How to Rewire Omnichannel Service with Messaging

Omnichannel customer service is changing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The customer service stakes are higher than ever.

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

And omnichannel is an expectation—not a benefit.

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

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

How is messaging changing the omnichannel strategy?

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

1. Customers are eager for help.

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

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

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

The benefits of omnichannel customer service.

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

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

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

Meet your customers everywhere.

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

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

Deliver a flawless customer experience.

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

Increase selling opportunities.

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

Collect more relevant customer information.

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

How to improve your omnichannel strategy.

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

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

Be omnichannel, not just multi-channel.

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

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

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

Don’t pick channels over service.

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

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

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

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

Pick the right channels for your customers.

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

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

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

Ensure customer service agents have information at their fingertips.

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

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

Include self-service in your omnichannel strategy.

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

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

Lean into omnichannel marketing.

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

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

Quiq: Your omnichannel solution.

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

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

Omni-Channel Customer Service

Omni-Channel Service: The Customer-Driven Path Forward

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

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

Focus on What You Can Control

Tip 1: Present a Unified Front

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

Tip 2: Quality First, More Channels Second

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

Tip 3: Pick the Right Channels

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

Tip 4: Quality Service Over Quantity

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

Tip 5: Try New Channels

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

Summary

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

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.

Best Practices for Implementing Messaging for Customer Service

It has been established that messaging is the highest rated contact method for customer satisfaction compared to all other communication channels. (eWeek).  However, like other service channels, messaging comes with a unique set of considerations when implementing it into your customer service centers.  This is why it is important to do a little prep work to help ensure successful adoption.  Three things to consider for a smooth implementation:

  1. Business Metrics and Goals
  2. Staffing and Training  
  3. Customer Adoption

Business Messaging Best Practices

Since most consumers communicate via phone and text, industry leaders are finding new ways to adapt by using high-quality messaging apps and software. Business messaging is a quick and convenient way to interact with customers in today’s competitive market. These four messaging best practices can help businesses transition smoothly to text communication.

1. Business Metrics and Goals

Aligning your goals for the messaging channel with your business objectives is the first step.  Make sure that there is alignment with all stakeholders.  Everyone should know why the company is offering messaging and the intended outcomes.  The best way to do this is to establish goals and baseline metrics from the beginning.  Some key goals and metrics would include:

Business Metric:  Cost Reduction

  • Goal 1: Offload phone calls to messaging channel
  • Goal 2: Increase agent productivity
  • Metrics: Monthly calls received, monthly calls presented to the agent, cost per contact per channel, # of inquiries per channel

Once the messaging channel is opened up to your customers, there will be a progressive transition from phone calls to messaging, typically in the 10-20% range to start, growing over time. Not only that, agents that work the messaging channel will be able to handle multiple conversations at once versus phone calls that must be 1-1. We have found, depending on the complexity of the inquiries, agents can handle approximately 10 simultaneous conversations. With the ability to include images and videos over messaging, agents can understand and solve problems faster. This increased agent productivity and efficiency, coupled with the shift from phone to messaging, results in significant cost savings for your organization.

Business Metric: Employee Productivity

  • Goal 3: Improve time to resolution
  • Metrics: Number incidents handled by day by agent, first contact resolution rate, time to first response

The pure nature of messaging can allow for faster interactions. They may not always be shorter per se, due to the pace the consumer engages, however the time it takes for the agent will likely be shorter than a phone call. Conversations are direct and to the point.  Because agents can easily manage multiple, simultaneous conversations, they are more productive than if they have to handle phone calls or emails. With the addition of images/video agents can understand and solve problems faster. Likewise, agents can send multi-media back to the customer allowing them to see the solution

Business Metric: Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

  • Goal 4: Increase CSAT by 5 points
  • Metrics: Customer satisfaction survey results, employee satisfaction results, resolution rate

The consumer is one of the most important factors for business representatives to consider when they implement new marketing or communication strategies. Research suggests that about 96% of Americans own a mobile phone, which means mobile can be a reliable way to stay in touch with customers. What matters most is that those consumers are satisfied after each purchase. A business can determine customer satisfaction by using the results of a CSAT score. 

