SMS and the Customer Experience

19 Feb


Did you know texting has been around for nearly 20 years? It’s hard to imagine life without it, and yet only recently have big businesses started to pay close attention to text and SMS messaging. Which makes you wonder, why now? What are they up to?

 

Texting Tipping Point 

The Pew Research Center reports that texting is the most frequently used app on a cell phone—97 percent of Americans use texting at least once a day. When compared to average email open rates (20 percent), text messages score significantly higher at 98 percent.

The numbers all point toward mobile, which is no surprise in 2016; the difference between what marketers know today versus 5 years ago is that the customer experience now begins is the palm of the hand. 

There are several reasons that businesses are more inclined to entertain SMS messaging. First, 15 years ago, a basic SMS plan was expensive: 10 – 20 cents a message. Thanks to unlimited text messaging, texting is more affordable. 

Additionally, the devices we use to text now are much more sophisticated. Remember typing messages using the number pad and T9? Today, most cell phones are equipped with full keyboards that make texting faster and more efficient. These factors have made it much more cost efficient for businesses to utilize texting in a meaningful way. 

 

Big Business Learns to Text 

So, what exactly are companies planning to do with texting? 

Big businesses are focusing on existing customer behavior, which in this case means texting. Based on statistical data, businesses view texting as the preferred form of communication. Instead of asking customers to call a 1-800 number, they’re going to meet customers where they already are—via text.  

There are three ways texting will be integrated into big business to ensure the customer experience is managed from this new mobile point. 

First, contact centers will incorporate SMS messaging with traditional voice calls to help customers solve problems faster, reduce wait times, and follow up. Normally, an agent handles calls one at a time; with texting, an agent can take multiple inquires simultaneously, effectively reducing wait times and increasing productivity. 

Second, smart notifications will be used as reminders and to set up appointments. 

Finally, desk phone messaging will bridge SMS messaging and MMS into a regular desk telephone, giving mobile employees access to multiple text sessions at the same time. 

 

Text to Buy 

Ironically, the social behavior of texting hasn’t chanced the customer’s experience; rather it has changed customer’s expectations about what that experience should be. In this case, texting is the path of least resistance to settle all kinds of customer issues. However, it’s also open season for innovation and integration of new technologies that will allow customers to buy things via text—something I predict we’ll see a lot more of in the near future. 

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