Part 2: 10 Criteria for Choosing the Best Messaging Vendor

The Messaging Mandate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Determine your business objectives

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

What demographics are you targeting with messaging?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How will you use messaging?

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

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

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

What are your goals?

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

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

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

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

Which messaging channels will you need?

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

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

Here are some common messaging channels to consider:

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

How to Select Business Messaging Tools and Vendors

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

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

1. Experience and knowledge

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

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

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

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

2. Customer-obsessed culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Product features and capabilities

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

But don’t stop there.

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

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

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

4. Security features

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Automation and artificial intelligence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Ease of use

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

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

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

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

A dense, complicated product will make onboarding a struggle.

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

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

8. Integrations

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

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

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

7. Templates

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

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

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

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

9. Value

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

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

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

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

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

10. Innovation

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

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

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

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

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

Is Quiq on your list?

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

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

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

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

9 Reasons Why Customers Want to Text You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Customers want options.

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

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

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

2. Your customers are busy.

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

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

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

Customers want businesses to value their time.

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

3. Your customers don’t want to wait.

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

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

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

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

4. They just need a quick answer.

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

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

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

5. Texting isn’t limited to millennials.

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

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

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

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

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

6. They can text on their terms.

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

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

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

7. They just prefer texting.

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

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

Why do so many of us dread phone calls?

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

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

8. Customers want a better experience.

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

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

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

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

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

9. Customers want more than words.

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

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

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

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

  • Completing transactions
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Browsing and selecting products

Your customers want to text you.

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

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

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

7 Customer Experience (CX) Predictions for 2022

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

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

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

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

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

1. Personalization will become table stakes.

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

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

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

2. Customers will embrace social commerce.

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Brands will face the same old customer issues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Contact centers will focus on empathy.

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

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

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

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

6. Adoption of digital payment platforms will accelerate.

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

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

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

7. People will put down their phones. 

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

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

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

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

Strengthen Your Customer Experience in 2022

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

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

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

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.

Dreading Customer Experience Snags Over the Holidays? You’re Not Alone.

Your dread of poor customer experience is justified: The holidays are going to be tough on retailers this year. It’s already proving to be a mess of a season. Between supply shortages, delivery delays, and a smaller labor pool, holiday shopping can prove difficult this year.

And customers know it.

68% of shoppers are either very or somewhat concerned about poor service due to a lack of employees, according to the Salesforce Holiday Insights report. 78% are concerned about shipping delays and product availability, respectively.

Overall, there’s a lot to worry about this year. But you’re not alone.

On a positive note, holiday shopping has started earlier. Sales were up 18% year-over-year for the first two weeks of November, according to Salesforce. Black Friday sales aren’t breaking any records and actually suffered a small decline over last year. Adobe Analytics is reporting $8.9 billion in sales, which actually makes sense. It tracks with earlier spending as shoppers try to avoid stockouts and shipping delays.

Now to your big question: How do you ensure a stellar customer experience amidst these challenges? Let’s discuss that.

Customer loyalty matters more than ever

It seems like we say that a lot, doesn’t it?

Customer loyalty is a constant focus, but it becomes even more critical during times of change. As shoppers move toward e-commerce, they forge new loyalties. The brand interactions they have are with your customer support team instead of with sales team members. This poses both challenges and opportunities.

But the real problem this holiday season is that shoppers know what they want, and they don’t care who they get it from.

39% of consumers who couldn’t get an out-of-stock item switched brands or products, and 32% switched retailers.”

According to a McKinsey study, 39% of consumers who couldn’t get an out-of-stock item switched brands or products, and 32% switched retailers. They’re not waiting for items to come back in stock.

Whether trying to keep the customers you have or attempting to capture new customers as they jump ship from other retailers, you have a short window to capture their loyalty.

How do you do that? Listen to your customers, communicate effectively, and empower your agents to go above and beyond whenever possible.

Infuse CX into every step of the customer journey

Since customers are more willing to switch retailers to get the items they want, your customer experience needs to be your number one priority.

We know you’re already slammed with holiday queries, but bringing your support team into every step of the customer journey is the best way to ensure a stellar customer experience.

Consider how to get ahead of customer problems before they get to your support team. Include holiday questions on your FAQ page and send out notifications when inventory or shipping snags occur.

When problems do arise, remember these short customer experience tips to solve problems quickly and earn back the trust of your customers.

Quick customer experience tips:

  1. Be warm
  2. Be prepared with quick answers
  3. Ensure your customer feels listened to
  4. Don’t come off as rote
  5. Be transparent about problems
  6. Solve issues in one support request

Get creative with staffing

According to Forbes, 68% of organizations saw a greater increase in customer service inquiries during the 2020 holiday season versus the 2019 holiday season. It would be no surprise to see even higher numbers this season.

And in customer service, immediacy is the name of the game. Customers want quick service and often expect some kind of reply 24/7. Yet many retailers are short-staffed.

While the labor pool is shallow, long wait times are the quickest way to frustrate your customers. To ensure your team isn’t completely overwhelmed, get creative with your staffing:

Top holiday staffing strategies

  1. Lean into short-term staffing
  2. Extend hours for employees who want them
  3. Stagger shifts based on peak shopping hours
  4. Pull in employees from other departments
  5. Extend your labor pool with remote hires

The right infrastructure can make hiring short-term and remote employees a breeze. Messaging software makes it possible to onboard new hires quickly—even when they’re across the country. No need to ship desk phones or physical products. Just log in and go.

Embrace chatbots for improved customer service

We know it’s crunch time, but adding chatbots to your customer experience arsenal will do a lot to smooth out the snags. There’s a lot you can do with chatbots and AI to speed up your customer response time. Live-Chat-Software-Chatbot-Messaging-Window

The first is to use chatbots as a routing method. Ask simple questions to gauge the type of customer issue. If you can direct the customer to another department or another self-service option, that’s a best-case scenario.

You can also get more advanced and prepare scripts for commonly asked questions. Consider it an FAQ page on steroids. You can answer slightly more complex queries, and customers get the feeling of personal service.

Here are some common holiday questions you can program a chatbot to answer:

Common questions for your chatbot

  1. What’s the status of my order?
  2. When’s the last day to order to ensure my package gets delivered by Christmas Eve?
  3. What’s your return policy?
  4. How much is shipping?
  5. When will this item be back in stock?
  6. How often do you get new products in?
  7. I ordered the wrong size, what do I do?

Preparing scripts for simple answers like these once can save your team from handling hundreds of interactions—give them more time and you one less thing to worry about.

Streamline backend technology

The holidays are the worst time of year to fight against your technology. Customer service teams are handling loads of messages and calls from all different platforms, and switching between them is inefficient. And frankly annoying.

Consider a conversational platform that allows your customers to reach out using the preferred channel but still keeps the backend organized and efficient for your team.

Agents can bounce back and forth between messaging channels without losing track of conversations. Customers get to chat with your brand how they want, where they want, and your team gets to preserve the experience and deliver snag-free customer service.

Do away with dread and upgrade your customer experience

The holidays are a make-or-break moment for retailers. While you may be dreading the rush just as much as the customer, they’re looking to your customer support team to shine amidst the struggles.

Let your last major technology purchase of the year be one that can help you get through the holiday season with fewer customer experience snags and more sales

Power your customer service team with Quiq

Ensure your team communicates effectively over any messaging channel with Quiq. Our AI-enhanced conversational platform supports your customer service team with multiple messaging channels, chatbots, CRM integrations, and more.

Turning Chatbots Into Virtual Shopping Assistants

Turning Chatbots Into Virtual Shopping Assistants

These days, brick-and-mortar retail is quickly giving way to online shopping. By 2022, eCommerce sales are projected to reach over $850 billion — and it doesn’t seem like the growth of online shopping will be slowing down beyond that. Many consumers have a preference for convenient shopping experiences — and what’s easier than shopping from the comfort of home? However, what hasn’t changed is the fact that shoppers want assistance if they have a problem or question. That’s where virtual shopping assistants shine.

Virtual shopping assistants are support bots that can directly support consumers as they browse. While being available around the clock, these assistants can answer questions, resolve problems, and provide suggestions to consumers, all from the convenience of a chat window.

In this guide, we’ll provide all the details on virtual shopping assistants, including the benefits to shoppers and retailers, how retailers are using chatbots as virtual shopping assistants, and how to get started with Quiq.

What Are Virtual Shopping Assistants?

A virtual shopping assistant is essentially a chatbot that converses directly with online consumers. These assistants work by using a combination of machine learning and language processing software to understand shopper queries and match them with appropriate solutions. As these assistants conduct more conversations, they learn more about consumers’ preferences and language patterns, making the bot more effective over time.

Digital shopping assistants are commonly installed on a store’s website. When a new visitor comes to the website, these assistants automatically greet the shopper through a chat window, offering assistance and notifying them of any current promotions. The potential consumer can then type responses into the chat window to ask questions or request recommendations, which the assistant will answer in a matter of seconds.

Why Do Consumers Like Virtual Shopping Assistants?

Sixty five percent of American shoppers prefer self-service through tools like chatbots.

Virtual shopping assistants are quickly becoming a staple in the retail industry, especially with younger generations. There are many reasons for this preference, ranging from response time to personalized answers. As a result, 65% of American shoppers prefer self-service through tools like chatbots.

Here are a few specific reasons why consumers enjoy communicating with an online shopping assistant:

  • Quick responses: Digital shopping assistants provide instant answers to all questions a consumer may have. Chatbot assistants can pull information about orders and deliveries, provide recommendations, and even assist with common problems and complaints. If a shopper has a simple question, they won’t have to wait for a response to a customer support ticket, which can possibly deter them from making a purchase altogether.
  • Round-the-clock assistance: Virtual shopping assistants don’t have to work in a certain timeframe. These bots can provide information around the clock, no matter the time of day. Bots can also handle hundreds of inquiries at once, meaning consumers don’t need to wait for the next available agent to answer their questions. With a virtual assistant, consumers can get the answers they need when they need them.
  • Personalization: Chatbots can store information based on shoppers’ accounts, allowing for enhanced personalization. These virtual assistants can use data regarding a consumer’s past purchases and behaviors to make informed recommendations.
  • Faster experiences: Virtual assistants can quickly pull information to answer consumers’ questions, allowing consumers to make faster shopping decisions. Some chatbots even allow consumers to complete purchases from the chat window, making for a speedy shopping experience.

