SMS Customer Service: 8 Best Practices for Effective SMS Support

SMS Customer Service: 8 Best Practices for Effective SMS Support
10 April, 2023 • ... • 421 views
Selzy Team
by Selzy Team

Chances are you already market your business and offer customer support with an email strategy. So, you might be wondering about the differences between SMS marketing vs email marketing. The key difference is open rates, with customers being significantly more likely to open a text message compared to an email. This means that SMS marketing can increase both customer engagement and help you provide excellent customer service. 

Read on to discover eight best practices to get you started.

How can SMS support benefit my business?

SMS support could be the perfect channel for your business to reach customers. It can eliminate waiting times, saving resources and expenses for your business while improving customer satisfaction.

For example, a member of your team could answer several queries via SMS at once, whereas they can only speak to one customer at a time on the phone. With more than 55% of people preferring to communicate over text than a phone call, SMS support would benefit both your business and the customer. Making over half your customers happy can only be a good thing!

8 best practices for effective SMS support

The following best practices will help you implement an excellent SMS strategy for effective customer service.

  1. Decide on your support strategy

Before you hit send on any message, you must decide its purpose first. What kind of support does your business want to offer through SMS? 

The type of support you offer will determine the service level you provide. This could include more simple issues such as:

  • An update on the status of a delivery
  • Resetting a password
  • Informing the customer an item is back in stock

Or stretch to more complex and technical issues like:

  • Dealing with returns
  • Answering technical questions about product or service use
  • Answering complaints

It depends on your business and your product or service. But for whatever you’re selling you can set up business text messaging services to send SMS or MMS to your customers. This allows you to send automated messages in bulk. 

  1. Consider customer consent

You will need to obtain consent from your customer to message them. To achieve a high agreement or retention rate for customer communication, be clear about what kind of messages they will receive and consider mentioning how often they will receive texts from you.

Customer consent
Source: Textline

Providing this information will make it very clear to your customers what they should expect and might make them sign up sooner. 

You can obtain the customer’s permission by asking them via a clear and concise popup message. Visitors to your site are actively engaging with your brand, so you already have their attention. 

You can see an example of this in the image below. Cookware brand Williams Sonoma makes the purpose of the SMS updates very clear and there are links to their terms and conditions as well as their privacy policy.

Example of customer consent
Source: Williams Sonoma

Remember that just because a customer has signed up, it doesn’t mean that they won’t change their mind. Ensure you give them a way to opt out like in the example below. Knowing they have this option may make people more willing to sign up.

SMS customer consent
Source: Skims
  1. Use a dedicated phone number

You want consistency throughout communication, so ensure all text messages are sent from a single number. Being bombarded with multiple numbers could be confusing to customers.

Make your business stand out using SMS communication. Register a vanity number to personalize your contact number to match your business, boosting brand visibility. This means choosing a word that is connected to your brand and spelling it out in numbers.

For example, 1-800-RAINBOW translates to 1-800-7346269. 

There will usually be a one-time fee for the vanity number and then there will be a monthly fee. This can range from $9.99 to $30 depending on the number of extensions and extras you add onto the service, so it’s worth shopping around to find the best option for you. 

You can promote and advertise your support line number for customers to contact freely through other communication channels.

For example, financial services company J.G. Wentworth uses their vanity number in catchy jingles and adverts.

pic
Source: JG Wentworth
  1. Offer an opt-out option

Offering an opt-out option may seem counter-intuitive, but you don’t want customers to block your number. If your number is blocked, you won’t be able to message that customer again, which could result in losing altogether. 

It could even become more serious than that. If your customers are continually flagging your number as spam, it could cause you problems with your service provider and you could find your company cut off. 

To make sure this doesn’t happen give customers a text code such as ”OPT OUT”.

pic
Source: Wickes

And if you want to cover all your bases, why not add an unsubscribe link in your emails too. 

  1. Be professional

We have all sent and received SMS before, so training your employees to offer support shouldn’t be difficult. However, SMS for business requires a different approach than when used socially. 