Retailers can use messaging apps and unified communications solutions to evaluate customer value perception. This may include taking surveys and performing check-ins with consumers post-purchase. It’s possible to build up a CSAT score and find areas of improvement by collecting feedback from customers about push notifications and instant messages. With access to this essential data, business leaders can work toward solutions that allow them to provide the best possible customer experience. A retailer leader can also measure CSAT scores by surveying the satisfaction of service agents.

2. Staffing and Training

Staffing for a new channel like messaging is not as daunting as it seems. A great start is to gauge your current call volume. You can generally expect 10-20% of customers will select messaging over making a phone call once you make it known that it is available.  One popular option is to assign a set of agents to a single “live” channel, such as messaging, and then supplement their time with email. Some other best practices include:

  • Messaging Etiquette:  If you are using phone agents to now be messaging agents, be sure to test their writing skills. Depending on the demographics of your customer base, agents may need to adjust their voice to be more or less formal.  Additionally, their style of writing may require proper language use, which includes spelling and grammar, or they may need to freshen up on their texting shortcuts. Not only that, it may be wise to also consider a policy for emoji usage. The decision should be driven by the desired voice and persona of your brand.
  • Staff Training: There is not much training required at all for agents to step in and handle the incoming messages, particularly if you select a messaging solution that seamless integrates into your existing CRM solution. We all text multiple times a day and this is no different. Something to focus on instead are any pre-built messages that can be sent and having a small library of those available to leverage. For example, a standard greeting, response to an order status inquiry can be written ahead of time as pre-built snippets. Agents can then use shortcuts to quickly respond to common questions.
  • Access to other applications – Generally you will have the choice to integrate messaging into the primary application agents use or add messaging as a separate channel. Either way, be sure to take advantage of the messaging solution’s user interface. Quickly integrating one or more applications will save agents invaluable steps and time. For example, if agents need to access an order system or billing system or a knowledge base for nearly every interaction, make sure those are integrated into the messaging interface to eliminate clicks and save time.

3. Ensure Customer Adoption With Unified Communications

Finally, and most importantly, you need to let your customers know that messaging is now available. Some great ways to start are:

Inbound Communications

  • Phone
    • Inform customers as they are actively engaging with your organization
    • It is easy to let customers know they can now text or message your customer service team while they are on hold or as an intro message before routing them to the appropriate queue.
    • Even better, you can give customers the option, while they are in the IVR, to initiate a text instead to resolve their inquiry.
  • Website/In-Apps
    • Place the offer to message first and foremost on your mobile site, not just on the contact page.
    • Add the text button to both the Contact Us and Customer Service areas of your website.
    • On the main website, update any references to your phone number to include “Call or Text”.
  • Social Channels
    • You are likely ahead of your competition when it comes to adopting messaging, so promote this new offering on your social channels
    • Turn on Facebook Messenger and let customers know they can reach you with questions

Outbound Communications

  • SMS: The obvious first step is to determine if you would like to proactively communicate via SMS with your customers in addition to offering messaging as a support channel. If so, this is a fantastic opportunity to shift from marketing blasts to conversations with your customers.
  • Email: Many of our clients share the adoption of messaging as a way to engage with customers through their outbound email communications by including it in a newsletter or other promotion
  • Press Release: Many brands pride themselves on being innovative and leading their competition, so promoting this publically to demonstrate their commitment to the customer experience sets them apart
  • Direct Mail: Depending on your demographic, a messaging announcement can be included on a planned flyer
  • Registration: When customers sign up, register, or provide their personal information to you, ask them for their mobile phone number and tell them they can now be identified in the case they have any issues or questions and want to message your company. If you plan to use it for outbound communications, be clear to state that and of course, follow the CSAM and other opt-in/out requirements.

4. Monitor Results and Improve Accordingly

Developing a communication system is all about increasing customer value. The best way to enhance a business strategy is to monitor and use results properly. Constant improvement is the key to success in a market that relies on personalized customer experiences. Effective monitoring and analysis help customer service agents gain experience, and they can offer the tools necessary to improve cost management.
Providing consumers with post-purchase updates, alerts, technical support, and special offerings is easier than ever with the help of instant message platforms. Business improvement starts with gathering data and then using the results of these new strategies to make productive updates and changes. With this method, retailers can determine which aspects of their plans work and which ones have more room for development.

Consider these three tips as you explore instant message platforms.

