How brands use SMS to make retail more empathetic

Craig Smith – March 11, 2018

For retail brands today, CX is the big differentiator. Customers demand it, and brands are desperate to offer it.

The problem is, if you’re relying on communication channels like voice, email and webchat alone, there’s only so much your customer experience can really do.

To reach people when they need you, you need to either call them or email them – one’s annoying and the other’s easily ignored. Meanwhile webchat is only right for the handful of moments where they’re reaching out to you.

To deliver the kinds of experiences that keep customers coming back, you need something more empathetic, something just like text messaging.

The good news is that retail is packed with opportunities for empathetic interactions – thoughtful communications that arrive exactly when (and where) customers need.


Great retailers make shopping frictionless

Take a second to think about the retail giants most customers truly admire. They all have one thing in common: they offer a completely seamless buying process, from first browse, to post-purchase support.

The problem for brands is this: fluid, personal interactions, and instant gratification are the new norm. Your customers are demanding more – and rightly so.

To remain competitive, you need to find new opportunities for empathetic interactions throughout the whole shopping experience (and use SMS to deliver them).

Take something like the delivery process. Customers don’t want to waste hours (days, even) waiting around for packages. They’re gravitating towards brands that remove the hassle by sending them dispatch updates, delivery windows, and clarity through real-time two-way communication.

SMS makes this, not only possible, but simple. It’s the easiest way to turn your CX from 10 to 100.


Troubleshooting with SMS

No matter how great your CX is, sometimes things don’t go to plan. Troubleshooting and post-purchase support are crucial to get right – a bad first experience often means you don’t get a second chance.

Your customers don’t want to hang around to speak to an agent on the phone, wait in a queue for a webchat, or watch their inbox for a reply. (And no, they haven’t downloaded your app. Why would they?)

They want to find information quickly, resolve issues efficiently and have the whole process work around the stuff they’d actually planned to do that day. The truth is that your customers would rather not be doing this at all.

That’s why texting is so great. It’s direct, convenient, and everyone already uses it. There’s no queuing, no hold music, no automated menu-hopping, and no frustration.

Instead, retailers can build automated SMS workflows to resolve multi-stage queries in quick succession. You can do everything from arranging replacement of faulty goods, to re-ordering broken parts, to providing basic troubleshooting.

This isn’t just better for customers – it frees up your contact center agents to spend more time handling complex queries. Everyone wins.


Leveraging the right parts of email to send better texts

SMS isn’t just for troubleshooting. Texting is incredibly powerful as a marketing channel but crucially, it needs to work in partnership with your existing email messaging, rather than simply duplicating it.

By using SMS in the right instances, alongside email, you can achieve CX nirvana. We know that 68% of people regularly check their phones for new SMS messages throughout the day. And  90% of text messages are read. But used in the wrong way, mass promotional texts could betray the direct, personal nature of the channel.

The idea here is to speak less often and make it worthwhile when you do.


Using texts to build great CX

The good news is, you’ve already done the difficult customer profiling for email. Retail is packed with opportunities for empathetic interactions – thoughtful communications that arrive exactly when (and where) customers need them.

Customer buying journeys are a treasure-trove of opportunities to deliver improved CX using SMS. But the problem won’t simply be solved by using tech. Partner it with empathy however, and you’ve got yourself a killer tool for CX.

If you’re a retailer, you need to think about your processes end-to-end, and encourage more joined-up thinking between your marketing and customer service functions.

If you’d like to learn more about how SMS can turbo charge your CX strategy, get in touch. We’d be happy to talk you through the options.

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