How to Build an SMS Chatbot & Why It's a Sound Investment

SMS marketing is integral to many businesses’ marketing strategies around the globe. Through the humble text message, it's possible to build strong relationships with customers and deliver outstanding service, leading to increased customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Phone call customer support often involves lengthy queue times to speak to an agent. And being kept waiting frustrates most consumers – in one study, 60% of consumers said that even one minute is too long to be put on hold.

SMS messaging is fast and convenient – customers don't need to wait for long to get a response to their question, especially if an SMS chatbot is employed behind the scenes to field enquiries. This article explains what an SMS chatbot is, how to make an SMS bot for your business and why doing so is a worthwhile investment.

What is an SMS chatbot?

An SMS chatbot facilitates a two-way conversation between a business and its customers via text message. But instead of the customer texting a real person, they text a computer, which then sends an automated response. SMS chatbots usually follow scripts, and some that are more advanced are powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP).

AI and NLP give SMS bots the ability to understand text similarly to human beings. This means they can simulate human-like conversations, so the customer feels like they are, in fact, text messaging a person.

SMS chatbots provide instant, simple answers to questions being asked by a customer. They can even automatically ask questions or take an action based on the customer's request or instruction.

You can also use chatbots on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Viber. But by running a chatbot on SMS, you’ll benefit from this channel's incredibly high open and response rates.

Why does your business need a chatbot for SMS messages?

Your business may already be tapping into the SMS channel to reach customers quickly and directly. Using an SMS chatbot to facilitate certain communications will give your business several advantages, such as:

1. The ability to simulate human-like conversations

SMS chatbots help to provide conversational messaging back and forth with customers. Unlike mass text messages (where you'd send a blanket text to multiple customers simultaneously), conversational messaging is more meaningful and personalised to each customer.

Here's an example:

  1. A customer sends a text message from their mobile phone to an SMS chatbot asking for prices on beauty treatments.

  2. The SMS chatbot recognises the words 'prices', 'beauty' and 'treatments' and sends back a question asking the customer to specify a treatment type from a list of options: eyebrows, lashes, facials, waxing or nails.

  3. The customer texts back the word 'nails'.

  4. Then the SMS chatbot responds with a list of all nail treatments and pricing.

Example SMS chatbot conversation

2. Better quality customer support

A chatbot conversation can take place at any time of the day, making your brand available 24/7 (even when your support agents are offline). Because text messages are automated, responses are sent almost instantly, meaning customers won't have to wait to receive support.

3. Improved workforce efficiency and productivity

SMS messaging chatbots can help several departments across a business with customer interactions. For example, they can navigate to landing pages, capture leads and qualify potential customers, sign up delegates for an event, send out personalised appointment reminders and even sell products conversationally.

4. Better cost efficiency

Using an SMS chatbot potentially means saving money on hiring costs because you may not need as many customer service agents. You can send messages via SMS cheaply too – typically, the price is based on the volume of texts you need to send. So the costs will scale up or down according to demand.

5. Improved time efficiency

SMS chatbots can field and answer common questions, and in a customer service environment, this can save a lot of time. Instead of handling FAQs, support agents can focus their time on more important or complex queries better handled over the phone or via email.

6. Gauge performance via customer engagement

By monitoring customer conversation initiations and responses, you'll get a good idea of how your business (and customer service function) is performing.

For example, you'll get insights into which products are the most popular, which parts of your offering cause confusion and whether customers are satisfied with your business. You can even use SMS bots to conduct surveys and polls.

How to make an SMS bot for your business

Building an SMS chatbot is relatively straightforward. The first step is applying for a dedicated phone number via a text messaging provider, and then integrating the provider's SMS software into your CRM system. With Messente, you can do this one of two ways:

  1. Directly integrate Messente's SMS API using our API keys. This involves a bit of basic coding and is something a developer can do in a few hours.

  2. Use Zapier to integrate Messente into your system – this is the easiest option but is limited.

Once integrated, all you need to do then is create automation rules based on your CRM's capabilities. Finally, test the SMS chatbot thoroughly, making sure it submits the correct responses to a wide range of questions before making the bot live for customers to use.

SMS chatbot for live chat concept

SMS chatbots help businesses achieve more

An SMS chatbot can enhance your SMS marketing strategy and customer communications by keeping your business 'open' around the clock and providing speedy, tailored responses to engage and satisfy customers.

The most advanced chatbots can understand the context of a question thanks to Natural Language Processing and can therefore emulate an almost-real conversation with customers.

Finally, an SMS chatbot will make your workforce more productive, saving customer service agents' time so they can help resolve problems, deal with complaints or answer more detailed enquiries.

To explore Messente's SMS software, sign up for a free account today.

Jaanus Rõõmus
2022-11-22 00:00:00 UTC