OpenMarket – March 28, 2017
How SMS messaging is revolutionizing customer experience
For large companies, customer experience is likely to become their most important brand differentiator. In fact, according to some analysts, it already is. Good customer experience positively correlates with all sorts of good things: repurchasing, trying new offers, forgiving mistakes, not to mention loyalty and word-of-mouth recommendations.
Everyone wants to provide great customer experience. But the bar for what counts as ‘great’ has been set insanely high by the brands that do it best. Amazon, Disney, Airbnb… it’s a list you’re probably sick of reading. But they’ve changed the game – and now customers set their benchmark of CX not with your competitors but with the best experiences out there.
So, what’s the secret behind Amazon et al’s CX success? In simple terms, their business models are best-in-class examples of how companies can exploit specific aspects of communication technologies to serve their customers.
And that’s where the humble SMS text message comes in.
The customer communication landscape
In tech terms, SMS is ancient. The first text message was sent in 1992. But, while person-to-person (P2P) texting is now used alongside other messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, enterprise-to-person texting (confusingly called A2P, or application-to-person) is exploding at a rate of many billions each year.
Why? Two big reasons:
1) Texting is simple and ubiquitous
Four billion people worldwide or more use text messaging. That’s 84% of the human race. To put it in context, only 2.6 billion have access to an email account. So texting is pretty much everywhere. And because people carry their phones with them most of the time, message open rates are staggering: 98% of texts get read, and 90% are opened within three minutes.
2) Other comms channels aren’t engaging enough
Business emails just aren’t what they used to be. The numbers tell the story: average open rates hover at around 20% and click-throughs at just 2%. A lot of the time, when people see an email from a brand their eyes instantly skip over it – even when there’s useful information only a click away. Voice calls are even worse – they’re disruptive, time-consuming and often annoying. Everyone has a bad call center story, probably from within the last month.
Even the new players in the communication game, apps and over-the-top services like WhatsApp, have problems. Very few companies have a large customer base regularly using their apps, so loads of non-users are excluded. Plus, many customers have ‘app-fatigue’: they don’t want to download another app to communicate with your brand. It makes them do the work.
Of course, voice, email and apps will continue to have roles to play in your communications ecosystem. But none of them can match the ability of automated SMS messaging to optimize customer communications for situations that demand real-time, responsive, in-the-moment intelligence.
And it’s those situations where brands can make the leap to customer experience greatness.
An Empathetic Interaction is a micro-moment in time where you show your customer you care. You use what you know about them and their situation, and work out what will make them happy at that precise moment.
Enterprises with millions of customers have billions of these tiny moments every day. The trick is working out which moments are going to add the most value to your customers – then delivering a great experiences right then and there.
Because Empathetic Interactions are time- and place-sensitive, the only channel that can hit the spot is a text message. Your customer doesn’t have to open an app, doesn’t have to scroll through their emails, doesn’t have to answer a call. They just hear their message notification go off – and suddenly their day got a little bit better.
The most customer-obsessed brands are already using text messaging to deliver great customer experiences and the use cases are limited only by your imagination.
For the full story of text messaging and customer experience, download our Empathetic Interactions ebook.