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5 Ways to Use SMS for Customer Engagement

Simple ways to increase engagement and communication with customers.

November 07 2016

In some countries these suggestions may be considered commercial messages. Before you start sending these messages, ensure you have consent from your customers.

SMS is one of the most often read (95% of people read SMS right away) and most actioned (6-8 times more than email) channels you have in your communications toolbox. When you're thinking about how to improve customer engagement, if you haven't put SMS into the mix you're missing a huge opportunity to connect, communicate, and engage with your customers.

Maybe you haven't started because you're not sure how to best use SMS. Maybe you know what you'd like to do, but don't know how to go about it. In this post I'll explain five ways you can use SMS for engagement and how to put all the pieces together to make everything seamless.

Shipping and delivery notifications

Probably the easiest way to start engaging customers with SMS is with order and delivery updates. Everyone wants to know when their order has been shipped and when it will arrive at their doorstep. Most retailers rely only on email for updates. Email is fine of course. Email is ubiquitous and it's a safe bet that it will probably get through. Let's focus on that probably part here. We know that sometimes receipts and shipping notifications go into the spam folder. It happens and it isn't really anyone's fault, but the customer is wondering about their order and the first thing they are going to do is contact customer support.

Customer support can probably handle the question pretty fast. What's your order number? Did you check your spam folder? Simple answers, but it still takes time to answer them, plus the customer has a bit of anxiety that there is something wrong with the order. Not a great experience for the customer and certainly not the best use of customer support's time.

If you get your customer's mobile number and permission to send order updates over SMS, the chances of that order update getting lost go to almost nothing. You can send all the same information you'd put in an email, including links to track the package, but now you're sure that people will see and read the information.

Cart updates and reminders

People are busy. They start shopping, get distracted, and don't complete the purchase. Some people might come back and shop again, but what if they forget? A simple reminder can be just the nudge someone needs to return and complete the transactions. Not only that, people who return to their cart to finish shopping tend to spend 55% more than people who just started and finished in one session.

When you're sending a reminder message include offers like free shipping, a discount on items removed from the cart, or just a discount period to entice shoppers back to complete their purchase.

Coupons and special offers

Once you have your customer's mobile number and permission to send them marketing messages you can move from helping people who are shopping (cart reminders) or just were shopping (order and shipping updates) to getting people to shop in the first place. Like offers to get people to come back to their cart, coupons, deals, and special offers get people shopping. A simple, time-limited offer with a link to your online store is all it takes. Simple, concise, effective.

Short surveys

Quick and simple surveys are perfect content for SMS. Either a link to a mobile-friendly web survey or even a 2-Way SMS powered survey that can be answered with a few taps could give you rapid data and information about your customers. An Net Promoter Score survey only needs two questions: Would you take the survey? How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague? You customer only needs to reply with Y/N to the first and 1-10 to the second. Simple and fast and you have a proven way to measure success.

Help & Support

No one likes to be kept on hold for customer support. And while offering a call back service is one way to escape on hold hell, calling someone back also means an agent needs to be free to make the call and your customer has to be available to answer the call. Here's an alternative—support via 2-Way SMS.

Imagine this, you're on hold and you hear: "We know you hate being on hold, press 1 and enter your mobile number to start an instant chat over SMS with an agent.", how awesome would that be? You've carved out time to deal with the problem, now you can deal with it, not have to wait for someone to call, and be able to do other things at the same time.

And here's the best part—so can the customer support agents.

Customer service agents can handle multiple chats at the same time. It's easy to jump between customers, give each customer the attention they deserve, increase efficiency, and increase customer satisfaction at the same time.

Just a few ways to use SMS

These are just 5 ideas for using SMS to help connect and engage with your customers. There are hundreds more, but these tips are simple ones that give you the most benefit in the shortest amount of time.

Incorporate SMS into your customer engagement strategy today.

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