Customer Service Blog from HelpCrunch

SMS Support: Should Texting be Part of Your Customer Service Strategy?

SMS customer support is a great way to enhance your customer experience.

Written by Tetiana Shataieva

SMS Support: Should Texting be Part of Your Customer Service Strategy?

Let’s get real: today’s customers are becoming increasingly demanding. They expect top-notch service at every turn, marked by perfect personalization, seamless online experiences – and, of course, 24/7 customer support.

Today’s business world is fast-paced, and customers expect an equally speedy solution to their queries and issues. While traditional forms of communication like telephone and email are still valuable channels for your customer service strategy, there are more instant ways of supporting customers.

Enter SMS support. Millions of us are attached at the hip to our phones. For businesses, this borderline addiction offers a unique opportunity.

In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits of implementing SMS support into your strategy and different types of text messages worth considering. But first, let’s see what we actually mean by “SMS support”.

What is SMS customer support?

SMS customer support is when businesses speak with their customers via text message.

It’s a rapidly growing market, with 55% of businesses texting their customers in 2022—a massive increase of 27% from the same study in 2021. The reasons for this are clear: text messages are short to read, quick to send, and accessible to many. It’s also cheap, with plenty of free WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger applications.

SMS support can also go both ways, initiated by the customer or the business. For instance, a customer could ask questions or report issues simply by texting a phone number. There’s no need to type up a formal email, which means a faster and less frustrating customer experience.

Likewise, a business could send any message—an appointment reminder, an invoice, or a questionnaire—at the simple click of a button. With features like automatic responses, you can ensure your average response times will be much lower than a manual system of customer outreach.

Overall, SMS support is key to maintaining direct communication with your customers. It’s just a case of learning how to set up your customer service messaging system. This page covers everything you’ll need to know to make a start, so let’s dive in! 

Benefits of implementing an SMS customer support system

In short, SMS messages are one of the most effective ways for businesses to communicate with their client base and partners.

According to a nationwide survey, the average American has a daily screen time of 4 hours and 25 minutes on their mobile devices. That means we look at our phones for over 25% of our waking hours. On top of this, 89% of Americans say they check their phones within the first 10 minutes of waking up. That means there’s a good chance that most of your customers will see text messages that come through almost instantly.

By removing the barriers to communication, text messages mean instant gratification for your customers. Whether you use SMS for customer service, providing real-time updates on order status, or billing notifications, the result is a more engaging customer experience. They will no longer have to log in to their email or your website portal when the information pops up.

Your only challenge will be getting your customers to share their phone numbers. According to The State of Testing + SMS Marketing in 2023 report by SimpleTexting, 71% of consumers have opted-in to receive texts from at least one business.

Once you’ve established this connection with your customer, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of SMS customer support. For starters, it opens the door for you to send tailored marketing messages and sales deals to customers—driving more conversions and making your customers feel valued by your business. Or, to drum up excitement ahead of a new product launch, you could text them the details as part of an exclusive ‘sneak peek’. Again, the aim is to make your customers feel special and cared about.

Over the long term, as your customer satisfaction metrics improve, you can leverage your SMS customer service program to convert clients into brand advocates. For instance, encourage them to spread the word about your products by providing them with an affiliate link or code. This means your customers get rewarded for naturally marketing your brand, and your business gets more exposure, meaning a win-win for both parties and a long-term B2C relationship.

All of this is made simple with text message automation tools and SMS chatbots—and we will tell you exactly how you can craft a campaign that delivers… 

Types of SMS messages used in customer service

When it comes to customer service messaging, the options are almost limitless.

If you’re looking for inspiration, this section covers some of the most common topics and why they’re effective at driving conversions. Feel free to let your customer support team edit and use our selection of base templates!

Appointment reminders

Making an appointment can put a great deal of stress on your customers, especially if it’s not clear when and where they need to show up. Using an appointment reminder SMS template that conveys these details is bound to result in a more seamless experience for everyone. Something clear and to the point should do the trick:

“Hi [Customer’s Name], just a quick reminder about your dentist appointment on [Date] at [Time]. Please arrive 10 minutes early. Looking forward to seeing you!😊”

With automation tools, you can also offer your customers the option of replying to your message with a given keyword or numerical options. From here, a customer service agent could take over the conversation and have all the necessary information to type up a tailored response. For instance:

“Don’t forget your scheduled appointment with [Company Name] tomorrow at [Time]. If you need to reschedule, please reply ‘RESCHEDULE’ or call us at [Phone Number].”

