Posted on Tue, Mar 22, 2016 @ 08:00 AM by Carlos Lahrssen
Story time! I booked a weekend getaway at a hotel with a few friends, and they sent me a text confirmation after I booked the room online. This particular hotel’s text also mentioned that you could reply back with any questions or concerns, or call the number (which was listed and included in the message). So I did.
Fast-forward a few messages later, and my question was answered; no phone call necessary. This got me thinking about the usefulness of short message service (SMS) in business.
While high-quality calls are still essential to address more complicated customer inquiries, having a quick service on-hand to answer minor questions can be invaluable to a business’s resources and strategy. Assuming it is premised on a permission-based approach, of course.
In this blog, we are going to discuss this up-and-coming technology, and whether it’s right for your business.
Text Messaging as a Customer Service Strategy
10 years ago, sending a text message confirmation after an online purchase may have felt impersonal. This was, of course, right when mobile phones had begun gaining traction.
Now, more and more people prefer mobile phones for online browsing and purchases--in fact, a 2015 study from Pew Internet on U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015 shows that 85% of young adults own smartphones and 100% of this age group (18-29) use text messaging on their phone per a one-week period.
Other age groups, from 30-49 and 50+, were runner-ups at 98% and 92%, respectively. Those are all very high percentages! SMS text messaging is considered the most basic of functions on a smartphone, and is likely something we all use daily. So why not use this as a customer service strategy?
SMS Customer Service Strategy Pros
Now that we’ve established the usefulness of texting in a customer service strategy, here are some ways it can help your business:
- You can reach a wide number of people quickly: From election volunteers, hotels, news, college alerts, and otherwise, it’s a great way to facilitate communication and keep customers informed (barring the fact that they sign up for updates on their own volition, of course). I’m sure you’ve received a police alert on your phone within the last month or so--amber, silver, or something of the like.
- A language we all understand: Whether you’re a teenager or grandparent, chances are you understand how text messaging works. There’s no learning curve or new software you have to show people; it’s already been taught. This saves your business time and money.
- Saved Resources: We all have gotten very tech-savvy--the average person can respond to a text message much faster than waiting on a hold line for 5 minutes to ask one question. By having an SMS service, you can cut down trivial calls to your help desk.
- Reinforced Customer Service: Remember how we said 10 years ago, a message would seem impersonal? Now, a majority of people actually prefer interacting over the Internet or phone via texting than face-to-face. By responding in a timely manner and respectful verbiage, you are providing service to them. This is helpful for companies who are too large to have someone on-hand to answer the phone all the time.
Is SMS Right for You?
SMS may not be right for your business, but it definitely has benefits depending on your industry and area(s) of expertise. As businesses grow and expand to service hundreds and thousands of customers, text messaging is a great way to maintain a quick, personable response without frustrating a customer for being on hold for 20 minutes.
If you’re a call center or corporate office, this could be a convenient way to route people in the right direction, or answer basic inquiries. It's also helpful to give customers the choice to message a number rather than dial a number--think of it as a 21st century chat box, only with your text messaging app.
Is it going to completely replace a phone conversation? Of course not--but it’s a way we can leverage technology to better satisfy our customers. And that’s never a bad thing.
Topics: Business communications