Tony DeRuvo, Senior Product Manager - New Product Initiatives – October 7, 2015
Let’s face it, one of the best areas a company can leverage to keep a customer satisfied is through stellar care. In a recent survey by e-commerce giant BigCommerce, 55% of shoppers are willing to recommend a company due to outstanding service, which is ranked higher than product and price. Further, a whopping 85% would pay a 25% premium to ensure a superior customer experience.
Interacting with customers from a distance is a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity to shine. We all have experienced the frustration of navigating an IVR to resolve an issue, or worse, being kept on hold until a representative can answer. Using SMS (or text messaging) as a customer care channel frees the customer from phone tree frustration and allows “in my own time” interaction. For me, the hallmark of a great customer experience is when I have the ability to resolve my issue at my own pace – during spare moments that don’t require my constant attention. This is not like phone conversations where I can’t drop off for a couple of minutes to attend to something urgent.
Below are four compelling reasons why I believe companies should consider text-enabling their customer care.
1. Avoid the Phone Tree Drama
Let me recount an experience I just had that would be tailor-made for an SMS customer care solution. Recently I received a text alert from my bank saying an unauthorized charge was made on my card. I didn’t recognize the amount. Normally in this scenario, the next thing I would do is call the bank (i.e. find the customer service number, wade through an IVR menu, wait for a few minutes on hold, and then go through the ritual of name, address, last four digits of your SSN, your account number, and so on) . This is when a light bulb went off – why can’t I just reply to the text message with something as simple as, “can you give me more information on this charge?” The agent on the other end has my phone number, and therefore, all my credentials. The bank also has a history of the text message, so they know exactly the amount I’m inquiring about. I can resolve issues at my pace, just like if I was texting with my best friend – and what’s better than that?
2. Deliver Superior Service
Texting is something we use predominantly to communicate with friends and family – and it’s in near-real-time. There is no better way to interact with someone than to have a simple conversation. The latest trend confirming this is a growth of companies like GoButler and Magic in the SMS concierge space. What makes those services so popular (and well-received by customers and investors alike) is the natural conversational manner in which services are fulfilled.
One common example today is getting a text alert from your airline that your flight has been cancelled. Imagine being able to reply to that alert by having a conversation – just like when you’re asking a good friend a question.
This goes a long way in making customers feel like they’re talking to a trusted friend. It’s a stark contrast to requiring that customers call a care center somewhere overseas.
3. Get the Competitive Edge
According to MarketingSherpa, the majority of consumers prefer using email to communicate with companies, while a smaller portion of them use text messaging. Of those who have used SMS, it’s mostly with small businesses that allow customers to speak directly with the person providing the service. In fact, 81% of respondents in a recent survey are frustrated being tied to a phone or computer for customer service help. Conversely a full 64% of the same respondents would prefer to use text as a customer service channel (see Mobile’s Impact on Call Centers in 2015… and Beyond ). And millennials, in general, have a positive perception of a company that offers text messaging as a communication channel.
This is where the business “edge” comes in. Businesses can stand out from the competition and offer an innovative way to solve their customers’ problems. Simply enable SMS Chat.
4. Reduce Call Center Costs
According to a recent Forrester report, the average cost of a live agent interaction can cost between $6-12 per call. Meanwhile, an automated interaction via text can cost as little as 25 cents, and texting to a live agent is typically below $5. Companies experience a cost savings in an area that’s typically expensive, and you have customers that feel that they’ve been helped without the phone tree drama.
To be clear, there are times when it’s necessary to speak with a live agent. That’s what falls into the “Goldilocks Principle” of too hot. Sometimes customers don’t have a burning question or issue, whereby they can wait for the information they need by going online – that’s too cold. “Just right” are the scenarios where there is an issue or a question that can be answered over the course of a text conversation as opposed to right away.
Text messaging is an integral part of how I communicate daily. Making plans for dinner, where to meet for drinks, etc. All of this communication is better handled via SMS than it is by voice. I believe this same behavior can be translated into a better experience within enterprise customer care.