If you think of SMS text messaging as just a means for your kids to chat with their friends, you might be missing out on the opportunity to gain new customers, keep the old ones coming back and improve the productivity of your employees. Texting isn’t just a teenage toy anymore; it has evolved into a serious business tool.
SMS has been around for almost two decades; service was launched in the U.S. in the fall of 1995. Adoption was slow at first, but with over a billion smart phones shipping per year and more than 6 billion mobile subscribers globally, texting has become the quick communications method of choice for people of all ages.
According to statistics in a recent report by SAP, 74 percent of adults use SMS on a regular basis, and 64 percent said they believe businesses should make more use of SMS to interact with their customers. Only 17 percent of those surveyed said they thought business-based SMS messages were intrusive. My guess is that many of these are the people who don’t purchase unlimited text plans and have to pay for each message.
How can your company leverage the power of SMS text messaging to its advantage? Many businesses are using it for marketing and promotional purposes. SMS can get the word out to customers more effectively than email, because such a large majority (97 percent) of text messages are opened and read almost immediately when they arrive in the recipient’s inbox, whereas email often languishes for hours or days – or may be intercepted by spam filters and not read at all.
While some companies might be hesitant to ply customers with marketing messages, a much less controversial use of SMS interaction with customers is to keep them informed about orders they’ve already made. SMS can be an excellent way to inform customers of pickup and delivery alerts, explain problems with orders, quickly get missing information from customers that allow you to expedite the completion of the order process, and so forth. Customers hate being kept in the dark, and getting pertinent info to them in a timely manner can head off dissatisfaction.
Customers also love to be listened to. Soliciting feedback via SMS not only makes them feel that you care about their opinions – which builds brand loyalty – but it also allows you to act on any negative comments instantly.
While nobody really likes paying the bills, often customers don’t pay on time simply because their lives are busy and they forget. SMS payment reminders can help to ameliorate that problem, and cost you less than sending paper “overdue” notices without the risk of going to the junk mail folder like email. You can even use SMS for debt collection, complying with notice requirements by the use of delivery confirmation receipts.
SMS is also a great aid in communicating internally. Let employees know about scheduling changes and staffing requests, inform them of emergency situations, mobilize the team to respond to problems, or just send reminders of meetings and other appointments to keep everything on track. For information that’s sensitive, you can use SMS secret tokens to protect the data.
If your organization doesn’t utilize SMS to its fullest, a strategy to do so should be at the top of your priority list. The infographic summarizes all of the benefits that SMS could bring to your business.