Real World Lessons About Business Text Messaging

Here’s a pretty obvious observation for you: customers want to communicate with a business from the channels they’re most comfortable with. So why is it that only 48% of businesses are equipped to communicate through messaging?

Business text messaging is clearly in high demand. In fact 97% of Americans text at least once a day, 98% of SMS messages are read, and 90% of texts are read within the first three seconds of receipt. Consumers specifically want to use SMS with their favorite brands, too. In fact, 89% of consumers say they want to communicate with businesses through messaging.

Regardless of these impressive statistics, businesses are still struggling to figure out how exactly to capitalize on SMS. After working to set up business text messaging with over 1,000 businesses, I’ve learned all kinds of lessons—and I’d love to share.

Lesson #1: Identify Where Business SMS Can Help The Most

This can be the hardest step. After all, if your business communications are already running pretty well, it can be hard to see how text messaging can improve them. Here’s how to identify use cases that are hiding in plain sight:

Focus on external-facing departments. First, you’ll want to narrow your focus to departments that handle external communications, like customer service and sales teams. Don’t forget departments that face contractors and partners, too, like operations teams. Because contractors often work closely with operations teams, they would benefit from a quicker channel than phone calls or email to communicate with your business.

Find which communications are taking up the most of their time. For example, phone calls are often a significant time sink for operations teams. Team members spend hours making unnecessary calls for appointment reminders, rescheduling, delivery updates, and similar notifications. It’s much faster to notify customers through text messages. If you are experiencing slow email replies from customers, texting can help your teams get faster reply rates, too.

Determine specific use cases. Finally, you’ll want to determine specific workflows where your team is interacting with a customer that would be better served with SMS; maybe delivery statuses of product orders could be routed through SMS, or maybe customer questions about billing would be easier tackled through text. For complex use cases, it helps to map out a user journey. That will leave you more confident of the way customers use your communications channels.

Lesson #2: Set Up Your Technology Platform

For businesses using SMS today, it’s almost a given that they will use advanced business texting platforms to manage the mass influx of texts they will need to send and receive. But it can be hard to choose which platform works best for you.

When you set up your business’s platform, there are a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself:

Do you have a landline? If you have an existing business number, it can likely be text enabled. This gives customers more than one option when they want to contact your business, which can be especially important to repeat customers who already have the number in their address books.

Will multiple team members be handling the business text messages? Look for SMS productivity features like the ones that modern email platforms leverage. These will make team collaboration easier and quicken response and resolution times, which is most likely why you’re interested in business SMS anyway.

Does your business deal with sensitive customer information? If so, look for administrative features. This way, when an employee leaves your company, you will be able to keep customer contacts and messages. Pulling exportable reports and hiding personally identifiable information (PII) are especially important for industries with compliance requirements.

Lesson #3: Let People Know They Can Text Your Business

If you want your business text messaging services to succeed, you’ll want to ensure people know they can actually text you. Here are some things businesses have done to promote their text messaging capabilities:

Publish your number on your website or emails, and be sure to include the SMS: HTML tag. With that tag’s help, customers who tap the button will launch the SMS app on their phones and can message your business. Make sure to add text saying something like “Text us at 415-562-0500” before the number so customers know they can tap the link to text your business.

Don’t underestimate the value of print. Flyers and cards are an effective, and affordable, way to let people know they can text your business. They are also an opportunity to include your branding and some subtle marketing. However, don’t go overboard—remember, the point is to let people know they can text your business. We’ve found that displaying your company’s logo with some simple copy and your text-enabled number works great. For example:

<Acme Logo>

Have questions about your product? Text us at 415-562-0500.

Offering a new communications channel to your customer can seem like a daunting task, even if it’s clear that they are asking for it. But by first identifying specific use cases where business SMS can help the most, effectively setting up your advanced technology platform, and letting people know they can text you, you’ll find success in no time at all.

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