9 Ways to Reduce Customer Returns with Messaging

Looking into reducing customer returns? You’re in the right place.

And you’ve been there as a consumer yourself, I’d venture to guess.

Maybe your nephew is between sizes. Your partner tends to overestimate their technical ability. The 100-lb model does little to show you what the clothing item looks like on the average person. You didn’t realize how big a 9-foot rug actually is. The color of the product looks nothing like the image.

So you returned it.

Returns are a problem for most retail businesses—even more so for online stores. Some larger retailers have even made a successful business out of easy, free returns.

The problem is not every e-commerce business is set up for free, easy returns. But customers expect them to be.

Between 2019 and 2020, online retail sales more than doubled (for obvious reasons).

Shoppers took to the interwebs in drove—much more frequently or for the first time. But with increased sales came a deluge of returns.

The National Retail Federation reported that approximately $102 billion of e-commerce merchandise was returned in 2020. That came from $565 billion in e-commerce sales in the United States.

And 2021 didn’t do much better. E-commerce websites saw a 15% return rate, according to an IRMG report.

It has become a problem. Reducing customer returns is (or should be) a top priority for online, product-based businesses.

While returns are undoubtedly the cost of doing business online, a little customer service problem solving can go a long way. Continue reading for some strategies to reduce product returns with messaging.

The actual cost of returns.

Returns don’t just signify lost sales—they cost you money. The National Retail Federation survey found that for every $100 in returned merchandise accepted, retailers lose $5.90 to return fraud.

But fraud isn’t the only cost of high returns. Here are a few other costs incurred by frequent returns:

  • Shipping costs
  • Warehouse time spent verifying returns
  • Customer service time spent emailing customers
  • Operations time tracking shipping status
  • Warehouse time spent restocking items
  • Lost inventory due to damaged products

Simply ignoring returns and chalking them up to the cost of doing business online won’t work. It’s important your team learns about reducing customer returns—and even how to prevent them.

9 ways customer service can reduce returns.

When done well, customer service problem solving can help customers decide on the right product to begin with and help them post-purchase.

All it takes is thoughtful and frequent customer communication.

Here are 9 ways your support agents can use messaging to prevent frequent returns—and encourage repeat business from your customers.

1. Get ahead of problems with a few simple questions.

The first big question you should ask your customers is why. Why are they returning your products? Some returns are unavoidable, but some can be prevented with a little more information.

Is your sizing chart off? Is there a defect? Are the product photos misleading? Ask these questions with every return to identify easy changes you can make to your website or sales process to prevent them in the first place.

Have a more technical product? Collect frequently asked questions from your customer service team to post on your website or even send to customers once they’ve made a purchase.

Send an SMS/text message with common FAQs to ensure your customers see it (instead of getting buried in emails).

2. Use AI assistants to walk customers through simple troubleshooting first.

Is there an easy fix you can share with customers before they chat with your support team? Use bots and AI assistants to collect customer information, identify their support requests, and walk them through simple troubleshooting.

Make sure to keep it simple: Think “turn it off, wait ten seconds, then turn it on again” type instructions. Then loop in an agent to tackle more complex problems.

This could prevent returns from customers who think they may have purchased the wrong item, might have a defective product, or believe it’s too complicated.

3. Prioritize unhappy customers.

Customers (especially the unhappy ones) hate waiting for customer service. But during peak periods, a short wait is inevitable.

Using messaging and a conversational AI platform like Quiq can help you identify irate customers and prioritize them first with sentiment analysis. Quickly responding to angry customers gives your team the chance to turn the conversation around and troubleshoot issues before it leads to a return.

4. Get the message to the right person.

Another issue that leads to customer frustration: Call transfers. Even though they’re commonplace in call centers, customers hate them. They want you to solve their problems quickly and efficiently, but complex issues require extra help.

The last thing you want is to have frustrated customers giving up and returning their products.

Instead, lean into messaging. If you’re strategizing around reducing customer returns, messaging makes it easy to quickly identify the customer’s problem and get it to the right person (without multiple transfers, extensive hold times, repeating information, or awkward introductions).

5. Be optimistic instead of apologetic.

While empathy is a great customer service tool, you should always follow it up with optimism.

Try swapping out statements like “I’m sorry I don’t know how to fix this” for “Let’s get this solved. I’m going to bring in an expert to help us out.” Customers are more likely to respond to the second statement since it’s outcome-oriented.

Since you lose voice inflection with messaging, showing enthusiasm is even more important.

Don’t be afraid to use exclamation points (if your brand voice allows it). Find a balance between helpful eagerness and to-the-point problem-solving to fix customers’ issues and make them feel good about it.

6. Give customers a record of the conversation.

Giving customers information and directions over the phone is difficult. They could mishear things, skip steps, or forget the instructions immediately after the conversation.

Written instructions via messaging are much easier to follow.

You can walk your customers through troubleshooting at their own pace, and they can refer back to them whenever they need to. You can even email conversations to your customers so they can reference them whenever they need them.

7. Offer visual and interactive instructions.

Are instructions getting lost over the phone? Some customers respond better to visual instructions over voice and written directions.

With rich messaging, you can bring in diagrams, pictures, videos, and even augmented reality to help customers solve their product issues.

Rich messaging also works both ways. When customers have trouble describing their issues, they can send videos and pictures to show your customer service agents.

Your team will figure out the problem and how to fix it much faster than relying on imperfect customer descriptions alone.

8. Make it easy to loop in third parties.

Sometimes longer resolution times are unavoidable. Maybe there’s a system problem that needs help from a developer, or you need to reach out to a third party for replacement parts.

With messaging, customers can pick up conversations at a later date to check-in. Or they can opt to have the conversation emailed to them for quick follow-ups.

Plus, everything is documented. You can easily pass along the conversation to the third party without anything getting lost along the way.

9. Identify real problems.

Messaging makes it easy to track and document problems. This allows you to take a step back and identify opportunities to tweak other pieces of the sales puzzle.

Are shoppers surprised by what the product looks like? Maybe there’s a problem with your product images. Are customers disappointed with the results? Maybe your descriptions are overpromising. Are products arriving damaged? Are you not selling the product to the right demographic?

Use customer service messaging to identify problems that need to be addressed by your larger team, ultimately reducing customer returns.

Bonus tip: What to do when the product is actually defective.

Sometimes it’s not a user error or a problem that can be fixed from afar. Or maybe the customer is just genuinely disappointed with the product. What should you do then?

Restore their faith in your company. When you can’t prevent a return with excellent service, show your customers why they should continue doing business with you.

How companies handle returns (are they gracious and helpful, or do they make it as difficult as possible) has a big impact on customer perception. This is where you earn a repeat customer.

Reduce customer returns with messaging.

You may not be able to get rid of returns completely, but you can certainly lower them.

Messaging is a great way to engage your customers before and after a purchase to ensure they’re getting the right products and know how to use them.

Reducing customer returns starts with a good website, amazing products, and great customer service. Once you have those things in place, it just takes a little strategy.

6 Ways to Improve Online Retail Customer Satisfaction with Messaging

Retailers have had a tough few years. The pandemic threw businesses into a tailspin. If you’re like the rest of the industry, you either had to build an online shopping experience from scratch or seriously ramp up your web-store capabilities.

This meant your customer satisfaction took a hit.

E-tailers were still struggling in 2021. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, customer satisfaction with online retailers dropped 1.3% in 2021—more than double the 0.5% decrease across the retail industry.

At the same time, customer expectations increased. And online retailers have a harder time building brand loyalty. If customer expectations aren’t met, Microsoft reports that 58% of customers show little hesitation in severing the relationship.

So what’s an e-tailer to do to improve online retail customer satisfaction?

Embrace messaging.

Even if you’ve adopted various forms of business messaging, there are many ways to elevate your strategy and improve your customer satisfaction.

Read on to see why messaging has become a vital part of online retail, along with 6 ways to use it to improve customer satisfaction.

Why messaging is essential in online retail.

Messaging is changing the way online retailers do business, but it’s more than a box that needs checking. You shouldn’t just roll out an SMS/text messaging or WhatsApp program and staff it with customer service reps from your contact center. To make the most of it, you need a well-developed strategy.

Text messaging especially has the potential to improve the online shopping experience. Four out of 5 customers send a text message on a daily basis, and nearly half of consumers prefer messaging as a means to connect with businesses. Your customers are telling you that they want to interact via messaging—why not listen?

Here at Quiq, we’ve seen rapid adoption of messaging by online retailers. Brands like Overstock, Pier 1, and Tailor Brands have experienced tangible benefits, including more natural customer engagement, lower service costs, and a reduced workload.

