We’ve all gotten comfortable with following proper communication etiquette when it comes to sending an email or making a phone call. We know the formalities, the timing, how to ask for something without sounding too accusatory or passive aggressive. But, business texting etiquette is still a new frontier. Texting customers can be tricky, but its benefits are widespread for your business.
Texting customers draws in customers: 75% of customers like receiving special offers via texts.
And, texting customers boosts marketing: Business texting has a 98% open rate, compared to a 20% open rate with email.
It also supports sales: It’s predicted that in 2021, about 67 million Americans took advantage of a coupon via text on mobile phones.
As more and more people worldwide use smartphones, business texting will only grow in popularity. So, how can you get ahead of the curve in establishing your texting strategy? How can you text customers in a way that improves their customer experience? What are the best practices and etiquette of texting customers?
We’ve laid out five best practices when texting customers that are bound to improve customer loyalty and customer experience.
Best Practice #1: Give Reminders. Be proactive by texting customers updates and appointment reminders.
Texting customers updates and reminders is one of the easiest ways to practice proactive customer service. Answer your customers’ questions before they even have them by texting a flow of informative texts. Include updates and reminders to keep your customers in the loop.
But, why not use email? Well, it’s because most of them won’t be read. In fact, Adobe reports that 75% of marketing and business outreach emails are ignored. And when they are read, 50% aren’t considered useful. It’s not too hard to believe. If you’re like me, your “promotional” tab in your email is stock full of unread emails from brands and newsletters. And, the spam folder catches the rest.
But text updates are a lot harder for customers to ignore. Actually, about 70% of customers say text messages grab their attention. Keep customers in the loop about the important details — like updates to shipping orders or a reminder for an upcoming salon appointment. It’ll be much more effective in reaching them, can help reduce frustration, and will increase transparency for customers.
Best Practice #2: Get Permission. Only text customers who opt-into texting to avoid driving customers away.
What’s one simple way to drive away potential customers? Text them when they didn’t ask for it.
You must have permission from people before sending them text messages. It’s simple etiquette to ask first before texting customers. And if you don’t, you’re likely to land in a mess of legal trouble, leaving a very negative impact on your brand’s image.
The good news is that getting permission is easy. Give customers an opportunity to opt into texting through a form on your website or as they’re processing an order with you. Or, have them text a keyword to your number to start a conversation with a contact center agent or to request promotional information. Give customers the control to dictate when you’re texting them to avoid being immediately written off as spam.
Best Practice #3: Give Customers an Exit. Let them opt out of texts from you at any point in the relationship.
A couple of years ago, I went to visit a friend in Texas. While visiting, she took me to her indoor cycling gym for a free ride. I had to give them my email and phone number to sign up, and I must have clicked a box saying I opt into texts from them. But, get this: two years later and I’m still receiving texts from this gym with no clear way to opt out. And I live in Indiana! It’s obnoxious.
Just like you need permission from customers before texting them, you must give them an exit. In fact, you’re legally obligated to do so. Customers should be able to text STOP or UNSUBSCRIBE at any point and expect you won’t text them again. And, make sure customers know that’s an option so you’re letting customers choose what’s being sent to their phone.
Best Practice #4: Be Responsive. Don’t leave customers waiting for your answer or help.
Texting is expected to be a fast and efficient way for customers to reach you. So, by offering a text messaging service, you’re committing to a platform of communication that delivers messages instantly. Most customers are pretty glued to their phones and check a new message within five minutes of receiving one (at a nearly 100% read rate).
How do you keep up with these expectations? Don’t leave just one agent to do the job, potentially overloading them with messages and leaving customers on “Read.” Perhaps you set aside a group of agents on your team each day who are dedicated to texting customers.
That way, while some agents answer phone calls or send out emails, a subset of your team devotes time to quick texting conversations. Or, use bots to support your agents by setting them to answer simple requests quickly. Then, your agents can keep focused on more complicated customer interactions.
Best Practice #5: Get the Timing Right. Don’t be an inconvenience to your customers and text only during business hours.
Imagine this. You’ve settled into the couch for your evening routine of sipping on a glass of wine and watching another episode of The Office and *ding* your phone lights up. Maybe it’s your friends? Nope… it’s a promo deal for car insurance.
Your customers opt into texts from you with the expectation that they won’t be inconvenienced. And believe me, they’ll quickly opt out of texts from you if you overstep those boundaries. You don’t want to be thinking about work as you’re settling down for bed — and neither do your customers. Be respectful and only send outgoing texts to customers during reasonable hours to avoid driving customers away.