On top of these benefits, younger generations are more open to embracing new technologies like digital shopping assistants and are more excited to use platforms that integrate AI.

Benefits of Virtual Shopping Assistants for Retailers

Benefits of Virtual Shopping Assistants for Retailers

In addition to benefitting consumers, digital shopping assistants can also give retailers an edge in the market. These platforms help retailers achieve advantages like cost savings and increased sales, so an investment in chatbots makes a real difference. Additionally, retailers that want to be on the cutting edge of eCommerce technology can expect to reach and develop relationships with consumers who enjoy those new features.

Some of the most significant benefits online shopping assistants offer retail businesses include:

  • Cost savings: Virtual assistants take the workload off live agents by automatically handling the majority of inquiries. Instead of hiring new members for an internal support team, retailers can implement a virtual shopping assistant that handles most questions and complaints. This concept reduces the number of live agents needed, allowing them to focus on the most complex problems and inquiries while the chatbot resolves questions.
  • Data collection: eCommerce chatbots can easily collect information about consumers and their preferences by saving their behaviors and purchases in a database. This information is invaluable to retailers, providing demographic and preference information that can be used to create powerful targeted marketing campaigns.
  • Improved consumer relationships: Virtual assistants provide 24/7 support and a personalized experience, which helps to create more positive experiences for shoppers. As a result, retailers have a chance to build relationships with shoppers, encouraging them to come back in the future.
  • Increased sales: Online shopping assistants can also help generate more sales through upselling and cross-selling, offering upgrades and related purchases at the check-out window. Additionally, online shopping assistants can send out reminders to consumers that have abandoned their carts, encouraging them to follow through with their purchase.
  • Competitive advantages: All of these benefits equate to an advantage over competitors, especially those that don’t use chatbots. If a shopper sees that a retailer has chatbot capabilities on their website, they’ll be more likely to stay on their website and make a purchase.

Due to the significant benefits of virtual shopping assistants for both retailers and consumers, it’s easy to see why these tools are quickly taking over the retail industry. eCommerce chatbots are expected to increase consumer retail spend to $142 billion by 2024, meaning more retailers will likely adopt chatbots over the next three years. With the continuing boom of eCommerce, retail businesses can use chatbots to meet consumer expectations going forward.

How to Use a Chatbot as a Virtual Shopping Assistant

With all the benefits of digital shopping assistants, many retailers are looking to implement their own within the next few years. While there are many advanced options available, eCommerce chatbots are still the most common type of virtual shopping assistant. These tools are popular due to their versatility and relative ease of implementation.

It’s key for retail leaders to understand how to use a chatbot as a virtual shopping assistant to ensure they maximize their effectiveness. These assistants have several capabilities. As a result, retailers may want to use them differently depending on their unique needs.

Some essential functions chatbots can fulfill to become virtual shopping assistants include:

  • Engage visitors: Chatbots are a great way to engage new visitors on a site without being intrusive. Shoppers can interact with the chatbot as much or as little as they want, but they’ll always have the option available to them. Retailers can also ensure every chatbot offers the same level and quality of information to consumers, whether that’s information about products and promotions or updates on orders.
  • Respond to questions: One of the most common ways to use chatbots as virtual shopping assistants is as an interactive FAQ page. Visitors can type in their questions, and the AI will determine the best response. This way, consumers don’t need to get frustrated while hunting down information — their virtual assistant can provide them learn more about products, shipping costs, refund policies, and store hours with a simple query.
  • Provide product recommendations: Virtual shopping assistants can also be programmed to provide product recommendations. Using data collected about a shopper’s immediate needs and past behavior and preferences, virtual shopping assistants can show one or more product options that would likely suit the consumer. This chatbot feature is a surefire way to enhance consumer experiences, as product recommendations both simplify and speed up the shopping process.
  • Order information: Every online shopper is excited after they place an order online, and are looking forward to getting confirmation and information about their order’s progress. While consumers often get this information via email, retailers can also set up online shopping assistants to provide this information when prompted. This way, consumers can easily track the progress of their order, get tracking information, and check in on updates.
  • Promotion and sale information: Virtual shopping assistants can also be used to offer deals and coupons to shoppers. Different coupons and promotions can be offered at different stages of the shopping experience, depending on the consumer in question. For example, first-time shoppers may see a welcome discount to encourage their first purchase, while repeat consumers may see seasonal offers and product-specific discounts based on their previous purchases. If a shopper abandons their cart, the assistant can even offer a discount as an incentive to complete the purchase.
  • Cart retrieval: Nearly 85% of online shoppers have abandoned a purchase. Virtual shopping assistants can help reduce the rate of cart abandonment by checking in on consumers and answering their questions. If a shopper abandons their cart, online shopping assistants can send reminders when the person revisits the site or social media page. The assistant can even be programmed to offer discounts to encourage consumers to complete their purchases. These types of messages are less likely to be ignored than emails, leading to a higher conversion rate.
  • Subscription management: Chatbots can also be programmed to help with subscription management for consumers with retail accounts. All shoppers need to do is provide their credentials, and a chatbot with this capability can look up their profile and find member benefits, coupons, and rewards. These chatbots can also be programmed to provide information about points systems, including how many points shoppers have, how many points they need for their next discount, and how many points they’ll earn from their current cart. Chatbots can also be programmed to assist with subscription management, helping shoppers increase or decrease their membership levels and subscription schedules.

Many chatbot programs are available for retailers to explore, and they can customize them to fulfill one or more of these functions.

How to Get Started With Chatbot Implementation

How to Get Started With Chatbot Implementation

Virtual shopping assistants are invaluable to online retailers and will be a necessary platform for forward-thinking retail businesses. However, each retailer is unique, so it’s essential to understand how to effectively implement eCommerce chatbots for each retail business’s needs.

Some of the key items to consider before pursuing a chatbot as a virtual shopping assistant include:

  • Functions: First, consider what core functions the chatbot needs to fulfill. Does the retailer have subscriptions or memberships that need to be managed? Is chat-window purchasing a feature that would benefit the retailer? Knowing the most important functions to enable will help inform a retailer’s choices when they start designing an online shopping assistant program.
  • Integrations: Think about the types of integrations the digital shopping assistant will need. What systems does it need to plug into? Does it need speech-to-text or text-to-speech capabilities down the road? Look for solutions that are flexible enough to take on new integrations as the retail business evolves.
  • Updates: Consider how frequently the chatbot will need to be updated. Does the retail business’s product line rotate regularly? Are there new promotions that will need to be added to the system? Look for systems that automatically update product information and can easily undergo manual updates. This way, retailers can communicate the most updated information to their consumers.
  • Start small: Retailers shouldn’t try to implement a robust chatbot system from day one. Instead, focus on the most important functions first, such as a customer support chatbot. From there, the retailer can add more functions over time, testing thoroughly as they go. As a result, they won’t waste time and effort implementing features they don’t need.

On top of these recommendations, retailers should be sure to work with an experienced chatbot provider. An expert provider will help with programming and implementing a virtual shopping assistant, making recommendations for functions and integrations and helping update platforms as the retailer grows.

Demo Quiq Today for Your Retail Business

Virtual shopping assistants are effective tools that help improve consumer experiences and generate sales, all while improving productivity and reducing the strain on retailers’ internal teams. With current generations increasingly favoring online shopping experiences and consumers warming up to AI chatbots, now is the perfect time for retailers to try shopping assistants for their unique needs. There are numerous ways to implement digital shopping assistants in retailers, and various platforms to choose from. If your retail business is looking for a comprehensive solution that can help you get started with chatbots, Quiq is here to help.

Quiq is a conversational customer engagement platform designed for the retail industry. The goal of Quiq is to help retailers deliver exceptional shopping experiences with every interaction, and our chatbot system does just that. The Quiq platform supports messaging across a range of channel types, including text, web chat, social chat, Apple Business Chat, and Google’s Business Messages. Retailers can use as few or as many channels as they need to communicate with consumers effectively.

With multiple chatbot options, rich messaging experiences, and various integration options, Quiq is here to help you build the best virtual shopping assistant for your retail business. Try Quiq for yourself by scheduling a live demo today.

Demo Quiq Today for Your Retail Business

Using Conversational Commerce as an Alternative to In-Store Shopping

Using Conversational Commerce as an Alternative to In-Store Shopping

Conversational commerce isn’t just a catchy alliteration — it’s a trend taking the retail world by storm. Conversational commerce refers to transactions that take place between consumers and brands through digital conversations. These conversational commerce platforms can be powerful tools, especially in a market that’s increasingly moving away from in-store shopping.

In this article, we look at how to use conversational commerce to enhance online retail experiences. We’ll dive into the market trends regarding in-store and online shopping, the benefits and uses of commercial commerce for online shopping, and how conversational commerce works so retailers can enhance their consumers’ online retail experiences.

COVID-19’s Impact on Retail Businesses

Retail shopping has primarily relied on in-store experiences in the past. In brick-and-mortar locations, consumers can physically view items and get help from in-store employees. However, COVID-19 has quickly and dramatically changed the retail landscape. With stay-at-home orders and social distancing and sanitation guidelines, new shopping trends have emerged.

As the world has started to heal from the global pandemic, country-wide lockdowns have begun to ease up. However, in the aftermath of lockdown, consumer behaviors and priorities have shifted. People’s income, values, and exposure to alternative shopping methods have shifted their preferences significantly, powering numerous market trends since the beginning of the pandemic.

Some common changes in consumer behavior and preference include the following:

  • Focus on health and safety: While consumer concerns about health and safety are slowly decreasing, many consumers are still uncomfortable visiting public places, especially stores they visit less frequently. In fact, nearly 70% of consumers in markets where the pandemic is stabilizing are still concerned for the health of others.
  • Focus on digital experiences: The lockdowns that resulted from the pandemic created a surge of eCommerce, especially from new consumers who’d previously never used online shopping options. Now that more consumers are aware of their online shopping options and how to use them, consumers will likely continue using these services and push toward improved online experiences.
  • Increased convenience: Even before COVID-19, consumers were moving toward more convenient shopping experiences as a collective. The pandemic rapidly pushed this trend forward. As a result, many retailers had to quickly implement services focused on conveniences, such as online shopping options, curbside pickup options, and delivery services. Even as the world emerges from the pandemic, consumer preferences for convenience will likely push retailers to maintain or expand these services.