6 ways to improve online retail customer satisfaction with messaging.

E-tailers struggle with customer satisfaction. There are some aspects out of your control (ahem: shipping and manufacturing anytime after March 2020), but there are things you can do to alleviate your customers’ struggles.

Messaging is a big part of that. Having reliable communications—and using them strategically—helps promote customer satisfaction. Here are 6 ways you can use messaging to improve your online shopping experience.

1. Help shoppers find the perfect product.

The biggest argument against online shopping for years has been the lack of personalized customer service. Shoppers can’t ask for recommendations (and algorithms hardly make up for it), sizing help, or general advice.

Messaging helps your team close that gap (along with the support of chatbots and AI). Yes, it’s great for post-purchase interactions. But customers also want help before they checkout. In fact, nearly two-thirds (64%) of customers use messaging when they want to make a purchase or a booking/reservation, according to our Customer Preference for Messaging report.

Quiq lets you help customers when they need it most. You can provide the on-demand service they need while shopping your site, viewing your products on social media, or browsing your app. You’re giving them that in-store, personalized experience while they’re going about their day. And it doesn’t hurt that helping them before they make a purchase can boost sales.

2. Provide transparent interactions.

When customers call your support line, are they greeted with a “This call may be recorded” message? That’s a great tool for your business, but what about the customer? Once they end the conversation, they have no record of the interaction. They can’t refer back to it later, check to make sure they heard everything correctly, or prove that the conversation even existed. Yes, some companies offer a confirmation number, but that does little to help your customer access the information.

Even popular web chat solutions can be session-based—meaning when the session is over, the conversation disappears. Customers can’t refer back or naturally start the conversation back up when a related question pops up.

We know the importance of asynchronous communication. Customers aren’t always available to respond instantly, and sometimes new questions appear once their first ones have been answered. That’s why Quiq’s web chat conversations are persistent—they start right where they left off. Plus, customers can request to have their web chat transcripts emailed to them.

You get an even longer messaging history on channels like SMS/text and Facebook Messenger.

Mobile messaging adds an additional layer of transparency. Message history can stretch back even further than the last conversation on SMS and Facebook Messenger, giving the customer access to older messages and more conversation details.

3. Staff for multiple messaging channels.

An omnichannel messaging strategy can greatly enhance your online customer experience—when it’s done right. Customers frequently ping-pong across platforms. Zendesk’s 2022 CX Trends report found that 73% of customers want the ability to start a conversation on one channel and pick it back up on another.

Yet, it’s all too easy to add messaging channels and hand them over to your call center agents. While it’s feasible to cross-train your customer support team on both phones and messaging, there’s a little more to it than that.

First, you need to ensure you have available staff to cover multiple messaging channels. Asynchronous messaging does save time over traditional phone calls. But if your team is already stretched thin, adding additional channels will just feel like a burden. Plus, we all know that customers hate to wait.

Try assigning staff members to your messaging channels. While Quiq clients can serve customers on the platform the customers prefer, it takes a trained and available support team for a great omnichannel experience.

4. Reduce wait times.

Speaking of waiting—customers hate it. While you might think the pandemic has made customers more patient and understanding, the opposite is true. Frustrated customers want things to return to “normal” and have higher expectations of all business—e-tailers included. According to Zendesk, 60% report that they now have higher customer service standards after the pandemic.

And with 61% of customers willing to switch brands after just one bad experience, all it takes is one surge in call traffic to create call center chaos and cause you to lose business.

Messaging helps smooth the peaks of inbound support requests when you need it most. Since agents can respond to messages at different speeds, they can handle multiple inquiries at once. A message doesn’t require their full attention for a fixed amount of time. As a result, Quiq clients report work time is often reduced by 25–50%.

5. Delight your visually-driven audience.

Why spend 5 minutes describing a problem when you can take a picture of it in 5 seconds? Phone calls only give you one way to interact with your customer, and emails are too slow for problems that need immediate attention.

Rich messaging is the next step to improving your customer service experience. Found in Apple Messages for Business, Google’s Business Messaging, and more, rich messaging amplifies your customer conversations. From GIFs to images to videos, there are plenty of features to engage your audience visually.

You can even take it to the next level and build an entire customer experience with rich messaging. Process secure transitions, schedule appointments, and send reminders, all through messaging.

See how TechStyleOS integrated rich messaging with Quiq >

Improve your customer satisfaction and boost engagement with these advanced features that are sure to delight shoppers.

6. Entice customers to come back.

Remember those high customer expectations? Unfortunately, customers are quick to switch brands—which means you need to consistently give them the best online shopping experience.

It doesn’t stop at the sale. A good messaging strategy includes post-purchase engagement to encourage customers to come back. While email is currently the preferred method for online retail, it comes with low open rates and even lower click-through rates.

Instead, lean into outbound text messaging for post-purchase communications. Here are a few easy examples to get started:

  • Send an order confirmation
  • Share a shipment tracking link
  • Ask for a product review
  • Send a special discount code
  • Notify them when similar products go on sale
  • Ask them to join your rewards program

With nearly a 100% read rate, outbound text messaging is a more engaging way to connect with customers.

Messaging is the way to customer satisfaction.

Online retailers face many challenges, but engaging with customers shouldn’t be one. Messaging is already helping many online retailers establish a stronger relationship with their customers by tackling common shopper struggles. For many retailers, adopting a messaging platform gave them a customer-centric way to chat with their shoppers.

Messaging has become a vital part of the online shopping experience, and implementing these smart strategies will help skyrocket customer satisfaction. And Quiq is there to help.

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.

5 Tips to Ramp Up Your Retail Business to Prepare for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is fast approaching, and retail businesses are preparing for another boom in sales throughout November and December. Cyber Monday 2019 alone generated over 9.4 billion dollars in the U.S., which is just a small indication of how critical online sales are to holiday shoppers.

Online shopping is more prevalent in 2020 than ever before thanks to the current restrictions placed on traditional retail. With these tips, you can learn how to prepare your retail business for the holiday season while taking advantage of all the capabilities that digital media has to offer.

5 Tips to Prepare for the Holidays

When you prepare your retail business for the holidays, it’s important to find new ways to reach and interact with consumers. Shoppers expect to find what they’re looking for quickly and at an affordable price. A personalized experience can go a long way toward helping someone find the perfect holiday gift for their loved one. These five tips will provide this personalized experience and ensure consumers feel comfortable while shopping.

1. Prioritize Mobile

Using mobile devices to communicate, conduct business, and shop online has become mainstream for the general public across the U.S. That’s why developing a mobile-friendly shopping experience is an essential part of today’s retail engagement strategies.

Shopping sites and applications look different on mobile devices than they do on PCs. It’s important to optimize visuals, text, and interactive components so mobile shoppers can access information easily.

2. Support Multichannel Experiences

Retailers can provide a more holistic experience by using multiple channels to reach potential buyers. Multichannel experiences can make communication between the consumer and the representative more convenient and efficient.

For example, retailers have the power to use apps, SMS messaging, and even live chat to connect with consumers on different types of media.

3. Have Personalized Shopping Experiences

Buyers love it when shopping experiences are tailored to their needs. Personalizing solutions is a great way for retailers to show consumers that they care about them and their interests.

Today, retailers often use the power of data and one-on-one engagement to personalize the customer experience. Real-time messaging and analytics can also help representatives create a more individualized approach.

4. Prepare Customer Service Agents

Customer service agents need to be prepared for the demands of digital sales and engagement. Retailers need agents who can keep shoppers informed and provide useful updates. 

Friendly and knowledgeable service agents inspire trust, and they can help build loyalty over time. Consumers who have had positive interactions with a representative are often more likely to return in the future.

5. Use Chatbots

Covid-19 Chatbot

Instead of assigning a customer service agent to answer every question or provide every service, you can prepare your retail business for the holidays by integrating the use of chatbots.

Chatbot technology is highly advanced, capable of finding solutions and answering simple questions for engaged consumers. It also helps potential buyers get answers faster, which saves time in the long run. Quiq’s Conversational Engagement Platform allows you to integrate both AI and human interaction for the optimal customer experience.

How Quiq Can Help You Prepare for This Holiday Season

Messaging and mobile solutions can help retailers everywhere succeed this holiday season. If your retail business needs help preparing for the holidays, Quiq provides a smart and cost-effective way to manage messaging channels. To learn more, contact Quiq for a demo today. 

What Is Conversational Commerce?

