Text-based customer service: 10 benefits and best practices

Text-based customer service: 10 benefits and best practices
August 15, 2023
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Customer service has evolved from an ancillary hassle that businesses dealt with to a defining aspect of modern brands, with nearly all consumers reporting that it’s a factor in choosing where they shop. And 86% of customers consider it crucial to communicate with a real person at a given business. Without a quality connection, these customers have no problem saying goodbye and finding new brands that offer better service.

Of course, we all know that retention is a huge aspect of business success. You can either invest a little to keep your current customers or spend a lot to acquire new ones. Even math-averse entrepreneurs can crunch those numbers.

With increased competition in nearly every industry, customers expect more, and the status quo isn’t enough. If you’re not creating memorable experiences, you’ll get left behind.

The ideal channel for human connections

It’s clear that you need direct and meaningful ways to communicate with your audience. And there’s no better option than Short Message Service (SMS).

Why is it so effective? For starters, 97% of Americans own a cell phone and spend five to six hours a day on those phones. Furthermore, 90% of that time is on messaging apps and social media rather than surfing the web.

Rarely has there been a more captive audience. And a sizable portion of smartphone users don’t even own a computer or have internet service at home. Their phones are an essential portal to your brand.

That’s why text messages are the ideal method for reaching most customers. Your messages get seen and have a higher chance of getting a response than other channels.

What is text-based customer service?

When you provide support to customers via SMS, it falls under the umbrella of text-based customer support. This allows businesses to answer questions and deliver solutions to customers without a spoken word or face-to-face interaction. And in less time than previously possible.

There are multiple reasons for this expediency. Given the brevity required in text messages, communications move smoother and with better clarity. And when customers already have their phones in hand (or at least close by), there are fewer lags in the exchanges.

But one of the biggest game changers is that SMS technology allows customer service representatives to assist multiple people simultaneously. On regular phone calls or video chats, it isn’t feasible to do this, as bouncing back and forth between conversations would be disruptive to customers.

Texting is different. With messages coming in from multiple customers, a representative can compose concise responses without delays. Then, if assistance is necessary from a different team, the representative can forward the conversation efficiently.

Benefits of SMS customer support

1. Saves you money

With representatives empowered to assist more customers, SMS customer support is cost-efficient. This is great news for organizations that struggle with rising labor and equipment costs.

Speaking of equipment, you can run an efficient SMS customer service operation from basic computers. So you won’t need to purchase expensive phone systems and incur costs related to traditional communication methods.

2. Aligns with customers’ preferences

Modern consumers want direct access to information and are less patient when waiting for it. With text-based customer service, you can deliver prompt responses that direct people to the resources they seek.

For example, let’s say a fly reel manufacturer’s customer has a question about how to put a new fishing line on their reel. In a phone conversation, the customer service representative might tell the customer to check out the FAQ section on the website. Or they could ask for the customer’s email and send a link to an informational video.

Each of those solutions requires extra steps on the customer’s part, which is a nuisance. But with text messages, the rep can send a link directly to the best resource, saving the customer time and effort.

3. Frees up your top representatives

With individual representatives able to manage multiple conversations, you’re better able to direct the highest-priority inquiries to your most experienced employees. This selective routing frees them up to spend more time where needed: addressing more complex issues.

Start by triaging your inbound messages from customers. Then, assign standard inquiries to the general team and specialized needs to the relevant experts.

4. Builds brand trust

Customers crave a connection with the brands they follow. And SMS customer service provides those one-on-one interactions that reflect your unique brand personality and showcase how much you value your customers’ time.

It’s also worth noting that SMS is more reliable than many other communications channels. With text messages transmitting over a cellular network, you’re not reliant on internet connections.

By providing reliable service and a human connection, text-based customer service helps you elevate your brand and set the stage for years of loyalty.

Best practices for best text-based customer support

Even if your organization currently uses SMS technology for customer support, there are always opportunities for improvement. These recommendations will help you deliver better experiences and create more success stories.

1. Personalize whenever possible

SMS and email communications are desirable because you can automate them, making it possible to scale in record time. But the downside is that this automation can leave messages sounding, well, automated.

Remedy this problem by personalizing your messages with the customer’s name and dynamic content, like order number or product details.

2. Enable two-way texting

The beauty of SMS technology is that it allows effortless exchanges between your customers and employees. But some platforms only offer one-way communications, negating all the key benefits.

To show your customers your dedication to their happiness, enable two-way texting and make it as user-friendly as possible.

3. Keep other channels open

Even though SMS is the ideal channel, it’s not the only channel. Make sure your customer service team is available via at least two other channels, such as phone and email. Offering multiple options helps you engage with customers through their preferred communications channels and demonstrate your commitment to innovation.

4. Gather customer feedback

Many businesses struggle with customer blind spots that end up hurting them. For example, it’s rare for customers to voice their concerns or frustrations. Instead, they’ll just head over to a competitor. And if they do speak up about their experience, it’ll probably be a complaint about the business to their friends and family.

You can prevent a lot of these problems by seeking feedback through your text-based customer service system. After interacting with a customer, ask them to rate your service. Even the negative responses can provide a crucial opportunity to make things right and potentially retain the customer.

5. Make your text-based offering known on other channels

Remember that not everyone has the same communication preferences. While some people might prefer legacy channels, such as phone lines, you can encourage them to try out your SMS option by promoting it elsewhere.

For example, add a message to your interactive voice response system, post about it to your social media channels, reference it in your emails, or add a call to action button on your website.

6. Choose the right SMS partner

It’s vital to work with a reliable, effective, and dedicated customer service platform to ensure your success.

Partner with Twilio for scalable text-based customer service

With MessagingX, Twilio has helped clients serve customers in more than 180 countries and create more than 900 million tasks annually. We’re here to help you deliver omnichannel experiences that make life easier for your customers, build loyalty, and drive revenue.

Ready to get started? Take your customer service to the next level by creating your free Twilio account. We don’t require a credit card to get started, and you’ll get access to all our proven tools and resources.