Everything You Need to Know About SMS Marketing: A Customer Service Leader’s Playbook to Using SMS

Everything You Need to Know About SMS Marketing: A Customer Service Leader’s Playbook to Using SMS

The average customer is glued to their phone. In fact, on average, Americans check their phones 344 times a day — that’s once every 4 minutes! While we all need to maybe reevaluate our screen time, it’s evident that phone use is only becoming more pervasive. And with that, SMS marketing and customer service will only become more useful to businesses. 

Today, customers are looking for fast and flexible service. They want to send a message and get an immediate answer to their questions. SMS messaging is one of the quickest ways to reach customers by pinging directly in their back pockets. SMS contributes to your marketing strategy as well. With SMS marketing, you can access customers and spread the word about new initiatives, product updates, and promos with a greater guarantee that your message will actually be seen. 

To help you out along the way, we’ve pulled together a playbook for you with strategies for how SMS marketing and customer service can be used to support your customer experience


SMS Customer Service Strategy

Good customer service is really the backbone of every brand. When your customer service is strong, your brand can build trust as you understand more and more what pain points and problems your customers face. Plus, when customers are happy, they keep coming back. 

Great customer service increases retention rates, and a simple increase of just 5% in retention rates can lead to a 25% increase in profits. In our increasingly remote and flexible way of life, customers have grown accustomed to omnichannel service that meets them where they are. SMS offers just this.


Here are 3 SMS strategies you can use to support your customers:


1. Conversational customer support

One of the greatest advantages of SMS for customer service is that it allows for personal and casual conversations with your customers. Everyone who has a phone is used to texting.  It’s an accessible way to reach anyone in your customer base who owns a phone — which is now 97% of the U.S. population.

Send customers messages to help them in real time through an issue. Add in media, like photos and videos, to guide customers step by step without the formality and the lapses in time experienced in email.


2. Scheduling, canceling, and altering appointments

This is a bit embarrassing, but I’ve got about 3 reminders on my phone at the moment to schedule or adjust upcoming doctors’ appointments. Every couple days, they pop up to remind me (yet again) that I need to call in to my doctor to make that appointment. And every couple days, I hit “Remind me tomorrow.” Why? Because I hate making phone calls. I would much rather send out a text to my dentist’s office to request an appointment, just like I do with my hair salon, than to actually get on the phone and fumble through my words. 

sms marketing beauty salon

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Appointment and scheduling management is one of the primary ways SMS support can be useful. As seen in the above screenshot, you can use SMS to send out reminders for appointments to your customers or allow them to cancel and alter appointments via text.


3. Gathering post-purchase feedback

Customer feedback is an essential piece in both customer service and marketing. How do you know what customers love in your product and service without asking them? And how else do you find out what’s driving your customers crazy?

 SMS marketing feedback

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SMS marketing and customer service lets you chat with customers and gather feedback in a more direct, personal, and flexible way than any other channel allows. Send out surveys or follow up customer service conversations with a feedback request. Automate post-purchase messages to have customers rate their experience. 


SMS Marketing Strategy

The biggest incentive to SMS marketing is that it is so much more reliable than any other communication channel for getting customers to open, read, and respond to your messaging. SMS has a 98% open rate compared to email’s ~20%. If you’re hoping to send out marketing messages that actually get seen, add SMS marketing. 

SMS marketing messages are ideal for time-sensitive offers and updates for mobile users, as well as for communicating with busy individuals on the go. 


Here are 3 strategies for using SMS Marketing to reach your customers:


1. Text Customers about Discounts and Sales

One of the biggest bummers is finding out about a sale when it’s too late. I mean, who doesn’t love a deal? Customers want to know about when you have sales, but oftentimes those marketing emails get lost in the backlog of promotional emails. Instead, use SMS to tell customers about sales and discounts.


2. Tell your Customers about Product Releases and Updates

Use SMS marketing to update customers on new products and product updates. Let your customers know what’s coming soon via text. Then, send them an alert when the new arrivals drop. Give customers an easy way to go straight to your site and start shopping. 

SMS marketing updates

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3. Engage Customers with Special Promos and Exclusive Content

SMS marketing gives you a unique way to keep customers engaged in your brand. Use creative methods to engage your subscriber list. Send your subscribers special promos, like discounts or BOGO codes, to gift them for their loyalty. Promote exclusive content — videos, podcasts, newsletters — that gives helpful guidance and advice about your product or service. 


Best Practices with SMS Marketing and Customer Service

SMS marketing and service can be a super useful tool for your team, but when done poorly, you can strain customer relationships. Follow these best practices that apply to both SMS marketing and customer service to keep customers happy.


1. Clarify your goals with the technology

Make sure you know how the tech is going to be used in your team. Don’t just add SMS without a plan. What needs is it meeting for your customer base? How does it fit alongside the other channels you support?

2. Be mindful of timing

No one really wants to be woken up at 3 a.m. by an automated text from their hair salon. Text customers during business hours only. And keep track of how often each customer has received a text from you. Make sure your support team and your marketing team aren’t collectively overloading one customer with messages too frequently. 

3. Offer value in every text

Don’t just send out a text just to send a text. Every text should add value to your customer. Don’t just respond to their questions, but show customers the way forward in your texts. Only send a marketing message if it offers something for your customer — like a promo or a chance to send feedback. 

4. Consider where you can use automation to help

SMS can be incredibly useful when you pair it with automation. Automation can cut down on call volumes into your call center. With automation, proactively answer customer questions and alleviate the workload for your call center agents. 

5. Always get a clear opt-in

Permission is an essential part of texting compliance. You cannot text any customers without getting opt-in from them. Find ways to get customer opt-in, whether it be through your IVR system, during online checkout, or through a web form. That way your team has a set list of subscribers they can reach out to for feedback and exclusive information.

6. Send short and simple messages

Don’t bog your customers down with a three-paragraph text. Texts are supposed to be a quick form of communication for those on the go. Customers won’t take the time to read a long message. In fact, they’ll more than likely be annoyed by one. Send a message that’s only a couple of sentences for the most effective form of communication.

7. Invest in good tech

SMS is a lot to manage. Invest in good tech that can support both your marketing and customer service teams. Find technology that allows for blast texts. Use a platform that can manage your opt-ins and opt-outs so you have up to date contact lists at all times. Make sure your platform offers conversational texting and supporting automations and bots to make your agents’ lives easier.

5 Ways to Support Your Agents and Make Texting for Business Sweet and Simple in Your Call Center

5 Ways to Support Your Agents and Make Texting for Business Sweet and Simple in Your Call Center

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.