By now you may have heard the term conversational commerce. Aside from some catchy alliteration that, honestly, just makes it fun to say, you may not know much about it why everyone’s talking about it. Let’s clear things up a bit.

Example of conversational commerce on a smartphoneConversational commerce refers to the transactions that take place through digital conversations consumers have with brands on messaging apps like web chat, Apple Messages for Business, text messaging, and even Facebook Messenger.

The interactions that take place are powered primarily by chatbots that process consumer messages and offer relevant responses. Conversational commerce takes on many forms and can take place across a multitude of channels.

Here are a few examples of conversational commerce in real life:

  • Consumers shopping and completing transactions within a messaging conversation
  • Brands helping consumers shop by find a store location or online promotions and deals
  • Customer experience agents Interacting with a customer to reschedule an appointment or a delivery

These are just a few ways messaging has greased the commerce wheel, making it easier and faster for business to get done. In this article we’ll take a close look at conversational commerce and what companies need to do to fully leverage its benefits.

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How Does Conversation Commerce Work?

Consider the smartphone — you know, the thing that is essentially glued to everyone’s hands now-a-days — and reflect on how much searching, browsing, buying, and texting takes place on any given device on any given day. Even before it was egged on by mandates, Online purchase being made on a smartphone using Apple Paywhen our normal was just normal, consumers leaned on the ease, convenience, and speed that shopping from their smartphone offered.  

As the world still works through “new normal” restrictions on physical locations, we’ve seen a surge in use as more consumers have looked to online shopping, delivery, and curbside pickup to get through their days. According to comScore consumers spend 85% of their smartphone time using only 5 apps, which tend to be either social media, messenger or other media apps. It makes sense that businesses would marry the power of messaging with consumers preferences.

He predicted these real-time conversations would facilitate more convenient online sales. Mr. Messina has yet to comment on where he picked up that incredibly accurate crystal ball of his, but looks like he was pretty spot on. Now, let’s talk about how your company can benefit from an investment in conversational commerce.

Why Invest In Conversational Commerce 

Consumer expectations of speed and convenience have birthed new innovations that are opening up a seamless communication between brands and customers. Gone are the days where customers were satisfied with dialing an 800 number or having to write an email to get help. 

Whether it’s a chatbot on Messenger, someone managing direct messages on Twitter, or taking orders via text message, consumers will choose brands that go that extra mile to make their experience personalized and efficient. Needless to say, businesses are investing to make that happen.

Consider these statistics by Gartner:

  • At least 60% of companies will use artificial intelligence to support digital commerce. 
  • 30% of digital commerce revenue growth will be attributable to artificial intelligence technologies, such as those that power conversational commerce. 
  • 5% of all digital commerce transactions will come from a bot, such as those that power conversational commerce. 

All of the major trends in commerce over the past couple of decades have been in moving to where customers are. Rather than forcing customers to come to you, you go to where they are. The next generation of that is conversational commerce. 

Create A More Natural Brand-Consumer Relationship With Conversational Commerce

Conversational commerce, much like regular conversations, are meant to build relationships. Conversational commerce is an opportunity to move beyond email blasts, promotional posts on social media, and other communication methods that provide just one-way communication. SMS and other messaging apps enable you to keep your customers informed with updates, and allows them to respond on the same message thread. A real-time exchange of information? Now that’s a conversation.

Creating engaging experiences on these channels are better and easier if your agents have a single view of your customers. Quiq makes it easy for companies to manage conversations with an intuitive agent desktop and native integrations with Salesforce.com, Zendesk, Shopify, and Oracle Service Cloud.

Quiq is architected with an “API First” strategy which means we seek to work in harmony with your existing systems. With Quiq’s integration frameworks you can customize our UI to include data from your internal operations systems or synchronize conversation data into your reporting, customer and other backend systems.

Get Started with Conversational Commerce

Getting started with conversational commerce isn’t complicated. Start with one new channel where customers are visiting every day such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Better still, start with text messaging, a universally accepted way to engage with consumers.  

If you’re ready to put conversational commerce to work so that your business can thrive schedule some time to speak with one of our conversation experts today.

How to Use Conversational Commerce To Change Your Business

From increasing conversion rates to receiving more on-time payments, the results from brands that have embraced conversational commerce speak for themselves. Conversational commerce can help brands resolve inquiries and satisfy customers. 

Conversational commerce means using messaging and bots to enable two-way conversations with your customers. You won’t  just tell your customers things like “Hey, we’ve got a promotion on these products today.” You can have a conversation in real-time about ways you can help them shop, find what they need, and complete transactions..

Conversational commerce enables you to listen and learn from your customers while building a solid relationship. That relationship means everything to your business.

Here’s a few of the biggest benefits conversational commerce can bring to your business:

  • Increased sales  
  • Broader reach and engagement
  • Higher customer satisfaction 

In this article, we take a look at how conversational commerce can change your business. We review the solutions that help businesses enable conversational commerce for sales and customer service and the simple steps you can take today to get started.

As a quick refresher, we defined conversational commerce in a previous post as the transactions that take place through digital conversations consumers have with brands. These conversations take place on messaging apps like web chat, Apple Messages for Business, text messaging, and even Facebook Messenger.

Conversational commerce is all about answering customers’ questions and concerns when and where they prefer. Your customers are given hands-on, personalized support, across the digital channels they prefer like SMS/text, live chat, and social media platforms.

Consider how differently the conversational commerce experience is with technology’s help:

  • With proactive chat on your website, chatbots or human agents can intervene at critical moments, like when a visitor toggles back and forth between two product options or hesitates at checkout to help them make a decision
  • Rich Communication Services (RCS) like Apple Messages for Business and Google’s Business Messages enables agents to present products in carousels, schedule appointments, and collect payment, all within the messaging conversation.

The possibilities are limitless. Small and large brands alike are using conversational commerce to reach customers, boost sales, and interact in a personal way with consumers. But where do you start?

Conversational commerce is all about answering customers' questions and concerns

Where Do You Start With Conversational Commerce?

The answer for this question is the same as others where there is no hard, fast, or linear answer — it depends. Where you start depends on a few key things:

  • Your business goals and any identified opportunities for improvement
  • How your customers currently contact you
  • Pain points within your customer’s experience that you want to address

Let’s say you own retail stores that sell outdoor apparel. In-store sales have dropped dramatically so your company has decided to have a summer sale that is heavily promoted across your website. You’ve also decided to test Facebook ads to reach new customers. A lot of retailers probably can relate to this scenario and understand how important the sale is for year-end results. Every transaction counts.

Now, let’s say you’ve kicked off that sale and are getting inundated with calls. Customers are having trouble with the promo code at checkout. While some may stop and call, others may decide to just abandon their cart never to return again. Since you kicked off Facebook ads, you’re also seeing a huge spike in conversations in Messenger about the promo code and other product questions as well.

This is where conversation commerce changes the outcome. With messaging, customers are able to easily reach you either on your website, text, or Facebook Messenger while shopping or while they are trying to checkout. By bringing all interactions together in one platform your business saves time and your customers receive a faster, more fluid experience.

Quiq has helped many large retail clients overcome situations just like this by implementing messaging. Because Quiq supports messaging across SMS/text, web chat, social, Apple Messages for Business, and Google’s Business Messages, companies have the option to start with one or all of the channels.

How Do You Scale Conversational Commerce?

Now. you may be thinking, “That’s all well and good but I still need agents on the other side of the conversation.” Ah, yes but no one said they all had to be human agents. Remember when we mentioned chatbots before? 

The beauty of conversational commerce is the ability to automate conversations using chatbots. Chatbots allow brands to scale while still offering a personalized experience. 

In our retail scenario above, a chatbot could greet the customer, ask questions to understand the customer’s intent or issue, and then present information to guide the customer along. For example, after collecting some information, the chatbot learns that the customer needs help with a purchase, specifically, they need to know where they can enter the promo code.

The chatbot can inform the customer that they’ll have the opportunity to enter the promo code after they enter their credit card number and confirm their purchase. The chatbot can also share a screenshot of the screen with the exact field where the promo code can be entered. If the customer is still having trouble, the bot can seamlessly introduce a human agent into the conversation for further assistance if needed.

Quiq clients have seen call volumes drop by 20% as customers switch from phone calls to messaging. At the same time, customer service agents are able to handle 6 – 8 concurrent conversations. This boost in agent productivity translates directly to the bottom line and to customer satisfaction scores.

Elevate The Online Purchasing Experience With Conversational Commerce

Now is not the time to get sweaty palms about a digital-centric approach to your commerce business. Now is the time to use conversational commerce to change your business for the better. 

