With the rise of omnichannel call centers, engaging with consumers has never been more important. But many business owners and call center managers completely forget about SMS — arguably the most powerful communication method in the world. Eighty-nine percent of consumers prefer to communicate with businesses, not by phone or email, but via SMS.
So why do so many businesses fail to incorporate SMS into their communications and marketing strategies? Don’t make the same mistake as other business owners. Here’s how a type of SMS marketing called conversational SMS marketing will revolutionize your call center operations.
The Joy of Text
Despite the advent of newer technologies like social media, SMS is still the No.1 communication method for Americans under 50. There are many reasons for this. SMS provides a simple, speedy, and cheap contact method that offers lots of freedom. Unlike phone calls, people send and receive messages at a convenient time for them. They don’t have to think about their answers. They don’t have to wait on the phone for hours. There’s no music on hold. There’s none of the social awkwardness that comes from a voice conversation.
It’s no wonder, then, that 82 percent of consumers allow SMS notifications on their phones. (This provides call center managers with unparalleled engagement opportunities.) Or that Americans, on average, send and receive 41.5 text messages on a typical day. Or that 18-24 year-olds send and receive an average of 109.5 texts on a regular day. (That’s more than 3,200 texts per month!)
SMS has revolutionized the way the world communicates, but too few call center managers use this technology to their advantage. What gives?
Different Types of Business SMS
What you need to know: There are not one, or two, but three different types of SMS messages that businesses send to consumers.
This is the most popular, and the easiest. One-way SMS lets businesses send messages without a pathway for customers to reply, kind of like converted emails. This is a great method for delivering information that doesn’t require a response, such as a promotional code, product receipt, confirmation, or other one-off notification.
Unlike one-way SMS, two-way SMS lets customers reply to text messages from businesses, although there are restrictions. Customers send specific words (or numbers) to initiate action, such as “1” to confirm an appointment reminder. This method is perfect when you need customers to confirm appointments, add themselves to waiting lists, or reply to special offers. For two-way SMS to work, you need to assign a phone number to a customer.
Conversational SMS Marketing
Conversational SMS is the most exciting of the three methods, and it’s the future of text communication. Instead of limiting customers to preset reply options, you can route replies to service agents (or chatbots) who communicate with customers, similar to live chat. Essentially, agents and customers can have long text conversations, making this method perfect for problem resolution, upselling, and other marketing functions. Like two-way SMS, you need to assign a phone number to a customer when using conversational SMS.
Conversational SMS Best Practices
Conversational SMS marketing is a powerful way to communicate with consumers, but consider the following:
In some jurisdictions, federal and local laws mandate the collection and transfer of customer data so make sure you get consent from customers.
One of the benefits of conversational marketing is the opportunity to personalize communications. Ninety-six percent of marketers believe personalization advances customer relationships.
Pro-tip: Refer to customers by name in all conversational messages for deeper engagement.
Using AI or Chatbots
Using AI or chatbots for conversational marketing reduces labor costs and lets you respond to customers 24 hours a day. Conversational technology is constantly improving, and most Americans can’t tell the difference between robots and human beings so you don’t have to worry about ruining your brand’s reputation.
Engage in the Conversation
Conversational SMS provides you with much more scope than other types of business SMS. You can talk to customers for longer and build long-lasting relationships.
“Conversational content maximizes engagement when it uses questions to simulate choice and cultivates relationships by providing immediate, convenient, and relevant content when consumers respond to those choices,” says the Content Marketing Institute.
Using conversational messaging for rewards, discounts, coupons, or other perks can improve the entire customer experience, increase engagement, enhance your brand’s reputation, and boost sales.
Before You Hang Up…
While conversational SMS marketing isn’t a good fit for all businesses, it’s certainly an important facet in the omnichannel call center, where managers communicate with consumers across multiple platforms and technologies. Incorporate conversational SMS marketing into your call center environment and engage with customers, resolve problems, personalize communications, and move more consumers through your sales and marketing pipelines.