Did you know that eight trillion text messages are sent every year? And of those, every month, people send more than one billion messages to businesses. Despite these incredible statistics, many call centers still haven’t integrated texting for their business into their customer service operations.
The reality is that customers are beginning to prefer texting companies. For instance:
- 75% of consumers find it helpful to receive appointment reminders via text.
- 72% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when texting with a real employee.
- 69% of consumers would prefer for an unfamiliar company to contact them over text messaging, rather than over the phone.
- 63% of consumers would switch companies if they offered text messaging.
Texting for business has tons of benefits for customers and for employees. It’s way more effective and efficient, more personal, and is much more flexible for both parties. But, admittedly, it’s a whole new channel of communication for your team to handle. Business texting is distinctly different from live chat, email, or phone calls and requires separate training and technology to understand it.
When you add texting for your business into your call center, how do you guarantee the same level of service and efficiency for your customers? How do you ensure adding another channel isn’t adding just another thing to your already overwhelmed agents?
Texting for business in your call center can be a piece of cake with the best practices and processes in place. Here are five ways you can make texting in your call center smooth and successful.
1. Set up a team devoted to incoming and outgoing texts with customers
We all like to say we’re good at multitasking, but let’s be honest — it’s hard to juggle multiple things simultaneously and look good doing it. Studies actually show that our brains can’t truly multitask without likely making some errors or performing worse. I know. I’m sorry to burst your bubble.
Because of the time between sent messages and responses from customers, when texting with customers, agents can start and maintain multiple conversations at once. But if a call also comes from a customer and an agent also tries to respond to a different customer’s text at the same time, they just aren’t able to give the same level of care to both customers. They’re bound to cross wires at some point and say the wrong thing.
Particularly because texting is such a different style of communication than a phone call or even an email, your call center will benefit from having a separate team devoted to texting customers. Each day, have a group of call center agents who only respond to incoming texts from customers.
Because of the flexibility of the channel and the lulls in a text thread, these agents can handle multiple text threads and multiple customers at once. You’ll be more efficient in your workflow and provide a better customer experience.
2. Help your customers know how to reach you by text
What’s the good in offering texting if your customers don’t even know that’s an option? As we saw in those stats earlier, many customers prefer texting a business and will choose that channel if given the option. Make sure customers know they can reach you by text and how they can do so.
Maybe you build the texting option into your IVR system, or advertise it clearly on your site by saying call or text us at (your phone number). Give customers a short code or keyword to text to give them the easiest access to your customer service.
3. Have a best practices guide available to agents internally
When I first graduated from college and was on the hunt for a job, I had to send out some networking type emails. I remember analyzing some of the responses to learn how one properly structures a professional email. What wording do I use to sound competent? How do I write a warm send off without sounding too enthusiastic or too presumptuous? If you’ve been in a professional setting for some time, you know the proper email etiquette to follow.
The same goes for texting in a business. Your agents need to know how to communicate respect, how to set boundaries, how to be authentic, how to communicate information briefly and clearly. They still need to avoid typos and use proper grammar. I could go on and on about what are business texting best practices.
Ultimately, to make your texting team effective, document all of your best practices and brand voice standards in one place. Help them to align their voices so your communication is consistent with customers. Give them standards that are actually written down so they can review them outside of training. This will make your agents’ lives easier and give your customers consistency in their communication with you.
4. Meet with your texting team to review interactions with customers and coach them on texting customers specifically
Your texting team offers a unique service to customers. As I said, texting customers is distinctly different from other communication channels. So, your texting team requires equally different coaching from you. Set aside some time monthly or quarterly to meet with your texting team. Collect successful and some unsuccessful texting interactions with customers. Use these to model how agents can more effectively communicate with customers.
Demonstrate how tone in writing can shape a customer’s attitude. Or, illustrate how to more efficiently gather information from a customer. These coaching sessions help texting for your business grow as a more successful channel and allow you to deliver the best customer experience, no matter the channel.
5. Create texting templates and canned messages for agents to use as needed
The reason customers often choose to text a business is because it allows them to get a quick answer to a question. Customers often don’t choose texting if they intend to work through a long and complex issue. As a result, your texting team will be receiving similar requests and questions from different customers. With these simple and repeated kinds of questions, canned messaging and templates can make your agents’ lives much easier.
Create stock messages that your agents can copy, paste, and edit to fit the scenario to make the communication fast and easy. That way, when agents get slammed with messages, they have a quick way to respond to the more straightforward requests and keep customers impressed by your speedy response.