Conversational commerce isn’t just an easier, more useful way for consumers to shop.  It’s also a way for brands to continue growing eCommerce revenue. 

Ready to support your customers quickly, boost conversions, reduce sales and support costs, and increase customer satisfaction? Contact one of our conversation experts to discuss the future of conversational commerce in your business.

How to Prepare for an Unprecedented Holiday Season

Consumers have changed buying habits during the pandemic with access to malls and retail stores still restricted to limited hours and capacity. Retailers are adopting technology at breakneck speed to keep up with the shift to online shopping especially as the holiday shopping season approaches.

Quiq recently hosted a webinar titled “How to Prepare for an Unprecedented Holiday Season” to discuss this abnormal year and the uncommon retail environment merchants have had to adjust to. Kim Essensa from Stio, and Devlin O’Neil, formally with Lululemon, voiced the concerns expressed by so many retailers and shared how they’ve implemented digital solutions into their processes to help curb some of the business disruption.

Here are a few of the ways technology has helped these retailers handle current changes and prepare for the upcoming holiday shopping season:

  • Integrating business messaging into existing CRM system to give customers better access to the brand and also make agents more productive,
  • Hiring, training, and motivating remote, full-time and part-time workers,
  • Sending proactive 2-way outbound text messages that alert consumers to their order status and allow them to reply back with any issues, and
  • Using bots to capture information on returns to expedite processing.

Read on to learn more about these and other changes retailers are making to prepare for an unprecedented holiday season. Sit tight as we share actionable insights from our two customer experience leaders and recent industry research.

The Drive to Online Will Remain Strong for Holiday 2020

Shopping this holiday shopping season will likely be a lot different than what we’ve witnessed in the past. Instead of long, serpentine lines on Black Friday, retailers are getting ready for a surge of online orders and curbside pickups.


People wearing gloves delivering curbside groceries into a car trunk

“Retailers should ensure digital strategies remain agile to meet customers where and when they feel comfortable.”

Google (How the pandemic may affect holiday shopping)


Google reports that a third of U.S. shoppers who normally shop in store for Black Friday say they won’t this year. And half of U.S. shoppers say the pandemic will affect how they’ll shop for the holidays this season.

Research tells us that In spite of many retailers having reopened their physical locations,  the online shopping activity remains strong and is expected to maintain throughout the holiday season. Bazaarvoice.com, a website with a network of over 6,200 retailers and brand sites, reports that, in June, clients realized a 75% increase in page views year over year and an order count up 57% for the same time period. Those numbers are significantly higher than the January pre-pandemic growth of 11% for pageviews and 2% for order counts .

During our time with Devlin O’Neill, he recommended that businesses have a plan for multiple possible scenarios this holiday season — best case, worse case, and business as usual, just as Lululemon did. Devlin also states that no matter the case, one thing remained a consistent assumption and that was the continued growth of ecommerce.

It’s clear that online shopping and digital engagement are taking center stage this holiday season. Next, let’s take a look at areas where both Lululemon and Stio used technology, namely messaging and bots, to make an immediate impact for their companies.

Where Messaging and Bots Will Have The Biggest Impact

Chatbots are enjoying a surge in retail due to the widespread popularity of messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Live Chat, and rich messaging services like Apple Business Chat, and Google Business Messages.

These channels have changed the digital experience by making the shopping experience a two-way interaction instead of just a flat transaction through conversational commerce. Simple, convenient purchases are completed within the messaging conversation and are instant, real-time, and available across multiple channels like text, live chat, or even in a company’s own app .

The introduction of chatbots has made all of these benefits available 24/7. Pre-sales service and post-sales support are the two main areas companies use messaging and bots and where you’ll see the biggest impact this holiday season.

Take a look at the difference messaging and bots make:

  • Making seasonal and full-time work more productive

As customers continue to do more of their shopping online, retailers are also seeing huge increases in the number of interactions with their contact center. While the holidays normally cause a spike in requests, this holiday season will likely see an unprecedented increase in customer inquiries.

Hiring seasonal and part-time employees is the traditional way to handle that increase. Stio’s Customer Experience Manager, Kim Essensa states that a big focus of hiring seasonal staff should be shortening the training time as much as possible to get them up and running as quickly as possible.

In the webinar Kim states “One thing that appealed to us about a product like Quiq is just how simple it is for an agent to learn and kind of get off the ground and get productive quickly without a lot of training required.” But human agents aren’t the only option.

With the help of chatbots, customers will be able to self-serve within seconds in most cases. From routine issues, such as I forgot my password to more complex requests such as initiating a return, chatbots can link customers and backend systems and data to resolve those issues automatically.

  • Real-time Notifications

Customers have an expectation of what holiday shopping is like with extended wait times and retailers selling out of an item. Another area where you’ll see a big impact, with messaging and bots in retail, is notifying customers of any unexpected delays or stock-outs.

For example, Kim from Stio knows that their warehouse is great and products are shipping out correctly and on time. She knows she’s not alone though when she says the company gets nervous once the delivery is in the carriers’ hands. Many of the delivery times have been delayed due to the pandemic. That picture only gets worse as weather and increased delivery volumes make it even more challenging.

Consumers today expect retailers to provide information in real-time. Alerts, such as a shipping or delivery confirmation, are what consumers are looking for. With valuable merchandise sitting vulnerably on their front porch, consumers are more aware than ever of the security real-time notifications provide.

  • Expediting the Return Process

After the holidays, retailers are usually flooded with returns and exchanges. This holiday season the return process will look a lot different for many retailers who are adjusting the return window to ease customers’ concerns of getting their money back after buying online.

Retailers, especially those in apparel, should expect to see returns and exchanges at a higher rate than previous years since online purchases experience higher return rates than in-store purchases. According to research and consulting firm 1010data, shoppers typically return about 17% of all clothing purchases, making it one of the most-returned categories of goods.

Devlin states that returns represent some of the longest interactions with customers at Lululemon. Prior to implementing messaging and bots, the company was processing each return manually. Lululemon now uses bots to capture more information about what kind of return it, capture pictures, etc.  Devlin suggests looking for ways in the return process to take interaction time away from the returns process and use it to help customers with more valued conversations.

Get Started With Bots Before The 2020 Holiday Season

If you’re looking for inspiration for other ways you can use messaging and bots this holiday season, there are already plenty of companies using chatbots to better serve their customers.

You can read some of the case studies we have from companies such as Office Depot, Stio, and Tailored Brands. You can also watch the webinar replay of How to Prepare for an Unprecedented Holiday Season”.

Getting started with messaging and bots before the holiday shopping season can be done now. In fact, Quiq has helped companies get up and running with bots in less than 24 hours. Contact one of our conversation experts to schedule your custom demo today to help you weather this holiday season.

The Cyborg Contact Center

Augmenting Your Human Workforce with Bots

No, this article isn’t about The Governator or Tony Stark taking over your contact center. It’s about augmenting your human workforce with bots and giving them some superpowers of their own. 

Bots have become commonplace in recent years thanks to platforms like DialogFlow. They’ve been deployed across numerous messaging channels as well as voice. They have become increasingly conversational – using natural language to collect data and trigger workflows. With all of these advances, it might seem as though we’re living in the golden age of chatbots. So what’s missing? 

The biggest omission is that many bot services result in bots that are only aware of the messages they’re exchanging with customers. They neglect the presence of human agents, and possibly other bots, participating within the same environment. 

It makes sense that we ended up here. So much of the recent progress has been focused on increasing the intelligence and capabilities of bots such that they can single-handedly address more types of interactions without human involvement. Indeed, many businesses wish to put a bot in place on their website with no possibility of escalating to a live agent. By this point, many of us have interacted with such a bot with a need that surpassed the bot’s capabilities. 

The Right Way To Combine Bots and Human Agents

The best approach is to combine bots and human agents. The bots can handle the common and repetitive customer intents, which will keep wait times down. Meanwhile, the human agents can help with infrequent or difficult conversations and keep the customer base happy. It’s a win-win for the business and its customers. But what is necessary to create such an environment? We count the top 5 foundational principles of an automated contact center:

1. Shared Customer Session

The right way to combine bots and human agents involves shared customer sessionsThe first foundational requirement is a shared customer session. This means that all of the messages exchanged between the customer and a combination of human agents and bots are stored on the same conversation record. The same must be true of any structured data that is gathered or extracted from the exchanged messages. We’ve all been through the painful process of providing our personal info over a telephony system, getting transferred, and then being forced to provide the same information again. 

