Why Your Call Center Should be Using SMS

Symon Edmonds — February 15, 2017

“Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Remember pay phones? Telegrams? Remember letter writing and stamps? It was not that long ago where these were the modes of communication and we had the patience to wait for replies, for as long as it took.

We’re now in the ‘Instant’ age. Technology has sped us up and closed the gap between intention and delivery, between receiving and responding. Our smartphones have become extensions of our bodies and minds. We’re all plugged in. Ask yourself, “how many texts do I send and receive every day?”, “How often do I answer a call or listen to a voice message?” You’re texting. A lot. Statistic Brain says Over 560 billion texts are sent every month worldwide. In the US with a population of about 320 million more than 81% text. Which means 259 million are texting 8.5 billion texts a day, which works out to about 32 messages per person, per day. 60 million texts are sent every day through WhatsApp and Facebook combined.

So why do you think that the rest of the world would be more than happy to wait in line to reach an agent when they could just get their answer in an instant SMS?

We are entering the revolutionary period of the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) where the interconnectedness of every App and appliance allows the user to stay connected all the time. Users will move from device to device and expected it to be a seamless, engaging experience. You are going to have to work hard to retain their attention above the competition and so you have to speak the new international language –SMS.

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” — Rudyard Kipling

Time to Text

A Nielsen report states that Americans text twice as much as they call, on average.

The phone line can no longer be your primary channel to “speak” to your customers. You know that if they end up waiting too long in the queue they are going elsewhere and will make their complaints heard on that other potent channel — social media. So you have to use omni-channel tactics effectively. Best you start to text! The smart phone in someone’s pocket gives them access to anything at any time. You can communicate with them wherever they are and they will respond. This means less talk, more type!

Dimension Data’s benchmarking for 2015 noted that “38% of contact centers currently offer SMS, and 23% have plans to add it in the next 12 months. That means 61% of contact centers will offer SMS support in 2016.”

SMS is now a mandatory investment if you want to stay ahead of your competition. You can’t cling to outdated technologies because it’s a known entity. If you are not embracing the efficacy of modern technology you might as well start sending letters and the odd smoke signal to communicate. Otherwise you are on a fast track to becoming obsolete.

An SMS SOS to Business Dinosaurs

The phone line dominance is fading, it’s the dawning of the digital age of SMS.

Why you just have to have it now…

  • SMS will relieve your call center congestion, reduce wait time and lead to better customer service.
  • SMS will strengthen your Brand: A Harris Poll found, “64% of all consumers are likely to have a positive perception of a company that offers texting as a service channel”
  • SMS is overtaking email as the preferred method of communication.
  • 95% of customers do not wish to wait longer than 5 minutes on a call center line
  • SMS gives customers the opportunity for a call back option so they don’t have to keep waiting on line for ages.
  • SMS can be employed to enable self service options. People can send their query via text message and receive a text response. (many of these answers can be automated)
  • SMS builds enduring customer relationships and loyalty by giving them value when you communicate in ways that the client sees as convenient and easy.
  • Mobile Marketing Watch found that “Text messages have a 98% open rate, while email has only a 20% open rate.”
  • SMS closes the gap between crisis and resolution. A few texts versus calls, wait times and interruptions.
  • SMS means you can immediately get into contact with your customer to convey important messages. It’s almost impossible to “talk” to customers by calling but they will respond to a text. People are checking their voicemails infrequently and never pick up a call unless they recognize the number.
  • SMS will get through easily. An eWeek article says, “over one-third of business professionals say they can’t go 10 minutes without responding to a text.”

SMS Etiquette

How do you add SMS into your Omni-channel strategy?

  • Choose which texts can be automated and which will require manual responses.
  • An outbound transactional SMS can easily be configured to send specific messages like when they can expect a delivery.
  • You can easily see which issues or questions repeatedly come up in your existing business channels and so you can predict the customer texts and your response at the different points in the customer’s journey.
  • Create metrics for measurement for your SMS strategy. These cannot be the same KPI’s used for chat or email metrics. They fulfill different functions so don’t lump them together.
  • An SMS will get a quicker response so you need to be prepared to answer their questions quicker.
  • Train your support team in how to effectively incorporate SMS so they are upskilled to deal with a customer using this specific channel and what their expectations will be.
  • Know when to switch channels for the benefit of the customer. They might have reached out with a text but they actually require a more intensive email response. You don’t have to stay communicating in the channel of the first connection.

Smart Stats for Text Chats

There is a vast ocean of numbers to back up the call to adopt SMS as a matter of urgency:

  • Text messaging has a 45% response rate, while email only has a 6% response rate.
  • 90% of all text messages are read in under 3 minutes
  • The average adult spends a total of 23 hours a week texting
  • The average Millennial exchanges an average of 67 text messages per day
  • On average, Americans exchange twice as many texts as they do calls
  • Only 43% of smartphone owners use their phone to make calls, but over 70% of smartphone users text
  • 55% of heavy text message users (50+ texts per day) say they would prefer to receive a text over a phone call
  • Over 80% of American adults text, making it the most common cell phone activity
  • One in five consumers is just as likely to prefer a text message from a business to a phone call.

“Texting is fingered speech. Now we can write the way we talk.” — John McWhorter

At Nectar Desk we have completely embraced the urgency to incorporate SMS strategies into your call center software. We allow you to send SMS messages directly from your Nectar Desk dashboard. Our aim is to always assist you to exceed your service level standard with our sophisticated call center software solutions. Start a free trial today and see how you can use SMS to improve your customer communications.