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Everything you need to know about using customer service text messaging

Nina Godlewski
8
minute read

Customer service interactions can make or break a relationship with your customers, so you want to give them the best possible experience. Business text messaging can help you do exactly that. The standard for communication was once phone, then email, and has since moved to SMS. Research shows that 52 percent of customers would prefer to text customer support over using other channels.

Why you should use customer service SMS for your business 

Customer service text messaging is a pillar of customer communication for successful businesses. It’s not just easier, faster, and more dynamic; it has both external benefits for customers and internal benefits for teams working together to problem-solve.

The ways customer service text messaging can be used externally between businesses and their customers might be easier to grasp. Think about any customer service interaction with a business and how it could have been done via text message.

The benefits of external customer service texting include:

  • High relevance: Your customers are already on their smartphones, so you can meet them there where they’re most comfortable. Research shows that people pick up their phones an average of 96 times each day in the United States.
  • Near-instant communication: Most text messages, 95 percent actually, are read within three minutes of being received.
  • Included assets: You can easily include links or photos via text as you would with email, but much quicker.
  • High open rates: SMS has an open rate of 98 percent, most email doesn’t even come close to that.

But your teams can also use business texting to complete operational tasks internally, too.

The operational benefits of customer service SMS for teams:

  • Collaborate internally: Your agents can easily communicate with one another via SMS and easily elevate or pass along messages that are all stored in a central place.
  • Less phone time: More of your agents would be available to help customers because they won’t be on the phone as much.
  • Solving multiple problems at once: Your agents will be able to handle multiple inquiries at once.

Whether you plan to use customer service business texting internally or externally your business can benefit from the speed and reliability of business texting.

Who is customer service business texting for? When to use it?

One of the best things about business texting is that practically any business can use it. Your company size can be one person or hundreds of people, if you have customer service needs business SMS can help you meet those needs.

If you’re considering adding texting but unsure whether it will be effective, talk to your customers. See if you can gauge their interest in texting with your business. But know that customer service text messaging is the form of communication most customers want. Research shows that 60 percent of customers want to be able to have a back and forth conversation around support with businesses.

Any business that handles logistics back and forth with customers, takes orders, answers questions, or solves problems for their customers, in general, can benefit from customer service text messaging.

Examples of customer service business texting

To see how customer service text messaging might play out in action, here are a few examples:

Shipping update

Hi Dahlia, your order #12345 shipped on Tuesday afternoon. We wanted to let you know it might be a day late due to a storm in your region of the country. So keep an eye out Saturday for delivery!

Offering a price quote

Example of offering a price quote via text
Service your customers by offering pricing quotes via text messaging.

Issue with order

Customer: Hi, there was an item missing from my wholesale order. We got wine glasses but not the champagne glasses for order number 23874

Business: So sorry about that! I see that you did order 40 champagne flutes. We can send those over within three hours.

Billing problems

Hi Marco, your payment on file is out of date and you now have an outstanding balance of $40.12. Please update your payment method before your next billing cycle and pay the current balance.

Hours of operation

Customer: What are your hours for Saturday?

Business: Hi there, we’re open from 11:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Saturday :) 

Internal team coordination

Example of internal team coordination via text
Use business text messaging to connect wiht your team to better service your customers.

Internal team question

Agent 1: A new customer is looking to speak with a realtor about renting out their second home, is someone on the broker side available?

Agent 2: I can give them a call in 10 minutes! Please pass along their contact info and case. 

Best practices for texting and customer service

As with any channel for communication, there are a few rules for businesses to follow when texting their customers. Plus, the whole point of offering customer service text messaging is to keep your customers happy, so don’t upset them by breaking communication rules. We’ve broken some of the most important ones down for you so you can stay on track.

Opt-ins

Before sending your first messages to customers, the most important thing to do is to be completely sure they’ve agreed to receive messages from you. Be careful to clarify what kind of messages you plan to send too. Just because customers agree to customer service messages does not mean they want marketing messages too. This is both so you abide by regulations and don’t annoy your customers with unwanted messages.

When we talk about opt-ins we also have to talk about offering customers a chance to opt-out as well. You should always make it clear exactly how they can ask you to stop messaging them, like by replying “STOP” or “NO.”

Value proposition

Be sure that your message always has value to it. The purpose of a message to a customer should never be unclear to them, especially if it’s a customer service text message.

Timing

Be considerate of your customers’ time. By this we mean, don’t take up too much of their time, and consider time zones and general business hours. If it’s a business-related matter, keep the messages to business hours.

Frequency

Nobody likes to be spammed, so keep the messages to only those that are unnecessary unless your customer has reached out to you.

Lists

Do not buy lists of contacts from other businesses or companies. This can result in bans from carriers and undelivered messages. Plus it’s not considerate.

How to choose a customer service SMS tool

When you’re looking for a customer service business SMS tool consider what features or aspects of the tool are most important to your business. Some tools will solely allow you to text, while others, like Textline 😉, have features built with the customer in mind. We’ll cover what some of those features are below.

Textline tools to help with your customer service business texting

These are just a few of the features Textline has to offer.

Automations

There are times when automated messages can help solve customer service problems without burdening your customer service team with another open ticket. For instance, if a customer texts you to ask about business hours, you can easily set an automation to respond to a certain word or phrase within those set hours. Or you can have it send when a customer texts while your business is closed or support teams are offline.

Textline's automation feature
The Automations feature within Textline.

Shortcuts

Shortcuts are a unique Textline feature that allows members of your team to respond with a set response. This enables team members to respond quickly and ensures consistency across certain answers for customers asking frequently asked questions.

Your team can simply look through or search a list of shortcuts to find the appropriate response. Like one that asks a patient whether they’d like to reschedule an appointment they’ve just canceled or one that explains pricing plans.

Textline's shortcuts feature
The Shortcuts feature within Textline.

Whispers

You can think of our whispers feature almost like internal messaging, but they can occur right in the chat with a customer. For instance, if one customer service rep is passing a conversation off to another, they can use the whispers feature to do so. Not only can they do that, but they can leave a note explaining the conversation for the next rep right in the conversation without the customer seeing or even knowing.

Textline's whisper feature
The Whispers feature within Textline.

Integrations

In addition to built-in features, Textline can also integrate with some of your other favorite tools. A customer favorite is the Slack integration that allows customers to see and answer their Textline messages right in Slack. Or you might opt to use the Zendesk integration so that your incoming texts go right into your ticket queue and you never miss a customer service opportunity. Or see your conversations right in your CRM with the Salesforce integration.

Bring your own phone number

Textline allows you to bring your own phone number from providers like Vonage or Twilio. We can text-enable your phone number so you keep consistency across all of your contact information with customers.

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