When businesses think of delivering excellent customer service, accessibility needs to be at the top of that list. Accessibility can mean many things, but we’re looking at creating greater accessibility for individuals with disabilities in this blog.

In our on-demand economy, it’s never been easier for customers to jump from one company to the next. Almost half of all customers have done it due to poor customer service. When it comes to customers with disabilities, companies are losing about $6.9 billion a year simply because their websites aren’t accessible.

Texting is a quick and easy way to provide better accessibility. Texting creates convenient briges of communication that other forms of communication like voice and chat tools lack. Here are a few reasons why and how you should adopt texting:

Greater Accessibility Than Phone Calls

A phone call can be a non-starter for the deaf, hard of hearing, or those with speech disabilities. Teletypewriters (TTY) and Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) can help bridge the communication gap by translating speech to text and vice versa, but they come with limitations.

For one, when a customer uses TTY mode on their mobile phone, it might prevent other phone functions from operating, which means a customer may not get an important call or message. Agents may think a TRS call is a telemarketer because they hear “Hello. This is the relay service…”, not realizing it’s a TRS provider relaying information for someone with a disability. Lastly, you’re pushing customers to call you, which drives up call volumes – something you are likely trying to reduce.

Texting creates better accessibility for the Deaf, hard of hearing, and those with speech disabilities, because:

  1. There’s no other technology or services required on the customer’s end besides their phone.
  2. The entire conversation is made through text.
  3. Agents can answer multiple texts at once for shorter wait times.

Greater Accessbility Than Webchat

We’ve talked about the pros and cons of webchat vs. text elsewhere, but not for accessibility. Webchat can be a great resource, but it depends on whether your website is easy for those with disabilities to navigate. Webchat also doesn’t help the nearly 25% of disabled respondents who say they never go online. Part of the reason behind this is that those with disabilities are typically seniors who tend to be on the lower end of digital adoption.

The good news is texting creates greater customer engagement even among older populations. And although older customers aren’t sending anywhere near the volume of texts as younger customers, they are more likely to respond to texts if they do receive them.

Greater Accessibility for Everyone

Texting is the most popular form of communication today. By including texting in your omnichannel contact center strategy, you’re giving every customer a convenient way to communicate with your business. Fortunately, adding another channel for support doesn’t mean more work for your agents. In fact, it can reduce your overall inbound support volume. Here’s how:

Use Text IVRs

Text IVRs operate the same way as your usual IVR, except they’re done entirely through text messages. Best of all, customers can see their text history, which reduces repeat calls if they forget anything.

Use Textbots

Textbots act a lot like chatbots. You can set up textbots to do proactive outreach. For instance, Pearson Education implemented Textel’s textbot to reach out to interested students to qualify them before connecting them to an advisor. Their call attempts dropped by over 90%, but they saw their contact rate increase 225%!

Push Calls to Text

Although pushing calls to text doesn’t necessarily reduce your calls volumes, it can reduce your average hold times. That’s because agents can manage multiple text messages simultaneously. Plus, they can send and receive images, documents, and more to communicate faster.

When you receive an incoming call, give them the option to text instead. You can do this easily with your IVR. Follow these steps:

  1. Give the option to text (e.g., “To text with us instead, press 2.”).
  2. Have the IVR confirm the number your agent should text (e.g., “I see you’re calling from 8015551234. Press 1 if we should text that number. Press 2 to enter a different number.”)
  3. Have the IVR end the call.
  4. Send an automated text message that an agent will text them soon.

Pushing calls to text can decrease calls if you’re tackling common issues in your automated text. For example, the State of Michigan was getting overwhelmed with calls due to COVID. They found that many of the calls were asking questions they already tackled on their website. Using Textel, they chose to callers the option to receive a text that included a link to the FAQs on their website. In the first three weeks of implementing Textel, they deflected over 800,000 calls!

Greater Accessibility with Textel

There’s no magic communication channel that satisfies all your customer needs. Each plays a critical role in providing accessibility. Texting adds unparalleled convenience to your customer interactions and more efficiency for your agents. Textel’s texting platform for contact centers gives you everything you need to connect to users on the devices they’re already using and through the way they’re already communicating.