General inquiries and responses

Welcoming questions from anyone—whether they’re a repeat customer or a new one—is essential to enhancing your brand image.

It’s precisely why brick-and-mortar stores usually have a friendly customer service rep to greet customers and point them in the right direction as they enter. From a business perspective, this is the perfect opportunity to drive a purchase decision, as your reps can emphasize a product’s unique selling points.

Regarding SMS support, you should happily invite your customers to reach out via your business’s number. You could include this in your website content, business cards, or leaflets.

Alternatively, your business could initiate the conversation and invite general inquiries as an aspect of customer relationship-building. Once you’ve got a customer’s phone number, your system could send out an automated SMS message, such as:

“Hi [Customer’s Name], thank you for connecting with [Company Name] via SMS! We’re excited to assist you. Please feel free to ask any questions or share your feedback. Your satisfaction is our priority!😁”

In any case, it’s a good idea for your sent messages to openly encourage two-way conversation, especially in the context of pain points. For instance, your billing reminder SMS template should include a call-to-action for the customer to ask about the billing process, such as how to make a payment or what their charges mean. Something like this would work:

“Your monthly statement is ready. To view and pay your bill, click here [Link]. If you have any questions, reply to this message.”

Promotional messages

SMS is great for spreading the word about special deals, coupons, or events.

For starters, you can deliver tailored content right to the palm of your customer’s hands. Let’s say Black Friday is coming up, and you want to generate some buzz around the upcoming holiday season. Sending out a message that latches onto this excitement could drive a purchase. For example:

“Hello, [Customer’s Name]! 🎉 Black Friday is here, and the deals are incredible! Use code ‘BF2023’ for an exclusive 25% off your entire purchase. Click here [Link]”

It’s also a great idea to implement call-to-actions into your SMS content, as they’re more likely to spur an impromptu decision, such as:

“Hi there! Exciting news – join us at the grand opening of our new store at [Store Location] this Saturday at 10 AM. The first 50 customers will receive a special gift! We can’t wait to celebrate with you. See you there!

Automated responses to frequently asked questions

On SMS apps like Facebook Messenger, businesses can provide their customers with a series of ‘suggested’ questions to initiate a conversation, such as:

“Where is your store located?”

“Can you check the price of a product?”

“How can I set up my product?”

You can set up automated responses from here that answer the question or provide a link to more information. Or, if necessary, a human agent can take over the conversation and offer a speedy resolution.

Follow-up messages after interactions with a human agent

SMS text messages are a great way to quickly catch up with a customer after they’ve been in communication with your customer service team. You can imagine a message like this would put a smile on your customers’ faces:

“Hello [Customer’s Name], thank you for chatting with our support team today. We hope your issue is resolved. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Your satisfaction is our priority!”

Or, to make a great impression and drum up repeat business, why follow up with a message like this after a customer has left your store?

“Hi [Customer’s Name]👋, we appreciate your recent visit to our store. Feel free to reply if you have any questions or need additional assistance. We’re here to help!”

Granted, setting up SMS geofencing is a little trickier, but it’s nothing you can’t achieve with phone services online.

Surveys and feedback requests

Texts only take a few seconds to read, so there’s every chance you’ll catch your customers at an excellent time to share their opinions about your brand. One option is to follow up on their purchases with a real-time survey feedback tool, such as:

“Thank you for your recent purchase. Want the chance to win exciting prizes in our monthly prize draw? Please take a moment to fill out our customer survey [Link]. Your feedback matters to us!”

Order confirmations and updates on delivery status

Finally, keeping your customers up-to-date with delivery notifications is a great way to foster trust in your services. It’s also convenient, as people can plan their day when they expect a package to arrive. Something short and straightforward should do the trick, such as:

“Great news, [Customer’s Name]! Your order #[Order Number] is out for delivery and will arrive between [Start Time] and [End Time] today 🚚. Track your package here [Tracking Link].”

Advantages of using SMS for customer support

SMS customer support offers several advantages, making it a valuable choice for businesses looking to enhance their customer service experience. We’ll explore how this is made possible through features unique to text messaging…

Quick response times

In the world of customer support, response time matters. Nothing will frustrate your customers more than being left on hold on a phone call because of availability issues or an email chain that takes days to conclude.

On the other hand, SMS support offers near-instant communication, where agents can quickly respond to inquiries and not keep their customers waiting. Pick one of the types of phone services that allows for seamless switching between phone calls and text messaging, such as a browser-based UCaaS.