The challenge for retailers is that they need to leverage these trends and adjust their practices with changing consumer preferences. Conversational commerce is one way that retailers are working toward these adjustments.

The benefits of conversational commerce for shoppers

The Benefits of Conversational Commerce For Shoppers

Conversational commerce has risen as a consumer and retailer favorite since the beginning of the pandemic. Conversational commerce works by using chatbots, brand specialists, and messaging platforms to enable conversations between consumers and a brand. These conversations often occur on messaging platforms like web chats, text messaging apps, Apple Business Chat, and even Facebook Messenger. Chatbots power many of these operations, which process messages from consumers to provide relevant responses, involving a live customer service representative if needed.

Conversational commerce platforms provide consumers with an on-demand shopping interface that enables them to engage with a live or virtual representative that can assist them with anything they need. This convenience presents shoppers with a wide range of benefits, including the following:

  • Enhanced customer support: Conversational commerce platforms give consumers access to a live or virtual assistant at any time, anywhere. The assistant can answer their questions, help them preview products, and even complete transactions using the digital channels consumers prefer, including text, live chat, and social media messaging platforms.
  • Faster resolution: Chatbots in conversational commerce platforms also help streamline the problem resolution process. Bots can answer the majority of common questions and route consumers to a live specialist if the problem is more complex. This process results in quick resolution times — many people use chatbots for quick problem resolution when they are concerned with their shopping experience.
  • Less research: Chatbots also help streamline the shopping experience for consumers. Instead of browsing page after page to find what they want, consumers can give a description of the product to a chatbot. The chatbot’s artificial intelligence then uses the description to find a product that best suits the consumers’ needs, which reduces the time they spend browsing for products, making the experience more pleasurable.
  • Greater personalization: One of the big trends among consumers today is a desire for personalization. Today, nearly 80% of consumers want more personalization from retailers to enhance their shopping experience. Conversational commerce helps with personalization by connecting consumers with support teams that offer specific product recommendations and offers.
  • More touchpoints: Conversational commerce gives consumers multiple points of communication to reach brands. Retailers can add chatbots and text messaging communication to email and phone calling methods, maximizing the touchpoints available for consumers. This way, consumers can talk with their retailers in the way they’re most comfortable.

These benefits have already significantly impacted the online retail world, especially when considering that more consumers want shopping experiences that offer messaging services for support. In this way, conversational commerce is incredibly helpful for shoppers.

The benefits of conversational commerce for retailers

The Benefits of Conversational Commerce for Retailers

In addition to benefitting consumers, conversational commerce helps retailers improve their eCommerce operations. Some of the most significant benefits retailers experience from implementing conversational commerce include:

  • Improved responsiveness: Conversational commerce presents an effective way to generate engagement with consumers. When retailers send in-app messages to consumers, they can get five times more opens than push notifications. As a result, consumers are more likely to respond to those messages.
  • Enhanced efficiency: Chatbots are also cost- and time-efficient compared to live chat options. Chatbots can handle the majority of questions quickly, respond to hundreds of consumer questions at once, and are running around the clock. This efficiency saves time and labor for the customer service team, allowing them to direct their efforts toward the most complex tasks and problems.
  • Enhanced consumer relationships: Because it’s available 24/7 and offers enhanced consumer experiences, conversational commerce helps create more positive user experiences. This feature generates goodwill between retailers and their consumers, making them more likely to be repeat buyers.
  • Streamlined selling: Chatbots can promote and upsell products based on consumer queries. For example, if a buyer is looking to buy a specific type of shirt, the chatbot can show the consumer potential accessories, pants, and jackets to create a complete outfit.
  • Reduced abandonment rates: Cart abandonment is a common problem for online retailers — consumers may be distracted and forget to check out, may not find an answer to a question they have about the product, or simply second-guess themselves. Commercial commerce helps reduce cart abandonment by offering responses to questions quickly, reaching out to consumers with unfinished orders, and checking in on consumers as they browse a website.
  • Abundant data: Commercial commerce platforms are also valuable sources of consumer data. Tracking behaviors, issues, and questions can help strengthen retailers’ ability to create powerful marketing campaigns and improve their online platforms.

With these numerous benefits to both consumers and retailers, it’s no wonder that conversational commerce is booming. The market size of conversational commerce platforms was estimated to be around $5.94 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow to $30.45 billion by 2027.

Eight ways retailers can use conversational commerce

8 Ways Retailers Can Use Conversational Commerce

Conversational commerce is a powerful way to address the changing priorities of consumers. The question is how to use conversational commerce from a practical perspective, which will be different for every retailer.

There are multiple ways retailers can use chatbots and automated conversations in their retail stores. Below are eight conversational commerce examples retailers can use to help improve various aspects of their stores:

1. Provide Fast Customer Service

One of the common ways retailers use conversational commerce is as a customer service program. Using this approach, retailers automate responses to consumer questions, which can include everything from product questions and sales to order problems. The system can also be set up to route the shopper to a live support specialist if their issue is more complex.

If retailers can provide quick access to reliable, helpful customer support, consumers will be more likely to make a purchase, as they won’t have to wait around for an answer to their question or concern.

2. Share Product Updates

Retailers can also use conversational commerce to share product updates with previous buyers. New models, software updates, and sales can all be shared via SMS or messaging services, keeping consumers informed about their options and encouraging them to buy or upgrade. This feature allows consumers to continue buying from the same retailer rather than seek out another store when they need a new product.

3. Communicate Current Promotions

Many consumers report that discounts affect their decision to complete an online purchase. Retailers can lean into this trend by using conversational commerce to communicate promotions. Send out text messages to consumers notifying them of sales and use a website chatbot to alert visitors when they arrive on the landing page. Retailers can even set it up so consumers at the checkout screen see a notification of applicable discounts when they start the checkout process.

4. Obtain Post-Survey Responses

Every retailer wants feedback from their consumers, especially if they’re looking to make a change. To ensure they get plenty of accurate responses, retailers can set up a conversational commerce platform to reach out to consumers and visitors for surveys. Retailers can send surveys for products after consumers have received them or set up a questionnaire on their website to ask consumers how they can improve.

5. Cross-Sell and Upsell

Upselling and cross-selling strategies help retailers earn more money by selling products to consumers at the checkout page. Retailers can set up a bot to suggest items commonly purchased with the products in a consumers’ cart or notify them of an upgrade option. Shops can also utilize messaging services to notify recent purchasers of accessories they may want for their new product.

6. Automate Cart Recovery

Abandoned carts are a common issue for retailers, but commercial commerce can help. In the event that a shopper abandons their cart, a retailer can set up their system to send out an automated message to the consumer. Retailers can also program commercial bots to offer a cart recovery option, so it’s even easier for the consumer to return to their potential purchase. Discounts can also be effective in this situation, so retailers may want to push discount offers to people who abandon their carts as an incentive to finish buying.

7. Offer Accurate Order Updates

Everyone knows the feeling of anticipation when they place an order. Stores can generate goodwill with their consumers by offering order updates to let them know when their order is processed and sent out. Delivery notifications are also a practical option. Retailers can set this feature up through text, messaging services, or email, so their consumers get the information they need using their preferred communication method.

8. Increase Customer Reviews

Reviews are a powerful marketing tool for consumers — 91% of younger consumers between the age of 18 to 34 rely on online reviews. Therefore, it’s essential to collect reviews for your products. Conversational commerce is a powerful way to automate reaching out for reviews. Set up automated messages after a shopper has received their product asking for quick reviews or surveys. Be sure to ask questions consumers can easily answer from a mobile phone, such as satisfaction ratings, photos of the product, shoutouts on social media, and short written or video reviews.

How to use conversational commerce depends highly on a retailer’s priorities and operations. Before crafting a solution, retailers should consider their store’s goals, identify opportunities for improvement, and look at their current contact options. Some conversational commerce methods will work better than others, so it’s essential for retailers to develop a solution that addresses their unique needs. Testing specific variables will ensure retailers get the most out of their conversational commerce solutions.

Now is the perfect time for retailers to enhance their online stores with conversational commerce. If you’re interested, Quiq is here to help you get started.

Explore conversational commerce for retail with Quiq

Explore Conversational Commerce for Retail With Quiq

Conversational commerce is an ideal way to address the changing needs of consumers in a post-pandemic world. But even beyond COVID-19, your retail business can benefit. This type of platform offers a personalized experience for consumers while improving productivity, supporting customer service, boosting retention, and increasing sales. There are many ways to implement conversational commerce in your retail store, and Quiq is here to help you every step of the way.

Quiq is a conversational consumer engagement platform that helps retailers deliver exceptional customer experiences. Our platform supports messaging across text messaging, web chat, social, Apple Business Chat, and Google’s Business Messages, so you can use as few or as many channels as you need to communicate with your consumer base. With easy integration, multiple bot options, and rich messaging experiences, Quiq has everything retailers need to incorporate conversational commerce into their stores.

Try Quiq for yourself today by scheduling a live demo.

How to Increase Sales While Managing the Holiday Rush

Are you tired of hearing it yet? The holiday season is just around the corner. This year poses a lot of challenges, from broken supply chains to slow shipping to stressed-out customers. But among the overwhelming support requests is a golden opportunity to send sales skyrocketing. Continue reading to learn how to increase sales while managing your customer service this holiday season.

Expect a holly, jolly holiday for sales.

Last year’s holiday shopping was hard to predict. But according to the National Retail Foundation, sales jumped 8.3% from 2019, surprising everyone. And e-commerce sales grew even more, with a 23.9% increase, despite pandemic-related difficulties.

This year, the retail landscape is even more uncertain, but the future’s still bright. Deloitte predicts a 5% year-over-year increase in holiday spending. And 40% of surveyed retail executives expect double-digit online growth.

And with more digital sales also comes more customer support requests. From “where’s my order” to “which size is right for me,” there’s no doubt your agents will be swamped with incoming communications.

Now’s the time to prepare your support team for the influx of business and set them up for success. Here are some ways you can give your team what they need to manage the higher service volume and capitalize on those conversations to increase sales.

1. Get ahead of low inventory and slow shipping.

While shoppers are returning to stores, there’s no shortage of pandemic-related problems. And customers are aware of the looming challenges. 74% of shoppers are concerned about stockouts, according to the Deloitte survey.