  • Track Your Metrics: Industry leaders may use several metrics to measure the success of their messaging strategies. For example, the work time metric helps evaluate the amount of time that agents are spending with consumers and how long it takes for those consumers to receive answers to their questions. Other metrics to track include Net Promoter Score (NPS), upselling and cross-selling rates, and Revenue Per Customer (RPC). Keeping a record of these metrics from each month throughout the year will help customer service teams gather comprehensive, reliable data.
  • Share Results With Your Team: Analyzing information and making improvements is a massive team effort. Sharing results with the team and collaborating on solutions can be a valuable and insightful way to make decisions based on a set of information. It allows agents to consider new ideas and discuss key takeaways of the relevant trends. In addition, it can help customer service representatives understand their own strengths and weaknesses. This gives them the power to think more critically about how they can improve their services via message and phone.
  • Make Changes Based On Trends: The next step in the process is to create a plan with tangible goals. After they collect and analyze the information, it’s the responsibility of industry leaders to use this information productively. Creating a plan based on data from a communication platform allows industry leaders to improve efficiency, the timing of messages, agent performance, and presentation of information.

Get Started With Business Messaging

As you can see, once you establish your goals, the rest can fall into place rather seamlessly. Your team and your customers will truly appreciate the ability to communicate via this new channel.

In this series, we have talked about how important messaging is, how to select the best messaging vendor for you, and what to do when you are ready to implement – and we have enjoyed every minute of it!  SMS, text, Facebook Messenger, and chat…we love it and live it.  We have made our careers in helping drive improvements to customer service and the customer experience. Let us help you successfully add Messaging to your organization.  

How to Choose the Best Live Chat Software for Your Business

A software investment of any kind takes due diligence, and purchasing live chat software should be no different. The live chat experience that you provide reflects the quality of your brand as a whole, which makes it critical to only use the best website chat software possible. When potential customers visit your website and want to get in touch with you, business messaging channels, such as live chat, are the fastest and easiest methods available.

Every live chat solution, in its simplest form, should make it possible for your company to connect with your customers while they are on your website. But that doesn’t mean every live chat solution is right for your business. In this post, we’ll take a look at how you can determine which website chat software is best for your business.

Determine Which Features are Important to You

There are some universal features you should expect when investing in any software such as:

  • Implementation guidance that can help you on a successful start and use of a product,
  • A history of reliability to avoid being plagued by downtime, and
  • A commitment to security, such as being SOC II compliant.

These features are just as important when purchasing live chat software. You’ll also want to consider answering questions about why you need a business messaging solution like live chat and what type of experience you want to deliver. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Where do people get hung up on my website? Do they need the most help searching for products, understanding pricing, booking an appointment, or placing an order?

Some companies choose to have chat available on specific pages, while others offer chat on every page. The live chat solution you choose should be able to provide both options.

  • Do I want to offer a reactive chat experience and let customers reach out whenever they need help or do I want a proactive chat experience that invites customers to chat with us?

No one will know your business better than you do. There is no one-style-fits-all for live chat. Ensure that you have the option to provide proactive or reactive chat to your customers.

  • Do I want to customize the look of my chat?

Your live chat should be a reflection of your site and your brand, so make sure you work with a platform that allows you to customize colors, greetings and other details within the chat experience to fit the look and feel of your company.

Answering these questions are a good and basic foundation for choosing the best live chat software for your business. Let’s take a look at some of the more advanced features of live chat that you’ll want to consider.

Critical Aspects of Successful Business Messaging Software

When customers visit your site and fire up your chat feature, they’re looking for a quick response time and quality service. No one wants to send off a message to a business and wait until you get a chance to get back to them. If that was the case, they would have sent an email.

Some wait time before chatting with a human might be acceptable, but why make it the rule when it could be the exception? A modern chatbot messaging solution allows instantaneous and high-quality responses that can seamlessly greet customers, gather information, and point customers in the right direction or even hand the conversation off to a human.

The ability to start a conversation, determine the intent, and route the conversation to the appropriate person, all before a human agent accepts it, make intelligent chatbots a non-negotiable attribute for any web chat software. Chatbots can offer suggestions based on customer feedback or route your visitors to the appropriate human agent if need be.

But chatbots are only one aspect of a multitude of advanced features to consider. Chat technology has evolved and now offers features that deliver a better experience for the customer and the agent. For example, Quiq’s messaging software can tell your agents which page your visitors are on when they click to chat with you, present their entire chat history with your company, and even monitor how the conversation is going based on sentiment analysis.