When sending SMS messages to customers, you want your team to understand and follow guidelines. This may include using a professional tone and language or using the customer’s name. You may also choose to avoid slang and jargon, as not all customers will understand industry-specific acronyms or abbreviations. If you support a customer, it is even more critical that the message be clear and concise to resolve issues quickly.

Timing is also crucial. If you offer support through SMS, it is important to inform customers of your operating hours; this can be done with an automated message if a customer contacts you outside of business hours. You can connect a Telegram API to most messaging apps to set up automated messages like this. 

In fact you can combine Telegram messenger with other apps to create a customized integration for your business’ needs. This will allow you to automatically translate messages, save and forward them, as well as integrate the process with your calendar and databases. 

Moreover, make sure to contact customers between regular business hours and not unsocial ones. Messaging a customer at 2 am is not conducive to a positive customer service experience.

  1. Be prepared for a quick turnaround

The advantage of using SMS is that you can contact a customer almost instantly. However, the downside is that the customer expects the same from you. 

Make sure to respond to a customer quickly, and set a time target for your business to achieve. You can use a virtual phone number for business to contact customers from almost anywhere, providing more flexibility for your workers. They can get in touch with customers from the office or when they’re on the go. All they need is an internet connection to send quick replies. A speedy response bolsters both your customer service and customer satisfaction.

You can also use automated messages to address frequently asked questions, freeing time and resources for more specific queries. These could take the form of a multimedia message (MMS), such as a video, image, or guide to quickly convey more detail than a long-winded message. 

For instance, Reebok included a video in their SMS to share a longer and more engaging message with their subscribers.

pic
Source: SMS Archives

Additionally, you can set up an automated message for customers who contact you outside of your office hours. This could inform them of your opening hours and let them know when you’ll be in touch.

pic
Source: SMS Archives
  1. Personalize communications

Today, marketing and customer support revolve around personalization. Especially as 62% of global consumers say a brand will lose their loyalty if they don’t offer a personalized service. 

Adding details such as the customer’s name, order information, or referring to past conversations or purchases can build a strong foundation for your customer relationship. If a situation is unique to the customer, reference and offer support rather than providing a generic answer that might not fit. Perhaps they want to personalize a product or service, or maybe they need support in building a customized package for their business. 

Whatever the issue, offering a personalized service will go a long way with the customer. 

pic
Source: Interflora

Some messages may be automatic, but if you speak to someone, ensure they feel like they’re talking to a human. Use a friendly but professional tone to avoid sounding like a robot. 

  1. Keep track of your progress

As with any business strategy, you must see what works to improve. It’s one thing to set goals and targets for your SMS support service; you must monitor the results! Check statistics such as response times, the volume of messages sent, and any replies and overall customer satisfaction. How often you choose to do this will depend on your company, but a good rule of thumb is to check in quarterly.

If you start to see improved customer satisfaction and net promoter scores after implementing your SMS support strategy, you could expand your use of the channel. For example, you could issue an SMS survey following the use of the service. Take a look at the image below. Pets at Home make use of SMS to ask their customers to rate the quality of the service provided. You can use this information to improve and build on your service.

pic
Image sourced from Pets at Home

You could send a survey like this after any form of contact you have with your customers. It could help you understand which communication style is more effective for your customers. Do they prefer a phone call, email, or SMS? 

You could even look at whether a certain type of communication is better suited to a type of problem. For example, are technical issues better solved via email or a phone call? Do customers prefer an order update by email or SMS? By analyzing this data you could make changes to improve your customer service across the board, not only your SMS customer service strategy.

To summarize

Put simply, SMS support is a convenient and cost-effective way to improve customer satisfaction, retain customers, and boost your brand image. Be sure to keep messages relevant, respond in a timely and professional manner, and use personalization to ensure customers feel valued. 

Have a set strategy and review it regularly to ensure everything performs to its maximum potential. Follow the best practices above, and you will have effective SMS support for your customers. 

10 April, 2023
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