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5 Ways to Use SMS for Customer Engagement

5 Ways to Use SMS for Customer Engagement

Simple ways to increase engagement and communication with customers.

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. A 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.

And, now that you know the How part, lets go into the Why use SMS part

Here are 5 Reasons to Use SMS for Customer Service

Why? That’s the question businesses immediately ask when confronted with the idea of investing in SMS for customer service. It’s probably the question you’re asking yourself right now. Well, pause for a moment and think about your current setup. How do you handle customer service communication right now? More than likely, you do so via email and phone calls. If that’s the case, then we want you to consider the following points and facts. What you’ll soon realize is that SMS complements and improves upon these traditional channels in a cost-effective and healthy manner. Take a look:

  1. Convenience

Whether you realize it or not, a large percentage of your customers would like the opportunity to contact you via SMS when it comes to customer service issues.

“February 2016 research from independent analyst and consultancy firm Ovum found that many users in the US, as well as Germany, prefer to text for customer service,” eMarketer reports. “Nearly half (44%) of respondents said that one of the reasons they preferred to send a text to a company’s customer service department was because it was less time-consuming. Furthermore, 42% said they preferred to do so because it was more convenient than using the telephone.” Another 30 percent say SMS-based customer service is less frustrating.

You can’t just ignore these numbers if you’re looking out for the best interests of your customers. The convenience factor is a huge draw and customers expect you to cater to them.

  1. Flexibility

SMS is far more flexible than phone-based customer service and can do everything that email can do in a much more personal and succinct fashion. Just consider all of the possible use cases:

  • Explaining to customers, after purchase, the best way to use the product.
  • Providing step-by-step instructions by request.
  • Offering automated replies to common inquiries.
  • Scheduling service requests or convenient callbacks.
  • Notifying customers when an issue has been resolved.
  • Letting customers know when a product has been stocked or shipped.

These are just a handful of possible uses – there are literally dozens more. While it doesn’t always make sense to pick up the phone and call a customer to tell them about something, you can always shoot out a quick SMS. It’s often the easiest solution.

  1. Personal

Outside of face-to-face conversations, there’s no mode of customer service communication that feels more personal than SMS. Automated phone services are cold and predictable. Email is often viewed as lazy or spammy. Mobile phones, on the other hand, are basically extensions of their users.

When you send a text to a customer, they instantly feel like they’re being heard. This is especially true when you use SMS to circumvent long hold times in your call center. When someone calls and the wait is going to be longer than five minutes, you can give them the option to get a callback when the line frees up.

Then, within 30 seconds, you can send a message that says something like, “Hey Dwight, I want to apologize for the wait. We’re finishing up service calls with a couple of customers right now and will get back to you in 10-15 minutes. Thanks for your patience, Jack.” That’s a lot more personal than playing some elevator music and an automated loop that says something along the lines of “we appreciate your patience” over and over again.

  1. Speed

Did you know that 98 percent of text messages are opened, while 90 percent are read within three minutes of being received? Other modes of communication don’t even come close to these rates. When time is of the essence, every second counts. And it’s the speed of SMS that makes it such a valuable customer service tool.

  1. Opportunity

Finally, you shouldn’t ignore the fact that once you exchange text messages with a customer for customer service issues, you’re opening the door for marketing opportunities. Once a customer opts in, you can then send them future promotional deals, news, and coupon codes. That’s a huge bonus and something that can further strengthen your customer relationships.

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