10 Tips for Using SMS for Customer Service
Whether it’s providing package delivery updates, flight change notifications, or alerting customers of fraudulent bank charges, SMS is used globally across industries.
A third of all retailers use SMS today,1 mostly for customer service, and 76% of customers globally connect with brands on SMS.2 More and more customers want support through SMS because it is more convenient than being tied to a phone or computer waiting for customer service help.3
With one-to-one conversations accounting for over two-thirds of all social media content created by brands, it’s critical to use the right technology in the right way. Not sure how to get the most out of your social media channels while also providing exceptional customer experiences at scale? Follow these helpful SMS for customer service tips (find more customer service tips in our whitepaper: 7 Customer Service Strategies For Highly Effective Teams):
1. Act globally
If you’re a global brand, your customer service messaging strategy shouldn’t try to be one-size-fits all-locations. WhatsApp is used by just 4% of Chinese users, while WeChat is ubiquitous with 79% usage.4 The use rate for SMS is 31% in the US and as high as 70% in countries like France.5 What these variations show is that your customers’ locations should heavily influence what platforms and technology you use to communicate with them.
2. Don't go it alone
No matter the region or channel of choice, what brands need most of all is a way to efficiently offer amazing digital experiences to their customers at the greatest scale. Invest in a social media management platform that offers the ability to manage most one-to-one social media channels — including SMS, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, Twitter DM — alongside one-to-many channels — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, RSS. Preferably one that’s tied with holistic customer profile data so that your customer care agents can respond with context and deliver more personalized experiences.
3. Start a conversation
There’s no denying that mobile has taken over paid search with nearly half of all search ad clicks coming from smartphones.6 If you’re one of the millions of advertisers using Google AdWords, there is now a new and easy way to talk to customers who are call-phobic. “By setting up a message extension, you’ll give users an easy way to text you to start a conversation and continue it whenever is most convenient for them.”
64% of consumers with texting capabilities would prefer to use texting over voice as a customer service channel.
4. Follow your doctor's advice
Healthcare providers have embraced texting patients because it’s cheaper and easier to automate than phone calls.8 Take a page out of this industry’s playbook and consider what types of information your audience would like to receive over SMS. The possibilities are seemingly endless: daily tips, appointment reminders, flash sales, location-based coupons, alerts about an upcoming webinar, to name a few.
5. Survey says
The vast majority of your customers will never complain if they’ve had a bad experience, you’ll lose their business and never know why.9 It turns out, SMS is an ideal way to find out the real opinions of your customers. By conducting SMS polls and follow-up surveys, you’ll give them a neutral platform where they are more likely to tell you how satisfied they were with your service.10
6. Offering automated replies
Offering automated replies for the most common technical support questions is just one application of using SMS for customer service. Also, SMS can be used to notify support personnel of a new request and, conversely, notify customers of the status of their inquiry.11
77% of consumers with texting capabilities aged 18-34 are likely to have a positive perception of a company that offers text capability.
7. Segment your list
Take a tip from your email communication strategy and don’t just blast your entire audience. The more targeted your SMS communication, the more likely your messages will feel personalized and be more useful.
8. Text for the win
Customer service isn’t just about responding to complaints, it’s also about improving brand loyalty and creating brand advocates. Text-to-win SMS contests are an excellent way to deepen customer relationships and get your audience to opt-in to future marketing activities.
9. Do not disturb
This one should go without saying, but not all marketers know the right way to build a clean, opt-in SMS database.12 Did you know that sending a text message to someone who hasn’t opted in is not just annoying, it’s illegal? The Mobile Marketing Association lists the best practices for opt-in in their U.S. Consumer Best Practices for Messaging publication. Also, don’t send promotional texts after 9 pm or before 11 am which means you’ll need to gather preferences at opt-in like time zone and city code.13
10. Last but not least
Let your customers know that you offer SMS for customer service, on your website, in your emails, on your print communications (if you still have any!), and on your social media platforms.
Customer service is a crucial part of any business — global or local — that must be at the highest quality if a brand looks to have any success moving forward. If you have the right technology to further improve your customers' customer service experience, then be sure you utilize it in the right way and use the right strategies. For more tips to improve your customer service approach, read our 7 Customer Service Strategies For Highly Effective Teams whitepaper.