Look for Rich Messaging Solutions

Nowadays, communicating online goes far beyond text-based chat alone. Short videos have become a language in and of themselves, and entire conversations can be carried out through emojis. Chat software that includes rich messaging capabilities allows you to raise the bar when it comes to business chat, and offer more fun, immersive, and interactive experiences.

With rich messaging, you can complete transactions, schedule appointments, and even send rich media to engage your customers in a deeper way. Look for a web chat software that supports rich messaging so your business messaging can stand out.

Choose Capable Analytics

Business messaging can give important insights into what’s working and what’s not when it comes to products and promotional strategies. The data you gather from your company chats can be critical to developing new strategies and adjusting business processes.

The ideal web chat software should allow you to report on conversations, queues, or agent performance – human or bot. Look for a platform that lets you export your data or even integrate it into an existing business intelligence platform.

Only Settle for Asynchronous

Customers can’t always afford to stick around until the conclusion of a chat conversation. Asynchronous messaging platforms allow conversations to pick up where they left off, so they don’t have to endure the inconvenience of a chat conversation timing out and then restarting a new conversation. Your live chat solution should deliver a frictionless experience for your customers and allow them to set the pace of the chat. Quiq Messaging provides asynchronous communication across all supported channels, so even if your customer has to step away or gets distracted from the chat conversation, they can pick up right where they left off.

And the Winner Is…

When we take into consideration all of the factors listed above, there emerges one clear winner in the chat game. Quiq offers an all-encompassing messaging solution for businesses looking to drive conversions and provide more capable customer support. We’ve only scratched the surface on what Quiq can offer here — robust analytics, asynchronous conversations that provide a frictionless experience, and solid security all fall within the scope of this powerful platform.

When you’re ready to discover the true potential of business chat for your enterprise, schedule a demo today.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort: Expanding Its Customer Service Channels

Priding itself on a superior customer experience, Jackson Hole wanted to expand customer service channels to make sure its customers could reach them however they liked. Already providing customers the option to contact the resort via phone and email, it needed a more cost-effective live chat platform to complement these channels with text messaging. Allowing customers to choose whichever channel they prefer would align perfectly with the resort’s desire to deliver a premium experience.

Turning to Quiq, Jackson Hole rolled out a new text messaging and chat platform for its customers. Now when a customer is on the online store or brand site they are presented with the appropriate communication channel automatically. Customers can easily reach the resort by sending a text message from a mobile device or engaging in a live chat conversation if they are using a desktop computer.

“I am really pleased with how customers are using messaging to reach our staff for quick questions. This helps free up the reservationists to respond to customer questions that need to be answered via phone such as placing an order.”

Kim Essensa, Guest Services Manager

Answer Customers’ Questions Quickly

When customers have questions about tram hours or recent snow amounts, they simply just send a text message or start a live chat to get their questions answered quickly. Or customers can send a message to Jackson Hole’s guest services to put their minds at ease about when the lifts are up and running. It’s easy and fast, and exactly what customers have grown to expect in this world of instant information.

Because the Quiq messaging platform is so intuitive, reservationists can easily bounce between all channels. Training is a breeze with the staff picking it up within minutes. And by using the pre-built responses, managers can ensure customers receive a consistent and accurate response no matter which reservationist responds. Jackson Hole is seeing that the majority of its inbound inquiries are now in the form of text messages. And even more, phone calls have decreased and overnight email volume has dropped by 75%.

About

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is a skier and snowboarder paradise with 4,136 continuous vertical feet, 2500 acres of the best beginner, intermediate, and expert skiing and snowboarding, and a genuine “Last of the Old West” feel.

Quiq makes it easy for customers to contact a business via Messaging, the preferred channel already in use with our friends and family. With Quiq, customers can now engage with companies via SMS/text messaging, Facebook Messenger, Web Chat, In-App, and Kik for help with their pre-sales and post-sales questions. Learn more about Quiq today at quiq.com.

Contact Us

Quiq Customer Spotlight: Learn How evo Uses Quiq Messaging

Customer Spotlight: evo & Quiq Messaging

evo, a leading online retailer of outdoor gear and fashion apparel is known for exploring the collaboration between culture and sport by seamlessly joining art, music, streetwear, skateboarding, snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking and wakeboarding. Their aim is to bring all things relevant to the urban, action sports lifestyle into one creative space.

