Americans spend a lot of time on their phones. In fact, 5 hours a day. And 92% of that time is spent on messaging and entertainment while only 8% is on the web. So texting and messaging is something people already do—potentially for hours a day. It’s no surprise that 85% of consumers prefer communicating with businesses over SMS messaging too.
We live in a digital, on-the-go world now. People are always connected, always communicating. Businesses that are prepared to match that are the ones who are going to meet customers where they’re at. That’s why SMS customer service is so important—it gives your company the power to talk with customers how they want to talk.
SMS customer service is what we’re looking at today. Read on to learn more about SMS customer service, who needs it, and what benefits it can provide your company.
Table of Contents
- What is SMS customer service?
- Who needs SMS customer service?
- What are the benefits of SMS customer service?
- How can you make the most of SMS customer service methods?
- What are the best practices of SMS customer service support?
What Is SMS Customer Service?
SMS customer service (or short message service) is any type of support a business gives to customers over text messaging or SMS messaging. SMS customer service can use human support and automation, and it’s usually part of a larger omnichannel network of communication options, like phone, email, and chatbots.
Who Needs SMS Customer Service?
SMS customer support is for any businesses that want to provide holistic support for their customers. Customers want to talk to businesses with text. In one survey, 9 out of 10 customers said they’d prefer text to call, and 89% of customers prefer text over any other mode of communication. The good news for businesses is that texts have a response rate that’s 295% higher than phone calls, so you’re going to hear back from your customers more too.
So what can businesses use SMS customer service for? Here are just some places where having SMS is a powerful asset:
- Answering FAQs. Let your customers text you questions and automate responses to FAQs, so they have the info they need immediately.
- Troubleshooting technical issues. If a customer is having a tech problem, they can choose to discuss it with a customer service representative over text.
- Handling customer complaints. If a customer’s having a problem or would like to file a complaint, it’s great to let them text it to a representative who can then quickly respond and provide support.
- Dispatching orders. When a customer wants to order something, they can do it quickly over text instead of using a web browser.
- Providing quotes. Next time a customer wants to know how much a service could cost, they can text in the details and get a quote quickly right on their cell phone.
- Communicating service or product updates or downtime. A business can also text its customers to let them know about downtimes. Customers also appreciate updates over text.
- Soliciting customer feedback. After a customer has purchased something, send them a quick text to see what they think. It’s a great and easy way to get feedback.
- Conducting back-and-forth conversations. Most businesses are used to conversations over the phone, and SMS messaging works similarly. You can let customers who are interested switch to text and message back and forth with a support associate to get whatever support they need.
What Are the Benefits of SMS Customer Service?
SMS customer service isn’t designed to be your only communication channel but one more to integrate into your larger network of customer support. Integrating SMS messaging comes with many benefits that can empower your customers and move your business forward.
Allowing customers to pick their communication preference
Each customer is an individual, and that means they have individual preferences. Incorporating SMS messaging into your omnichannel communication network allows customers to choose the communication channel that they prefer. Many customers prefer SMS messaging because it’s easy for them, and they prefer texting already. Allowing customers to pick their favorite communication channel lets them talk with your associates in a way that’s convenient for them, helps them feel comfortable, and helps get them the support they need.
It’s no wonder customers love to choose SMS text messaging. When a customer calls and the automated phone tree doesn’t have the option they need, they’ll opt to speak to a representative. If they sit on hold for too long or don’t get the help they need, they can get frustrated. That’s an experience too many customers have.
SMS allows your business to skip that hassle. Customers can immediately self-select to text associates instead and begin receiving support immediately on their desired channel.
Reducing support costs
Texting is also a way to reduce support costs. While it might seem counterintuitive, adding another channel can reduce overall support costs. Texting, in general, is an affordable communication channel. Add to that the fact text is easily automated, and one agent can text multiple customers at once, and it’s easy to see how SMS messaging can reduce support costs. In the average 6–7 minutes an agent spends on the phone with a customer, the agent could respond to many customers via text.
Increasing agent happiness and productivity
Agents are most happy when they’re able to provide a quick solution to a customer. They want fulfilling work and great conversations with customers. With SMS in your tool belt, agents are able to continue the conversation with customers and provide them with the solutions they need. They’re also able to stay productive because they don’t need to wait for phone calls or worry about transferring calls. They can instead help multiple customers and quickly get them to the agents that can best support them.
Increasing accessibility and flexibility
Customers come from a variety of situations and need different kinds of support. SMS messaging is just one more way to make your business accessible to customers and one more option for flexibility. Customers who need text can use it, and customers who find it convenient have it at their fingertips. Your team can keep the conversation going with customers who are out and about.
How Can You Make the Most of SMS Customer Service Methods?
SMS customer service lets agents optimize their customer support in a unique way. They’re able to reach out to customers instantly and start a conversation with only the click of a button. Here are some ways that companies can make the most of having SMS messaging support:
- Sending personalized messages. Agents can reach out to customers individually. Personalized messages are a great way to get personal with them and treat your customers as individuals. Maybe it’s a “Happy birthday” text or a follow-up to see how solving a particular problem went. Either way, it’s a great way to keep your company fresh in your customers’ minds.
- Conducting real-time conversations. Text conversations are real-time but even more flexible than a phone call. Agents are able to have back-and-forth conversations with customers and get them the support they need in real-time.
- Automating and scheduling messages. Not all SMS texts need human support. SMS is easily automated, and companies can schedule messages to send out to customers. Scheduling helps keep SMS flexible and less time-consuming (and cheaper). So take advantage of the automation techniques to communicate about new releases, updates, downtimes, and more.
- Send reminders and alerts. SMS allows companies to remind customers about appointments or new product updates. Sending these out is a great way to provide important information to your customers quickly and in a way they’ll appreciate.
- Collect customer feedback. You can gather customer feedback by reaching out to customers and asking them about their experience. Since customers use text so much throughout the day, it makes it easy for them to give you feedback.
What Are the Best Practices of SMS Customer Support?
SMS messaging is a powerful customer support tool. Getting the most out of utilizing SMS requires some best practices. Here are the best practices for SMS customer support:
Choose the right platform
SMS messaging depends on having the right platform. A good SMS provider will offer a company crucial features like:
- Two-way texting
- Scheduled messages
- SMS templates
- Viewable conversation history
- Automation and auto-replies
- Automatic routing of inbound text messages
- Ability to transfer and claim conversations
- Compliance guidance
Train your agents
Agents are familiar with texting because they use it daily, but they need guidance and support on how to do so for your company. Training empowers your agents to provide the best support. Some ideas for what to train your agents on include:
- The SMS platform
- Automating messages
- Use of emojis and abbreviations in customer conversations
- Transferring from other platforms to SMS
Use call deflection
When customers call, they often know of no other way to reach you. Call deflection lets customers choose how they want to talk to your company, and it keeps your phone lines free for customers who prefer phone calls. Set up your phone tree with an option to immediately switch to text. Your company can also promote texting by putting it on your website and other key places. Acquire provides call deflection capabilities that can help direct customers to SMS messaging quickly.
Sync with other channels
Syncing your SMS platform with other channels allows you to switch from channels easily without losing the customer or key information. Syncing channels is important to let you switch a customer over to text and to switch from text to something like a video call.
Overall, SMS messaging is a powerful tool to support your customers. The key is finding the right SMS platform for your company. Acquire provides SMS messaging and support in a solution that’s easy to integrate into your communication strategy. Learn more about utilizing the power of SMS messaging by visiting our page on call deflection.