The other night, I went to an Italian restaurant with my husband. We put our name on the waitlist for a table, and I gave them my number to text when a table was available. When they finally sent that text, it came from a short 5-digit number, also known as SMS short code. When I received that kind of SMS short code text, I was feeling pretty excited because it was telling me I was about to get a big bowl of pasta. But, on the whole, oftentimes SMS short code texts are a pain to receive.

Real quick, let me review: what do I mean by SMS short code? SMS short code is a 5- or 6-digit number used to send SMS or MMS marketing messages to phones. Short code messaging is used only for one-way, non-personal communication, and mass texting. Ultimately, SMS short code has its place. But large businesses, especially their contact centers, are realizing that one-way alerts aren’t the way into a customer’s heart. 

Instead, companies are switching to a long-code form of messaging which allows for person to person communication. Let me convince you why long-code is the way to go for your enterprise business.

Why SMS Short Code Doesn’t Fit What Customers Want

Customers today are pretty worn out by advertising. It’s everywhere we look and is embedded in nearly every app on our phones. With every purchase we make, we’re asked to sign up for newsletters and for email promotions. The truth is — it gets old. It’s hard to engage with a brand when you constantly feel like you’re being marketed to

SMS short codes have become similar to those annoying promotional emails that you automatically archive or delete. When you use SMS short codes to get your customers’ attention, most likely, the only feedback you’re getting back from customers is a one-word reply: “STOP.” This isn’t helping anyone. How do you avoid shutting down customers with a text?  

Simple – you give customers what they want — the chance to text your business back.  A RingCentral survey found that 91% of customers prefer receiving a text from a business to voicemail. And 78% of those surveyed want the ability to text, not call, the business back. 

Read Next: Build a Loyal Customer Base by Texting With Them: The Top 10 Dos and Don’ts of Online Texting

SMS long-code offers this functionality. Long-code, to compare, is a 10-digit number that allows for two-way communication between customer and business. When would you use this?

Imagine this: you need to notify your customer about an upcoming appointment. When they get that text, they realize they’re double booked. Now, if this was a short-code message, that customer has no way to respond via text. Instead, they have to take time from their day to call you and wait on hold to reschedule. But, with a long code text, your customer can, within the same text thread as the reminder text, send a message back to a real person, or even an automated system, on the other end to get a new appointment time. 

This meets what customers want and offers an overall better customer experience. It gives your contact center agents a way to build deeper and more personal relationships with customers. And, it gives you an opportunity to gather more substantial feedback from customers over text. What’s more, it cuts back on obnoxious and overwhelming promotion messages for customers. 


How to Use SMS Short Code vs. Long Code 

Both SMS short code and SMS long code have their place in an enterprise business. But using both effectively requires some understanding of the benefits and how to use it effectively. 


SMS short codes offer some useful advantages:

Sending mass texts:

When you need to send customers promotions or coupon codes quickly, SMS short codes are incredibly useful. Or maybe you need to send out an emergency alert to all your customers, blast a short code text to all your customers to give them a quick update.

Easy to remember:

Short codes are short (I know…duh.) But this makes them easy to memorize and ideal when you need a customer to send a text to enter a contest or for a quick and easy opt-in to your subscriber list.

Offering two-factor authentication:

It’s important to keep customer info secure. For companies that need to offer two-factor authentication for a customer account, SMS short codes are an easy way to send customers a verification code.

While, yes, there’s a time and place for these kinds of messages (like finding out your table is ready so you can load up on carbs!), they’re not super useful from a customer support side of things. SMS long code, however, offers its own set of perks


Here are some of the advantages of SMS long codes:

Two-way texting allows for better record keeping:

With two-way texting, your enterprise contact center can keep a record of communication that stays attached to each customer’s account. When they reach back out to ask another question or schedule another appointment, businesses can route that text back to the original call center agent who they spoke with last, providing that special element of delight that easily improves the customer experience. 

You can build a personalized relationship with customers:

Texting is an intimate form of communication. Customers are used to texting friends and family. It’s casual and much less stuffy than an email or even a phone call. So when your agents are able to text with customers, your brand gets direct access to customers that’s flexible and more personal than other channels.

Get real-time feedback over text:

SMS short code doesn’t let you get much feedback from customers. You can maybe send a link to a survey, but these are easily ignored. But with long code texting, your agents can finish a conversation by sending a few questions or a survey in the text thread to get immediate feedback on the customers’ experience.

Offer a new channel of communication to lighten your employees’ load:

Long code texting doesn’t only support your customers. When your agents have an additional way to interact with customers, this lightens your operational load. Agents don’t have to stay on the phones all day — something that often contributes to burnout. Instead, put a dedicated team on two-way texting and lower your call volume while you also lessen stress for your agents. 

Ultimately, if you’re weighing your choices between SMS short code and long code, consider which lets you best support your customers’ experience. While SMS short code can offer some benefits, long code texts open the door for direct communication with your customers that also gives you better records, feedback, and efficiency in the call center.

Build efficiency into your call center with SMS texting. Read up on these 3 Call Center Efficiency Tips to Meet Customer Expectations this Year.