Why Messaging?

Focused on going beyond the typical sales experience, evo knew it had to provide a cutting-edge support experience.  Based in Seattle, Washington, evo is a retailer that offers top-notch gear and clothing for outdoor sports enthusiasts.

When consumers had questions, they used to only be able to call or email the company to get an answer. Now, using Quiq Messaging, evo’s customers get swift responses via Facebook Messenger, live chat and text messaging-channels that are often preferred or more convenient for their active, on-the-go consumers.Six people in the snow sitting down

Easy For Customers to Engage

Some customers contact evo for help during the purchasing process with very specific product comparison questions. Others have questions about shipping and a possible return. While still others need technical help with a product they just purchased. Regardless of the question, evo’s customer care center is ready to answer. And customers are happy with the choices of channels over which to contact evo.

When a customer is on evo’s website, if an agent is available, the live chat image will automatically appear on the bottom-right of the desktop, making it easy for a customer to start a chat conversation. And, text messaging is offered on its mobile website. Customers are excited to be able to engage with evo via text messaging. It’s fast and it’s convenient.

“Certain people like to communicate via specific channels and with Quiq Messaging we are able to serve more people in the manner in which they want to engage. That’s a big win for us and our customers.”

Justin Courtney, Customer Care Manager, evo

Efficient For Agents

Top agents can easily handle live chat and text messaging conversations, on top of the phone calls and emails they are already answering.  Since Quiq supports live chat, text messaging, and Facebook Messenger, evo agents only have to log into one application. Quiq is so easy-to-use that all agents are able to support all channels.  During peak winter months, evo has the ability to dedicate agents to manage real-time interactions based on increased volumes to ensure response times are kept in-check.Inside the business

After introducing live chat, it immediately accounted for 11% of support inquires. Phone volumes dropped by 8% and emails inquires decreased by 3%. That trend has continued to follow the same track with Quiq’s live chat and text messaging solution, which now represents 22% of the overall support volume.

What the Future Holds

Looking ahead, evo plans to integrate Quiq Messaging with their NetSuite implementation to consolidate all customer contact data, which will both improve the customer experience and yield additional opportunities through improved reporting. They are also planning to build out the visibility and promotion of its new messaging capabilities on their mobile website.

About Quiq

Quiq makes it easy for customers to contact a business via Messaging, the preferred channel already in use with our friends and family.  With Quiq, customers can now engage with companies via SMS/text messaging, Facebook Messenger, Live Chat, and Kik for help with their pre-sales and post-sales questions. Learn more about Quiq today at quiq.com.

Contact Us

Customer Service Messaging Infographic

This customer service messaging infographic was developed from the results of a Quiq partnered 2017 U.S. research study with Market Strategies International to understand consumer’s interest, preference, and demand for using Messaging to engage with Customer Service organizations. 

See the full report…

Part 1: Four Reasons to Add Messaging to The Contact Center

The Messaging Mandate

This is Part 1 in a 3 Part Series focused on The Messaging Mandate. This article highlights why your company should consider adding Messaging to your customer service organization. Part 2 will discuss the criteria against which to rank consumer to business messaging providers.  Finally, Part 3 will outline what to consider to successfully implement messaging.  We hope you enjoy the series.

Messaging is not new…in fact, it has been around for quite some time.  We have been using messaging to send messages, photos, and emojis to our friends and family for over 20 years–to the tune of over 6 billion text messages daily in the U.S. alone (Forrester).  According to Pew Research, 97% of Americans use text messaging on a daily basis, making text the most widely and frequently used app on smartphones.  So if text messaging is not new, what is new? The answer: Consumers messaging customer service.

The vast majority of messaging occurs between individuals, friends, and family members. Messaging a company is just taking off. Business text messaging is simply the ability for consumers to contact businesses and exchange information over mobile devices. Messages can be sent as text (Short Message Service/SMS), pictures, video, or audio (Multimedia Messaging Service/MMS) over a variety of messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Kik, etc.

Done correctly, messaging is a powerful tool to help consumers connect with businesses – especially when it come to customer service.

1. Customers Expect It

Consumers are demanding the ability to communicate via messaging with brands and businesses.  Consumers don’t want to just receive messages from businesses, they want the ability to message them back.  No longer is messaging simply a one-way channel for companies to market to consumers. Customers now expect to be able to initiate a two-way, one-to-one conversations with the companies and brands they use.