Since shoppers know to expect delays, that’ll likely be a deciding factor for which retailer they choose to shop with. Who has a track record of delivering on time? Who is the best at predicting inventory shortages?

And since you as the retailer can anticipate these concerns, you have an opportunity to provide top-tier customer service and attract more customers to your site.

What’ll it take to appease customers and increase sales? Full transparency. Be as upfront with your customers as possible with up-to-date inventory, proactive shipping notifications, and quick service should unexpected delays occur. 

Not only will proactive communication alleviate the strain on your customer service team, but it’ll leave customers feeling taken care of during a stressful time—making them more likely to shop with you in the future.

2. Tighten up customer service response times.

We probably don’t have to tell you response times matter. A customer call shouldn’t be put on hold for too long, an email needs a quick reply, and a text message requires almost an immediate response.

It’s just good customer service. It’s even the most critical factor customers use for determining what “good service” even means. A 2020 Zendesk survey reported that 61% of customers say quickly resolving their issue makes for a good customer experience. 

Just how fast of a response do customers expect?

Less than 5 minutes Less than 1 hour More than 1 hour
Phone 51% 34% 15%
Chat 28% 55% 17%
Text messaging 8% 44% 48%
Social media 7% 42% 51%
Email 6% 37% 57%

*Percentages are estimates

The scary part is that it only takes one bad experience for roughly half to switch to a competitor. This means tightening up your response times is vital to retail success.

3. Offer multiple ways for customers to contact you.

How many ways can your customers contact you? 

Looking back at the Zendesk report, 32% of customers said a good experience offers support through their preferred communication method. Yet, less than 30% of companies provide self-service, live chat, social messaging, in-app messaging, bots or peer-to-peer communities. 

This is a golden opportunity to stand out from the competition and offer communication channels that your customers prefer. 

While some retailers might be concerned that more communication channels will lead to a more complex contact center, a multi-channel engagement platform will help your team stay on top of conversations no matter where they occur. You can provide your customers with the multiple conversation channels they crave while simplifying management on the back end.

When you give your customers options, they’re often more likely to engage and continue shopping with you.

4. Enhance your team with chatbots.

Give your customer service team what they need most: TIME. The influx of sales goes hand in hand with an increase in customer service requests. If your team spends most of their time answering questions, they can’t provide the proactive service that makes customers want to come back for more.

Instead, bolster your team with chatbots. Use them to welcome customers and route requests to the correct department, ask for customer feedback, and more.

Switching seamlessly back and forth between chatbots and humans will manage your agents’ time while also giving your customers a complete experience.

5. Streamline omnichannel support.

Offering multiple communications channels is vital for excellent customer service, but the real magic comes when you use it in your sales process, too. 

Boost your holiday salesDeloitte predicts that 62% of shopping will be online this holiday season, while 33% will be in-store. This is actually a slight increase in in-store shopping over last year as shoppers begin to feel more comfortable in public spaces.

With customers spending more time in stores, they’ll be looking to embrace an omnichannel experience once again. 70% expect companies to collaborate on their behalf, according to the same Zendesk survey, which is often made more difficult with additional communications channels. 

Streamlining omnichannel support does two things:

  1. It saves your customer service team time since they have access to previous conversations, purchases, etc.
  2. And it can help customers make a purchasing decision and increase sales.

6. Accept payments right from messaging platforms.

Turn your busy customer contact center into a source of income. While agents answer questions and provide top-tier support, let them capitalize on a great customer experience by completing the sale right in a single messaging platform.

Integrating message-based payments into your messaging platforms is a great way to turn your already-busy contact center into a solid sales strategy. Help customers decide between sizes or answer product questions and then convert the sale right then and there. 

Not only will it show customers your team goes above and beyond for their convenience, but it will also help reduce abandoned shopping carts and increase sales.

Pair these tips with Quiq to increase your holiday sales.

Surviving the holidays in the retail world is always a balancing act. You need to provide excellent customer service amid the influx of last-minute shoppers and stressed-out customers. But you still need to focus on increasing sales and capitalize on the season.

Quiq is a conversational platform that helps you:

  • Connect with your customers on whichever platform they prefer, all from one streamlined interface.
  • Integrate communications with your CRM of choice, including Oracle, Zendesk, Salesforce, and more. 
  • Use context-aware AI to increase conversion rates, shorten wait times, and increase your average order value.

To learn how you can unlock the power of conversations and help increase sales during the holiday season, schedule a Quiq demo today.

Modernizing Customer Experience with Order Management Automation

eCommerce businesses are continuing to experience rapid growth in online orders in 2021. As a result, customer service teams have become overburdened with a rising volume in “where is my order?” (WISMO) queries and other order-related inquiries. At the same time, consumers have also grown increasingly frustrated with long wait times and the inconvenience of using traditional channels, like phone support, that have proven to fail in meeting shoppers’ expectations for immediate answers to simple, order-related questions.

To solve for both of these operational and customer experience oriented challenges, eCommerce brands must turn to automated, self-service solutions that successfully contain order-related inquiries while providing instantaneous order updates through the messaging and conversational channels that today’s customers prefer. 

Here are some of the most popular examples of automated experiences that today’s leading eCommerce brands leverage to provide instantaneous WISMO responses:

Automated Experience for Single Order Lookups

Automated, single-order lookups enable customers to immediately get order status information on their latest purchase through conversational channels like web chat, Facebook Messenger, SMS, and more in just 3 easy steps.

Customers simply need to start a conversation through their messaging channel of choice, enter their email to verify their account, and select “View Order”.

Automated Experience for Single Order Lookups by Snaps

Through an integration with popular shipping APIs like EasyPost, conversational automation solutions can instantly provide consumers with their most recent order status.

Proactive, Automated Order Status Updates

Today’s leading eCommerce brands also leverage proactive order notifications through conversational channels to keep their customers informed on the status of their order as it progresses towards their doorstep.

Proactive, Automated Order Status Updates by Snaps

In the example above, a customer opts in to automated Facebook Messenger order status notifications from their initial order confirmation email. After opting in, the customer is sent a series of push notifications through Facebook Messenger that informs them of each change in their order status.

Seamless Transitions to Customer Service Platforms

Of course, while conversational automation is highly effective at successfully containing the vast majority of order-related inquiries, not every inbound issue can be resolved through self-service channels. For the remaining inquiries that are too complex to be solved through self-service channels, automated experiences must also be able to sync with popular Customer Service Platforms like Zendesk, Oracle, and more to provide seamless transitions to live agents.

By connecting with popular CSPs, automated experiences can greatly drive agent efficiency by verifying account information before inbound tickets reach the agent and by supplying them summaries and key details from customers’ interactions with the conversational AI.

The Benefit of Providing Automated WISMO Responses

By providing customers with the option to get fast, self-service responses to WISMO inquiries, eCommerce brands like TechStyle Fashion Group have been able to successfully contain over 85% of inbound, order-related inquiries while simultaneously driving 95% customer satisfaction.

Is your brand experiencing an overwhelming volume of WISMO inquiries? Contact us today to learn how we can work with your customer service team to deploy a highly-intelligent automation solution in a matter of weeks.

5 Examples of Omnichannel Strategies That Will Boost Your Holiday Sales

This year, holiday shopping will be more digital than ever before. As consumers continue their shift to online channels and major retailers cancel in-person Black Friday sales, brands must quickly adapt through new omnichannel tactics that capitalize on surges in online traffic. Here are five strategies for doing just that.

5 Examples of Top Retailers with Brilliant Omni-Channel Strategies For Holidays

1. The Gift Recommendation Engine – Guided Selling

Digging through endless product listings, looking for the perfect gift, is a tedious and challenging process for holiday shoppers.

However, AI-powered assistants, used by leading brands like Nike Jordan and Lane Bryant, make it easy and frictionless for shoppers to find the precise gift for their recipient.

Deployed on your web site, in apps, or social channels like Facebook Messenger or SMS, these intelligent automated agents can quickly interact with users and recommend some great options:

Earlier this year, one of our customers, an Iconic jewelry brand did just that leading up to  another gift-heavy holiday: Valentine’s Day. In previous seasonal campaigns using Facebook Messenger, the retailer’s social managers and sales associates were swamped with the need to respond to customers’ inquiries.

To address this, the retailer deployed an AI-powered conversational shopping feature on Messenger that made personalized gift recommendations at scale. They quickly found that consumers were 4X more likely to make a purchase when they receive such guided sales assistance, compared to those who are unassisted.

By clicking on a social ad, shoppers were seamlessly guided to Facebook Messenger and offered a brief interactive quiz with gift recommendations based on who the gift recipient was, the gender and the price range, selected from a group of products chosen by the retailer for those profiles. The AI-powered assistants also handled free text queries, and customers could shop for products online at the retailer’s site or find the nearest physical store.

Tiffany's Guided Selling Experience

We’ve all had that experience when shopping for a friend, where you discover a product or item that you’d prefer to be on the receiving end of rather than giving. To address this, the iconic retailer also provided shoppers the option to send their friends and family links and images of on Messenger gifts that they want for themselves, accompanied by a small note: “Hint hint…This is at the top of my wish list.”

Drop a Hint Feature - Conversational AI

The results: Half of the quiz takers received a gift recommendation, leading to a 28x return-on-ad-spend (ROAS).

And, because AI-powered assistants love to work all the time, they also helped relieve customer service by efficiently handlings FAQs.

2. Gift FAQ & Customer Service Engine

Gifts purchased over the holidays are wrapped not only in ribbons and pretty paper but are enveloped in countless questions about sizes, style options, and prices. The season of joy is also the season of customer service, a stressful time for brands to handle the massive volume of inquiries.

In fact, 54% of customer service requests are taking place outside regular business hours. A vast number of those requests are happening on messaging platforms since those are channels that consumers already use.

That’s where conversational AI comes in this holiday season. Intelligent chatbots work diligently and accurately day and night, providing a front line for all queries from customers and passing on some queries to human agents only when they get too complex. This allows your team to focus on driving sales and new purchases instead of an endless queue of customer service inquiries.

Gift FAQ & Customer Service Engine

3. Digital Holiday Coupons

One of the best traits of intelligent chatbots is that they never get tired of pointing out the great holiday offers you have. This means that brands can reinvent promotions.