This same problem is prevalent in chatbots and is no less annoying. Many bot services make it possible to receive the session data such that you can inject it into another platform, but this requires custom coding and can result in a disjointed customer experience. Ideally the session data will be tracked and transferred seamlessly and automatically by the system. 

2. Escalation & Transfer as First Order Concepts

In order for bots and humans to cooperate, they must be able to pass conversations between them. This can be accomplished by direct transfer (e.g. a human agent transferring directly to a specific bot) or through escalation (e.g. a bot routes the conversation to a human agent queue based on the intent). 

The concepts of escalation and transfer shouldn’t be arcane things that require custom coding. They should be first-order concepts that are visible in a workflow designer and thus configurable by administrators. Put another way, the ability to move conversations around between segments of your workforce (including bots) should be fully commoditized. 

3. Open-Ended Workflows

The most obvious bot-enabled workflow is to have all conversations start with a bot, which will dutifully deflect as many inquiries as possible from live agents and escalate as necessary based on intent. However, there are many other useful workflows. 

A human agent should be able to transfer to a bot mid-conversation (e.g. to help with a repetitive task) and know that the bot will send the conversation right back to them once the task is complete. Bots should also be able to conclude conversations by doing things like administering in-channel surveys. The bottom line is that, by virtue of commoditized escalation and transfer, you should be able to inject bots whenever the time is right. 

4. Bot Awareness of the Contact Center & Workforce

In the spirit of bots being a cooperative part of a contact center, they should be able to see and make decisions based on information about the contact center and workforce. What sort of data might they inspect?

  • Business hours & holiday schedule
  • Human agent staffing (how many available agents)
  • Estimated wait times and depth of various queues

By making decisions on such data, the bot can do the following:

  • Take away the ability to escalate to live agents if queues are too deep
  • Limit the supported conversational intents based on the staffing of skill-based live agent queues
  • Provide the appropriate guidance and options after-hours or during holidays

The preceding capabilities should be readily accessible in the bot design experience, because these types of requirements can change frequently.

5. Bot-to-Bot Cooperation

The last foundational element has been hinted at several times already. When you think about augmenting your contact center, you should consider not just one, but potentially multiple, bots with specific purposes. While “one bot to rule them all” may sound tempting, by utilizing multiple bots you can keep your bots simpler, more manageable, and also independently updateable. 

This is very useful if your business consists of multiple departments that need to administer their bot flows independently. Of course, the bots should be able to transfer to one another easily and all data should be shared in order to provide the best customer experience.

Robots spelling out the word TEAM

By now it’s hopefully clear that the ideal bot deployment will consist of bots that are an integral part of your contact center, not something bolted onto your existing operations. At Quiq, we designed our bot framework with this goal in mind from the outset. 

The aforementioned foundational principles are all commoditized and available within visual designers. If you’d like to learn more, please contact us. We believe Quiq can truly give your contact center superhuman powers.

kyle facebook messages customer support using Quiq Author: Kyle McIntyre

How To Use Messaging And Bots To Increase Customer Referrals

Referrals have always had their place in marketing. It’s just that now, your customers have more reach and influence than ever before. Not only can they tell their closest friends about your product or service, but they can post Google reviews, share a social post, or use any number of methods to amplify their voice.

Nielson showed us that consumers believe recommendations from their friends and family over all forms of advertising. An impressive 92% of consumers who responded to their study agreed. We all have seen the power of word-of-mouth marketing grow.

Reaching out to your customers manually, at just the right time, to encourage or request a referral is possible. It’s just that it’s time-consuming and expensive. That’s why so many companies have turned to business messaging to increase customer referrals.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the nitty-gritty details of how to use business messaging to increase customer referrals. We’ll also give you a great example of how one of our leading clients puts messaging and bots to work in their organization to boost their customer referrals.

Why Referred Customers Are So Valuable

Aside from being a really effective form of marketing and making your business look awesome, referrals contribute directly to your bottom line. Here are 3 reasons why you need to make sure you have a healthy mix of referred customers in your pipeline:

1. Referred customers have a lower acquisition cost

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is the price you pay to obtain a new customer. That number includes your total Sales and Marketing. With other methods, you pay for each click and impression that lead up to converting that customer. 

Your CAC is significantly decreased when you recruit your current customers to do the sales and marketing for you. How much it decreases depends on the success of your referral program, if you offer incentives, and if you are manually doing outreach to your customers.

2. Referred customers are more loyal

In an era where consumers have so many readily available choices at their fingertips, it’s not a surprise that brand loyalty has dwindled. It’s more important than ever to reduce your customer churn.

The Journal of Marketing reports that referred customers are 18% more loyal than non-referred customers. When your customers refer you to their family, friends, or extended network, you receive the benefit of the trust and credibility they’ve built up among their community. It’s also likely that referred customers will have a stronger sense of commitment and attachment to your company because someone they know, like, and trust has matched them to your brand.

Customers that refer you also have a higher likelihood of having a long-term relationship with your company. This is why the intention to refer a company is frequently used as an indicator of loyalty to that brand.

3. Referred customers are more profitable

So far, we’ve determined that referred customers are less costly to acquire and have a higher likelihood to be more loyal. But that’s not all. There are also other ways they are generally more profitable for a business. Referred customers are also more likely to refer others to your business. Rinse and repeat #1 and #2.

In addition to that, your referring customer will likely have a deeper relationship with your product or service. That may mean a higher frequency of using your service or a history of exploring more features. These customers are a lot more advanced than a novice customer. 

Consistent positive experiences with different products means that these customers are likely to spend more over their entire life time as your customer. Think of it like this. If you’re a clothing brand and your customer loves the new pants they bought from you, it’ll be a lot easier to sell them the shirt and the jacket.

Why You Should Automate Your Customer Referral Program

business messaging to increase customer referrals can be automated with chatbotsWith these incredible benefits, you’d think every company would have a referral marketing campaign. The honest truth is that asking your customers at the right time to leave a review isn’t always as easy as it seems. And you will have to ask. 

According to a marketing survey conducted by Texas Tech, 83% of satisfied customers are willing to refer products and services. But, only 29% actually do. Implementing and managing customer referrals can be difficult to present at the right time if you have to do it manually.

A lot of companies out there know how painful it is to effectively execute a referral program where agents are making outbound calls to request a referral from their customers. Brinks Home Security has been able to automate their referral program using messaging and bots.

In a previous post, we examined how Brinks used messaging and bots to increase their customer retention. Now, let’s take a look at how the company was able to take their customer referral process to the next level with messaging and bots.

The Quiq bot that Brinks created combines their survey platform with their email service provider. The Quiq bot brings those two customer data streams together to invite new referrals to the Brinks family. 

Brink Bots customer referral bot for customer engagement

Once a current customer submits a survey indicating that they are a happy customer, the Quiq bot will ask for email addresses of anyone they think would enjoy Brinks service as well. The Quiq bot will pass those email addresses to Brinks Email Service Provider. 

Prospects are then informed that they were referred and invited to take a look at Brinks products and services. If the prospect signs up, then the Quiq bot will match the newly signed customer with the customer who referred them and send both customers free product options.

All of this is done with no human intervention. The process is streamlined and infinitely repeatable with none of the intense labor and expense of outbound calling.

Don’t Wait To Use Business Messaging To Increase Customer Referrals

It’s great when your customers eagerly act as advocates for your business on their own accord. That may happen now and again, but if you want to grow your business, retain the customers you already have, and reach your revenue goals, you’ll have to be more proactive with your referral program.

Implementing messaging and bots to automate your customer referral program will save time, money, and make the process easier for your company. More importantly, an automated process like the one Brinks uses makes it easier for your customers.

If you’d like to learn more about using bots in your current workflows visit our bot webpage or take a look at one of our bot webinar replays.

Retailers Are Leaving Money On The…Tablet and Smartphone

The 2019 holiday season saw Cyber Monday break ecommerce records with $9.4 billion coming from online sales. An impressive $3 billion of those sales occurred on a smartphone – double the prior year. Mobile rules consumers’ personal lives and how organizations engage with consumers via mobile is quickly evolving. 

Mobile shopping has been clearly gaining ground year over year, but retailers are still “catching up” to consumer’s preferences. In a recent survey conducted by Sapio research titled “2020 Mobile Retail Trends”, retailers admit they have a lot of work to do. 

Let’s take a brief look at the history of mobile shopping for insight into why this game of catch-up is afoot. Then, we’ll examine the mobile retail trends happening today which are shaping the future of retailer’s mobile shopping strategy.

