Can customers reply to my text messages

Using SMS in customer communication - tips & tools

Messaging, whether via SMS (Short Message Service) or messenger app, has overtaken telephone and e-mail as the primary medium in private communication. B2C communication is very likely to follow this development.

Lots of people prefer to write a message than make a phone call - especially Millennials and Gen Z's. Today, over 5 billion people worldwide send and receive text messages.

Like other mobile communication channels, SMS is a perfect fit for our mobile lifestyle. That is why the opening rate of text messages (98%) clearly outperforms that of e-mails (15-25%).

SMS has the same advantages as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, but also has some special features:

  • works on all mobile phones
  • is not dependent on the internet
  • does not require an app download

If we add the factor that SMS is practically free in most contracts, then it becomes clear why SMS is one of the most easily accessible channels in customer service.

How do you get started? Here are seven ways to communicate with customers via SMS:

Inform your customers about offers

If your company has a promotion or you want to make an announcement, SMS is a good way to send a bulk message. In principle, it works like a newsletter, only without elaborate design elements and with a huge opening rate.

Many offers are also limited in time, which makes SMS the ideal channel. 78% of your newsletter recipients will never open your email - and a large proportion of the remaining 22% will open it too late.

JookSMS is a tool to easily create and send mass messages. As one of the leading providers in the field of SMS marketing, it supports you in successfully sending notifications to your customers.

Polls and polls

Surveys and polls provide your company with important insights into what your customers think of your brand and what you can do better. SMS is only suitable for very short questionnaires, but it compensates for this with the high opening rates.

Organize a competition

The high interaction and opening rates also make SMS an excellent channel for organizing competitions. You've probably seen it on TV before: SMS “A” or “B” to [phone number].

Slicktext offers a specialized text-to-win function with which you can organize your own text-to-win competitions. This makes it very easy to define framework conditions, select winners and create informative statistics.

Account notifications

You have probably received automatic SMS messages from services to which you have subscribed. Maybe during an authentication process when logging in to confirm a bank transaction or to get an estimated arrival time (e.g. for an Uber). The possibilities for conceivable applications are practically limitless.

Text messaging systems allow companies to automatically send messages - important and less important - to large numbers of people.

Order updates

Text messages are also a convenient, direct way to keep customers informed. For example, companies can send messages to let customers know when their order has been shipped and when it is expected to arrive.

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When ordering online, customers want to be at home when the package arrives. By notifying them in advance, there is a greater chance that someone will be home to take delivery. This saves your customers the extra trip to the post office or the waiting time until the next delivery attempt.

Shopify offers the option to enable SMS order updates within their platform. Otherwise it is also possible to implement the required integration with Twilio's API platform.

Appointment reminders

They work in a similar way to order updates, but are intended for appointments, for example at the hairdresser's.

Missing an appointment is annoying for you and your customer. It is a waste of time for your company and can be difficult to find a timely catch-up date. A reminder for the customer is particularly helpful for appointments that have been made a long time in advance to keep appointments in view.

SMS provide a convenient way to send reminders to both you and your customer. Customers can respond with a letter or word to confirm the appointment, such as "A" or "Yes." You can also give your customers the option of postponing or canceling the appointment so that you can pass the appointment on and save yourself the call to reschedule.

Customer service

SMS is also a valuable channel for general customer service.

Especially if you are already using one of the above use cases, it makes sense if your customers can respond to them directly by replying to your message or by moving on to a face-to-face customer support interaction.

This is exactly what we focus on at Userlike by offering customer communication software that connects all messaging channels, including SMS, your website, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Which channel works best depends on your use case. Userlike ensures that all messages come together in one central area - the Message Center.

Tips for getting started with customer communication via SMS

SMS has its own rules of behavior and etiquette. Here are the most important basic rules to get you started.

Get consent. This is not just an etiquette, it is a law! Like most areas of law, it is a patchwork of requirements that vary around the world. This post provides a brief overview of the laws and regulations that apply in different countries, but most of them have one common denominator: You need written approval to be able to contact your customers via SMS. Oral consent is not enough.

Has the customer entered their phone number on a form expressly stating that you will get in touch with them? That is consent. Have you received a list of phone numbers from a business colleague? That's a no-go.

Collect phone numbers. This is self-explanatory: Of course, you need telephone numbers in order to establish contact via SMS. Registration or contact forms are a great way to do this. Just make sure that you explicitly mention that contact can be made for specific purposes.

Note the times. Successful interactions via SMS depend on the right timing. Only send the messages during regular business hours. Your customer won't appreciate receiving a message just before midnight.

Call yourself (again) into consciousness. Your average customer will not save your phone number. Therefore, you will be confused when a message from a stranger appears on the display. So introduce yourself every time you start a new conversation. It saves the confusion and increases the chances of an answer. An easy "[Company Name] Customer Service:" sufficient.

Explain how you know the number from. For example, when you contact a customer after some time has passed since they gave you their number. For example: "You received this message because you entered your number on www.yourpage.com/signup."

Keep it short. A mobile phone is a device that has been optimized for short, crisp messages. Long messages are uncommon, even in email, but are particularly inappropriate in a mobile context.

Use emojis. SMS lacks the formality of email and the non-verbal signs of personal conversation. That is why emojis help to convey your message unambiguously. They make an otherwise sober message appear friendly. However, for serious matters, such as two-factor identification, the message should remain free of emojis.

Avoid Spam. Text messages are more personal than e-mails and a spam SMS would be even worse off than a spam e-mail. In this way, you annoy the recipient more than you convince them.

We have already clarified the first step: consent. Next, it should be easy to unsubscribe from the phone list. Let your customers know, for example, that you will be automatically removed from the mailing list with the code word “STOP”. It is a waste of money sending messages to customers who are not interested.

To avoid this faux pas, do not use too promotional words - and above all, do not send messages within short intervals.

Do not discuss personal details. Your customers will not be happy to exchange sensitive information via SMS. In many cases this is even prohibited by law. HIPAA laws prohibit medical institutions from discussing health conditions via text messages.

In these cases, it is up to your employees to decide whether it is better to continue the conversation by phone. Explain to the customer that the content of the conversation requires a phone call and make an appointment via SMS.

Transfer to the phone. In cases like this, the only logical thing to do is switch the channel to the phone. Your customers are already on their mobile phones. Text messages are more convenient, but there are times when a call seems more appropriate.

Sometimes issues are too complicated to clarify via text message. Some customers are unsure what exactly went wrong or don't know how to explain. Sometimes service employees also have to go through a multi-step process to get to the bottom of problems. This is usually too complicated and inefficient via SMS. Too much back and forth could make the problem worse and cause frustration on both sides.

If you are looking for an SMS solution for your customer communication, take a closer look at Userlike. The messaging platform combines all important messaging channels so that you can answer all chats from SMS, website, WhatsApp, etc. in one place. From a central platform that has been optimized for personal customer support. Learn more .