Regional grocery chain H-E-B did just that with their conversational AI. The grocery reinvented discount coupons by delivering them to more than 13 million customers weekly, personalized to the declared shopping needs of the recipients.

Automated notifications let customers browse the deals through button clicks or free text requests, even when they were standing in the store. The open rate for the notifications: 77%. Percentage of opened deals that were saved by users: 70%.

Digital Holiday Coupons

4. Convert Holiday Enthusiasm into Sales

Facebook is a platform designed for engagement and, during the holiday season, that engagement kicks into high gear with shoppers expressing their excitement through post-likes and comments.

This holiday season, Facebook is also offering a nice new gift for marketers. Facebook Messenger is expanding its capabilities to allow marketers to privately message shoppers who have left positive comments on their brands’ posts.

All of those shoppers commenting “this looks awesome!”, “I’ve got to get this for my sister!” can easily be turned from mere commentators into new customers. Combined with conversational AI, this opens up a whole new channel to convert positive comments into sales at scale. See this experience below:

Contact our conversational experts to learn more about this experience.

Contact our conversational experts to learn more about this experience.

5. Turn the Holiday Rush into Real Consumer Insights

The rush of consumers during the holidays is like a large polling sample that can provide tons of answers — if brands can only figure out the questions.

A rush of customers looking for this season’s hot gift item, for instance, could answer a number of questions that help uncover and define your target customer persona.

But the trick is efficiently capturing holiday shoppers’ information, at scale, and quickly turning it into insights.

Take California wine and spirits brand E. & J. Gallo Winery. To engage shoppers of their new Rosé product line, they developed “Rosé Your Way” AI-powered experience, which was introduced to consumers via targeted ads on Facebook Messenger, Facebook Newsfeeds, and Instagram.

Gallo Turning the Holiday Rush into Real Consumer Insights

The digital assistants guided consumers through a series of questions to recommend the ideal Gallo Rosé, followed by personalized content that included the best recipes to go with the recommended wine and finished with a customer satisfaction survey.

The results: 90% of the 25,000 engaged consumers completed the Rosé recommender. Gallo was able to determine the most popular Rosé flavor preferences, drinking styles, and occasions. When follow-up push notifications were sent based on those preferences, 60% of the messages were opened.

Unwrapping It All

With some planning – and the use of intelligent, automated, always-on conversational helpers – brands can soar through the holiday season by building a dedicated fan base attracted to personalized recommendations, customized deals, and prompt customer service attention.

And, when the rush is over, the brand can quickly assess what worked, what didn’t, and what was missing.

Ready to boost your sales and drive higher performance this holiday? See which strategy is the best fit for your organization. Learn more.

Three Ways Conversational AI Can Boost Your Customer Service During the Holidays

With the holidays quickly approaching, eCommerce brands are bracing for an unprecedented volume of online orders. With this influx of sales, however, brands can also expect a massive influx of unmanageable customer service inquiries.

In recent posts, we’ve talked about how conversational AI can help boost revenue during the holidays.

But, as we approach the year’s end, there are three big reasons why AI-powered agents can prove critical to your customer service during the holiday season.

1. Order Personalization

Automated customer service can not only handle a large volume of inquiries, but it can do so with a level of personalization that would be difficult for human agents to accommodate at scale.

Integrated with backend order systems, Quiq’s Conversational AI can immediately pull up the details shoppers are looking for when contacting customer service, such as when the order will arrive. As wonderful as the holiday season is, it’s a stressful time for consumers as well as for brands, and this kind of frictionless order info, at any time of day or night, can make the experience a pleasant one.

Holidays Customer service-1.png

Shoppers are also more likely to engage with personalized customer service responses. Our team at Quiq has found that consumers respond to personalized engagement with a clickthrough rate that is almost three times higher than otherwise.

2. Instant Reminders of the Season’s Hottest Products

It wouldn’t be a real holiday season unless some item was the star – the product that everyone wants, but that sells out too quickly.

Intelligent automation helps brands handle and manage this surge in demand. They can minimize the effort to find out if this year’s hot product is still available while providing the immediate option to subscribe to notifications about future product availability leading up to the holidays.

Holidays Customer service-2.png

Automated agents can also intelligently steer the demand toward similar or complementary products that are in stock, as an addition to, or a substitute for, that hot item.

Through these finely tuned efforts, automated agents can help keep consumers favorably engaged with your brand, turning the experience into a rewarding one even if the product they initially were searching for was out of stock.

3. Proactively Addressing Holiday Friction

Like any relationship, customer relationships require steady maintenance and the ability to respond instantly if needed.

Automated agents can help support that kind of consumer-wrangling, such as through the recently available ability to send messages to users on Facebook Messenger right from the comments about your brand’s posts on a Facebook page.

Holidays Customer service-3.png

These public comments, of course, are often occasions when customers ask questions or vent their frustrations, so they’re not always flattering. A quick response automatically sent through messaging can defuse an adverse situation and demonstrate to others that your brand is responsive, proactive, and ready to improve their shopping experience.

Conversational AI Makes Sense for the Holidays

AI-powered automated agents make sense for customer service – especially during the holidays when there is a surge of inquiries, orders, and complaints. These agents help brands maintain constant, 24-hour contact with customers and would-be customers over their preferred communication channels. Especially for younger consumers, those channels involve texting or messaging.

Intelligent automation can handle many of the mundane inquiries, handing off the communication to live agents for the more complex ones. They also provide a steady stream of high-level personalization, offer detailed analytics to showcase what responses worked best and provide a more difficult target for fraudsters than do human agents.

During the holiday season, brands must bring their varsity team to the field. AI-powered chatbots from Quiq know how to run the right plays, again and again, at any time of day or night. Learn more from our conversational consultants.

6 Ways to Drive More eCommerce Sales This Holiday Season

This year, holiday shopping will shift to eCommerce like never before. Once again, eCommerce sales are projected to grow this holiday season as consumers continue to transition to cyber-week sales.

To capitalize on this season’s unprecedented spike in online traffic and digital purchase behavior, top eCommerce brands are turning to automated shopping assistants that act as key revenue drivers and provide the sort of highly personalized assistance shoppers would traditionally receive from an in-store experience.

Deploying highly intelligent, automated shopping assistants during peak seasons has proven to increase sales conversion rates as high as 4X.

Here are 6 of the most common ways that leading eCommerce brands leverage automated assistants to drive more revenue during the holidays.

1. Proactive Product Suggestions

Highly-intelligent, automated assistants are capable of identifying shoppers with high purchase intent and proactively engaging them with upsell opportunities that increase Average Order Value (AOV). For example, when online shoppers add new products to their cart, automated onsite assistants can initiate a conversation and suggest additional products that are frequently purchased along with the items recently added to the cart.

1. Proactive Product Suggestions powered by Snaps

Through such highly-personalized engagements, in a conversational format, eCommerce brands can lift AOV while providing convenient suggestions that support their customers’ journeys.

2. Guided Gift Recommendations

For shoppers unsure of the right gift or product to buy this season, automated shopping assistants can provide personalized suggestions that guide shoppers to the perfect holiday present. Automated onsite shopping assistants can deliver unique gift suggestions through a series of quick questions that touch on the shopper’s price range as well as the gift recipient’s gender, age, and preferences.

2. Guided Gift Recommendations powered by Snaps

Automated gift recommendations have been proven to drive 4x higher sales conversion rates across shoppers who engage in guided sales assistance when compared to unassisted shoppers.

3. Simplify Repeat Purchases

eCommerce brands can also leverage onsite assistants to make the repeat purchase process as seamless and straightforward as possible. By developing persistent profiles based on each shopper’s personalized data and repeat site visits, intelligent shopping assistants can proactively initiate new conversations with returning customers looking to make a repeat purchase.

3. Simplify Repeat Purchases powered by Snaps

By leveraging personalization data to identify and engage repeat customers, eCommerce brands can significantly reduce friction and provide a premium shopping experience for their VIP and returning customers with high purchase intent.

4. Reengage Cart Abandons

As holiday shoppers contemplate a variety of different offers and products, it’s inevitable for some online purchase processes and shopping carts to be abandoned. By leveraging conversational re-engagements, however, high-intent shoppers can be reminded of products waiting in their carts and be offered special discounts that nudge them into returning and completing their purchase.

4. Reengage Cart Abandons powered by Snaps

By leveraging conversational automation to re-engage abandoned carts, eCommerce brands have been able to effectively recover up to 20% of incomplete purchases with reminders, promotions, and other automated messages.

5. Automate Responses to FAQs

Leading up to the holidays, shoppers have no shortage of questions and concerns related to online shopping, with “will my order arrive on time?” being one of the most frequent. By providing shoppers with automated, 24/7 support that can instantly answer some of their most frequently asked questions, brands can reduce online shopping friction and common barriers to purchase.

5. Automate Responses to FAQs powered by Snaps

Additionally, by leveraging conversational automation to resolve frequently asked questions in a way that is entirely self-service, customer service agents that would traditionally be required to answer these questions can focus on sales-oriented initiatives during the peak holiday season instead.

6. Convert Sales Receipts into Ongoing Channel for Commerce & Care

Lastly, after a purchase is completed, brands can leverage automated shopping assistants to send digital receipts to customers through conversational channels. By doing so, eCommerce brands can convert traditional receipts into a new avenue for ongoing care and commerce.

6. Convert Sales Receipts into Ongoing Channel for Commerce & Care

This post-purchase conversational connection gives shoppers access to an automated channel for order management or to even purchase additional, related products.

Reinventing Online Shopping for the Holiday’s Most Digital Season Ever

The 2020 holiday season will be eCommerce’s most significant moment to date. More than half of US shoppers have indicated that they will not return to shop with a brand following a poor customer experience, so it is vital for CX and eCommerce leaders to deliver the best possible experience during the season’s rush of new online shoppers.

Interested in deploying an enterprise onsite shopping assistant for your brand? Contact us today to learn how you can deploy a bespoke solution for your website and other conversational channels in a matter of weeks.

How to Leverage Direct Messages on Instagram to Engage and Convert Shoppers

For eCommerce brands, the long-awaited arrival of automated business messaging on one of today’s most widely used social platforms presents a massive opportunity to deliver seamless, end-to-end shopping experiences.

