While SMS is ideal for marketing, more and more companies are finding ways to incorporate text messages into their customer service programmes using SMS APIs. Text customer service involves no face-to-face or verbal interactions; the customer simply engages with a business’s support team via the native SMS app on their mobile phone.
Related: Want the lowdown on SMS API providers? Here's everything you need to know!
This article explores the benefits of text for customer service and provides examples, templates, and best practice tips to show you how it can and should be used. We also explain what to look for in an SMS provider.
The benefits of using text for customer service
Did you know it costs five times more to recruit new customers than it does to retain existing ones? Excellent customer service can improve customer retention rates and even increase new customer acquisition because happy customers lead to more word-of-mouth referrals.
Managing customer relationships efficiently is particularly vital in markets where competition is increasing, and margins are decreasing. However, delivering excellent customer service is no easy task these days since customer expectations are rising. Customers simply switch brands if they’re dissatisfied with the service they’re getting.
According to Microsoft’s 2017 State of Global Customer Service report, 96% of people surveyed feel that customer service is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand. The same report claims that 72% of respondents expect customer support agents to know who they are, along with their purchase and engagement history.
Furthermore, customers expect to contact customer service via the communication channel of their choice, text messaging being one option. Research from Zendesk suggests that a substantial 24% of customers prefer to use SMS for simple service requests.
Being able to please those customers who prefer to use SMS is just one benefit of using text for customer service. Here are some others:
Cost-efficient - text messaging can reduce customer service costs, as you may not need as many agents operating the phones.
Speedier solutions - texts are delivered and received pretty much instantly, meaning that resolutions can potentially be reached quickly. 65% of people expect customer service to be quicker now than it was five years ago, according to the Zendesk report referenced above.
Convenient - customers don’t always have the time to make a phone call or access their email. But texts arrive straight to a mobile phone (even basic feature phones) and can be easily digested and responded to at a time to suit the customer.
- Reliable - SMS offers increased reliability compared to email or push notifications, which can be affected by internet connectivity issues.
Let’s now look at how text customer service can provide real solutions and deliver a satisfying customer experience.
1. Provide updates on delays and disruptions
Customers hate having their time wasted and being inconvenienced. Sending a timely text message to update customers on a situation will be appreciated. For instance, suppose a customer’s order is delayed due to a shipping problem. A customer service text could be sent to explain, so the customer doesn’t have to call to chase its whereabouts.
Other examples might include disruptions that customers need to know about, such as a bathroom being refurbished on a ferry or a cancelled flight due to bad weather. If the information is particularly time-sensitive, such as a detected emergency or last-minute delay, a Flash SMS could be sent to deliver the message right to the customer’s screen.
2. Send booking, order and delivery confirmations
E-commerce retailers sometimes use text messages to communicate order confirmations and confirm delivery times after a buyer has made a purchase.
For ticketed events, travel bookings or hotel stays, it’s a good idea to send a confirmation via SMS. It’s virtually guaranteed that the customer will open it and see it. Having an automated text messaging system in place to inform customers about their booking saves time at both ends and potentially avoids a call to customer support.
Related: Read how SMS is used in the financial sector.
3. Provide further support
An SMS message can include a ticket number or a serial number which the customer can use to track a complaint or problem that needs resolving. You can also include a customer support number in case the customer wants to speak to someone rather than text.
And, you can include a shortened URL to any landing page - for example, online tutorials and resources, FAQs, the company’s mobile app or directions.
4. Time-sensitive notifications
Here’s a hypothetical scenario to explain the value of notifications for customers. Imagine you're vacationing in Tasmania and want to go on a day trip. There's only one ferry, but you didn't have to wait in line to get on, and so far, the outing is going great.
Having spent several hours looking around, it occurs to you that you should start heading back to base. However, you discover that ferry tickets are sold out for the next crossing. So you sign up to receive a notification when the later ferry crossing tickets become available.
Templates for customer service texts
Now let’s look at some text templates that could be used for customer service messages. Feel free to copy, paste and use any of these that apply to your customer care programme.
Order delay text
Hi [First Name]. Unfortunately, your recent order has been subject to a [X Week] delay at our manufacturer in [Country]. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Order/delivery confirmation text
Hi [First Name]. Thanks for your order [Number]. We will aim to deliver it between [Time] and [Time] on [Date]. Click to reschedule: [URL]
Event booking confirmation
Hi [First Name]. This is your ticket confirmation for [Event] at [Time] on [Date]. Please show this text upon entry. For directions, click here: [URL]
Support ticket texts
Hi [First Name]. Your support ticket [Number] is open and being dealt with by [Agent]. Reply to this text at any time.
Hi [First Name]. Your support ticket [Number] is now closed. We hope we resolved your issue satisfactorily. Please leave us feedback here: [URL]
Customer onboarding text
Hi [First Name]! Great to have you on board. Get started quickly with this online tutorial and also read our FAQs: [URL]
Hi [First Name]. Thanks for registering to be alerted when [Product] becomes available. We’ll let you know by text straightaway.
Tips and best practices to follow
Once you’ve decided on the type of customer service texts you need to send, follow these tips and best practices to ensure success:
Integrate with CRM tools - use an SMS provider that enables integration with your CRM system. This can help improve operations and lead to increased efficiency. For instance, you’ll be able to set up automated texts based on customer actions and get better data insights.
Offer personalisation - it makes sense to automate specific texts for customer service, like order confirmations and delivery updates. But to avoid your messages reading like they’ve been sent by a robot, personalise them with the customer’s name (and order details) if necessary.
Consider two-way messaging - letting customers respond to texts helps interactions feel more conversational. This is particularly helpful where technical support is concerned.
Go omnichannel - while many customers prefer to use SMS as it’s convenient and easy to use, some will jump from channel to channel when they engage with a business. In the Microsoft report referenced earlier, 66% of respondents worldwide say they actively use three or more channels.
Choosing a provider for customer service texting
As we’ve shown, there are so many ways you can use text for customer service interactions. But how exactly do you go about getting started? The first step is to choose an SMS messaging provider that can meet your requirements.
Look out for:
Global reach - if you have customers in different countries, you’ll want to choose a provider with access to an extensive mobile network.
Quick message delivery - text messaging should be virtually instant, so be sure the provider offers intelligent and reliable routing algorithms.
Two-way messaging - this lets customers reply to your texts.
Omnichannel messaging - to deliver the best customer service possible, choose a provider that offers text messaging along with other channels.
Scalable solution - it should meet the needs of your business now and also as it grows.
Easy integration - so you can get going quickly, it needs to integrate easily with your business systems and customer care programme.
Having a tool in place to help deliver the most critical and most sought-after information is key to providing stellar customer service. And while text messaging has been around for some decades, it’s still reliable, fast and offers massive potential to enhance customer relationships.
As a trusted SMS provider, Messente delivers on global reach, quick message delivery, two-way and omnichannel messaging, and more. Why not create a free account to look around the dashboard and see how easy Messente is to use and integrate into your systems? Register your account here.