To give customers the best possible experience, businesses should be looking for the most flexible, most convenient communication platform. Texting may be the answer. According to TechCrunch, Americans spend about five hours a day on their cell phones. Some 92% of this time is spent on apps like social media, messaging, and entertainment. And, while customers open emails sent to them only 22% of the time, customers will open texts 98% of the time. 

If your company wants to actually be heard by your customers, it makes sense to meet them where they already are: texting on their phones.

But, if your customer service agents are sending text from a computer, what’s the difference between using just live chat vs. actual SMS messaging? There are distinct differences between the two, with chat being a bit less flexible and a bit more stuffy and formal. Customer service texting has its own set of standards and looks just different enough from email and live chat that your agents may need a run down on the best practices. 

So, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about how to properly send a text from a computer in a contact center straight to your customers’ pockets. 

Read Next: Chat vs Text: Spotting the Difference to Know Which Channel Makes for the Better Customer Experience

Best Practices to Send Text from a Computer

Enable Two-Way Conversation: 

When I’m talking to someone and just know they’re distracted and not listening to me — that’s a big pet peeve. No one likes that feeling. Neither do your customers. It’s pretty useless to offer customer service via text if the conversation is one-sided. With text messaging, customers expect to be able to reply back with questions, comments, pictures or whatever else they might need help with.

If you send out a blast text to proactively reach customers or to send reminders, be ready and willing to accept their responses. Be sure to prepare your texting team before you send those mass texts. Review the main FAQs with your agents ahead of the send so they’re prepared to respond quickly and continue to foster a two-way customer relationship. 

Be Responsive (Quickly):

Train your agents to respond quickly. Texting is unique in its flexibility. There can be more natural lag in conversation than a phone conversation. But in order to keep texting feeling conversational, agents should be ready to answer. 

Texting is quite different from email in that your customers will expect a quick answer. There’s no “a customer service rep will respond to your email message within 24 hours” allowed with customer texting during regular business hours. Luckily, when you text from a computer, your agents can type their responses quickly and jump between customer conversations fluidly. Practice with agents how to jump from customer conversation to conversation. And, keep track of their analytics to ensure response times are fast. 

Be Personal, but also Professional:

Texting customers allows for a particularly personalized conversation between your customers and your agents. But, there are some boundaries to set to keep texting customers professional. Text lingo and shortcuts like “lol” or “brb” are a bit too casual and could leave some customers in the dark. But, at the same time, texting does allow for some less stuffy ways to engage with customers. Use emojis to add personality to your texting conversation. Maybe create a list of acceptable emojis for your team to add in as they see fit. 

Keep messages positive and friendly, and not overly formal. Feel free to use more exclamation points and shorten messages to keep customers on the line. Take advantage of the opportunity to build real relationships with your customers in a format they also use to talk with their friends and family.

Make it Possible for Customers to Opt In or Out of the Conversation at Any Point:

Customers are used to texting mostly their close friends and family. While email and live chat have some formality to them and are often bound to a desktop or a browser, customers can text from the phone that’s sitting in their back pocket. You don’t want to get spammy.

Texting is the new frontier with customer service. It’s a bit harder to know how to balance the channel responsibly and respectfully. But, one important way to respect your customers is to always make it possible for customers to opt in or out of the conversation at any given point. 

Make sure your agents start any customer outreach with a proper introduction and that they give customers an invitation to end the conversation at any point. In the same vein, give customers a clear way to opt into texts from you. Build texting into your IVR strategy so customers know they can hop off the phone and take a conversation to text. Advertise texting as an option on your site so customers can take the more flexible route from live chat. 

Supporting your Texting Team with a Tight Texting Strategy

Establish and Support a Texting Team:

If you want to text customers successfully, it’s pretty important that you have the team for it during each shift. Set aside a group of agents in each shift whose primary role is to text customers. From the agent’s point of view, sending a text from a computer won’t feel terribly different from chat to email. They’re still sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen. But, the channel is different and requires a different style of conversation. 

Train your agents for this kind of conversation. Coach them on how to juggle different conversations simultaneously. Give them a separate style guide so they know how to make the conversation especially personal. Because texting customers is so different from other communication channels, it’s important it’s treated differently from a management standpoint. 

Then, when an agent is put on the texting team, they know the standards and can answer customer texts efficiently.

Build Texting into your Contact Center Platform

While texting customers doesn’t have to happen from a computer, it’s pretty important that your customer texting conversations are also built into your existing contact center platform. Why? The agents who are texting customers shouldn’t have to jump between different apps or screens just to handle a single customer interaction. This just makes for a frustrating agent experience and inefficient service. Build texting into an omnichannel communication platform so agents can interact with customers on one consolidated interface. 

Agents who text can follow a customer’s journey from phone, chat, or email to text in one platform. That lets them keep track of customer history and juggle more customers at once. You, as manager, can track customer data, conversation history, and your agents’ analytics all in one place.