Consumers today are in control when it comes to how they want to interact with businesses. With many channels available including website, email, phone, live chat and social media, it’s up to forward-thinking businesses to leverage as many channels as possible to deliver the best customer service experience possible.
According to a study by Aberdeen Group, companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, compared with 33% for companies with weak omnichannel strategies.
In recent years, there has been a shift towards text messaging as an additional customer service touchpoint as 64% of consumers think that businesses should use SMS more.
I will highlight five reasons that show why your business should be taking text messaging more seriously
1) Your Customers Prefer Texting
High open rates and quick response times support the point that consumers prefer text messaging to other forms of communication.
In fact, 52% of consumers would prefer texting customer support more than their current preferred method of communication, and 47% said texting could improve their overall satisfaction with customer support.
For those that are skeptical of stats, think about this real-life scenario.
You are having issues with your cable service. What do you do first? Most likely, you’ll pick up the phone and call customer support thinking that they will answer you right away. 45 minutes go by and you hear the dreaded “Your call is important to us…please stay on hold for the next available representative” for the 10th time.
By now, you’re super frustrated, your phone is hot as hell and just want to hang up but can’t because you’ve already wasted 45 minutes waiting on hold.
Imagine the same scenario, but you could text the customer service department instead. You send a quick text message, then you’re off doing other more important things like work or spending time with family. That’s 45 minutes you saved by sending a text and not having to worry about waiting on hold.
Time is more important than money because you can always make more money, but you can’t buy time back.
2) Rise of Social Messaging Apps
As eMarketer predicts, the popularity of messaging apps will continue to rise in the next 4 years, with about two and a half billion users worldwide in 2021.
With both Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp currently with over a billion users each, there’s no question people love messaging apps. Businesses need to take note of this and have a presence on those apps to engage and service more customers.
3) Google & Apple Jump on Messaging
When Google or Apple does something new, you better pay attention. Both tech giants have been at the forefront of customer experience innovation for years and continue to set the standard for other companies.
In 2016, Google launched a message extension for both Google AdWords and Google My Business Listing. The AdWords Text Message Extension enables businesses to add a text message button to their AdWords ads that appear when users search for them on a mobile device. Similarly, Google has also enabled this feature for organic business listing. Identifying the needs of consumers and developing new features that support that need is what Google does best.
Apple recently announced Apple Business Chat. Apple saw a slightly different opportunity to integrate messaging into their product ecosystem. In addition to chatting with businesses via Safari, Maps, and Siri, Apple customers can do more robust things like schedule appointments and even place orders by combining Apple Pay and Apple Cash. It’s only a matter of time before Google starts doing the same thing.
4) Messaging in CRM and Marketing Automation
Like Google and Apple, the top CRM and Marketing Automation providers have also started to integrate messaging into their software. Let’s look at two examples, Salesforce and HubSpot.
Salesforce is no stranger to software acquisitions, including 10 acquisitions in 2016 alone. The latest one involves integrating messaging in their platform, which will allow companies to add text and social messaging as channels for customer communication.
HubSpot, which is considered one of the industry-leading marketing automation, also recently announced the acquisition of Motion AI which adds messaging to their already robust marketing platform. Like the other companies mentioned earlier, HubSpot also saw the rise in the popularity of text and social messaging and decided to test the functionality internally to see if their employees saw a benefit from it.
HubSpot found that their internal marketing team discovered major benefits in leveraging messaging to automate real-time communication that otherwise would have been a pain to do. Some use cases they experimented with are content subscription, event notifications and even lead qualification via messaging.
5) Driving Customer Journeys with Text Messaging
Many businesses in virtually all industries have adopted text messaging to serve customers in one shape or form. Due to the speed, convenience and versatility of text messages, they can be integrated within the entire customer journey, even more than emails, phone or live chat.
If you look at the standard customer journey, texting can fit into every stage.
Awareness – Consumers are in control when it comes to doing research. With more than 50% of Google searches completed on a mobile device, businesses can help initiate a conversation by utilizing Google’s AdWords Text Message Extension.
Consideration – During this phase, customers check out various websites and social media profiles to compare different options. This is a great opportunity to capture the attention of those consumers by adding a text message number on your website’s contact page as well as on all your social media profiles.
Purchase – This is a critical phase as customers are prepared to make their decision about what they will purchase. At this point, a business can utilize text message coupons to provide an additional incentive for customers to buy from you. If possible, utilize each person’s past website browsing history or social media preference data to send the most relevant offer at the right time. Although not many companies are there yet, you can also consider accepting payments via text message. One innovative example of this is a web-based health beverage company, Dirty Lemon, only accept payments via text message.
Service – As the stat mentioned above, more than 50% of consumers want to receive customer support via text messaging. Promote your text number anywhere you show your customer support information to add an additional touchpoint for service.
Loyalty – With customer acquisition costs at 5x the amount to keep an existing customer, it’s crucial for businesses to retain customers create loyalty. Text message reminders for appointments, payments, and personalized promotions will help your customers stay engaged with your brand.
As we move towards a more mobile-centric and message-based consumer era, it’s now time for your business to think about how text and social messaging can fit into your customer experience strategy. In this hyper-competitive world, it’s all about innovating to differentiate; otherwise, you’ll get left behind.