It’s been nearly 30 years since the first text message was sent. Despite the huge developments in mobile technology since 1992, SMS has remained a constant - a robust and universal way for people and businesses to communicate.
Even with the rise of more advanced messaging channels, such as WhatsApp and Messenger, text messages are still a powerful tool in a CX strategy. Whether it’s using SMS for customer service, engagement or acquisition, consumers understand how to use it and, crucially, it offers a key difference to other private messaging channels, which opens up the opportunities for customer engagement.
While Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Apple Business Chat involve consumers having to ‘opt-in’ for communications from their favourite brands, SMS is an ‘opt-out’ channel - meaning proactive notifications are not subject to the same restrictions as other communication channels.
In Conversocial’s State of Digital Customer Experience Report 2020, more than half of our respondents favored brands that send offers or contact them using proactive notifications.
With so many consumers looking for proactive engagement, removing as many barriers as possible is key for brands.
This isn’t to suggest that sending multiple messages to every customer without any form of personalization is a good way to engage, but by leaning into the universality of SMS and combining it with bespoke engagement, sending the right message to the right customer at the right time, it’s a very powerful channel for exceptional CX.
Here are 8 Innovative Ways to Use SMS for Customer Experience
1. Proactive Notifications
As mentioned above, proactive notifications are an excellent option for customer engagement across all messaging channels, but all brands need is a phone number, rather than an opt-in permission. It means notifications for promotional offers or repeat purchase reminders, based on previous consumer interactions, can provide the convenience and experience that will build loyalty across the customer journey.
2. IVR Deflection
SMS can also be used as a gateway to open up conversations into a richer messaging channel. Nobody enjoys being on hold waiting to speak to a customer service agent, so introducing a chance to move away from that saves time and stress for the customer and cuts contact center costs for companies.
Within the IVR tree, offering an option to begin a conversation using a channel such as WhatsApp takes the conversation away from a phone call and puts it on the customer’s terms. By sending the link via SMS, all a brand needs is the phone number the customer has made the call with and a continuous, rich two-way conversation can begin on their preferred channel.
3. WISMO (where is my order?)
80% of consumers want brands to directly communicate with them after a sale during the ‘experience gap’ and we also know that more than 60% of WISMO queries are ‘when will you ship?’. By using SMS to inform customers at every stage of delivery, brand can satisfy a consumer’s desire to know what’s happening with their order before they get in contact to ask. It also means the process is completely automated, which removes the need for any human interactions in the process.
4. Answering FAQs
Often SMS messaging platforms only offer one-way push messaging, but with Conversocial tools, it becomes a channel for genuine two-way interactions. Most customer queries fall into a small number of issues, for which an automated flow can be created to completely contain the conversations within a conversational bot.
By identifying the most common customer query intents, with correct conversational design, flows can be created to quickly identify the issue that needs addressing and handle it quickly and efficiently without needing to handover to an agent.
Keeping a customer informed of upcoming bookings or appointments through SMS alerts helps them to remain informed and engaged ahead of an appointment or booking. One Conversocial partner in the beauty industry saw a 15% increase in average order value and 109% increase in clients showing up for bookings by engaging using messaging.
If you’re looking for as wide a segment of your audience as possible to collect feedback for CSAT or NPS surveys or conduct research of your current customers, SMS offers universal reach to everyone with a phone, and far better engagement than other channels like email.
Push notifications on messaging channels have around an average open rate of 50% vs around 14% for emails, so if brands are looking for a more effective way of gathering customers’ thoughts and opinions, SMS is a more effective channel.
7. Customer Service Interactions
Customer issues can’t always be automated and do sometimes require contact center agents to solve them. Conversocial's Agent Workspace can help brands to build customer relationships using every major messaging platform, including SMS. The platform helps teams to prioritize and resolve customer issues according to priority that will create loyal and satisfied customers.
A customer’s first port of call when researching a new brand is to Google the company’s name - making a Google or Trustpilot rating one of the first things they learn about you.
If a customer provides a good CSAT or NPS score, you can set up an automated flow that triggers a proactive SMS asking the customer to provide a review on whichever site you’re focusing on for reputation. By reaching out over the messaging channel that every phone owner has access to, it maximizes the opportunity to build a stellar online reputation.
SMS doesn't rely on customers using WhatsApp or an iOS device to engage over Apple Business Chat, its universal reach should make it an attractive channel for reaching as many customers as possible.