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Cool Feature: Instant Messaging Channel for Customers

Businesses are searching for additional ways to serve customers as they continue to operate with less resources and limited in-person contact brought on by the pandemic. Some have implemented a feature-rich eCommerce site with pickup and delivery options to accommodate buyers. Others, like McGuckin Hardware, have gone a step further by adding an instant messaging tool to their arsenal to strengthen and streamline their customer service offerings.

Known as Instaply, this text-as-a-service messaging platform helps the independent hardlines retailer and their customers communicate with one another instantly and efficiently. McGuckin recently had Instaply integrated into their eCommerce platform built by Unilog. Bill Harrison, Technical Operations Manager at McGuckin, says Instaply has opened up a new avenue of communication for them. “It allows us to help the customer shop and answer their questions immediately, without having to go back and forth with e-mails. It’s a huge timesaver for them,” remarks Harrison.

How it works

Instaply lets you to connect with more buyers by adding text messaging as an engagement channel. Using a dedicated phone number, customers can send SMS text messages from their mobile phone directly to your business with their product questions, service requests, and more. They can send product pictures to get more information such as specifications, pricing, and availability. Their questions are instantly fed from the platform to your employees, who then communicate with one another through a backend interface before responding to the customer.

Instaply mobile messaging app for McGuckin Hardware

But Instaply messaging is not limited to a buyer’s mobile device. People can interact with you across all their favorite messaging channels – from Facebook Messenger to Instagram. They can also access the instant messaging tool directly on your eCommerce site. This website chat feature works better than a typical chatbot tool in that it offers immediate responses by actual team members, not simulated communications.

McGuckin Hardware has enabled Instaply messaging on their new eCommerce platform

Instaply offers both desktop and mobile app versions of their platform to give employees the flexibility to engage with buyers while they’re at their workstation, in a store aisle, or in the warehouse.

Desktop version of the Instaply application

Employee collaboration

In-app messaging between team members provides more opportunities to collaborate to better meet customer needs. “All our employees are logged into the app so they work together to answer customer questions and ensure the information we’re providing is accurate and helpful,” explains Harrison. “It all happens behind the scenes in a private conversation thread, so the customer doesn’t see the back and forth messages between team members.”

In-app messaging allows for team collaboration without the customer’s visibility

Order efficiency

McGuckin also uses Instaply to manage online orders for customer pickup. When an order is ready for pickup, they send the customer a text message, along with instructions to text them when they arrive so their staff can bring out their order. When they’re fulfilling an order and see a product is out of stock, they message the customer with substitute options and receive immediate answers back so their order isn’t held up.

Instaply is a cloud-based platform that works with your website and backend systems through a simple API integration. If you’re looking to strengthen and streamline the customer experience, consider implementing Instaply into your digital branch.

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