The Evolution of M-Commerce or Mobile Shopping 

Believe it or not, consumers have been buying things on their phones since 1997. Back then, purchases were limited to ringtones and services. No one called it M-commerce then, but that term now describes any monetary transaction completed using a mobile device.  As years passed, transactions became more sophisticated, but the first tangible goods weren’t sold until 2003. Even then, the process required users to register their bank accounts online and reply “yes” to special offers sent to them through text messages.

Mobile shopping didn’t really get a boost until the first iPhones were released in 2007. Turns out, putting the internet into everyone’s pocket would change everything. According to data from Ericsson, data usage exploded at a staggering rate, while voice data clipped on at a steady pace over the years. 

The accessibility and freedom that smart devices offer created a whole new generation of tech-savvy and informed buyers. At the same time, the number of new services, like streaming videos and music, shaped a new expectation that purchases should be available instantly. 

Not only did consumers expect retailers to make products more available, but they expected any pre-sales service or post-sales support to be available too, especially with the ever-growing popularity of social channels like Facebook and Twitter adding to the digital places consumers expect to see their favorite retailers and brands. All of these changes took place at a staggering rate, leaving many retailers trying to discern where and how they should best invest their resources. 

That brings us to today. The new era of mobile commerce requires retailers to have a presence on the digital channels their customers spend their time, including SMS/text, mobile web chat, and social channels. M-commerce has evolved into conversational commerce, and there are real costs to missing out on this new way of doing business. 

The Cost of Missing Out on Conversational Commerce

According to comScore, mobile retailers are missing an opportunity to capitalize on the amount of time consumers spend on their phones, evidenced by the gap between share of minutes and dollars spent. Four of the top five reasons consumers cite for not-converting on a mobile site involve basic difficulties with usability.

If you’ve ever visited a website that isn’t optimized for mobile on your phone, you know how frustrating it can be. Tiny buttons and links serve as impossible touch targets, scrolling that never ends, and forms that are difficult to fill out on a tiny keyboard, create hassles and often result in abandonment.

The issues above are a source of friction for consumers. The more friction, the less likely customers are to convert. Busy, stressed out, and impatient consumers are not willing to wait for a slow page to load or spend time trying to figure out how to add products to their carts.

Contrast that to the new conversational commerce way of engagement:

  • For example, let’s say you are shopping for some new decor on Pier 1’s website, so you send their customer service a text for a little help. Pier 1’s agent sends you a few options of artwork that may match your style by using rich messaging in order to better help you visualize your choices. You find artwork that you think would work over your couch and snap a picture of your room to view the artwork over your couch using augmented reality. Happy with the piece, the agent places it in your cart and you securely check out with just a few taps – all within the messaging conversation.

That’s a big difference from today, and it’s a difference that retailers can feel on their bottom line. According to research conducted by Sapio Research, 65% of respondents state that mobile technology has actually increased their revenue. For your customers, it means a more fluid experience. In fact, our clients have experienced double digit higher customer satisfaction scores with messaging versus traditional email and phone channels.

Trends Shaping Mobile Shopping

According to the “2020 Retail Mobile Trends Report”, the evolution of mobile shopping is clearly pointing retailers in the direction of being “mobile-first”. This goes way beyond making sure that your website has a responsive design. Although responsive design is important for a better experience across multiple screens, being mobile-first means just that – putting the mobile experience first.

In the 2020 Retail Mobile Trends Report, 37% of retailers have integrated mobile into their holistic customer experience. From browsing to buying, to engaging with a brand online and in-store, mobile is part and parcel to the planned and purposeful buying experience. You can download the full report from Sapio from the Quiq website.

The majority of respondents (54%) to Sapio’s survey admitted that they’re not fully prepared to meet consumer demands for mobile, and it shows. According to the latest conversion rate data by Smartinsights, approximately 4.14% of consumers convert when shopping on their desktop, while only 1.53% of shoppers convert on their mobile phone.

Seizing Mobile Retail Trends

Mobile is the future of retail and consumers will not tolerate the outdated retail processes and channels that existed before smartphones, like calling a 1-800 number and waiting on hold to place an order. If you’re like most retailers, you may be wondering what the fastest way to seize the opportunity of today’s mobile retail preference is. Luckily, there’s a way to leapfrog into this new era of conversational commerce by implementing messaging.

With Quiq’s messaging platform, you can enable your current landlines to send and receive messages across a wide portfolio of digital channels. Skip the app entirely. You can easily provide your customers with rich messaging experiences through Google Business Messaging and Apple Business Chat, allowing them to browse, shop, and complete secure transactions without leaving the messaging conversation. With Quiq’s conversational engagement platform, companies can easily orchestrate commerce and service conversations involving both bots and humans.

If you’re ready to dismiss the reservations around messaging and increase your mobile conversion rate, set up some time to discuss it with one of our messaging experts. We’re looking forward to helping you ride this wave of mobile retail trends to a more profitable future.

See a Demo Today

Is AR Chat the New Retail Battleground?

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

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

AR Chat – A Must-Have Retail Tool

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

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

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

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

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

Uniting AR and Messaging for a Better Customer Experience

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

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

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

Enhanced Messaging for Retailers with Quiq

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

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

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

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

How Chatbots Are Revolutionizing eCommerce

In recent years, chatbots have made their way into the mainstream, becoming an integral part of the way modern businesses interact with consumers. In this post, we’ll take a look at chatbots and how they are playing an increasingly important role in eCommerce. We’ll then dive into the ways that businesses can use bots across all channels.

What are chatbots?

Chatbots are software applications that simulate human conversation.  Customers can interact with chatbots much like they would with a human via SMS/text, web chat, social media or in a company’s app. Chatbots can be written to follow simple instructions such as to greet the customer with “Hi, how can I help you?” and ask for the customer’s name. Bots can also execute more complex processes based off of rules or keywords such as gathering order information, routing the customer to a different department, and displaying the customer’s order history to the agent.

The earliest chatbots were simple systems that picked up keywords from a user’s message which triggered certain scripts. Responses may have come across as canned, but the mere fact that a user was chatting with a robot was novel in itself. In the 1960s, computer scientists at MIT developed ELIZA, which emulated a psychotherapist. Many individuals who used Eliza were convinced they were talking to a real person at the time. Though it was initially developed to show the superficiality of human communication, the developers were surprised by the large amount of feedback they received attributing human-like emotion to the machine. Chatbots have come a long way since then. Modern artificial intelligence has made it so chatbots are more helpful than ever, and natural language processing has seen major developments in recent years. Now, chatbots are instrumental to the way that many businesses connect with customers. Through Facebook, SMS, and web chat, chatbots can guide customers through every step of their path to purchase as well as provide intelligent customer support.

Live-Chat-Software-Chatbot-Messaging-Window

How contacting customer service has evolved

Calling and emailing a company for pre-sales questions or post-sales support has gone the way of the VCR. Sure, there are some people out there that still use those channels, but for the vast majority, it’s not the first way people think of when they need to reach a business. Today’s connected consumers demand engagement that’s flexible, convenient, and fast. That’s why consumers are gravitating towards mobile means of engagement, where they can have more control over when and where conversations take place. The availability of smartphones and tablets mean that browsing, buying, and requesting support can happen anywhere there’s a mobile device available and consumers haven’t hesitated to use this freedom to engage businesses whenever and however is most convenient for them. Live chat for business, for example, is frequently used for customers to connect while they are browsing a company’s site.  Further efforts to connect with customers on their own terms has led many companies to enable their landlines to send and receive SMS/text messages since many consumers prefer texting over phone calls. The mere thought of managing conversations over multiple channels would normally keep contact center managers up at night fretting about operations and agents worrying about efficiency metrics.

Quiq’s messaging platform bring conversations from SMS/text, web chat, social, and in-app into one streamlined UI so that agents and managers have one place to manage every conversation. Unlike phone calls and emails that can only be handled on a 1:1 basis, messaging platforms, like Quiq, allow company employees to handle multiple conversations at once. We see employees handle 6 to 8 concurrent conversations at one time. Even with all the efficiency modern messaging platforms provide, human-only messaging systems are limited by things such as hours of operation and the amount of staff available. Enter the chatbot. Businesses are adopting chatbots for every messaging channel, including web chat, SMS/texting, and social channels as a way to route customers to the right department, or to an agent that can help them. Today, advanced chatbots, like those powered by Quiq, are predicted to handle 85% of customer service interactions by 2020, using artificial intelligence to meet the unique needs of customers in increasingly efficient and satisfactory ways, such as greeting the customer and gathering data to better understand the nature of their inquiry.

