How robust is your “text” customer service?
In other words, are you taking full advantage of texting to connect with your customers and provide them with the best service possible?
Odds are that even if you’re using SMS as a part of your customer service, you’re probably not using it to the fullest extent—simply because there’s so much potential with it.
So how can you make better use of texting for customer service? And what’s the best way to go about it?
This comprehensive guide will explore the best practices and strategies for mastering text customer support. We’ll explore why you should text customers, as well as how to effectively do that. We’ll also provide some useful templates for communicating with your audience.
Let’s get started!
Texting is today’s preferred mode of communication for young and old alike. According to Soprano, 85% of smartphone users “prefer messages to calls or emails.”
So here are a few reasons why offering SMS customer support is a good idea.
Texting allows you to connect with customers in a more direct and personal way.
With an open rate of up to 98%, text messages have a significantly higher chance of being read and acted upon compared to other communication channels.
Add to that the fact that most people have their phones on them constantly and check their messages frequently (according to a survey by Reviews.org, “Americans check their phones 144 times per day”)—and it’s easy to see why texting can be an effective support solution.
Example: When someone submits a customer service inquiry to your business via email, do you expect to get a response back right away when you reply to them?
It happens, sometimes.
But much of the time you don’t hear back for hours, or days… or never.
That’s because people don’t check their emails all the time like they do their texts. Even if they do see an email they want to respond to, they may put it off and eventually forget.
People are much more likely to see and respond to a text message.
By communicating with customers in a way they’ll actually pay attention to, you’ll be able to give them a better customer service experience.
Think about it in comparison to phone support:
Instead, you can provide a more seamless and convenient experience for your customers—therefore, helping to strengthen customer loyalty and satisfaction.
In addition to texting customers for support, you can also text customers for marketing purposes.
Because of all the aforementioned benefits of using SMS, you can use it to help you drive up your sales through efforts such as:
The best part? These all can be sent directly to your customers’ phones.
Here’s how you can go about texting your customers.
If you’re a pretty small business (and if you’re very brave), or if you have a small number of clients, you may want to consider simply using a business cell phone to text customers or clients. (In some cases this could even be your own personal phone.)
For example, if you’re a freelancer who charges $10,000 per project and you only have 5–10 clients at any given time, this could be doable.
Or if you’re a sales rep for a car dealership and you just want to keep in touch with your personal leads and clients.
For most businesses, however, personal texting will not be advisable or scalable.
I used to work in customer support, and in our small business I would sometimes text customers from my personal phone. It was always a little nerve-wracking knowing that customers had my phone number.
It’s usually better to use some kind of SMS solution.
Using an SMS platform is the more feasible and scalable way to text customers.
Here’s how you go about it.
You’ll need to find an SMS platform, like Mobile Text Alerts, that works for your business and your needs.
You should find something that’s easy to set up, easy to use, and allows you to have simple 2-way conversations with your customers.
(You can get a free 1-on-1 consultation to see how the Mobile Text Alerts platform works and whether it would be a good fit for you.)
For many platforms, your account will come with a text-in number.
This is a number that people can send a message to—and the messages they send will show up in your dashboard.
You can easily see all of your customers’ responses within your dashboard, and you can reply back from within there as well.
This kind of 2-way back and forth helps you really engage with your customers.
Some platforms will allow you to organize and assign your conversations to different users, so that you can keep track of who is handling which interactions.
Organizing in this way will help you be more efficient and effective as you manage your text interactions with your customers.
Now that you know how to actually go about texting customers, there are a few tips you’ll want to keep in mind as you go about this.
One of the reasons people like texting is the quick response and turnaround time.
Try not to make customers wait for hours to receive a response.
Your SMS platform should allow you to set up an automated “out of office” response if people text in to your number outside of your normal business hours.
That way, people get a response right away even if no one’s actually available to respond to them.
The automated message can confirm that you’ve received their message and that you’ll get back to them as soon as you can. It’s best if you include your office hours in the auto-response, so that people can have a better idea of when to expect the response.
With text messages, it’s easy to come across as brusque and rude.
Something as simple as adding a period can be interpreted in wrong ways.
So it doesn’t hurt to be a little extra friendly, since it’s a bit harder to communicate tone in a text.
If people are texting back and forth with you, they don’t want to receive a huge chunk of text in response to a simple question.
You want to answer the customer’s question thoroughly, but be mindful of your length. No need to be long-winded.
Although being extra friendly may be warranted (see the point a couple sections above), you do want to consider adapting your responses based on the person you’re interacting with.
For example, if the customer is frustrated, they may feel you’re antagonizing them if you’re too friendly.
Basically, just use common sense and be mindful of how your customer is feeling (and how they’re expressing how they feel).
Want some templates to help make customer support interactions easier?
Here are a few you can use as a starting point.
Thanks for texting in! Our offices are closed but we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Business hours are 8am-7pm CST.
We received your message - thank you! All agents are away but will return your message first thing in the morning.
Thank you for your message! Business hours are between 7am–7pm CST on weekdays and 7am–12pm CST on weekends, so we’ll get back to you shortly.
Thanks for your text! We received your message and will review and get back to you momentarily. In the meantime, are there any other details you can think of that will help us diagnose and resolve your issue?
We received your message and an agent is standing by. We’ll be with you within the next 10 minutes!
Message received and ticket opened. An agent will be with you shortly!
I’ve reviewed your issue and I do apologize for the inconvenience caused! I would like to assure you that we are working diligently to resolve this matter. Our team is currently investigating the issue and will provide you with an update as soon as we have more information. Are there any other concerns I can help address for you in the meantime?
Thank you for the information regarding your issue! I’m sorry for any confusion. I’ll look into this for you right away and let you know what I find out - please hold for a few moments.
Thanks for your inquiry! I’ll get on this right away and will update you as soon as I’m able. Are you able to hold for a few minutes?
Thanks for your patience! Your issue should now be resolved. If you have any other questions or problems you’re welcome to reach out. Anything else I can help you with in the meantime?
We're happy to inform you that the issue you reported has now been resolved. [Provide a brief summary of the solution or action taken]. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you! Don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.
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Yes, you can text customers!
You’ll want to make sure you have their permission before texting them, and that you provide clear opt out instructions. (This can be as simple as “Reply STOP to opt out”—your SMS platform will automatically remove people who reply STOP.)
Yes! As mentioned above, as long as you have permission to text them, it’s okay to do it.
And if people are initiating the texts to you (by asking a customer support question), then there’s certainly no issue with replying back to help them get their issue resolved.
It’s time to jump into the world of texting your customers.
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