How Planning Our Holiday Party Inspired Us To Launch 2-Way Texting

This post originally appeared on PhoneWagon blog.

In early December I began planning our company holiday dinner. We had 10 people and I wanted to find a place that could host us as a private party. I knew someone that use to be an Executive Assistant at a pretty large tech company so I sent her a text to ask for some recommendations.

After some quick details, she fired off a ton of options. Needless to say, she came through with a ton of awesome options.

Typically with private events, there’s a set menu (prix fixe) and the venue charges based on the number of people attending. After she sent me these recommendations, I began googling them to see if they had availability and what the price person was going to be.

Consumers want information instantly

To my surprise, none of the restaurants she mentioned published their private event availability online. They all had a section on their website for private events but the call-to-action button to “get a quote” or “book now” led to an online form (which seemed to be powered by Tripleseat).

After reviewing the website, location, and menu of the options that she gave me, I decided to inquire about availability and pricing with one of these restaurants which I’m going to call Booster (changing name so I don’t make them mad).

Booster has a dedicated private event page that included a lot of information, including pictures of the event space, a link to their private events deck, and an online form to request availability. I had almost everything I needed to make a decision from the information they provided on their website and event deck with the exception of one crucial piece — availability.

Since I didn’t know if they were available and I needed more information on booking the space, I filled out the form on their website. I did this at 6pm on December 12th and I was looking for availability on December 19th (yes, a bit last minute).

Consumers don’t like to wait

After I submitted this inquiry, I thought of another restaurant called Black Derby that might be a good fit for our holiday party. I’ve been to this restaurant a number of times so I had the phone number of the manager. I decided to text her and see if they could possibly accommodate us.

I sent her a text at 6:12pm on Dec 12th, just 3 minutes after I submitted the online form for Booster. She responded instantly and told me it was possible. A couple hours later, at 8:05pm, I asked her if they had availability for our desired date of 12/19. She told me that they had availability to host our event and even sent me a sample menu along with full pricing ($75 per person, no minimum spend).

I stopped by the restaurant that night and checked out the space. It was perfect for what we were looking for so I decided to book it.

Consumers need to be engaged throughout the sales cycle

Over the next week we continued the text conversation as we sorted out details like the menu, decorations for the table, and hiring a violinist. I wanted everything to be perfect.

Everything was pretty much solidified by Saturday Dec 15th.

You will lose business if you don’t respond to leads fast enough

Funny enough, at this point I hadn’t even heard back from Booster. They were actually my first choice as they were recommended to me from a friend (social proof) and had a ton of information on their website that looked like they would be a perfect fit for our company holiday dinner.

On Monday Dec 17th, just 2 days before our holiday dinner, I received an email back from Booster. They informed me that they could accommodate us in their main dining room but there would be a prix fixe menu AND a minimum spend per person (which I did not remember seeing anywhere on their site previously).

Remember, I originally inquired on December 12th and didn’t receive this response until December 17th. Within those 5 days I had already chosen another restaurant to host our event.

Since I work with thousands of businesses that are focused on generating leads and turning those leads into customers, this process made me think a lot about how businesses are interacting with their leads and customers.

Consumers want access to information instantly. They have the entire internet in the palm of their hand at all times. And when they are searching for information on a business, that is their priority at that time. But priorities change. And that’s why it’s so important for businesses to engage with consumers when they’re searching, not waiting hours or days to respond.

When I finally had time to search for a restaurant for our holiday dinner, I wanted to get everything done in the same day. This helps me cross the item off my to-do list so I can focus on another task. I didn’t want the process to drag out over days or weeks. If Booster had simply replied instantly to my inquiry or allowed me to ask them a question via text message, they most likely would have won our business and generated an incremental $2,000 (our bill from the holiday party).

Consumers want information through text messages

That’s when it hit me — consumers need to be able to text businesses and businesses need to respond instantly. A lot of times a simple text message can push a prospect over the edge and turn them into a customer. For me, it was knowing if there was availability on our desired date for our holiday party. Other examples might include someone that needs to know if a restaurant can accommodate a certain food allergy or a prospective patient that wants to know if a top-rated dentist takes a certain type of insurance. There’s a ton of examples where one final piece of information is all that is needed for consumers to make a buying decision and text messages are usually the best way to provide that information.

Text with your customers using PhoneWagon

Today I’m excited to announce that PhoneWagon is launching 2-way text messaging. Initially we are launching this feature through an integration with Slack, allowing our customers to send and receive text messages on any of their PhoneWagon numbers directly inside of Slack. In the coming weeks we will build this into our web-based interface as well as into our integrations with other CRMs like HubSpot and Salesforce.

Google just announced last week that they are testing a “message this business” in search ads for local businesses. Businesses can now use a PhoneWagon number in their Google My Business listing and enable it to be a “textable” number.

With PhoneWagon enabling businesses to text with their customers through a shared inbox (and/or slack channel), businesses are able to respond faster to every lead and deliver a superior customer experience. This results in more sales, happier customers, and a higher return on ad spend.

Bringing it all together

Here’s an example of how it works. In this example, I send a text message to the phone number on the website and it goes into a shared slack channel where one of my teammates responds immediately.

Want to try it out? Sign up for free here: https://phonewagon.com/free-trial/