In modern communication, phone calls and emails continue to play a steady role in many people’s lives. However, the continuous shift toward faster communication has made social media channels more popular than ever, as well as the ever-dominant channel for quick communication: SMS, or text messaging. Portio Research found that people worldwide will send 8.3 trillion text messages in 2015 alone, while Forrester found that over 6 billion text messages are sent in the U.S. each day. The statistics therefore suggest that SMS is as viable a channel as ever for effective communication, and brands should certainly take notice. Here are five tips for using this channel to enhance the customer experience while boosting sales and long-term loyalty.
Giving customers the option to reach out over SMS is important, but it’s equally critical to make the channel optimized for customer service. This means that agents should be trained to handle service texts quickly and efficiently, treating them as they would a chat (using concise but clear sentences with a conversational yet professional tone). Other ways to use SMS for customer service include updating customers on delivery processes, such as providing tracking numbers and delivery time updates. A Harris poll further found that customers’ top three preferred service interactions via text were checking order status, scheduling or changing appointments, and making or confirming reservations. Giving customers quick and easy access to information is thus critical for the SMS channel.
SMS is an ideal channel for targeted marketing offers. Based on customer preferences and purchase history, brands can schedule text updates announcing upcoming sales as well as discount codes or vouchers. Geolocation tools can also be used to send offers to customers when they are in-store, as many studies have shown high redemption of in-store offers. A Velocify study found that sales prospects who are sent text messages convert at a rate that is 40% higher than those who are not sent any text messages. In addition, SMS is a channel that typically suits the preferences of mobile consumers who like to get their information on the go, so reaching out via text is a way of making brands more accessible to them.
Before any marketing offers are sent via text, it’s important to make sure your brand has the right to contact customers over this channel. Customers should first be asked during service interactions if they wish to receive text communications, and they should be given the right to opt out at any time with a reply such as “STOP.” Customers should also be informed of messaging and data rates that may apply.
Post-contact feedback surveys are important for delivering better service, and SMS can be a great channel for getting a higher customer completion rate. While emails and calls can be effective, text messages are known to get higher response rates. Another Velocify study indeed found that text messaging has a 45% response rate, while email has a 6% response rate. A CTIA study further found that it takes the average person 90 minutes to respond to an email but only 90 seconds to respond to a text. So how can customers be encouraged to actually respond to surveys? Send a link to the survey via SMS immediately after a service interaction, and make the survey mobile-optimized, easy to read, and no more than 10 questions.
No one wants to be bothered with brand information too early in the morning or late at night (not to mention in the middle of the night!). Be careful to text during normal working hours based on the customer’s time zone. In addition, it’s also wise to limit the frequency of texts to no more than 4 texts per month for sales purposes, as customers should never feel harassed and will value your brand more for communicating in a timely, relevant manner (for example, pre-sales events for retail brands).With the prevalence of text messaging in today’s communication, brands are set to deliver optimal service and compelling marketing offers quickly and efficiently while driving sales and customer satisfaction. Learn about Vocalcom omnichannel software solutions featuring optimized SMS.
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