How Text Messaging Bridges the Empathy Gap

By Oisin Lunny for MEF

Oisin Lunny, Chief Evangelist at OpenMarket, discusses how enterprises are harnessing ’empathy’ to deliver a uniquely tailored and exceptional customer experience for their users, as explored in depth in their new eBook, the Empathetic Interaction.

Take a moment to think about the last communication you had with a friend, colleague, family member, or business. While many of our minds will wander to the last face-to-face interaction we experienced, that probably isn’t the case.

If you’re one of the 5 billion people in the world with a mobile phone (which I’m sure you are), it’s very likely a text message was the last channel you communicated through.

SMS is the most used feature on a mobile phone and thousands of text messages are sent every second around the world, significantly more than voice calls and emails. For example, almost every text message received is read (98 percent), compared to just one in five emails. So, the truth is in the numbers – people of all age groups prefer to text.

When we get into customer experience specifically, the numbers are just as strong – texting is the number one preferred channel for notifications from businesses, greater again than voice or email. In fact, 81 percent of customers are frustrated with phone-based customer service, and who can blame them? Long hold times and bland elevator music don’t add up to a good time in my book, either.

Now that we know that facts, the path to delivering an exceptional customer experience requires you to understand the “how” and “why” of SMS in business. The good news is, at the highest level, there’s only one word you need to know: Empathy.

SMS gives companies countless opportunities to surprise and delight their customers by giving them the information, alerts, experiences and engagements they need, exactly when they need it. In short, SMS provides genuine empathetic interactions.”

Current State of Empathy

We know we’re more connected today than ever before in history, but we also know this connection is virtual, and therefore, lacks a certain personal touch. We’ve heard case after case of companies getting so far removed from their customers, focusing solely on their own output efforts that they resort to failed tactics like impersonal email campaigns (an alarming 70 percent of all email sent worldwide is spam), cold calls, and possibly worse—text notification spam. We can all think of a company or two whose name we’ve seen smeared in a negative headline for such poor decisions.

While digital innovation has opened the door for some of this disconnect, it also allows for companies to reach their customers on a more personal level than ever before. Those that do so in the right way are seeing rapid customer experience success. 77 percent of millennials have a positive perception of companies that text. The line is drawn, which side do you want to be on?

SMS & Empathy: Why It Works

Like any good couple, SMS and empathy go hand-in-hand because they play off one another’s strengths, making them even more effective. You might call them a “power couple.” SMS gives companies countless opportunities to surprise and delight their customers by giving them the information, alerts, experiences and engagements they need, exactly when they need it. In short, SMS provides genuine empathetic interactions.

To make it work, companies just have to use what they know about their customers and the situations they’re in — something data analytics can easily provide – to anticipate what might make them happy in those precise moments. Pair that with an automated text messaging system linked to a customer ops tech stack and you’re all set.

Empathy is all about caring about the individual customer and meeting his or her needs. However, this doesn’t have to come at the expense of your business’s bottom line. One hundred percent of texts are really cheap to send, and many companies are able to find situations where their customers’ needs and their own are met in a single moment.

SMS may stand for Short Message Service in the literal sense, but in the business sense, it epitomizes empathy and success all around.