This guide explains how to use SMS messaging for customer service. Text message marketing services sometimes offer this feature as well.
Most people are familiar and comfortable with communicating with their friends and family through text messaging. Conversational SMS messages have also become a regular part of the business messaging environment. As a result, businesses are increasing their use of text messaging as a way to communicate with customers and support their customer service strategies. These seven ways to use text messaging for customer service can help improve your customer satisfaction rating.
Benefits of using text messages for customer service
Text messaging for customer service offers several benefits over other types of business communications.
One-on-one communication: Text messaging enables your business to engage in two-way communication with your customers. Customers can interact with your business via SMS, and you can respond to their messages directly.
Constant connection: Many people carry their mobile devices everywhere and use them regularly, so text messaging enables you to reach customers anywhere and at any time.
Scalability: Text messaging enables you to communicate with large groups of customers at the same time. You can send text messages to every customer in your mailing list or to specific groups of customers. Text messaging is also less expensive and easier to scale than phone calls.
- Immediate responses: Text messaging is the quickest way to communicate with customers and get responses. Customers are more likely to read and respond to a text message compared to a phone call and will respond more quickly to text messages than emails.
7 ways to use text messages for customer service
Businesses can use text messaging for customer service to do the following:
- Send timely and personalized messages to customers.
- Respond quickly to customer requests.
- Schedule messages to automate the customer service experience.
- Use autoresponders to provide instant answers to customer service questions.
- Provide appointment reminders and alerts.
- Use polls and surveys to collect feedback.
- Collect Google reviews.
1. Send timely and personalized messages to customers.
Treating customers like individuals and sending timely messages will help you build strong customer relationships. Personalized text messages enable you to connect more strongly with customers.
Emails are more effective than text messages when you need to provide more detailed information to customers or tell a story (as in marketing and case studies). However, text messaging is more personal, as you can speak directly to customers on a first-name basis and answer questions immediately.
Phone calls and text messages are both effective for one-to-one communication. Text messages can be just as personal and deliberate as talking to the customer on the phone. However, text messages are easier to scale than phone calls. You can respond immediately to customer questions by text message, which helps to make customers feel heard and understood, builds rapport, and supports customer retention.
Here's how you can personalize text messages in customer service interactions:
- Use a text messaging platform that provides the ability to include customer information (e.g., first name).
- Start the message with your name and the name of your business.
- Greet customers in a personalized way.
- Sign off conversations politely and clearly.
- Keep individual customer responses separate from the group chat.
2. Respond quickly to customer requests.
Email can be relatively slow for sending information, with extended periods between responses, which can reduce the effectiveness of the communication. Phone calls also take time and can cause frustration when customers are left on hold or the phone call is not handled properly. Slow responses to customer requests can lead to loss of customers and negative reviews of your business.
Text messages are faster than email and phone calls, as people can respond to text messages in the middle of another task. Text messages also enable you to exchange information quickly, resulting in quicker responses. Make sure to respond to inbound text messages as soon as possible. Some data suggests the response time should be between 90 seconds and one hour, but it depends on your business and the complexity and urgency of the message.
Text messaging is more convenient from a customer's perspective, as they can respond or reach out at their convenience. Customers tend to prefer conversing via text message because they don't have to deal with automated phone menus or wait for you to reply to an email. This puts the customer in control of the buying journey and the speed of communication.
3. Schedule messages to automate the customer service experience.
The time you save with automation can accumulate significantly over the course of a business day. You can automate many elements of the customer service process. Automated text messages can include these singular messages:
- Welcome texts
- Payment reminders
- Order notifications
- Delivery notices
- Sales receipts
You can also use automated text messages as part of marketing campaigns, sending messages to everyone on your contact list. These are some examples of text message marketing campaigns:
- New product announcements
- Notification of recently published articles and blog posts
- Promotional rewards
- Links to charitable donation pages
Your business can use an automated texting application, customer relationship management (CRM) software, or other applications to schedule and send text messages. This can make your customer service and marketing teams more efficient and proactive in their communications. Automated text messages also create greater transparency with customers and enable you to answer questions immediately.
4. Use autoresponders to provide instant answers to customer service questions.
Customers will often contact customer service or visit your website to find answers to questions about orders, service requests, delivery issues and other topics. Allowing customers to ask questions by text message enables them to receive answers more quickly, reducing their time spent trying to resolve a problem. Customers can send a text message when they are not satisfied with their experience, which enables you to address their issues immediately and prevent their dissatisfaction from growing too large.
Reducing your customer service response time improves brand perception, increases the likelihood of repeat business, and encourages more positive reviews of your business. Setting up autoresponders enables you to provide immediate answers to common questions, such as your hours of operation, location and current availability. Automated response sets help you to meet customers' expectations and create a more positive customer experience.
To make autoresponders more effective, follow these tips:
- Personalize the message where applicable.
- Give an estimated response time so customers know when to expect an answer to their question or comment.
- Include alternative ways for customers to connect (e.g., an email address or phone number for a specific contact person who can handle their request).
- Use a friendly tone in the body of the text message.
- Explain the next steps in the process.
5. Provide appointment reminders and alerts.
It makes good business sense to be proactive in reminding customers of appointments. This reduces the number of canceled or missed appointments, which keeps customers satisfied, employees busy, and your calendar full. You can set up your text messaging or calendar app to send appointment reminders when the customer makes the appointment, several days before the appointment, and on the date of the appointment. Include a call to action that compels the customer to confirm the appointment, as well as a way for the customer to reschedule or cancel the appointment.
You can use text messaging to send alerts about limited-time offers, changes to seasonal inventory, updates on new arrivals, links to special events, and more. This form of proactive text messaging can boost sales, increase traffic to your business and website, and spur customer interest.
6. Use polls and surveys to collect customer feedback.
Collecting customer feedback is a great way to find out what customers like and don't like about your business. However, the traditional ways of conducting polls and surveys are time-consuming and require investments in software and other resources. Sending out text-based surveys is a more efficient way of collecting customer feedback, as you can include a link to a Google Form with a poll or survey in the body of the text message. This enables you to get immediate responses to your surveys and increases your interactions with customers.
Polls and surveys are designed to collect customer feedback in slightly different ways:
- Polls ask one multiple-choice question about the person's preferences or choices and require very little analysis.
- Surveys ask several questions of different types (e.g., multiple-choice and long-form answers) that must then be analyzed and grouped into categories.
Polls and surveys can be sent by text message:
- As a link to a review or survey website
- As a multiple-choice poll
- As an open-ended poll
- As a customer experience survey
- To solicit votes for a decision
7. Collect Google reviews.
Many customers check Google reviews before visiting or buying from a business, typically reading the newest reviews first. Google reviews increase your search rankings; the more reviews you receive, the better your business's credibility. Positive reviews also provide social proof that a business treats its customers well. That's why it's important to check your business's Google reviews to learn what customers are saying about you.
You can use text messaging to follow up with customers to make sure they have had a good experience. You can send a timely message (i.e., soon after a sale or a customer visit) requesting a review, with a link to your Google Reviews page in the text message. A message to the customer right after a positive interaction is more likely to result in a positive review.
Follow these steps to increase your number of Google reviews:
- Claim your Google My Business page.
- Verify your business information so that it appears on Google's search results, services, and maps.
- Create a short link to Google Reviews.
- Ask your customers to provide reviews.
- Reply to reviews to build trust with customers.