What chatbots offer to eCommerce

eCommerce is perfectly suited for the features that chatbots offer since the entire customer journey — right up until delivery — primarily happens on mobile devices. Chatbots are available around the clock to engage customers with a welcome message, suggest products or promotional offers based on their browsing history, and help answer any questions that arise. Consider some of these interactions where a chatbot can help augment interactions with human agents:

  • Determining the type of question, whether pre-sales or post-sales, in order to route the inquiry to the correct team.
  • Collecting information on what the customer is shopping for to narrow down a selection or suggest pages that customers should check out.
  • Checking on order and shipping status.
  • Helping customers troubleshoot a technical issue by asking questions to eliminate possible causes.
  • Providing returning customers automated help with a password reset.

If the consumer makes an inquiry or gives feedback which is beyond the chatbot’s capabilities, it can seamlessly and immediately connect the consumer to an appropriate agent. The approach of having chatbots as the first point of contact, to gather data for human agents, maximizes efficiency and frees up resources while still maintaining the human element. In fact, chatbots can be used throughout the conversation, not just as the first contact. Human agents and bots can seamlessly transfer messages back and forth without disrupting the customer’s experience.

Perfecting messaging for business

In fact, Facebook Messenger, Apple Business Chat, and Google Rich Business Messaging are all popular avenues for connecting with customers. The more your eCommerce enterprise branches out into these engagement channels, the tighter your connection will be in the daily lives of consumers. Modern customer service is all about providing solutions to customers on their own terms. That means that consumers should be able to reach you whenever they want to, via the channels that they prefer. Quiq enables companies to engage with customers over multiple channels while using live agents, chatbots, or a combination of both. As chatbots become increasingly capable of complex tasks, the expectations that customers have when interacting with chatbots will only grow. Your customer service interface reflects the quality of your eCommerce brand as a whole, which is why it’s critical to use a platform that continues to advance along with the times. Quiq helps your brand stay ahead of the curve with advanced features such as agent performance optimization and real-time reports.

Get Quiq and get chatting

Chatbots will continue to transform the way customers interact with businesses. By connecting with your customers via their preferred modes of text communication, you can ensure that you’re speaking their language and getting your message across. This means increased connections, higher sales, and improved customer satisfaction. If your brand is ready to explore the potential of a perfected chatbot platform, request a demo with Quiq today.

Increase Conversion Rates With These 7 Business Messaging Tips

While conversion rates are more traditionally tied to eCommerce sites, it’s a metric that every company cares about. A conversion can mean different things for different companies. Websites can measure conversions by the number of visits, form fills, subscriptions or, more commonly the number of sales made. The goal you’re measuring can be a macro goal, like requesting a demo or it could be a micro-conversion such as watching a video. No matter what the conversion is, there’s always one universal thread that binds them all together. Everyone wants more of them.

Your conversion rate is a direct reflection of the number of visitors that find value when they visit your website. For the purpose of this article, we’ll think about a conversion as any action that leads to revenue generation such as a cart checkout or an appointment confirmed. In this article, we’ll share a few customer messaging tips to help you increase your online conversion rate.

Text Messaging Increases Conversions

Driving traffic to your site is only part of the conversion equation. Once you get traffic there, that user will either bounce from your site or engage in some way. Messaging may not be an obvious way to get more conversions, but it’s proven to be an effective one. Again, we’re seeking to move a site visitor to complete a transaction. There may be some barriers you have to remove for that visitor before they complete the transaction, such as finding the right solution on your site or answering questions about security. Messaging is the vehicle to help you do that.

The average conversion rate across for online retailer is just about 2%. While that may seem shockingly low to some, achieving that number takes some serious effort. Optimizing your site with compelling copy, clear call to actions and easy, logical navigation are critical to hit even the average number of conversions. It’s not unrealistic to achieve conversion rates higher than 2%, but you need to employ ways to get your site visitors engaged with your brand.

Quiq clients have realized an increase in conversions when they’ve implemented messaging. Retail clients, like The Laundress for example, use messaging to provide customers with personalized help to find and purchase the right products. Messaging has allowed their agents to provide the same kind of white-glove service to online customers that visitors to the retailer’s trendy SoHo location have come to expect.

At Quiq, we believe any customer should be able to reach any business via messaging. Why? Because interacting via messaging is the fastest and most convenient way to do business. We’ve also found that messaging encourages customers to re-engage with your brand.

Whether you already have messaging available on your site or are considering opening this up as a channel for your customers, there are a few critical things to keep in mind to make the experience truly beneficial for you and your website visitor. Follow these 7 customer messaging tips to increase conversion rates.

7 Customer Messaging Tips to Increase Conversions

1. Make live chat available right on the homepage

On a sales floor, you don’t let customers suffer in silence. At a trade show, you wouldn’t let prospects just wander aimlessly around the booth. It shouldn’t be hard for customers to reach you on your website. Put out the welcome mat and let customers know that you’re available to answer questions right away.

There are a few asynchronous ways your customers can contact you that sit under the Messaging umbrella. Live chat, SMS, MMS, rich messaging, and social platforms like Twitter and Facebook all present opportunities for you to connect, engage, and convert. All of these channels can be easily managed with the Quiq platform.

2. Make text messaging just as easy

If you’ve ever tried live chat on a mobile phone you know that the experience is less than ideal. Considering the number of purchase decisions that begin with and end with search on a mobile phone, it would be wise to make sure your mobile experience rival that of your desktop experience.

While chat may be the answer for desktop customer messaging, it can be clumsy and cumbersome on a mobile device. Instead, enable a “Text Us” option on your mobile optimized site so that your customer can communicate via their native messaging app. Most traditional chat experiences require both agent and customer to maintain a constant presence on chat, otherwise the chat “times out” and closes itself automatically. Because Quiq’s chat and messaging channels are all asynchronous, the conversation is never closed and it never ends. This allows your customer to send and respond to messages when it’s convenient for them.

3. Use inviting imagery

Since we’re visual creatures by nature, the use of well lit, clear images will keep customers engaged in the conversation and provide more context around the conversation. For retailers, this could be just the right enticement for customers to explore more product lines.

Modern messaging apps allow sharing of hi-res images, videos, links, PDFs, and gifs. Include attractive images of products, videos of client testimonies, or even fun emojis depending on the conversation to add that personal touch.

4. Add an element of interactivity

No one likes a one-sided conversation where one side is talking and the other side may, or may not, be listening. People and your customers want to be heard. It is critical to ensure there are open, two-way channels to support this requirement. Some communication channels, like email may feel like you were “talking at” your customers, modern messaging apps, like Apple Business Chat and Google RCS helps you “talk with” your customers.

These messaging platforms, allow consumers to easily interact with rich cards. Now consumers can choose from a list of available times to schedule an appointment or select the color of an item from a list products – all within a messaging conversation with just a few taps.

5. Give an approximate time for a reply

Every channel has certain expectations that come with it. The same goes with messaging. Customers expect ease, convenience and timeliness. If a successful promo or other event spikes your wait times on the messaging channel, let your customers know how long they can expect to wait.

Couple their approximate wait time with a message such as “Our wait times are longer than expected due to our successful winter sale”. This seemingly small tweak not only notifies your customers how long they may wait, but also provides some social proof that affirms your brand. As we’ve come to understand, social proof, like referrals or online reviews can help online conversions.

6. Provide multiple options for communication

Contact center leadership may cringe at the thought of having to manage multiple contact points simultaneously. Omni-channel communications can sound daunting but Quiq Messaging makes it manageable.

You never know where a prospective buyer may see you. An intriguing Tweet, an irresistible photo on Facebook, or a search on Siri could prompt a prospect to reach out to you. With Quiq, you can easily manage every conversation that comes in via text, live chat, app, social profiles, or searches on Google and Apple.

7. Have a real person available to assist with questions

Consumers are turning to messaging because they’ve exhausted their patience on FAQ pages and with email, and they simply don’t want to call for help just to wade through a confusing IVR system to talk to a live agent. They want answers, and they want them now.

Quiq clients have found success in using technology such as chatbots to gather information prior to handing the conversation over to a live agent. The main objective is supporting the agent with enough information to help your customer faster. Use automation to enhance the human touch, not replace it.

Increasing conversion rates, no matter what that may mean for your site is about getting visitors engaged. While messaging have proven over and over again to be the friction-free way for customers to get post-sales service, we’re seeing more evidence everyday that proves it is also providing the pre-sales support that increases conversions. Ready to join the growing list of Quiq clients who are realizing a boost in their conversion rates? Request to see a short demo today.