In fact, the majority of U.S. consumers would prefer texting over the current methods of reaching customer support (eWeek).  As Forbes writer, Micah Solomon, stated: “ If your customers won’t even call Mom on the phone anymore (they’re texting her instead), why are you forcing them to call your business on the phone any time they need customer service or support?”  Consumers prefer messaging as a channel of communication and when given a choice, they use it.

2. It’s a Competitive Advantage

“The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.”
– Jerry Gregoire, Chief Information Officer at Dell.

According to Gartner, 89% of companies plan to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience and the main driver of the customer experience lands smack dab in the middle of the customer service and support organization. In fact, Harris found that 88% of customers prefer doing business with a company that offers quality customer service over a company that has the latest and most innovative products.  A good product is expected of every company. Innovative and quality customer service is the competitive advantage.  

With the continued focus on delivering great experiences via customer service, it is critical that companies constantly innovate and adapt their service approach to exceed customer expectations. The interest, preference, usage, and demand for consumer-to-business messaging is already evident and companies that don’t already offer messaging are quickly falling behind.

Messaging is not only what consumers want, but it is also what businesses should want.  Adding messaging as a customer service channel delivers significant cost savings due to offloading phone calls, while improving customer satisfaction (CSAT).

3. Significant Cost Savings

Activating messaging for customer service not only provides a better experience for the customer, it is also much more efficient for agents compared to phone calls and emails. Messaging is cost-efficient and time-efficient for customer support teams for many reasons:

  1. Agent supported phone calls cost several dollars per conversation, while agent supported texts cost pennies per conversation. (Forrester & ContactBabel)
  2. Implementing a messaging channel allows companies the ability to deflect calls to a lower cost channel. It is common to see a 20% or higher offload of phone calls to messaging.
  3. Messaging allows each agent to handle multiple conversations simultaneously, improving productivity over one-to-one voice calls.  Additionally, agents can typically handle 6-8 messaging conversations at once due to the asynchronous nature of messaging, dramatically improving agent productivity.
  4. Agent familiarity and comfort- Messaging allows agents to use an interface they are already familiar with because they message their friends and families too. This makes it easy for agents to quickly come up to speed to support a new channel.

Customers want it. Agents understand it. It makes agents even more productive and saves you money. If your business isn’t taking advantage of the opportunity to activate Messaging to interact with customers, what could possibly be holding you back?

4. Higher Customer Satisfaction

We are now living in a world where businesses need to move past being customer-centric or customer-focused into being customer-obsessed (Forrester). Customer-obsessed companies focus on customer satisfaction and retention, understanding that these measurements are key metrics for any company trying to compete.

It is notable then that texting is the highest rated contact method for customer satisfaction compared to all other communication channels (Text – 90%; Phone – 77%; Facebook – 66%). (eWeek).

Why is text so highly rated? Because it blends the real-time answers of a phone call with the portability of a mobile device. The customer benefits from the convenience and control they get from messaging.  Their interaction with a company can happen at their pace, on their terms, instead of on the company’s terms. With messaging, consumers are able to get customer support at the speed of life.  

With mobile devices, customers can interact with an agent from wherever they are, even in places where there may not be an internet connection.  Unlike web chat, customers no longer need to be tied to their computer.  Wherever they go, the conversation can continue.   

While voice offers the advantage of “real time” interaction, it usually occurs after the customer has navigated an IVR system or been placed on hold.  Studies show that customers are increasingly frustrated by being placed on hold. Texting is as “real-time” as a voice call, but without the hold times.  The immediacy of communication brings about a feeling of connection and importance, allowing brands to be more human and relatable.

Conclusion

Consumer’s preference for messaging in both their personal and business lives continues to grow, with no end in sight.  They appreciate that texting is a fast and efficient customer support option, and expect businesses to respond accordingly.  Customers want real-time responses to their support issues. By adding messaging to your Contact Center, managers and agents have the tools necessary to provide a better customer experience, while saving money.

About Us

Quiq connects customers and companies via Messaging (Facebook Messenger, SMS, and Kik), resulting in more efficient customer service and happier customers.  Learn more about Quiq today at quiq.com, or email sales@goquiq.com for a free product demo.