To help illustrate this opportunity, we’ve outlined several key points throughout customers’ online shopping journey for eCommerce brands to incorporate highly-personalized and automated conversations — entirely within Instagram.

1. Engagement: How To Start Conversations on Instagram

Perhaps one of the most important new features of Messenger’s API support for Instagram is that it enables customers and brands to initiate automated conversations through various entry points on the platform.

Customers can start conversations with eCommerce businesses through the brand’s Instagram profile page.

Message from Brand's Instagram profile

Instagram Stories have also been enhanced to provide an additional opportunity for brands to initiate automated 1:1 conversations with customers.

Message from Brand's Instagram Story

Customers browsing Instagram Shops can also start conversations with brands when they have product or shopping-related inquiries.

Message from Brand's Instagram Shop

eCommerce brands can now initiate 1:1 conversations with shoppers who leave questions and comments on brands’ posts.

Messenger API for Instagram-Blog-4-Reply.png

By integrating Messenger’s API Support for Instagram with highly-intelligent conversational automation, eCommerce brands can initiate conversations at each of these entry points and deliver highly-personalized messaging experiences — entirely at scale.

2. Consideration: Addressing Product Questions and Concerns

After driving shoppers to 1:1 conversations on Instagram, eCommerce brands can leverage conversational automation to provide answers and responses to customers’ frequently asked questions.

Quick FAQ Responses

By addressing customer inquiries directly within Instagram, eCommerce brands can further ensure a comprehensive online shopping experience within the platform.

3. Purchase: Helping Shoppers Find the Right Products

eCommerce businesses can also use automated conversations within Instagram to help drive shoppers to purchase.

Guided Shopping experience on Instagram

By leveraging Messenger’s API support for Instagram, brands can provide shoppers with guided shopping experiences that deliver highly-personalized product suggestions based on their conversational inputs.

4. Care: Seamless Order Management and Support

Lastly, after making a purchase, customers can also leverage conversations within Instagram to get post-purchase order updates and more.

Automated Order Management

Through this experience, shoppers can receive immediate responses to their current order status and more.

A Comprehensive Shopping Journey – Entirely Within Instagram

By combining highly-intelligent automation with Messenger’s new API support, eCommerce brands can now use Instagram to provide the sort of personalized conversational experiences that shoppers love.

Almost as importantly, by partnering with an enterprise conversational automation provider like Quiq, eCommerce brands can deliver this sort of highly-personalized, 1:1 experience at scale, which enables them to build deeper relationships with their customers in a way that is both manageable and efficient.

As a Facebook partner, Quiq has worked closely with the team at Instagram and several leading eCommerce brands to test and deploy conversational experiences that leverage Messenger’s new API support. To learn more about these experiences and how your brand can get started with conversational automation on Instagram, please reach out to us by setting up an inquiry.

Successful Strategies for Google’s Business Messages: Customer Service, Marketing, & Omnichannel

For retail organizations, Google’s Business Messages feature presents a powerful new opportunity for various teams to forge 1:1 connections with consumers, at scale, through the world’s largest search engine.

But which teams stand to gain the most, in both the short and long term, from this new messaging channel?

To answer this question, the Quiq team recently sat down with Katie Osberg at Google for a webinar discussion on what are some of the successful strategies and how different retail teams should use Google’s Business Messages.

Top Google’s Business Messages (GBM) Strategies for Customer Service, Marketing, & Omnichannel

Here are a few examples she cited of how customer care, marketing, and omnichannel teams can be successful with Google’s Business Messages:

Care & Service Teams: Instantly Answer Questions That Customers Are Searching For

In the short term, customer care teams will be the immediate beneficiaries of this technology. This is largely because Business Messages has the capability to resolve customer questions through Google Search, decrease inbound call volume, free up care agents for more sophisticated troubleshooting, and delight customers with fast and reliable answers/solutions.

One way customer service teams can leverage Business Messages is to provide answers to frequently asked questions, which could include questions related to store hours, COVID policies, and more.

Google's Business Messages FAQs

By responding to customers’ most common inquiries through Google, care and service teams can route a significant amount of potential volume to a channel that is entirely self-service.

Care teams at retail and eCommerce organizations can also use Google’s Business Messages for handling customers’ order management inquiries.

Google's Business Messages: Track My Order example

Through this channel, customers can get immediate updates on the status of their previously placed orders and even have the capability to set up order returns or exchanges.

Marketing Teams: Re-Engage Shoppers through an Innovative New Channel

It is projected that marketers will also become one of the largest beneficiaries of Google’s Business Messages. Since the channel is asynchronous and users can return to brand conversations and pick up right where they left off, marketers can use Business Messages as a new channel for re-engaging shoppers.

After a shopper has started a dialogue with a brand through Business Messages, Marketers can leverage the channel to reconnect.

Google's Business Messages: Marketing example of reengaging shoppers

By reconnecting with customers in this way, marketing teams are empowered to strengthen their brand’s identity and create meaningful relationships with their customers through an interactive channel.

Additionally, marketing teams can also leverage Business Messages to target past customers with highly-personalized product suggestions.

Google's Business Messages: Personalized Marketing example

By re-engaging shoppers in this fashion, marketers can support their customers’ journey and reinforce brand loyalty in a way that is both innovative and assistive.

See which strategies could work best for your business. Learn More

Support Omnichannel Customer Experiences with Messaging on Google Search

Retail operations, both in-store and online, have been anything but normal in 2020 and the demand for seamless omnichannel customer experiences has increased drastically. Shoppers’ points of friction have included standing in line outside of a store, the inability to find in-stock products, and more.

To support shoppers searching on Google for information related to an in-store visit, CX and omnichannel teams can leverage Business Messages to enhance the experience and seamlessly blend both online and offline touchpoints.

For example, CX teams can leverage Business Messages to digitally facilitate in-person appointments — from the initial booking to check-in, and more.

Google's Business Messages: Schedule an Appointment example

By extending this automated, self-serve functionality to Google Search, CX teams can ensure a much wider adoption of an omnichannel experience that better suits the needs of today’s modern shopper.

With Google Business Messages retailers brands can also provide shoppers with real-time updates on product availability.

Google's Business Messages example: real-time updates on product availability

By extending product availability information to Business Messages, CX and omnichannel teams can improve customer satisfaction by properly setting shoppers’ expectations for their upcoming in-store experiences.

Getting Started with Google’s Business Messages

Ultimately, Google’s Business Messages offers massive potential across multiple teams within the retail enterprise. To learn more about this exciting new messaging channel, check out our on-demand recording of a recent webinar discussion we had with Google on key tactics and best practices for getting started with Business Messages.

Of course, you can also contact us for a free consultation and a personalized demonstration of how your team can incorporate Google’s Business Messages.

Getting Started with Google’s Business Messages

Ultimately, Google’s Business Messages offers massive potential across multiple teams within the retail enterprise. To learn more about this exciting new messaging channel, check out “What You Need to Know About Business Messaging.”

Of course, you can also contact us for a free consultation and a personalized demonstration of how your team can incorporate Google’s Business Messages.

Quiq achieves 100% 10DLC compliance

Quiq is proud to announce that all of our customers are now 10DLC compliant. Over the past several months, the Quiq team has worked with each of our clients to register their brands and campaigns to meet the October 1, 2021 Campaign Registry deadline.

By achieving 10DLC compliance we’re ensuring that our clients’ messages avoid any filtering or deliverability penalties that will be imposed on non-registered numbers. Compliance also ensures our clients will receive a higher throughput and deliverability rate.

If you’re unfamiliar with 10DLC, or looking to get more information about it, we recommend you download “The Complete Guide to Messaging With 10DLC.” This comprehensive guide will help you navigate the ins and outs of 10DLC and provide you with a step-by-step outline to ensure compliance. We also invite you to reach out to us and speak directly to one of our conversational experts.

Why is Quiq committed to 10DLC compliance?

The Quiq team has always made it a priority to ensure that the ten-digit long codes used by clients to send and receive messages adhere to the latest regulations and standards. 10DLC is the new standard for sending business SMS through Application-to-Person (A2P) messaging and making sure that our clients are 10DLC compliant validates our continued commitment.

Earlier this year, Quiq joined The Campaign Registry, the reputation authority that governs the 10DLC process, and incorporated the registration process into Quiq’s messaging platform. With this new process, brands can register their numbers and inform The Campaign Registry of the kinds of messages that will be sent. The 10DLC verification process validates the sender and message before the text is transmitted to the end consumer. The new system was created to protect the SMS channel from spam, junk, and fraudulent activity.

The objective of 10DLC is to register, verify, and track organizations and their messaging campaigns to create a higher-quality messaging experience. And that’s a goal we can get behind. We see it as a win for the brands we serve, their customers, and all stakeholders who want to ensure the continued scale, stability, and deliverability of those messages.

Why is 10DLC compliance important?

SMS is an excellent way to effectively turn potential customers into sales, and Quiq simplifies this process by combining human agents with artificial intelligence and automation.

However, due to changes in FCC rules and carrier requirements, many legitimate business text messages will soon be blocked before they reach the customer. Starting October 1, 2021 text messages that don’t comply with new regulations may be labeled spam and never reach the intended consumer.

Using The Campaign Registry’s verification process, Quiq establishes a campaign ID to validate the sender’s use case before texts are sent over the network. Mobile Operators will then confirm that these IDs are legitimate through their SMS reporting. These steps give companies confidence that their messages are being received by the intended recipients.

How does this affect Quiq clients?

Now that all of our clients are 10DLC compliant, they can use their sanctioned ten-digit long codes for business SMS and expect higher throughput and deliverability. 10DLC will provide transparency and ensure that brands are in complete control over their registrars, domain names, and messaging campaigns.

Since security and trust are a core part of what we do here at Quiq, we’re optimistic that the 10DLC system will keep business messaging secure and compliant. Not only will consumers see a decrease in the number of spam messages, businesses will see an even greater return on messaging with more messages being sent to and received by their target audience.

If you need help registering your brand to be 10DLC compliant, please contact us. We are experts at optimizing messaging across multiple channels and can help you navigate the constantly evolving FCC regulations and carrier requirements.

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Counterintuitive Commerce – Why Premium Support Experiences are the Future of eCommerce

In 2020, eCommerce grew by a staggering 44% as shopping experiences typically associated with in-store visits rapidly migrated to digital marketplaces.

