The way businesses communicate both internally and externally has always evolved due to constant innovation in communication technology.
These technological advances in communication have been driven by the need for increased speed and convenience.
Think about all the channels available for business and customer communication today: Phone, Fax, Email, Live Chat, Social Media and Text Messaging (SMS and MMS).
Which one of these channels would you say is the fastest and most convenient way for communication?
In my opinion, it would be text messaging. Here are the reasons why.
Although not new, text messaging is the fastest way to communicate without any barriers to connect.
As of 2018, 95% of Americans own a cellphone of some kind and 77% own a smartphone. So, no matter what kind of device a person has, they can exchange text messages.
Also, text messaging requires minimal effort to connect and can be exchanged regardless of phone type or service carrier.
But what are the benefits of text messaging for businesses?
For the consumer, it’s fast, easy and convenient, but for businesses, there are many benefits. Here are 5 examples.
1) High Engagement Rates
When it comes to communicating with customers, engagement and responsiveness are key. Industry stats show that text messages have a 98% open rate and 90% are read within 3 seconds.
So whether you’re sending out a personalized promotion or an appointment reminder, you can be confident that your customers will see it.
As an example, Weight Watchers utilized text messaging to send a coupon to their members and received a 54% response rate.
2) Improved Customer Service
Customer service agents have a very hard job. They handle all kinds of customer issues all day long and phone calls are costly and take a long time.
Don’t get me wrong, there are certain cases where a phone call is needed for complicated problems, but when dealing with simple questions and requests, text messaging can be a great way for customer service agents to serve multiple customers simultaneously and keep a record of the conversation for the future.
3) Streamlined Processes
A major part of cost reduction for businesses is improving process efficiency. The less time and effort it takes to complete a task, the more customers you can serve.
When text messaging, many business processes can be streamlined and automated to eliminate manual work from employees.
For example, many hotels enable text messaging for guests to request room service or housekeeping. If it was done through a phone call, the hotel staff would then need to manually send a request to the correct department for every request.
By using a text messaging software, this process can be automated by integrating the texting software with internal systems to automatically process the request to the right department when guests send a text for extra towels.
If you are not familiar, automation capabilities of business text messaging software are incredibility robust and can be used to streamline processes like ordering, scheduling, sending surveys and promotions.
4) Boosted Online Ratings
With all the online reviews sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google My Business available for people to do research on any business, it’s important to show why you are different from your competitors. When you provide exceptional service, your customers will tell everyone about it.
Plus your business will drive more sales as every one star increase in a Yelp rating can mean a 5-9 percent boost in revenue.
5) Strengthened Customer Relationships
Texting helps to strengthen relationships by being easily accessible to customers. If a customer has a question or wants to get in contact with you for whatever reason, they can reach you by simply sending a text message.
In addition, text messaging provides your business another way to personalize the customer experience to build loyalty by sending timely and relevant information and offers based on previous purchases and preferences.
Providing a personalized and convenient experience with your customers builds trust, and trust leads to loyalty. As you may know, personalization is becoming a crucial aspect of loyalty as 52% of consumers are likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t make an effort to personalize communications to them.
How are businesses using text messaging?
The versatility of text messaging enables businesses to communicate internally and with customers.
Some business use cases of text messaging include:
- Customer Service
- Product & service ordering
- Appointment Setting
- Payment Reminders
- Internal communication
- Human Resources & recruiting
What are the challenges of text messaging for businesses?
I’m not going to sit here and tell you texting can handle every business communication need because the reality of it is that it can’t.
While text messaging provides the convenience that customers love, it has its challenges.
1) Message Length Limit
Text messages are known to have a 160-character limit per message. Any additional characters will break the message into multiple messages.
This may cause issues in readability and message clarity for customers. As a best practice, only engage with text conversations when the task is simple.
If customers are asking complex questions that require a long answer, send them a link to a document or website, otherwise, a phone call would be a better fit for more complicated scenarios.
2) Personal Information
When businesses text message with customers, they usually use a software that provides high-level security to protect messages and customer information.
However, a data breach is still a concern. Sending or asking for personal information from customers should never be done through a text message or even email.
It should only be done through a phone call. With hackers getting more sophisticated, you need to ensure your customer information secure at all times.
3) Getting Customer Adoption
The idea of text messaging is still new to some consumers, so getting adoption is still a challenge for some businesses.
Most people think of texting as a personal communication channel and may be hesitant to grant permission for you to text them, thinking that you will just annoy them with irrelevant marketing messages.
One way to gain the trust of your customers is to have clear opt-in messages whether it’s in person, through your website, social media sites or other channels that let them know what they can expect when they opt into text messaging.
By letting customers know that they can text you with anything they need, and you will not send unsolicited marketing messages, you can gain that trust from your customers and build a more solid relationship with them. Of course, whenever they ask you to stop texting them, opt them out immediately.
In summary, text messaging can help improve your communication in many ways when done correctly and at the right time.
We are now in a world where the customer journey is physical, digital and mobile-driven, one way to connect those dots and complete the omnichannel experience is through text messaging.
As business SMS, MMS and now RCS messaging technology rapidly advancing, it will be soon before texting can become the preferred communication channel for both consumers and businesses.
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