As preferences evolve and new channels emerge, it’s become imperative for businesses to understand how audiences want to connect and the channels that offer the least resistance.
SMS text messaging is a channel that emerged decades ago but still holds immense power. With over 6 billion texts being sent every day and 78% of people stating they want a text conversation with a business, it’s become a critical channel to consider adding to your communication efforts.
In this blog, to help you develop a keen understanding of SMS text messaging. We’re taking a look at the benefits of SMS and practices you can use to improve customer communication on the channel.
First, let’s unpack why you should be using SMS in the first place.
Why You Should Be Using SMS Text Messaging
SMS text messaging is a powerful tool to develop long-term relationships.
Aside from holding a variety of benefits like being cost-effective, reliable, offering global reach, and being efficient in getting your message across, SMS has an open rate of nearly 94% compared to 20% via email. Pretty persuasive.
In addition, many businesses who master SMS as a communication tool, notice a sizeable ROI and profound retention. Both lead to greater customer satisfaction and business success.
Lastly, SMS provides a measurable and actionable way to improve operations and learn more about your customer base, what they want, and how to target them effectively. Through the use of analytics like open rate, conversation analysis, location and more, it becomes easier to understand customer needs.
So how can you use SMS texting to your advantage and communicate effectively?
In this next section, we’ll share our tips for using the SMS text messaging channel and how you can develop strong, long-term relationships with customers.
Best Practices For Communicating With Your Customers via SMS Text Messaging
Always Obtain Permission
Whether you’re using text messaging as a way to promote your business or to communicate with a customer about their latest purchase, always ensure you’re obtaining their permission. This could be in the form of a check box when they send an inquiry, or if they reached out to chat, it could be as simple as asking before you sign off.
The last thing you want is to be marked as spam or tarnish your reputation if you ever decide to reach out again – so always be mindful of their privacy and permission settings.
Be Clear and Concise
A standard text message will support 160 characters, however, most networks will allow longer messages; splitting anything over 160 characters into multiple messages.
With that, be cognizant of the flow of your communication and how you’re conveying your message across the platform. If your message is over 160 characters, does what you’re saying make sense as two separate messages? Or can you easily shorten it to make one? Always ensure the conversation is concise but also thoughtful, personal and timely.
Respond in Real-Time
SMS is known for being a real-time, actionable form of communication – which inherently puts pressure on employees to respond in real-time. Make sure you’re setting time to respond with your employees, and that they have notifications set for SMS.
In some cases, businesses will opt for a customer experience solution to consolidate all messages into a single inbox. Instead of having multiple tabs open or multiple devices, a CX solution will allow employees to see a range of channels on screen, quicken the time to respond.
Take Advantage of Templated Messages
On the stream of improving response rates, we highly suggest creating a repository of responses that employees can pull from to quicken their response times. This can be done manually via a shared document, or if you’re leveraging a customer experience solution like the Loop Experience Platform, you can actually have pre-populated messages that make it as simple as click and send.
Regardless of how you chose to leverage templated messages, they’re a fast and efficient way to communicate in real-time, while keeping character count top of mind.
For many, text messaging is a casual and friendly form of communication that allows for building personable relationships. In that, emojis are an exceptional way to keep the conversation light and fun.
Remember when using emojis, to have the context of the conversation and use them where appropriate. Not all conversations will require them. In addition, don’t go overboard with the number of emojis you use and ensure they’re consistent with your branding. Usually, one emoji is enough for one message and should be used sparingly.
Use a Customer Experience Solution
Keeping up with text messages while also responding to and managing other channels can get overwhelmingly, fast. Think of all the customers waiting for responses on your employee’s variety of tabs and applications.
With a customer experience solution, like Loop, acknowledging and responding to text messages becomes simplified. All channels, including SMS, are available in a single unified inbox and tagged with sentiment and department for complete visibility.
A customer experience solution, like Loop, can also help determine the future of your SMS objectives through data. Understanding things like trending topics on SMS, time to respond, times of day that are busiest, locations that use SMS the most, and more, can help you allocate time and resources effectively.
Be Mindful of Frequency
Although SMS is a great way to reach people, you want to avoid bombarding customers with too many messages and not enough value. Think about the number of text messages you’d want from a business and ensure you’re getting their answer across concisely.
Evaluating How SMS Text Messaging Will Work In Conjunction With Other Channels
While SMS plays a critical role in customer communication, that doesn’t mean it’s the only channel your business should be using. In fact, SMS works best alongside a lineup of customer-preferred channels like email, WhatsApp, kiosks and more.
When considering SMS, take some time to jot down the channels you offer and where SMS fits in. For instance, if you’re a hotel, maybe you want to replace your email check-in with the option to send a link via text. If you’re a restaurant, maybe you want to add reservation reminders as a text and then follow-up later with an email feedback survey. Regardless, SMS shouldn’t be a replacement but an addition to a thriving omni-channel strategy, encouraging conversation and a smoother customer journey.