Deliver superior customer service through text messaging

Customer service
Dec 21, 2021
min read
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Providing excellent customer service to your customers is a balancing act: You have to allow customers to contact you through the channels they prefer, and you have to manage all those channels properly so you can respond to your customers fast. Efficient customer service matters for immediate sales and long-term growth, because “96 percent of customers say customer service is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand.”

So, let’s consider SMS text messaging as a customer service tool. Text messaging is fast, easy, inexpensive, convenient, and offers answers in real-time. According to Techjury, “SMS has a 98 percent open rate compared to email marketing [and] 60 percent of customers read texts within 1-5 minutes after receiving them.”

Customers like SMS for customer service because they are in control and have the freedom to respond when they want to. Additionally, customers like being met where they are. Their phones are never far away and are the fastest way to reach them. Also, most mobile phone users have their texting alert sounds on, which means that the text messages are more likely to be read and read quickly versus an email that may never get seen. In fact, a 2021 eMarketer report states “almost all consumers have SMS notifications enabled and tend to read nearly all their texts.”

In this article, we’ll explore best practices for using SMS text messaging as a customer support method, discover effective ways of using it to meet the needs of our unique customer base, and see how both consumer and business benefit as a result.

Here is what we’ll cover going forward:

  • What is SMS customer support?
  • Best practices for SMS text messaging to provide support
  • Benefits of using SMS for customer support
  • ROI of SMS customer support

What is SMS customer support?

SMS customer support happens when a company uses text messaging to provide support using the customer’s personal text application.

Some examples are sending a text message to your customer that the item they have on backorder is in stock, answering questions about shipping and return policies, and notifying customers that their order has been delivered.

SMS text messaging can also be used to survey customers to get feedback on products or services or to give a rating on the level of customer service your business is providing.

Best practices for SMS customer support

How can you make the most of SMS for customer support?

1.       Choose a text messaging platform that allows you to access the customer’s name and profile information. That makes the communication more personal and can help your team resolve issues faster by showing them what’s going on with each customer.

2.       Time your text messages for maximum effectiveness. For example, send your text messages during normal business hours where your customers are located, so they’re not hearing from you in the middle of the night.

3.       Set up autoresponder texts to let your customers know when you are out of the office and when you’ll return to answer their questions. That way they aren’t left wondering why you’re not responding right away.

4.       Integrate your SMS text messaging customer service tool with your other technologies to help make the entire buying journey seamless, especially if your business model blends e-commerce and in-store customer journeys. According to a 2021 McKinsey & Company report, “more than one-third of Americans have made omnichannel features such as buying online for in-store pickup part of their regular shopping routine since the pandemic, and nearly two-thirds of those individuals plan to continue.”

5.   Keep your text messages to your customers short and to the point. Make sure your messages are clear and easy for the customer to respond to.

6.   Add SMS as a contact option on your website, to give customers a way to reach you besides calling, emailing, or chatting. To save the customer time and call-center money, include your SMS support information in your hold message on your customer support line.

Benefits of SMS customer service

Text messaging can create a better support experience for your customers and your employees.

SMS is less intrusive than calls and emails. Most of us don’t answer calls from unfamiliar numbers because there’s so much spam out there. With text messages, your customers don’t have to take a risk on picking up a call or taking the time to check their voicemail. The communication is in the customer’s control and makes them feel more in charge of the experience. Sending and receiving text messages is easy and nondisruptive, even if your customers are in a crowded place (or a boring meeting).

Customers are more likely to see SMS messages than emails. 98 percent of customers open text messages and 45 percent respond, while only 20 percent open email messages from companies and just 6 percent respond.

SMS customer support saves time and money. Using SMS is so much faster and less frustrating for customers than calling customer service and waiting on hold. That translates into fewer calls and lower call center expenses, too.

SMS messaging is also an excellent way to reach all of your customers or all of one segment in real time and also receive quick responses, making it easier and faster to capture key customer data that can make your marketing efforts more effective and precise.

SMS messages are customizable for a more personalized, branded experience. With the latest smartphone technologies, text messages can include rich text, links, emoji, and images for a more engaging and helpful customer experience. Personalization is an excellent way to help retain customers. In fact, “70 percent of consumers say a company’s understanding of their personal needs influences their loyalty.”

What’s the ROI on SMS text messaging?

So, is text-based customer service worth the investment? Typically, each customer service call costs between $6 and $8. Costs for SMS vary by carrier and plan, but 58 percent of companies worldwide cite “reduce costs” as one of the perks of using SMS to chat with a service agent.

eMarketer cites research that “brands can typically see a tenfold to twentyfold ROI from SMS,” as well as survey results showing that “quick resolution to a question” is among the kinds of text messages from companies that customers value most, along with appointment reminders, delivery updates, and booking status updates.

All of these factors make text messaging an ideal customer support tool for businesses of all sizes. SMS allows you to meet your customers where they are, in the channel most prefer, so you can increase customer satisfaction and retention, save your employees hours answering calls and emails, and enhance the overall customer experience in a personalized, cost-effective way.

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