Cost-effective solution

SMS support is a relatively affordable solution, as it doesn’t require much physical infrastructure investment. For a startup company, a business WhatsApp or Facebook account won’t cost you a cent for the first 1,000 conversations every month. All you’ll need is a phone and an Internet connection to make a start.

You should consider a communications package with automation tools as you scale your business. For instance, send out texts to all your customers when you want to gather their responses to a survey. Or, for even more tailored customer support, integrating your SMS system with a customer service solution will provide your agents with access to all the necessary information, like purchase history or previous support requests.

Increased efficiency and productivity for agents

The great thing about SMS support vs. phone support is that it’s much easier for your agents to hold multiple conversations simultaneously.

With phone calls, you’re tied down speaking to that person until their problem is resolved. Whereas with text messages, it’s acceptable to reply between messages for 1-2 minutes. It also keeps the information written down in an easily accessible format, which agents can refer back to in future conversations. All around, it saves time for both your customers and your support team.

Improved quality of service

SMS allows you to implement several quality-of-life features your customers will love. For starters, simple appointment reminders or follow-up texts are convenient and pre-empt an action your customers may already be about to take. This saves their time and strengthens their brand image in the process.

It also feels much more collaborative—with customers finding it more accessible to engage in conversation than the formal etiquette associated with emails. You should invite them to reply by directing them to type a keyword or number or to write their answer. Make the level of service you are offering clear, and they will feel compelled to follow along.

Bottom line

It’s evident that the world of customer service is changing—your customers have higher expectations, your competitors are using new techniques, and the market is becoming harder to predict…

This means it’s more important than ever for brands to re-evaluate their customer support processes and focus on delivering a better service. It’s why, in our age of low attention spans, one of the best ways to communicate is via SMS customer support.

However you choose to implement text messaging—whether it’s delivering marketing deals, answering general inquiries, or following up on a phone/email conversation—you can be sure that this format will make life easier for your customers. And that’s what is key to building long-term relationships and a premium brand image.

Make the switch today with free software like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Then, you can quickly scale your operations with UCaaS and make the most of automated features for sending engaging tailored messages.

Or, if you want to learn more from some of the industry’s brightest minds, check out our customer support eBook for more tips and tricks to stand out in this ever-changing landscape. Good luck!

FAQs

Why use SMS for alerts and notifications?

SMS is ideal for alerts and notifications because it’s immediate and direct. Your customers are more likely to see and respond to text messages quickly, making it a reliable channel for time-sensitive updates.

To write text messages that convert, you should include call-to-actions and links to the relevant pages. Making things convenient for your customers will likely prompt a spur-of-the-moment decision, such as purchasing or starting a subscription.

How do I write an SMS message?

Keep SMS messages concise—with simple language and straightforward steps. It should be clear who you are and why you’re texting your customer; otherwise, your message will be disregarded. Remember that iOS only displays 178 characters in a push notification, so put the most essential information at the start.

Set up proactive chat auto-messages that trigger when a certain keyword is used by your customer, which will signal that support is on the way. And if it fits your brand image, now is a great time to make use of emojis, images, or relevant gifs. They’re eye-catching and, if genuinely funny, are likely to form a memorable experience for your customers.

How can I send free SMS to customers?

Sending free SMS to customers can be done through various online platforms like Facebook, Signal, or WhatsApp, which offer free texting services. As you scale demand, you will have to pay for a service, although it’s still a much cheaper alternative to making phone calls due to the smaller amount of data being transferred.

How to use SMS marketing?

To use SMS marketing effectively, start by obtaining consent from customers. Craft engaging messages with valuable offers or information about product updates. Segment your audience to send relevant content and schedule messages for optimal timing. Always provide an opt-out option to respect customer preferences and legal regulations.

Tetiana Shataieva
Tetiana was born in Ukraine, Dnipro. She moved to Poland at the age of 21 to study journalism in Rzeszów. Ever since, Tetiana has been writing for English, Polish, and Ukrainian publications about tech and customer service topics. In 2021, she joined the HelpCrunch content marketing team to write profound expert pieces about the best tips and findings from the customer support world. Apart from writing, Tetiana is passionate about traveling, thus she has already visited 20+ countries, including the US and the UK. At the moment, Tetiana lives in England and is looking forward to coming back home to Ukraine very soon. She also loves reading, dancing, and meeting new people!
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