Contact centers are all learning one thing – when it comes to pandemics, flexibility is the name of the game. Remote work coupled with daily regulatory changes across state, county, and city boundaries are forcing IT decision makers to re-evaluate the systems they depend on to keep employees connected to each other and their customers. Texting should be at the top of their list. Here’s why:

Voice Calls are an Unacceptable Bottleneck

COVID-19 disrupted every facet of human life. Travel plans were scrapped, education was turned on its head, and virtually every service provider from healthcare to supply chains changed how they operated overnight. With disruption comes the need for help and contact centers were overwhelmed by a tidal wave of customer calls.  In fact, as recently as July 15th contact call center call volumes jumped to over 800% of their normal levels!

If we consider that the industry standard for average handle time (AHT) is 6 minutes and 10 seconds (including wait, talking, and wrap time), an 800% increase in call volume will absolutely destroy AHT if a contact center isn’t adequately staffed.

Texting is 4x faster than a voice call which means agents can quickly handle more interactions in less time. Texting also distills down a sender’s main points due to the friction of writing out their thoughts. With voice calls, customers tend to add a lot of unnecessary filler into the conversation which drags the interaction out and may lead the agent to focus on the wrong thing.

Texting Increases Agent Capacity

Voice calls monopolize agents’ time. It’s because the interaction requires full engagement as both customer and agent listen and respond to each other. While acceptable pre-pandemic, the previously mentioned increase in call volumes due to COVID-19 means contact centers must either:

  1. Frantically increase headcount (while sweating over onboarding requirements) or
  2. Risk losing customers with long wait times, a massive callback list, and burnt out agents

Texting changes all that. Because texting doesn’t command an agent’s complete attention to hear every word, the agent can answer additional customer texts. Texting can be asynchronous, meaning, there’s a slight delay between when the customer reads the text and responds. This can be advantageous for an agent who wants to manage multiple text threads and can respond to Customer B while waiting for Customer A to reply.

Texting Gets Better Read and Response Rates

It’s said an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Some contact centers have taken this mantra to heart and are proactively reaching out to customers to notify them of changes due to COVID-19. Others are trying to get the word out as their businesses re-open with promotions to re-engage their customers. The problem is that budgets are tightening and businesses are facing major financial struggles due to the pandemic. Contact centers must invest in technology that has the highest chance of success.

Contact centers’ best bet is texting and it’s easy to see why. Texting gets an astounding 98% open rate compared to just 22% of email. Getting a response is also better via text over other means:

  • Texting averages a 40% response rate.
  • Phone calls typically only create a meager 5% response rate.
  • Email is worse at just 3%.

Texting Solves Issues Faster

Texting removes barriers to communication which makes it easier for agents to resolve issues. Features such as MMS allow customers and agents to send and receive images, video, emojis, and documents can often say more than a 6-minute phone call.

Texting Can Create a Better Experience for Everyone

Texting creates a better customer experience in general simply due to the better responsiveness of agents who can handle more texts faster. It’s a better experience for contact center teams as well since they get happier customers and can resolve issues quickly.

Best of all, in many cases it doesn’t require a large effort to train agents on how to incorporate texting. Many major CCaaS vendors like NICE inContact and Genesys integrate seamlessly with texting platforms like Textel that allows agents to utilize the same tools they rely on for chat to manage texts.

Texting – An Essential Tool for 2020 and Beyond

The pandemic will end but pinpointing when is impossible. Contact centers that will survive and thrive are those that are able to take an unbiased look at how they’ve done things and adopt new technology, like texting, to change the way they do business for the better.

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