Consumer Packaged Goods Face New Dawn of Retail

In the constantly evolving, sometimes frantic, world of Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), there’s always constant pressure on product development to deliver innovation and products that create differentiation in the marketplace. In the past, winning shelf space, well merchandised end caps, and timely promotions were all it took to get in front of consumers.

Rapidly changing customer expectations, an ever-widening competitive landscape, and technology have changed that. There is a retail renaissance underway where consumers are using their mobile devices to explore a vast landscape of choices and expect 24/7 support. In this article, we’ll discuss how consumer brands can meet the expectations of the modern consumer with messaging.

Purchasing Power to the People

Consumer brands have long been in the driver’s seat, picking the location, times, and variety of products available to consumers, but there has been a shift in power from brands to consumers. Parking, long lines, and lack of variety have driven consumers to explore ways to weed out the disjointed, bulky, and disappointing aspects of shopping.

Consumers are buying more than ever. However, the way that they are buying has changed drastically over the last few years, and their mobile phones are at the center of their experience. Mobile stats show steady growth in the number of smartphone users who make purchases from their device or use their mobile phone while shopping at brick and mortar locations to look up a product review or compare prices.

A growing digital fluency has led to a higher expectation of immediacy and personalization in all aspects of shopping online and off. The product is still the bedrock of the CPG/customer relationship, but the foundation must also rest on the speed and convenience of information and engagement consumers have come to expect from every brand and every interaction in their lives.

Consumer Brands: Overly Focused on Product?

Recent Deloitte research revealed that the majority of brand leaders (60%) believe product quality or product uniqueness (15%) are the company’s unique value proposition. These numbers tell a story of brands that are stuck on product differentiation as the thing that will set them apart from their competitors and drive customer engagement and loyalty.

This belief is why you’ll likely see significant investments in R&D and marketing. Meanwhile, the customer experience is suffering. Research shows that most consumers aren’t struggling with shopping or paying for products. Consumers can quickly find a variety of choices at the scroll, tap, and swipe of their finger.  

The most significant opportunity for customer experience improvement is at the top of the funnel with engagement and discovery (32%) and awareness and acquisition (24%).  These are the areas that Quiq clients are aligning technology in creative and efficient ways to optimize customer engagement and influence the consumers’ path to purchase through messaging.

Increase Share of Cart

Losing customers at the top of the funnel can be a really difficult to address. Consumers have more choices than ever before and if they have pre-sale questions about the product or your brand, you want to be able to address those questions in a fast and convenient way. Now, customers can text your existing landlines like they text their friends and family to get the answers that help brands increase conversion and share of cart.

Consumers are already shopping with their mobile phones in hand – comparing prices and looking at alternative products. Adding “Text Us” to your packaging can help those consumers who may need extra guidance on a purchase engage with your brand in an easy, convenient way when they need help the most. Messaging enables brands to have personal conversations with consumers and address their specific questions.

Maybe you don’t test on animals or use vegetable based inks and recycled paper on your blister cards. Perhaps you give a percentage of profits to a charity that connects with your audience. Packaging and in-store signage can only go so far to educate the consumer. Text messaging allows your brand to further tell your story, product benefits, and community involvement.

Quiq clients, like Direct Digital, decided to offer consumers the opportunity to reach them using messaging – text/SMS, Facebook Messenger, web chat, and IVR to text. This nutritional supplement brand found that when customers have questions about a product purchase, they can choose how they want to engage – at the moment of need – making it super easy to get answers quickly, thus converting them to purchase.  

The Cure for Engagement Ails

Messaging is everywhere, instant, interactive, viral, and informative. What started off as a way to connect with family and friends has now crept its way into every aspect of our lives. People all over the world use messaging every day in their personal lives, and now, consumers are looking for the brands they trust to send and receive the messages that matter to them.

Messaging has helped clients like Direct Digital readily engage with consumers on the go, using the one thing they can’t seem to be without – their mobile device. Innovative brands like Direct Digital are using their accessibility at the top of the funnel as a competitive advantage to increase sales, engagement and brand loyalty.

From new product introductions to product recalls, consumer brands have good reason to want to use messaging as a way to quickly and conveniently engage with consumers. With a 98% open rate and a 30% response rate, messaging is more effective than email or phone calls.

Quiq Messaging enables two-way communications with customers via text messaging and can be used to promote new products and build brand awareness so brands can continue to strengthen the relationship as the consumer moves down through the purchase funnel. If your brand is ready to lead the new dawn of retail, contact us for a short demo.

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.

3 Ways Messaging Helps Retailers Win Big

Technology is drastically changing the face of the retail world. If you don’t believe it, look up the term “Digitally Native Vertical Brand” (DNVB). The use of technology has given rise to a new kind of retailer that has made online brands like Kasper and Harry’s household names, but it’s not technology alone that has created this change.

A new kind of retailer exists because there is a new kind of customer. Customers who demand convenience and personalization from brands that fit into their mobile lifestyle are the new norm. These customers are not just mobile phone wielding millennials but include every generation, gender, and background across all demographics and socio-economic profiles. The use of text messaging via SMS, Facebook Messenger and web chat are how all consumers want to engage with you – and anyone else for that matter.

Retailers Know Messaging Makes Sense

Many retailers, 52.1% according to internetretailer.com, think there are applicable use cases for messaging but haven’t made it a top priority. eMarketer reports that US retailer e-commerce professionals believe messaging makes sense for their business, yet only 29% of retailers employ it.

Here are three ways messaging and web chat are helping retailers win big:

  • Show customers their time is valued

Instead of phone calls about a return and an email message about the latest sale, retailers are using messaging (SMS, Facebook Messenger, web chat, etc.) to help consumers engage with their brand in a way that is easy, convenient, and the preferred method of communication for consumers. Messaging not only encourages consumers to communicate with retailers but signals that their time is valued.

As retailers start to centralize their digital engagement channels with messaging, consumers are taking note and coming back for more. Using the consumers’ preferred method to communicate creates a favorable impression of that retailer in the eyes of the customer. Our research shows that the ability to text message a company causes consumers to select one product over another, improves their brand perceptions, and increases their willingness to pay more.

  • Allow retailers to get their customers attention

Text messaging has a 96% open rate and most text messages are read within 3 minutes of receipt, according to Venturebeat, beating out even the best response rates of traditional ads and emails. Not only does messaging help retailers increase the chances that important messages are read, but helps them send targeted promotional campaigns and offers that their customers will find valuable.

Quiq Messaging allows retailers to send outbound messages that are personal, relevant and timely, and to even receive replies directly from consumers. Our clients see this as a way to initiate a two-way, not one-way, conversations with customers. Our clients send order confirmations, shipping, and delivery notifications, and promotions to their customers, building the kind of transparency and connection that consumers are looking for with their retail experience.

  • Save time and money without sacrificing the experience

Customers no longer want to be viewed as one shapeless, heaving mass of consumerism. Technology has allowed consumers to be viewed, not merely as a mass market or a segment, but as a network of individuals who influence what retailers offer and what other consumers buy.

The internet has made it easy for companies to offer products that are customized to consumers from custom tennis shoes to bobble heads. Communication should be no different. Customers want and expect communication to feel personal and purposeful – from offers and promotions to shipping notifications. Quiq Messaging offers retailers a way to tailor communications to every customer.

Usually, customization is costly, but with Quiq Messaging, you’ll see a reduction in costs to serve your customer with an increase in customer satisfaction scores. Because messaging is asynchronous, agents can handle multiple messages at once, reducing work time by 25-50%.

Adapt Early, Adapt Often

Retailers have the opportunity to embrace consumers new habits and leverage them to see quick wins. One of Quiq’s global retail clients commented about how silly it is looking back that she wasn’t more onboard with messaging in the beginning. This retailer has seen agent work time cut in half and she is now looking for ways to expand Quiq beyond the customer service desk to their IVR, web, and mobile sites.

As retailers look to attract millennials, now the largest age cohort in the U.S., it makes even more sense to adopt messaging, the preferred communication method of these busy, tech-dependant adults who will likely have lots of questions. It’s not hard to deploy, and it is easy to adopt – consumers and agents love messaging.

Quiq is helping retailers reach customers across all demographics with our easy to implement messaging solution, enabling customers to engage with companies via SMS, Facebook Messenger, web chat, and Kik. If you’re interested in learning how you can use Quiq Messaging to win big in retail, contact us for a demo.

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, Web Chat, In-App,and Kik for help with their pre-sales and post-sales questions. Learn more about Quiq today at quiq.com.