ways to Get Ahead of Holiday Customer Service Issues

Do you hear that? The tingling of bells… The unpacking of thousands of twinkling lights… the entire retail industry taking a deep breath in anticipation of customer service issues…

While everyone is jumping for joy at the coming holiday season, you’re a little less enthused. You know that while it’s lucrative, it’s also extremely tough on your customer service team.

The holiday shopping season is basically here, but there’s still time to get ahead of the avalanche of customer service issues that await you.

40% of retail executives expect double-digit online growth.

Between pandemic pressures and logistical issues, this year might be tough. Even though brick-and-mortar stores will see more business than in 2020, shoppers continue to do most of their shopping online. 40% of retail executives expect double-digit online growth, according to Deloitte’s 2021 holiday retail survey.

This could put even greater stress on your customer service team. Now’s the time to come together and strategize the next few months with your team.

Keep reading for seven key tactics to get ahead of the holiday rush.

1. Start preparing now

So, the holiday shopping season has effectively started.

With inventory and shipping delays, shoppers are worried about getting their holiday gifts in time this year. According to Deloitte, 68% of shoppers plan to shop before Thanksgiving this year, compared to 61% in 2020.

Of those looking to start shopping earlier this year, 49% cite potential shipping issues, and 47% say stockout issues are responsible for their early-bird habits. With holiday shopping already underway (and the cash register already chiming), the support messages will be a-ringing

If you haven’t already seen an uptick in customer support issues, you’ll likely see it soon. This means you need to start preparing now. With just a few weeks before we’re deep into Christmas cheer, any strategies you plan to implement must be simple and work seamlessly into your existing workflow. Whether you need to scale up your team or invest in technology, you’re running out of time.

2. Strategize based on last year’s performance

It’s easy to get through a holiday season and never look back. You’re tired, your team is exhausted, and you have another year to plan for. But now’s the time to (quickly) pause and reflect.

Take another look at last year’s numbers. What can you learn from them?

Customer service KPIs

  • Revenue: Was last year a high-performing year for the business? Use this along with market indicators for 2021 to predict how busy the holiday season will be.
  • CSAT: How did your team perform last year? If you had high customer satisfaction scores, continue putting effort into your current strategies. If customer satisfaction dipped over the holidays, identify the contributing factors. facebook messenger
  • Wait times: How long did customers have to wait to connect with a customer service agent during your heaviest service windows? If your wait times suffered, see what processes you can put into place this year in order to save some time. Be upfront with your customers about their expected wait. You may need to hire more staff to cover the extra volume.
  • Popular platforms: Which platforms received the highest volume of customer support issues? Did you receive a lot of Facebook messages? Email questions? Prioritize resources and training for the types of communications with the most action.

Take a second to look at this information and see what insights you can extract from last year’s data. It’ll give you a great starting point to help you build your 2022 strategy.

3. Improve your knowledge base

Sure, not all customers will bother searching for the answer to their questions before reaching out to your overwhelmed customer service team. But some will. And some even prefer it over chatting with a team member.

Add seasonal information to your knowledge base to help answer frequent holiday-themed questions. Add articles on Black Friday, holiday shipping, your return policy, upcoming deals, holiday service hours, and any other questions you can get ahead of.

If you haven’t built out your knowledge base yet, a simple homepage banner and/or link in the footer can work in a pinch. Even if only 5% of customers view this information, that’s 5% fewer conversations your team must navigate.

4. Make your return policy easy to find

The holidays already inspire more returns, and online shopping just adds to the mix. While some online retailers like to hide their return policy as an (ill-advised) strategy, customers notice—and it might just turn them away.

More than a third (34%) of consumers surveyed by PowerReviews say that refund and return policies will have more impact on their holiday purchase decisions this year. Even more indicative of the current shopping landscape, 44% said return policies even influence which gifts they purchase.

So making your return policies easy to find and easy to navigate benefits your team two-fold: It can prevent customer service issues and potentially increase sales.

5. Provide holiday training

The holiday rush can get the best of even your most senior support staff. During a good year, customers are stressed and in a hurry to buy their gifts and refocus their energy on their families. And this year… It’s even more brutal.

Combine 18+ months of pandemic fatigue with the inventory shortages and delivery delays, and you get customers with a much shorter temper. And according to Deloitte’s survey, 21% of consumers hold retailers and sellers responsible for delays, which could make for some very aggressive conversations.

This is a great time to get the team together for a short refresher. Remind your team that they’re valuable, but also reinforce your customer sensitivity. Some patience and compassion will go a long way to elevate your customer experience.

6. Embrace automation

One of the best ways to support your team is with automation—and no, that’s not a dirty word. Live-Chat-Software-Chatbot-Messaging-Window

You can use chatbots and AI in a variety of ways to reduce the burden on your team and increase customer satisfaction while maintaining a human connection your customers crave.

Here are some ways you can integrate automation into your holiday customer service strategy:

  • Answer simple FAQs
  • Route questions to the appropriate department
  • Suggest similar items to those in your customers’ carts
  • Estimate shipping times
  • Notify website visitors of specials, deals or delays
  • Tell customers when items they’ve viewed are back in stock
  • Gather customer feedback

There are endless ways you can integrate chatbots and other automation tools into your customer service tech stack. The goal is to simply solve issues at scale without burning out your support team.

7. Prep your social media team

It’s vital that you take a look at all your customer service channels before the big holiday rush begins—especially social media.

Sprout Social predicts an 18% increase in average social media messages in November and December this year. This includes Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, with the latter expecting the most significant holiday boost at 44%.

Enterprises see the biggest social media message jump over the holidays:

  • Small businesses: 15%
  • Mid-sized businesses: 12%
  • Enterprises: 23% 

These numbers tell us you can’t forget to include social media in your holiday planning. Customers flock to social media for gift guides, influencer suggestions, and more, so it’s vital you meet them where they are and provide optimal customer service.

  1. Provide your social media team with training to assist customers.
  2. Write a script for commonly asked questions and standard responses.
  3. Share a routing map with them so they know which team member to send which issues to.
  4. Create an elevation plan for when issues need to be taken up the ladder for resolution.
  5. Assign customer service team members to manage your social media inbox.
  6. Set up auto-responses that are tailored to frequently asked questions, such as “Where’s my package?” and “What’s the return policy?”

Since social media platforms are highly visible, it’s important to service these questions thoroughly and quickly to improve customer satisfaction.

Holiday shopping is already here

Your window for getting ahead of the customer service rush is quickly closing. With holiday shopping already starting, the pressure on your team is mounting.

When you work in e-commerce, it takes grit to get through the holiday season. With the shopping window getting longer and pressures getting higher, it’s going to be extra tough to solve customer service issues with a smile.

We hope these strategies help you put together a concrete plan so you and your team feel more prepared and more confident in tackling the rest of the year.

More than just streamlining work processes, don’t forget to take the time this season to show your team how much you appreciate them. Be sure to show your support throughout the holiday season.

Get ahead of customer service issues with Quiq

When you need help connecting with your customers across multiple messaging platforms, Quiq can help. Quickly get up and running for the holiday season, integrate with your CRMs, and build messaging trees to elevate your customer experience instantly.