One of the many potential applications of text messages for businesses is SMS customer service. Your customers will appreciate the ability to reach you via their preferred communication method. As a bonus, you may even generate leads when potential customers contact support via this method.
This guide outlines how and why to use SMS customer service. With our best practices and explanations, you should be well on your way to satisfied customers.
What: Define SMS for customer service
The idea of SMS customer service refers to using text messaging to provide customer support. This is simply an alternative method that customers can contact your support team.
Most companies will offer this type of support in addition to the ability to contact them through phone calls, live chat, and email.
When: As soon as possible!
If you aren’t sure when to implement customer service SMS software, the sooner, the better. Multiple studies show that consumers prefer texting, so your clients will appreciate your efforts to offer their preferred communication method. Explore our SMS marketing guide to explore other ways to incorporate text messaging into your business strategy and take advantage of this consumer preference.
Why: Benefits of using SMS for customer service and support
We have already touched on the fact that customer SMS is the preferred method of your clients, but there are also other benefits of using SMS customer service and support.
Texting provides quick responses from both ends. 90% of texts get read within just three minutes.
On top of that, many support requests are quick questions that you can resolve via text in seconds or even have a bot handle.
We mentioned that consumers prefer texting, but to what extent? Surveys show that about 69% of consumers would rather text than email or call.
When you reach out to clients via their ideal contact method, you show them that you care about their preferences. This leads to happy customers.
It should go without saying that happy customers are more likely to become loyal clients, leave positive reviews, and recommend you to others.
The fact that texting is interactive and feels more personal than an email or FAQ page helps you build relationships with your clients.
This is crucial, as customers are more likely to have a positive experience and remain loyal if they have a good relationship with your company and feel valued individually.
No coding required
You don’t need to have any coding knowledge whatsoever to offer support via text. Your platform will take care of everything for you.
Offering text support via text helps you attract attention and separates you from the competition.
This also ties back into the previous point about happy customers. Those satisfied customers are likely to share their excellent support experience with others.
Compared to other contact methods, SMS messages are much more affordable. One study found that, on average, customer service phone calls cost around $16. By contrast, a text thread typically costs just $1 to $5.
Trackable via analytics
Because support via text messaging integrates with your other platforms, you can access useful analytics. You can see clear reports that help you learn where your support team has room for improvement.
How: 11 best practices for customer service texting
While simply offering SMS customer service is a great start, there are some things you should do to make the most of it.
Keep the same phone number and let customers know how they can use it
Start with your phone number. You want to use the same number for texts as you do for calls. Even toll-free numbers can be text-enabled. This makes it easy for customers to figure out or remember how to reach you.
Don’t just enable your number for texts; also, let customers know that you did. When you mention contact options, be sure to include a phrase such as “call or text” instead of just the number.
Balance automation with human input
As you set up your text messaging customer support, take advantage of automation, specifically chatbots. Chatbots make your SMS customer service much more efficient; they can handle routine requests. Create SMS marketing templates and efficiently handle a high volume of text message requests.
However, make sure that chatbots aren’t the only option. You want clients to be able to easily reach a live person, as that is a vital part of their experience.
Customer service agents should be on hand for people who prefer not to use chatbots and for those situations that the bots can’t resolve.
Categorize and prioritize incoming messages
Come up with a system to prioritize and categorize your incoming messages to make the most efficient use of your agents’ time and ensure your customers don’t have to wait long for solutions or answers to their questions. This is crucial; 66% of respondents to a research survey categorized long wait times spent on hold as highly annoying.
The good news is that your use of automation can make categorizing and prioritizing simple. For example, have an auto-response to the initial text asking clients to choose a category that their issue is about, along with the option to contact a human agent.
In terms of prioritization, you will have to choose an organization method. The most common will be first in, first out. However, it can be smarter to come up with another prioritization method. At the very least, prioritize VIP customers.
Go beyond customer service
While texting is great for SMS customer service, it also has numerous other applications. Use text messages to communicate with employees. Create SMS marketing campaigns to share promotions and encourage purchases, update customers about tracking information, store hours, or appointment reminders via text.
Leverage SMS to collect customer feedback
Ensure that your support and service over text includes a way for customers to give you feedback and ensure that your customers know.
This is crucial because 91% of customers with a negative experience just choose a competitor, with only the remaining 9% actually providing feedback. By making it clear that you welcome that feedback, you should improve your ability to retain customers.
Personalize the communication
By its nature, SMS feels more personal than an email. Take this personalization to the next level by linking your SMS platform and customer service platform to allow SMS segmentation of your audience based on user data you already have. In other words, make it easy for your agents to see details about the people that contact them. Just the ability to view their name, purchase history, and location will offer plenty of opportunities for personalization.
Keep the tone in mind
Whether clients interact with a live agent or a chatbot, pay attention to tone. Text messages should have a more casual tone than email, web forms, and phone calls. You want to be friendly yet professional.
Don’t think of customer support SMS as just reactive. You also want to take a proactive stance. This means proactively checking in with customers about their products or providing information such as tracking data. This is yet another way to use text messaging to boost customer satisfaction.
When you reach out to clients via text, make sure they respond. Not all text messaging solutions offer two-way communication.
Allow agents to work SMS cases like any other service channel
With the right customer service SMS software, your agents can use text messages just like they would any other service channel. This improves the efficiency of your agents. It also ensures that all of your relevant support data stays in the same place.
Make use of media
While SMS technically only allows for text, MMS lets you incorporate media and is the industry standard. Incorporate videos, GIFs, images, and links when they are helpful.
This should go in both directions. In other words, let customers send you images as well. This can be particularly helpful with troubleshooting and support.
Select the right mobile app or channel for texting
Both existing customers and potential ones are likely to have their own preferences of which apps they prefer to use for business texting. To maximize their customer service experience, be sure to offer SMS support through the other apps that are most popular with your customers.
For example, you may want to offer support via native texting apps as well as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Line, and others. When deciding which other channels to use, think about consumer demand.
Conclusion: Getting started
As mentioned, the sooner you start offering support via SMS, the better. Your consumers will appreciate the convenience and personalization of the conversation. The good news is that it is easy to start texting with consumers daily. You just have to choose the right software. Podium is an excellent option, as it can handle your SMS campaigns and various other communication methods, help you get more reviews, and more.