Customer Support: Get the Message!

OpenMarket – June 18, 2015




I read an interesting article on consumers attempting to use social media for contacting customer support.  It emphasized that organizations should look for direct messages from their consumers on social media channels. My thought was that using a text-enabled toll-free phone number for SMS (in the US and Canada) should be a higher priority for a customer service organization than relying on social media direct messages from their customers.

1)    Only 2% of consumers cited social media as their preferred channel

Contrast this stat with how many consumers are texting businesses directly. Our recent research reveals that large numbers of consumers are texting toll-free numbers for customer support regardless of whether those phone numbers have been text-enabled.  A Harris Poll indicates that 64% of people prefer text messaging versus calling for customer service, and another 44% would rather send a text than stay on hold.

2)    26% of consumers choose social media for customer service when they couldn’t reach a customer service rep via another channel

Social media isn’t the first channel customers are using, especially mobile consumers.  As this article mentions, the phone is by far the most popular contact channel for urgent inquiries, with 77% of consumers calling companies with critical issues. Note that our research shows that more than 400,000 SMS messages were attempted to be sent by consumers to just the Fortune 100 during a one year period, and over 50% of the attempted messages were sent by consumers to the Fortune 100 Financial Services companies.  So clearly text-enabling the phone number that your consumers want to use is a more universal channel with broader reach that businesses should prioritize over guessing which popular social media app to use for direct messages like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the list goes on.

3)    SMS is a better customer experience

The article says that 86% of consumers are open to communication from brands through their mobile device, yet only 58% of businesses use mobile to engage. We also know that from the Harris Poll that 77% of millennial consumers are likely to have a positive perception of a company that offers texting. Customers want control of which channel they use to communicate with the companies they do business with.  Your customers may want to text you back, and at other times they will want to call you depending on the context or issue.  Don’t make them hunt for your phone number; use your toll-free number as the message originator so they can call or text you back and not rely on monitoring for social media direct messages.  Finally, the article points out that 33% of consumers who contact brands on social media with a customer service question never get a response.

Get the message!  We invite you to talk with the industry’s expert for guidance on how to get started using text-enabled phone numbers so you can save time and money and improve your customer support experience.

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