While this shift in purchasing behavior has several implications for the retail industry, two changes stand out as particularly significant for eCommerce leaders:

  1. An increasingly digital retail market levels the playing field for brands – With greater access to a wider array of brands online, consumers’ purchasing decisions have become heavily dependent on the quality of their customer experience in addition to traditional considerations like price and product.
  2. eCommerce’s rise has also led to an increase in customer care needs – As more purchases take place online, brands are also facing a sharp escalation in customer care inquiries related to order management and more.

As a result of these two changes, brands’ ability to succeed online and drive more revenue has become increasingly reliant on their capability to deliver premium customer service experiences.

When it comes to poor support experiences, whether care agents are unavailable or self-service chat is not provided, consumers will simply take their business elsewhere, with 89% of consumers trying out competitors after a poor customer experience.

Introducing Counterintuitive Commerce

To unlock more online growth & conversions, modern eCommerce and CX leaders must provide their customers with premium support experiences.

Why? Because care’s impact is no longer isolated to metrics like deflection or CSAT. Today, care IS commerce and, through natural automation, provides online retailers with unexpected opportunities to drive more revenue.

Counterintuitive commerce is the practice of driving incremental revenue through initiatives and tactics traditionally associated with customer care and experience rather than sales and commerce.

Here are 3 examples of how Counterintuitive Commerce can provide customers with enhanced care experiences while simultaneously boosting a company’s bottom line.

1. Reroute Off-Hour Care Inquiries to Self-Service Messaging To Drive Conversions

The lack of instantaneous support during off-hours presents a massive opportunity for improving retailers’ online shopping experiences while increasing conversion rates.

Snaps customer data has revealed that over 47% of online purchases are made during off-hours, which means that a significant volume of online shoppers is left hanging for hours (or days) without receiving answers to their purchase-related inquiries.

To make life easier for online shoppers and increase purchases during off-hours, online retailers can reroute inbound customer support from traditional channels, like email, to self-service messaging that provides immediate support at any time of day.

When shoppers click to initiate email-based customer support, online retailers can trigger an AI-powered assistant to take notice and immediately start a chat engagement.

Through a simple, conversational message like “Hey, I noticed you have a question. While it may take our team a few hours to get back to you, I can provide an immediate answer to your question,” brands can easily transition shoppers to a self-service automated chat, provide quick 24/7 answers to their questions, and increase conversion rates and revenue during off-hours.

2. Transform Order-Status Notifications Into a New Marketing Channel

Automated shipping and order-status notifications present online retailers with one of the most valuable tools for improving customer experience while establishing a new channel for driving revenue.

According to Snaps proprietary customer data, over 60% of customers’ inbound support inquiries are related to order-status questions. By automating order notifications, online retailers can systematically resolve shoppers’ most common need for support and free up agents to help sell more and reduce the total number of inbound tickets.

Additionally, by enabling customers to subscribe to post-purchase updates, eCommerce brands establish a valuable channel to upsell. Through natural automation, digital assistants can recommend additional products to customers based on their purchase history or preferences and encourage additional purchases.

Snaps’ customer data has revealed that post-purchase notifications like these have yielded open rates as high as 98% while driving 30% of shoppers to make an additional purchase within 28 days.

3. Automate Responses to Pre-Purchase Inquiries

Providing shoppers with automatic, instantaneous responses to purchase-related inquiries is another highly effective tactic for improving customer experience while simultaneously increasing onsite conversions.

Through automated, 24/7 support, online retailers can reduce friction and purchase barriers. Simultaneously, customer service agents that would traditionally be required to answer these questions can focus on sales-oriented initiatives instead.

Premium Support Experiences Drive Unexpected Revenue-Driving Opportunities

Ultimately, eCommerce’s sharp rise and evolution over the past several months has blended the worlds of care and commerce. Shoppers’ ability to make an online purchase is now heavily dependent on their ability to get immediate, 24/7 support. Online retailers that do not support these experiences will lose out to those that do.

Interested in learning more about how natural automation can improve your customer experience and drive more conversions? Contact us today.

8 Tips to Improve Customer Retention

The cost of losing one customer is equivalent to seven times the resources used to convert them. It’s imperative to not let it happen by implementing an effective customer retention strategy to improve customer retention..

Customer retention is the key to improving your business’ profitability. In some cases, increasing customer retention by 5% could lead to an increase in profit of as much as 95%. Do the math and then read on to find out some customer retention strategies that can help your business.

Customer retention can be one of the hardest things for companies to do. There are many reasons why companies lose customers, but the fact remains that most companies aren’t doing much to retain their customers. In this blog we will look at why it’s important to improve customer retention and why every company needs to start focusing on this important issue.

What Is Customer Retention?

No matter what your business or industry is, whether you’re just starting out or already running a thriving company, you need to learn about customer retention. A lot of businesses get it wrong and end up spending huge amounts of time and money trying to bring in new customers, but forget about the ones they already have.

Customer retention is the process of attracting repeat customers and keeping them from switching to a competitor. It is an important aspect of business strategy, and it can help businesses gain a competitive advantage.

The goal of customer retention is to maintain the company’s current customer base and increase loyalty by providing better service or more benefits. There are various methods that businesses use to retain customers, including loyalty programs, discounts, freebies, special offers, and targeted marketing campaigns.

Why Is Customer Retention Important?

Customer retention is important because 68% of sales come from existing customers. Loyal customers are more likely to share their experience with the company and they are also more likely to purchase from the company again in the future.

These customers are not only your customer’s best cheerleaders but they help you to better understand your brand. They will provide you with honest feedback about your product and customer service that will allow you to make the necessary adjustments to your business to make it more successful.

Customer retention is important because:

  • Loyal customers who continue to support your brand will increase your profits
  • They will also recommend your brand and give positive reviews to their family and friends
  • Returning customers tend to spend more on your brand over time
  • You get a greater return on your investment (ROI) from repeat customers than trying to acquire a first-time customer

It is important for companies to work on building loyalty because of these reasons. Even though only 12% to 15% of customers are loyal to a single retailer, they represent between 55% to 70% of the retailer’s sales. It is also good for them because loyalty can lead to a higher retention rate. This retention rate, in turn, leads to a higher profit margin which will mean a better bottom line for the company.

Calculating Customer Retention

Want to know exactly what your customer retention rate (CRR) is? You can calculate the percentage of customers you have retained over a period of time.

Customer retention is the return on investment in customer acquisition. It’s a measure of how many customers are retained in the course of one year, with a view to estimating the long-term profitability of marketing and sales efforts.

The cost per acquisition (CPA) is an economic term used to measure the cost incurred by a company, per new customer acquired. In other words, it’s the cost for a company to acquire one new customer who becomes loyal to their brand, so they keep buying from them.

In order for us to calculate our retention rate, we need to divide our number of loyal customers by our total number of active customers over that same time period.

Customer Retention Strategies

Businesses often lose customers due to poor customer service. If you don’t retain your customers, your business will lose a lot of money. Providing great customer service is just one of many customer retention tips. Here are a few more that will help you to build stronger relationships with your customers.

1. Good Values Build Good Relationships

Your company’s values are important to you. Your business processes, the quality of your products, and how you treat your customers should be a reflection of them. These things should make your values evident to your customers, but it doesn’t hurt to remind them occasionally.

Customers who stated they had a relationship with a brand indicated it was due to shared values. Brands that mirror customers’ beliefs while enhancing their lifestyles will naturally attract them. It’s known as implicit egotism.

Theoretically, people are unconsciously biased towards things they relate to or associate directly with themselves. It’s something all businesses should be aware of.

Let your customers know what you stand for and incorporate it into your brand. Having common values with your customers makes it easier to retain them.

2. Trust Is the Basis for Good Relationships

Creating a brand that is easily relatable is the first step to building trust with your customers. Having something in common fosters trust and this is the key to building a strong relationship and by extension, a successful business.

Use your customer data to find out more about your customers’ needs and provide them with a positive experience. Let it also guide you on the best way to communicate with them so that you earn their trust. When customers trust you, you don’t have to spend time convincing them to buy your product.

Research has shown that 82% of customers will continue using your brand if they trust it and 83% of customers who trust your brand, will recommend it to others. Conversely, bad service and distrust will result in them not only exercising their purchasing power elsewhere, but they will also spread the word that you’re not trustworthy.

The goal is to build a long-lasting, positive relationship with your customer.

3. Build Customer Expectations and Over Deliver Every Time

Seventy-six percent of customers feel that companies should understand their needs and expectations. A good price and quality are no longer enough. Today’s consumers expect much more because they have more choices and can purchase elsewhere if you don’t meet their needs.

There’s now an expectation of personalized and proactive service and interactions as well as a seamless experience across all your channels. The best way to meet their expectations is to know what your customers want. Get their feedback through surveys and reviews and analyze them to see areas that need improvement.

Be honest. If you know you can’t deliver, don’t over-promise. Otherwise, keep your promise. You lose your customers’ trust if you don’t. If you can’t keep your promise, apologize and find ways to compensate your customers.

Build a sustainable business by retaining your customers through customer satisfaction. Keep your customers returning for more by going above and beyond for them.

4. Let Customer Data Work for You

As mentioned, customer data can help to determine your customers’ needs. If you know some of your customers’ pain points, include them in surveys. Use feedback and reviews to provide solutions for your customers’ problems.

Surveys are an effective way to build and encourage customer engagement. It shows your customers that you value their opinion and that you care, and are willing to do whatever it takes to satisfy them. Some of the benefits of conducting customer surveys include:

  • They’re a great way to interact with your customers
  • Customers tend to give honest and open feedback
  • These customers will be more likely to give feedback in the future if they see changes implemented based on prior concerns
  • Survey feedback can result in positive adjustments to your products, services, or processes
  • It can allow you to ensure you’re pursuing the right targeting strategy or assist in re-strategizing your email campaigns

Surveys can help you to identify dissatisfied customers before they decide to no longer support your company. You can create campaigns or offers to help to win them back. You can also treat customer complaints that come through other feedback channels, in a similar manner.

These customers can provide you with information about product defects or deficiencies in your service. It’s a great opportunity to improve these and it’s another way to learn your customers’ expectations. Seventy percent of customers who complain will purchase your product again if their complaints are favorably resolved.

