Andy Shirey, Senior Product Manager, OpenMarket for Website Magazine
Last month when we checked in with Sam, the lead character in our SMS-focused comic strip, we learned that consumers of all ages are keen on digitally savvy businesses, particularly our supporting character, Gran. This month brings us to our final chapter in the five-part series outlining the multiple use cases of SMS text messaging in business situations.
SMS provides a convenient, accessible channel for companies to send their customers timely notifications, reminders, and even rewards like coupons and discount codes. The use of SMS creates this opportunity for a better customer experience, but like many aspects of marketing, content is key, and sending the right message at the right time means ever more. Content must be not only timely, but relevantly on point – or companies run the risk of losing their customers’ trust.
Let’s turn to Sam for a prime example of appropriate business-to-consumer SMS engagement in action.
Sam received a text message the other day letting him know when a plumber would arrive to fix his leaky sink. He was impressed by his plumbing company’s innovative use of SMS technology to confirm the details of the appointment.
Upon reading the message, Sam realized his plumber gave him a vague timeframe and very little details in the text message. Sam’s wife Jane, however, quickly tracked down another plumber that text back almost immediately with a personalized message providing his name, qualifications and the exact day/time he will call to arrange an appointment. Needless to say, the second plumber won the customer.
Businesses that use text messaging to reach their customers can greatly benefit from the immediate and interactive channel. Not all companies, however, understand how to use this technology effectively and fail to deliver the relevant content and information that the consumer cares most about. The key to achieving an effective mobile strategy is showing empathy – and this means sharing the right message to the right people exactly when they need it. It’s critical for a business to utilize the most effective communication channel that’s optimal for each point in the customer journey for each type of customer, but it’s even more important that the content they share is relevant, specific and actionable.
SMS is a helpful tool for businesses, especially when it comes to sending appointment reminders and sharing information with customers. Not only does it reduce a business’ no-show rate, but it significantly boosts customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Now let’s pick back up with Sam to see more real-world examples of innovative ways companies are harnessing SMS today.
Sam experienced another benefit of SMS when he received a surprise loyalty reward via text – two free tickets to see the little-known band, ‘Parcel of Filth.’ Jane politely declined his invite, but to his surprise, Gran is a ‘Filth’ fan and happily accepted the ticket.
Just like Sam, nearly half of U.S. Internet users prefer receiving loyalty-related messages via SMS. For example, consumers can receive updates on the delivery status of their purchased items. These personalized updates can be instantaneously sent to a mobile device, and all the user needs to do is simply flash the phone to redeem. SMS is even a natural fit for letting loyal customers know when their favorite item is on back-order, is now in stock, or that their item is on its way. Text messaging can also be used to gather instant feedback via SMS surveys.
SMS offers companies unparalleled opportunities to interact with their customers, however, a business’ messaging strategy must be implemented correctly to convey the right message at the right time. I hope Sam’s journey with SMS has helped bring the technology to life in a fun light. Next time you get that appointment reminder, package tracking update, or flight information, don’t just think of Sam, think of your customers and how they can benefit from empathetic mobile engagement.