Text Enabling Toll-Free Numbers for Improved Customer Service

OpenMarket – January 14, 2015

texting on toll free numbers

Now that OpenMarket is offering text enabled toll-free phone numbers and landline numbers in the US and Canada, enterprises and their Customer Communications service providers will want to think about how they can leverage these new types of message originators. Starting with the consumer, it is important to remember that a good customer experience considers context and convenience, and SMS (texting) provides a great opportunity to engage with your mobile audience. This means considering use cases where your customer prefers to initiate the interaction on his/her preferred channel and time as well as control when they self-serve versus talk with a live agent.

Toll-Free Numbers and IVRs

American and Canadian consumers have been educated by businesses to call these phone numbers when they need help and are familiar with using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) services. By text enabling customer service phone numbers, customers will have the option to text rather than wait on a voice call. Gartner says that “by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with Enterprises without interacting with a human.” One of the reasons visual IVRs have been embraced by mobile phone customers is because they offer a more convenient self-service solution compared with voice-based IVRs. It is simply faster to navigate and get the information you want using visual IVRs. These same principles can apply to offering text messaging on customer service toll free numbers. Additionally, some mobile engagements will still blend multiple communication channels where a customer may start by texting and then escalate to the voice channel to speak with a live agent using the same toll-free phone number. Alternatively many use cases start with an outbound notification to customers. One really popular example is using SMS-based two-factor authentication. These messages can be sent via your Contact Center’s text enabled toll-free number or landline phone numbers to reach Mobile Virtual Number Operators (MVNOs). Using this messaging originator also makes it easier for customers to contact a business if they are still having trouble signing in after they received their one time password via text message. You can also offer your customers the ability to request a password reset from a website from a computer’s browser. Rather than sending an email with the password reset info, you could send a text message from the customer support phone number with a call-to-action of “text or call us back at this number if you need further assistance.”

Provide Better Engagement

Many businesses still offer TTY and TTD toll-free phone numbers for their hearing impaired customers. These companies should consider offering a better customer service solution by text enabling these phone numbers, which is a much preferred communication channel compared to voice. Even if you think this group is only a small portion of your customer base, remember that this capability brings value to aging Baby Boomers (current customers) and engagement to Millennials (new customers) on their preferred communication channel. A 2014 Harris Interactive Poll finds that 64% of consumers prefer using texting over voice for customer service, and 77% of 18-34 year old consumers have a positive perception of a company that offers texting capabilities. Lastly, texting toll free numbers or landline numbers is still in its early stage of adoption where some businesses will be text enabling these phone numbers faster than other companies. This will create confusion and pain on the part of US and Canadian consumers as they attempt to text some business’ phone numbers and it works while texting other business’ phone numbers won’t work. This is not a good customer experience. The Customer Experience Impact Report by Harris Interactive shows that 86% of customers will pay more for better customer experi­ence, and 89% will leave and go to a competitor if they don’t get that experience. Don’t be one of those businesses that consumers condemn for being slow to offer text enabled toll-free and landline phone numbers. Contact OpenMarket to learn more about how you can get differentiate your customer experience versus the competition.

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