Five ways to use SMS messaging to enhance customer experience

The digital era is now mobile. What does that mean? 75% of consumers would like to receive more texts...

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Five ways to use SMS messaging to enhance customer experience

The digital era is now mobile. What does that mean? Just as we use SMS messaging to communicate with friends and family, as consumers, we now expect to also use it for communicating with businesses. In fact, 75% of consumers would like to receive more texts from businesses than they are currently. And yet, just 39% of businesses use some form of texting with customers. So, it’s no surprise that 73% of businesses expect their SMS marketing budgets to increase in the next year. Text messages have a significantly higher open rate than email and are typically received with an automatic notification from the recipient’s device, so they are less likely to go unnoticed in the first place. Overall, as part of providing the omnichannel experience that customers want from their brand engagement, SMS messaging is a key differentiator for customer experience across all phases of the customer journey. So, how can brands make the most of this popular channel? Here are five ways to use SMS messaging to enhance the customer experience.

Personalized shopping and e-commerce

In the face of the so-called retail apocalypse, in 2014, department store chain Nordstrom was among the first clothing retailers to use text messaging to communicate with its customers. Using Twilio APIs, Nordstrom built TestStyle, formerly known as NEXT, a service that allows customers to shop via text message. A salesperson sends curated text messages with different products and customers can purchase at the moment simply by replying “buy” along with their unique 10-digit code, also provided by Twilio. After receiving the “buy” text, the sales associate completes the order with the customer’s account details on Nordstrom.com. Salespeople can also remind customers of product arrivals that they’ve been waiting for and send pictures of merchandise if a customer is looking for something specific. Nordstrom customers can also reach sales associates directly without placing a call or waiting on hold.

Proactive notifications

Transportation network company Lyft strives for safety and reliability as the hallmarks of its on-demand ridesharing service. So, it uses Twilio’s SMS API to enable real-time communications between passengers and drivers that keep personal phone numbers private. Lyft’s proactive texts notify when a driver has accepted the ride, what time they're going to arrive, and the details of the car to ensure passengers get into the vehicle that is intended for them. These notifications give customers a sense of ease and assurance as they wait for their driver to arrive. Lyft has control over the conversation and cut off the messaging between driver and rider shortly after the ride has ended.

Reminders and automated sales

For companies with subscription-based businesses or regularly recurring sales otherwise, SMS messages are the most direct way to reach customers and provide the convenience and speed of mobile communications. LensDirect.com, a leading online retailer of name-brand contact lenses, was already using Twilio Programmable Voice when they decided to implement Twilio’s MMS rich media service and SMS messaging. When a customer forgets to send their prescription to LensDirect, they can use their phone to take a picture and send it via SMS. The company has also launched low-supply reminders via SMS. Once a prescription is starting to run low, LensDirect alerts the customer by text, and the customer can place an order with a quick reply. Compared to low-supply reminders sent via email, which had an average of a 0.53% conversion rate, the text messages yielded a 2.49% conversion rate—a 370% increase—which resulted in a 225% increase in orders.

Promotions and discounts

SMS messaging is a highly effective way to bridge the gap between a merchant’s brick-and-mortar and digital storefronts. With geofencing, marketing teams can use SMS messaging to push out timely and relevant promotions and discounts as soon as a customer is within close enough proximity to a store. These communications can be one-way or two-way with a sales associate responding if a customer messages back. Kiehl's found that 73% of customers who signed up to receive its SMS alerts actually made a purchase. And 81% of customers also remembered receiving a text message. Not only does the messaging convert but it also proves to be a memorable customer experience that helps a brand stand out from the competition.

Customer surveys

Soliciting for customer feedback is a common pain point for companies of all sizes. Unless customers have a complaint to make, they rarely want to take the time to share their experience. And when they do, they’re typically sent a link to a website that either may or may not be optimized for a mobile device. Instead, SMS messaging can be used by any function–sales, marketing, IT, and service–to collect reviews and feedback in the moments immediately following a customer interaction. By making it a part of an existing conversation, customers feel less inconvenienced and it reinforces a more personable relationship.

Leading companies know that customer experience is the foundation of brand differentiation. And those looking to lead with the advantage of an SMS messaging solution suited specifically to their business needs and customers use Twilio.

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