How to Use SMS to Improve Your Customer Service
Think only big businesses can offer text messaging support? Think again.
Note from Len: This is a guest post from Alexa Lemzy, Customer Support Specialist at TextMagic, a really easy-to-use SMS service for small businesses.
I love this post because it tackles a topic that a lot of us don’t really think about—SMS support—but that, if done right, could be a big win for your customers who are glued to their phones.
Small businesses may lament the fact that they don’t have the advertising budgets that larger businesses do.
But there’s one area where small businesses generally win out against the big guys: customer service.
When I think of small businesses, I think of things like personalized service, more individual attention for the customer and phenomenal customer loyalty rates.
I have been working with a lot of small businesses, and what I’ve noticed so far: they think that SMS and other modern marketing platforms are for big businesses with big budgets.
SMS and small businesses make a great pair.
SMS is an affordable and simple way to reach out to clients and can be used to improve your customer service, no matter how many or few people work for your company.
Here are some of the best ways that SMS can serve your customer’s needs:
SMS is great for conducting polls
How many of you have had a bad experience at a restaurant or shop and decided to complain?
If the statistics are right, only 1 in 26 of you. The rest let the situation slide, and 91% of you will never take your business there again.
These are some staggering statistics, but they show how important good customer service really is.
An SMS poll allows your customers a neutral platform where they can feel free to express their true opinions.
Without asking, you’ll probably never know how their meal was or if they were satisfied with the service they received.
SMS is the ideal way to do this because it has high response rates (45%) especially when compared to email (6%).
Customers like to send texts to businesses
Did you know that 78% of people wish they could have a text conversation with a business?
That’s probably because only 14% of calls made to businesses are answered without being placed on hold.
Phone calls are not so effective because they depend on the company to answer the phone. An American Express Survey published some of the most cringe-worthy phrases customers don’t want to hear.
These sound familiar:
Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold.
Or my favorite:
We’re sorry, but we’re experiencing unusually heavy call volumes.
You can hold or try back at another time.
Texting is a quick and convenient way to communicate a problem. It is quick, and agents can respond to texts faster than they can to live calls.
Texting also gives the customer a record of the conversation whereas with live calls, the recorded conversations are only available to the agents.
According to the study published by eWeek, most of consumers (89%) said it was important to be able to use different channels for customer support, including SMS; and 52% of consumers said they would like to text with a customer support representative.
Texting basically puts the power of communication in the hands of the clients and empowered customers = happy customers.
In this case study of AW Dansey Associates, a Webmaster service, they adopted a texting service “to interact effectively with our clients who prefer to communicate via text.”
Texting became a key part of their customer service to the point that “without it we would have lost business.”
If you run a service-oriented business such as a beauty salon, massage parlor, mechanic’s office, dentist’s office or other service where you mark appointments with your customers, a simple appointment reminder text can help reduce no-shows and enhance customer experience.
Life can get crazy for everyone and who wouldn’t like a little help remembering their dentist appointment or their annual flu shot?
Again, SMS is a better way to send reminders than email or phone calls.
Emails just can’t compete with SMS in terms of open rates and response rates.
Phone calls can be time consuming for the employee. What if the customer doesn’t answer the phone?
And these days only about 33% of people check their voice mail, which means you’ll either have to keep calling them to deliver the message personally or risk a no-show.
Tips and advice
This is a great way to build customer loyalty and go beyond mere commercial exchange.
A beauty salon could send out tips for how to deal with the dry air in winter months to keep hair healthy and hydrated.
The more targeted the tips, the better.
For example, women with thick curly hair have different challenges than women with straight, thin hair.
If you run an auto mechanic’s shop, you can break your client list down by model and make of car and send specialized tips on how to maintain their particular car in top shape.
A piece of useful advice that’s tailor made just for them will make the client feel that they’re on your VIP list. That’s the best kind of customer service.
Take care of bureaucracy via text
Insurance companies, health services, car rental agencies and other businesses often involve a fair amount of bureaucracy.
You can take care of this easily through SMS. Here are some ideas on how SMS can be used for the following business types:
- Insurance companies. Allow your customers to communicate changes in policy, address changes, the addition or elimination of people included in their policy via text.
- Health services. Allow patients to update their medical records and personal information via text
- Car rental agencies. Allow customers to add or delete a new payment method, extend their rental contract or cancel a reservation via text
Small businesses have great reputations for giving extra attention to their customers with personalized service.
They’re often able to handle customer problems and complaints more easily and quickly than big corporations who have to go through a chain of command before a decision is made.
A great way to enhance the already efficient service that small businesses can offer is to incorporate SMS service.
Fast, low-cost and popular with customers.
There’s no reason texting should be left out of your small business’ customer service platform.