5. There’s Always Room for Improvement

Always strive to provide exceptional customer service. Customers love great offers and discounts, but they love it when you help solve their problems even more.

You can ensure this by providing support to your customers by using the channels that make the most sense for your customers. Exceptional customer service should be present at all levels across your organization, so that no matter who your customer interacts with, they will get the same amazing service.

This includes ensuring all employees understand the key objective is to resolve customer issues promptly. Invest the time and money to optimize your customer service experience and remember that engagement is part of good customer service.

6. Keep Customers in the Loop

You should continuously educate customers by providing up-to-date information about your products and services. This should include sharing product milestones so that your customers know you strive for continuous improvement.

Communicate regularly using various channels including webchats, social media, and text messaging. Personalize your content so they target your various customer segments.

7. Determine Customer Lifetime Value

A key performance indicator (KPI) of customer retention is Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). It shows your customers’ worth over a period of time. It helps determine the value each customer brings to your business, otherwise known as customer’s equity.

Returning customers add more value based on the resources you’ve expended to acquire them. They’re usually your VIP customers and their loyalty will encourage them to tell others about your products and services.

CLV can help you determine what you should spend to engage your customers and can also help to predict revenue.

8. Reward Loyalty

Thoughtful gestures go a long way. In addition to discounts and offers, think of things that will make your customers feel good about using your product. A thank you note or any positive acknowledgment can keep your customers coming back.

Treat your customers well and they will respond accordingly. But nothing works better than exceptional customer service.

Want to know exactly what your customer retention rate (CRR) is? You can calculate the percentage of customers you have retained over a period of time.

Customer retention is the return on investment in customer acquisition. It’s a measure of how many customers are retained in the course of one year, with a view to estimating the long-term profitability of marketing and sales efforts.

The cost per acquisition (CPA) is an economic term used to measure the cost incurred by a company, per new customer acquired. In other words, it’s the cost for a company to acquire one new customer who becomes loyal to their brand, so they keep buying from them.

In order for us to calculate our retention rate, we need to divide our number of loyal customers by our total number of active customers over that same time period.

Building Customer Relationships

Customers are the foundation of any business. Without them, a business will not be successful. It is important that after using resources to acquire customers that you invest in customer retention. You can do this by using customer relationship-building strategies.

Building long-lasting customer relationships take time. One of the best ways to do this is through customer engagement. Quiq’s Conversational Engagement Platform will impress your customers during every interaction they have with your business.

Don’t miss out. Find out how our clients are increasing their conversions and retaining customers. Our platform is easy to use. Try it for yourself!

How To Choose The Right Digital Customer Service Channel For Your Business

Over the past year, businesses have been forced to rapidly adapt to consumers’ sudden shift in purchasing behavior. Customer service teams, in particular, have faced significant change with nearly half of customer support leaders experiencing a sudden lift in inbound customer service volume and issues due to the pandemic (Gartner). 

This abrupt spike in customer support needs has strained customer service teams and yielded intolerable wait times for customers looking to reach representatives through traditional channels like phone and email. Recent surveys from NBC and studies from Harvard Business Review illustrate that 75% of consumers feel that customer service has gotten worse amidst the pandemic and that call center hold times have increased by as much as 35%.

The Strategic Opportunity in Digital Customer Service

While the increased demand for customer support has produced many business challenges, it also has presented an opportunity for brands to better connect with customers, provide better experiences, and foster stronger relationships through the channels that they prefer — messaging apps.

Today, when approaching businesses for support, customers are accelerating their shift from phone and email to third-party messaging channels including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Apple Messages for Business, and more. In fact, Facebook recently reported that 64% of consumers prefer to message a business instead of communicating through call centers or email.

This rapid shift is welcomed news for businesses looking to alleviate the strain on their customer support teams while simultaneously providing customers with faster customer support. That’s because, when paired with highly-intelligent conversational automation platforms, messaging channels are empowered to deliver instantaneous, always-on self-service experiences that modern consumers prefer.

However, with a growing number of messaging services out there, it can be difficult for customer service leaders to figure out where to get started, identify which channels will be most effective, and deploy customer service experiences at scale.

To help brands navigate the messaging space, we’ve outlined some important factors to consider when choosing the right messaging channel as well as key benefits of each of the most popular messaging services. Let’s dive in.

Evaluate existing customer service channels

First, before customer service leaders begin selecting which messaging services will best meet their needs, it’s important for them to evaluate the performance of any of their existing digital channels and understand how they are currently being used. 

Brands should take inventory of each of their existing contact points and understand the kind of customer inquiries most often received on each channel. In addition to the channels that customers currently use most, it is also vital for teams to understand the types of customer support needs that shoppers have when reaching out to customer service. For example, a lot of retail brands will receive phone calls from customers simply wanting to know “Where’s my order?” 

Some brands may find that the bulk of inbound inquiries received are related to new products and product discovery. it will be important for them to consider messaging channels that can support rich data snippets like product card carousels. These rich product presentations provide an enhanced messaging experience and can provide lots of information in a relative tight space.

Lastly, after analyzing the intent of support requests, customer service leaders should consider where the majority of inbound inquiries fall within the customer journey. Are the bulk of customers contacting support for pre-purchase related questions? Or maybe the majority of inquiries reflect customers who have order management related needs? Determining where inbound inquiries are coming from within the buying journey can be extremely helpful when selecting the right messaging channels for support.

By understanding where customers are and what they are asking when contacting support, customer service leaders can make far more strategic choices when expanding into new messaging channels.

Unique customer support benefits of 4 different messaging channels

When selecting new digital customer service channels, brands are faced with a dizzying amount of factors to consider. Each third-party messaging service has its own set of features and functionality, rules that brands must follow, and customer entry points.

To help clarify this fragmented marketplace, Forrester recently published a report entitled Use Popular Third-Party Messaging Platforms For Customer Service, which illustrates the unique benefits of the four most widely used messaging channels in the US for customer service — Apple Messages for Business, Google’s Business Messages, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp. We’ve included a summary of the report’s findings on each of these channels below.

Apple Messages for Business

While Apple Messages for Business cannot boast the volume of business partners that Facebook’s Messenger platform has, Forrester’s report categorizes it as one of the fastest growing customer service channels.

Whether through Apple Maps, Siri, Safari, or an iOS app, Apple Messages for Business has no shortage of potential entry points and use cases. As such, it has broad appeal and application despite being confined within the Apple ecosystem.

Like most of the other major messaging platforms, Apple Messages for Business requires brands to provide human agents in the instance a customer chooses to escalate an inquiry from automated, self-serve support.

However, Apple Messages for Business differentiates itself through transactions, authentication, and privacy. For brands looking to better support shoppers pre-purchase related inquiries, Apple Messages for Business enables brands to drive revenue through product discovery and appointment scheduling capabilities.

In the example above, Men’s Wearhouse leverages Apple Messages for Business to convert general inquiries and product-related questions into website sales and scheduled appointments.

Furthermore, through an integration with Apple Pay, Apple Messages for Business is able to process transactions and provide a fully comprehensive, end-to-end purchasing experience entirely within a chat. With its unique capability to process transactions, Apple Messages for Business is a valuable channel for brands that are looking to better support their top-of-funnel customers and convert inbound inquiries into revenue.

Google’s Business Messages

Google’s Business Messages was the last significant player to enter the world of digital customer service, but it arrives built-in to services that have massive reach and broad appeal — Google Search and Google Maps.

Providing that a business has registered with Google and enabled Business Messages, customers who search for that business on Google can initiate a conversation through a chat icon that appears in Maps or Search results.

Google’s Business Messages differentiates itself through the massive reach of these entry points, including the world’s largest search engine.

For brands looking to resolve a high volume of general inquiries through automated messaging, Google’s Business Messages provides a powerful opportunity to redirect customers searching for their business to a self-service channel.

Similar to Apple Messages for Business, Google’s Business Messages requires human agents to serve as backups in case a customer support inquiry is too complex for automation and requires to be escalated. Google’s Business Messages actually takes it one step further by requiring businesses to respond to users within a 24 hour time period.

Messenger

Facebook’s Messenger service was opened up to businesses in 2016 and, since then, it has surged in growth and adoption. Most recently, Facebook extended its Messenger’s API to support automated business messaging on Instagram, further extending its reach into one of today’s most popular social networks.

With multiple potential entry points for customers, across both Facebook and Instagram, Messenger provides dozens of use cases for customers to initiate conversations to seek customer support. Customers can initiate Messenger conversations with business through their profile pages, Facebook/Instagram shops, story posts, and even from ads.

Through these assorted entry points, Messenger is broadly applicable for supporting customers at just about any stage of their customer journey.

What truly sets Messenger apart from other Messaging platforms, however, is its enhanced capability to proactively address customer support needs. Using sponsored messages, brands can use Messenger to send customers proactive notifications including reminders, information on recently purchased items, and more.

When paired with an automated messaging platform, support teams can even use Messenger to automatically respond to customers’ comments on their brand’s Facebook or Instagram posts and proactively address their needs.

WhatsApp

Since launching on iPhones and Android devices in 2018, WhatsApp has extended its reach through its dedication to customer service over marketing. It’s growth has led to WhatsApp possessing, of all the third-party messaging services, the largest audience of consumers around the globe. Forrester’s report states that 2 billion consumers use WhatsApp including 400 million users in India and 120 million in Brazil.

Like Apple Messages for Business and Google’s Business Messages, the majority of customer service interactions that take place on WhatsApp are initiated by the consumer from various entry points including the business’s website, Facebook Page, or a unique link. However, as a member of Facebook’s suite of messaging products, WhatsApp can leverage Facebook and Instagram ads that include click-to-chat buttons in order to draw more users into branded conversations.

Where WhatsApp sets itself apart from the other predominant messaging apps is in IVR and call deflection. WhatsApp ranks only behind SMS in terms of inbound support calls that are redirected to messaging.

Providing Consistent Customer Experiences Across Digital Channels

Ultimately, while each of these messaging services are uniquely positioned to address specific customer service needs, managing new digital customer service channels is still a complicated process with numerous factors, features, and rules to consider.

In need of more detailed analysis of each channel? Download the full Forrester’s report, Third-Party Messaging Platforms For Customer Service, for a deeper dive into each messaging channel’s capabilities, use cases, and challenges.