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How to get started with text-based customer service

Customers want the same thing they always have: to be valued and to have a good experience. But preferences around how customers want to communicate with businesses have changed. Just look at the growing popularity of text-based customer service.

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In 1970, the average cost of a new house in the US was $23,450, The Beatles disbanded, and a Boeing 747 made its first commercial passenger trip to London. Yes, the point we are making is that a lot has changed in the last 50 years. 

Do you want to know what hasn’t changed? Back then, people wanted to be treated as a valued customer, and they still do today. Just look at this old Audi ad comparing itself in terms of customer service associated with Volkswagen cars.

Of course, the underlying technology that powers your customer service interactions looks vastly different in comparison to 1970. We have chatbots and fancy interactive voice response (IVR) systems now. While the world hasn’t entirely eradicated cheesy hold music, interactions tend to be a lot smoother and on the customer’s terms. 

Even though people want the same things they always have: to be valued and to have a good experience, the way companies go about delivering this experience has changed. It can be tempting to dismiss the importance of technology in customer service but consider this: no one gives an airline five stars because it offers online check-in now. 

If you aren’t adapting to your customer’s expectations–and their customer service delivery preferences–then you risk losing a ton of business. Let’s take a look at customer channel preferences.

Customers want text-based customer service

People are fond of their phones. We sleep beside them, eat with them, and carry them around in our pockets. We also spend, on average, 3 hours a day looking at them. It makes sense that we should be so attached. After all, smartphones have replaced watches, calendars, MP3 players, flashlights, alarm clocks, and even computers to a certain extent. Did we mention that they also allow us to communicate with pretty much anyone, anywhere?

It’s no surprise then that 90% of customers want to be able to message with a business. As people have constant access to their phones, texting is a quick and convenient way to communicate a problem. Plus, it’s easier for your employees to respond to ten texts than to make ten phone calls. 

Source: LiveVox

Small businesses may not have the budget to hire additional customer service staff or build a chatbot with IBM’s Watson, but they can text their customers. 

While there’s a common misconception that SMS is only for companies with big budgets, it might be the most affordable customer service channel. Regardless of the size of your company and its resources, SMS can improve your customer service. 

It’s also straightforward to implement. 

4 steps on how to implement text-based customer service

Here are the four steps you need to take to get started with text-based customer service.

1. Choose a texting platform that supports two-way conversations

You’ll need an SMS customer service software or an online platform that lets you send and receive text messages. Thousands of businesses choose SimpleTexting because we support two-way conversations, and all incoming SMS messages are free. 

If you’re just doing the research, then try us out completely free for 14 days. You don’t have to input any credit card details, and you get to send 50 complimentary text messages.

2. Choose your number

When you sign up with SimpleTexting, you have the choice: to choose and verify a toll-free number, or text enable your current number. Companies often go with the latter as their customers are already familiar with that phone. You can learn more about picking the right phone number in this article.

3. Advertise your new support channel

The “build it and they will come” mantra does not apply to new customer service channels, unfortunately. However, there are a ton of different ways that you can promote your new support channel. 

  • Where you currently advertise your support channels, add in that you also offer the option for customers to text you.
  • With our free click-to-text button generator, you can place a button on your website that lets you start customer support conversations seamlessly. From your website, customers can tap a button that launches their native text messaging app with a phone number and text message prefilled. Take a look at how it works:

4. Respond from your inbox

Receive an SMS from a customer into your shared inbox. You can then take advantage of all our excellent business texting features. You can leave private notes for your team, respond personally, use a template, or schedule a text for later. You can also manage your customer support text messages from your cellphone with SimpleTexting’s mobile app.

You can set an away message to respond automatically to out-of-hours texts, leave private notes for your team, respond personally, use a template, or schedule a text for later.

Best practices for text-based customer service 

Now that you know how to get started with text-based customer service, here are some general best practices on how to approach your text messages.

1. Be human

With the proliferation of chatbots, avoid sounding too robotic. One of the reasons that customers like SMS customer service is that it’s a highly personal channel. People like the fact that there’s a real person behind the texts.

Hey, David Smith here. I’m wondering if I can move my appointment to Tuesday at 2 pm?
 Hi David 👋 It’s your lucky day–we have an opening then! Look forward to seeing you on Tuesday.

2. Be clear

Beyond character limits, SMS customer services work best with clear and concise language. (You can use our template feature to create set responses to common inquiries for consistency and accuracy.) 

We recently wrote an article on writing text messages with more clarity, and the key takeaway is that you should leave flashy language and length explanations for email. If in doubt, you can always escalate the conversation to a phone call.

Hey, it’s John here. Car making a weird noise.
  Hey John. Thanks for the text. I have a couple of questions. You free for a quick phone call now?
Yeah that’d be great

3. Be proactive

While SMS can help you answer common questions in a reasonable amount of time, it can also allow you to follow up in a personalized manner. 

Hey Sarah, we know you were asking about our cotton jumpsuits, but we were out of stock. The good news is that we got a shipment. Want me to reserve one?
Thank you so much for thinking of me! That’d be great.

It’s no secret to anyone that businesses build their reputations and bottom lines on providing personalized service. A great way to bolster your efforts there is to incorporate text-based customer service into your channel offering. It’s fast, cheap, and highly popular with customers. What more could you ask for?

Drew Wilkinson
Drew Wilkinson

Drew Wilkinson is the Head of Marketing at SimpleTexting. Drew has more than a decade of experience managing successful integrated marketing programs to build brands, raise awareness, and generate demand.

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