The need for a wide range in company communication with clients has increased as our of ways to communicate expand. Business text messaging is one way that companies are beginning to suit the preferences for their busy customers. We’ve found that text messaging is an effective and professional way to communicate and we’ve outlined some business texting etiquette for y’all on this small business blog before. You may know now that there are instances that it is okay to reach out to a customer or client. But have you thought of using business text messaging for customer service?
The Many Models of Customer Service
There’s more than one way to help your customers. We believe the best way to do so would be a phone call to a virtual receptionist (a GOOD receptionist, preferably) and have the phone picked up quickly. You should then be able to find a quick solution to your issue with that representative or by having the call forwarded to the business owner, or on call person. This is the best way to go about customer service, and we’re pretty familiar with a high quality answering service, if you need one. 😉
But, for the sake of full disclosure, we’ll let you in on some of the different ways that you can handle customer service issues.
- live answering service
- automated customer service
- emailing customer service
- calling customer service
- business text messaging for customer service
- customer service chat interface on the company website
SMS? Text Messaging? Text? MMS?
If you’re a little younger, you might not be familiar with the term “SMS.” The term is pre-smartphone era. In fact, as early as I can remember, the shorthand messages sent from cell phone to cell phone were referred to as “Text Messages.”
SMS stands for Short Message Service. It’s the formal, early way of referring to text message, generally sent over a cellular data network. People mostly refer to these types of messages as simply “texts” these days.
Throughout this article, we’ll use these terms interchangeably. They’re the same old thing.
MMS is a little different. This acronym stands for Multimedia Messaging Service. Just as the name suggests, this allows the user to send out multimedia messages. This includes photos, videos, etc.
According to Lifewire.com, Standard MMS messages can support videos of up to 40 seconds, single images or slideshows, and audio clips. Using MMS, the iPhone can send audio files, ringtones, contact details, photos, videos, and other data to any other phone with a text messaging plan. Whether the recipient’s phone can play those files depends on that phone’s software and capabilities.
SMS sounds like MMS, but they aren’t quite the same. We’ll be focusing on SMS today.
Why SMS is a New Frontier of Customer Service
Simplicity is key. There’s no complicated interface when dealing with mobile-to-mobile messaging. Just a message and a recipient. Most people use it as their preferred way to communicate with family and friends. In fact, millennials exchange an average of 67 text messages each day with friends and family. My generation may be leading the way, but older customers aren’t too far behind in their usage (and, of course, younger phone users are sending far more texts.
Shouldn’t our favorite way to communicate among ourselves become our favorite way to deal with the daunting task of speaking with customer service?
The jury is still out for business texting. Many worry that this practice is intrusive or unprofessional, though it is rarely viewed that way. The biggest perceived problem with business text messaging is that texts are meant to be personal. Some customers feel their text message folder is strictly personal and get turned off by businesses that send what are obviously mass send outs of marketing messages.
The difference here is that business text messaging for customer service is personal. One-on-one conversations between a customer service representative and a customer can be a worthy alternative to existing communication channels.
Pros and Cons of Business Text Messaging for Customer Service
- Text messaging can be done whenever best suits the customer.
- This method of communication can be more efficient for brands.
- Customers won’t have to worry about call wait time.
- In this age of the introvert, we’re finding that most people prefer text messaging over phone calls.
- It’s what customers want. Globally, 85% of people want to be able to answer a message from a business as well as receive one and 64% of consumers in the U.S. think businesses should converse through business text messaging more often.
- You should ask for permission to send texts, and there should be an option to opt out.
- Text messaging for customer service generally ends up taking much longer from start to finish. This is because customers multitask and prioritize other tasks ahead of the customer service issue.
- If a customer takes a longer time to respond, you can also be looking at more customer service issues opened but left unresolved.
- If you’re using an automated text service and a customer asks a specific question, it’ll fall on deaf ears.
- You will need to set up additional tools for your receptionist or your call answering service team.
Companies that Already use Business Text Messaging for Customer Service
Zipcar, an alternative to car rental, uses business text messaging to confirm booking, send out reminders, and alert the customer when their reservation is soon to end. This way, the customer is able to use SMS to check and book for an extension on the rental service by sending a text back.
Most airlines rely on text messaging to alert passengers of flight delays, gate changes and cancellations. However, Southwest Airlines uses text messaging for other processes that make customer service more streamlined. Communicating with customers by phone cuts airport wait time and inbound passenger calls. Seems like a great way to keep customers satisfied!
Can Small Businesses use Text Messaging for Customer Service?
Yes! It may seem like any new way of doing business is restricted to only big businesses with big ad budgets. But, small businesses and one-on-one, personal messaging are a great fit. While big companies can out-do local businesses in some ways, small businesses have the upper hand in customer service. When people think of small businesses, they think of things like personalized service. In addition, they think of more individual attention for the customer and phenomenal customer loyalty rates. Small businesses have a personal approach that customers prefer.
Personal businesses and personal, one-on-one forms of communication go hand in hand, don’t you think?
Ways to use SMS for Customer Service
Customers rarely contact a business to complain about the service or product that they used. You know what they do instead? Take their money elsewhere and try to forget the experience ever happened. That’s bad for your business twice: not only are you not receiving a repeat customer, you don’t learn of the issue. If you never learn about the missteps your small business made that caused you to lose a customer, you won’t know to implement changes that will avoid a repeat occurrence.
An SMS poll allows the customer to vent about any issues in a way that they won’t feel uncomfortable. You’ll never know if they felt satisfied after using your product or service if you never ask! Business text messaging is the best way to go about this, because non-confrontational types are less likely to be willing to mention their qualms over the phone, and email poll response rates (6%) are significantly lower than text messaging (45%).
Service oriented businesses would definitely benefit from using business text messaging to remind customers of appointments. Fine-dining restaurants would also benefit from confirming a reservation via text message. It lessens the likelihood of last-minute cancellations and no-show clients, which will allow for you to do business with less surpries throwing you off. And who doesn’t love an appointment reminder without disrupting your day to take a call?
Emails, again, aren’t as efficient for this. People don’t open emails as frequently, so they’re less likely to receive your message.
Tips and Advice
This is a great marketing technique that creates the personal one-on-one business provider to customer we’re striving for. Business text messaging can be used to send out personalized texts to your clients. Whether you’re an auto mechanic or a hair stylist, this is a good way to form a relationship. The trick is to make sure that the texts are as targeted as possible and not too frequent. You want to be helpful and not sales-y.
There are several types of businesses that require a lot of bureaucracy. Insurance companies, health services, and rental agencies are some of the first that come to mind. Because of this, these businesses could utilize text messaging for customer service to communicate changes in policy, contact information adjustments, information updates, and extend contracts.
Just think: if you were trying to keep business open during a natural disaster or figure out disaster recovery for your small business, it would be an efficient time management technique to converse with your insurance adjuster via text message.
Apply this to your small business…
Consider if business text messaging for customer service is right for you and your customers. Are any of the above listed situations a part of your small business? Would it make your business run more smoothly or create more customer satisfaction? In addition, could it deepen your relationships with customers? Consequently, would this improve the quality of your business?
Now try this:
Leave a comment below about ways in which your small business could benefit from text messaging for customer service. After all, the uses are endless. Just be sure to ask permission first.