Consumers in 2020 are more tech-savvy and connected than ever. With the mobile experience rising in importance throughout the last decade consumers are now demanding the ability to use text messages to communicate with customer support. Not only that. Brands are also using text messages and in-app communications for acquisition. Both of these are powerful uses of the well-established SMS technology. The ubiquity of SMS makes it easy to reach customers, but context matters. Reaching out to customers with sales, discounts, and when service is needed can be powerful uses, but “cold messaging” has shown itself to be ineffective. By building text-based communication into the larger customer journey at your business, you lower the barrier for customers to receive support or engage with your brand’s acquisition efforts. All of this points to what we already know. Real-time omnichannel customer journeys are becoming the norm.
How Brands can Implement Customer Service Efficiencies from SMS
Most customers own smartphones and other SMS capable devices. For many, these devices are their preferred means of interaction across social, the web, and more. Yet almost paradoxically, making a phone call can seem daunting or like extra effort. In fact, 72% of consumers under the age of 65 said that the ability to text a live agent would improve their customer service experience. To make customer service easy, provide an SMS option for customer support.
Text-based support functions could take many shapes, but they must plug into the wider customer journey. One example of this might be connecting a customer’s web profile with their phone. Then if they have an issue they can text a pre-generated number to be put in touch with a customer service representative. With the rise of web-enabled SMS tools, it’s possible to connect these messages directly to customer service agents. Because SMS is a well-understood technology, this can also save technical issues with web chat, which can sometimes have performance differences across browsers. The added benefit to this from a customer perspective is that the effort to send a text message is much lower than to make a phone call or pull up a webchat on their home computer.
How Brands Can Use SMS for Intelligent Acquisition
For acquisition, texting can be a powerful driver for re-engagement and to entice customers in real-time. Where web-based activity and even ads and emails require the customer to be in a specific mode of interaction, consumers will often see or respond to a text without thinking twice. This makes texting a powerful way to bring in customers that might be on the edge of converting. Take for example a retailer who sells clothing. Perhaps a customer has shown interest but hasn’t purchased anything yet. Receiving a text when a new style or color comes in could easily trigger further engagement. It’s important to note that in this case the retailer has an existing relationship with the customer. If they were reaching out for the first time, without building that relationship, SMS might not be an appropriate channel.
Text-driven engagement can take many forms, especially when companies tie it in with the larger customer journey. By considering the customer’s context and using advanced decisioning to decide when to send, suppress, or change messages, brands can see even greater value. If you have a customer profile associated with their phone number, you can tie web activity with the text messages they receive. Consider cart abandonment messages – which often involve a discount code sent by email. If you could text them instead and offer the ability to chat with an agent, the added convenience and contact can drive even more purchases. One word of caution when it comes to using texts for customer communication. Over-communicating by text can increase a creep factor, as can instant responses driven by omnichannel activity. To combat this, you need to use smart decisioning tools that can help you send the right message at the right time and know when not to send a message as well.
The Big Picture: Omni-Channel Journeys Deliver the Most Value
SMS messaging isn’t the only tool you need for great customer experience, but it should be in your toolbox. With the increasing number of channels involved in a typical customer journey, it’s crucial you learn how to manage interactions effectively in real-time. If you’re interested in learning more about real-time interaction management and how you can make text-based customer support or any other technology part of an omnichannel customer journey, you should read Kitewheel’s guide to Real-Time Interaction Management. It’s full of great tips and crucial information to help you get started with RTIM.