Gone are the days of using only phone calls for customer service. Today’s customers want to reach businesses on their preferred communication channels, on their terms. As customer behavior and expectations change, more companies resort to new customer support channels like SMS.
Texting is one of the most efficient support channels due to its widespread availability, speed, cost, and overall convenience for both parties. To get you more familiar with the topic, this article will walk you through everything you need to know about SMS customer service, including best practices and examples.
What is SMS customer service?
SMS customer service is a modern solution that allows businesses to provide customer care using text messaging.
A wide range of support can be given via SMS. From basic requests like checking order status or account balance, to more in-depth support, such as troubleshooting technical problems, helping customers complete transactions and more.
The greatest value of SMS customer support comes from automation. Many messages that don’t require human input can be set on autopilot.
Usually, businesses use SMS in addition to phone calls, email, and social media.
Who is SMS customer service best for?
Businesses in almost all industries and growth stages can benefit from customer service texting. That’s because texting is scalable and a preferred form of communication for customers:
- 50 percent of customers prefer to text a customer support agent than call them.
- 61 percent of customers want to two-way text with businesses.
- 41 percent of customers prefer to ask businesses questions via text, compared to 35 percent via email, and 23 percent via phone.
Overall, text messaging for customer service may be a good solution if you:
- Answer frequently asked questions
- Troubleshoot technical issues
- Handle customer complaints
- Dispatch orders
- Provide quotes
- Communicate service updates or downtime
- Solicit customer feedback
- Conduct back-and-forth conversations
Benefits of SMS for customer service
Texting is a fast, accessible, and convenient communication channel, making it great for customer service. Here are its key benefits:
Texting is a preferred method of communication for customers. As mentioned, about half of customers prefer texts to phone calls for customer support.
That’s because texting allows the customer to take the charge and reach get customer support on their terms. Customers don’t want to sit on hold, remain at a computer, or wait days for an email response. Business texting is the ultimate convenience tool as it is not disrupting their days.
Customer service texting is cost-effective. In fact, resolving a support ticket over the phone costs twice as much.
SMS also saves employees time, cutting operational costs. The average customer service call lasts about six to seven minutes. An agent could respond to many text messages in that same amount of time.
Moreover, texting is an effective way to lower call volume. In fact, Fred’s Appliance, a Textline customer reduced call volume by 50 percent just by implementing texts.
Team happiness and productivity
With texting, employees spend less time per ticket and can handle multiple conversations simultaneously. Automated customer service texts go even further in freeing up time for your agents. This helps reduce the stress on your team and can improve customer service KPIs like first response time and the number of successfully resolved tickets.
In the U.S., 97 percent of the population owns a cell phone. SMS is accessible to anyone with a mobile phone. Texting doesn’t require customers to download an app like Facebook Messenger and reaches customers without an internet connection.
Text messaging provides multiple ways for agents and customers to exchange information. They can share PDFs, links, photos, and more to speed up conversations.
SMS customer service best practices
Keep these seven best practices in mind to get the best results from customer service SMS.
Choose the right SMS platform
With numerous available options, selecting the best platform for your business is essential. The right SMS customer service platform will have features that make it easy to reach customers and collaborate internally with other agents.
When choosing a platform for SMS customer service, look for one that offers the following:
- Two-way texting
- Scheduled messages
- SMS templates
- Viewable conversation history
- Automations and auto-replies
- Automatic routing of inbound text messages
- Ability to transfer and claim conversations
- Metrics tracking
- Compliance guidance
Those features, which Textline offers, make it easier for your team to work together to provide fast, high-quality, and responsive customer service.
Train your customer service agents
After you select your SMS provider, ensure your agents know how to use the platform and get the most out of its features. Proper training leads to helpful, effective, and productive agents.
Be sure to include training around appropriate texting norms. For example, provide guidance on whether or not customer service agents can use emojis or text abbreviations.
Take advantage of SMS automation to streamline your workflow. Instead of manually responding to repetitive inquiries, set up automatic responses to save time. Good SMS platforms for customer service will allow you to create auto-responses, craft ready-to-send text templates that answer common customer questions, and auto-assign inbound texts to available agents.
Promote your SMS customer support channel
Let customers know they can text you for customer support by promoting it. Here are some places to publicize your SMS customer support channel:
- Business website
- Social media accounts
- Google profile
- Review websites
- Signatures and email receipts
- A message when customers are on hold
Sync with other support channels
To provide your customers with a seamless experience, you’ll want to integrate texting with your other support channels. This strategy, known as omnichannel support, helps improve customer satisfaction. Make sure your support channels are synchronized and work together.
Streamline the process
Streamlined processes make for happier employees and happier customers. Don’t complicate SMS customer support. With SMS, it’s easy to conduct all troubleshooting on one platform, reducing unnecessary transfers. Ask customers for photos of the problem or more information to resolve issues quickly and efficiently.
You have 160 characters to get your point across in SMS messages. Avoid complex language, wordy sentences, or divergeing from the topic. Instead, use short messages to reply in a helpful, clear, and concise manner.
6 examples of SMS customer service
Take a look at several examples of SMS customer service. You’ll see messages are short and to the point.
Give a quote
Sharing quotes via text is extremely easy and effective.
Resolve order issue
Here’s an example of dealing with order issues using two-way texting with the customer.
Payment method problem
Reach out when payment method needs to be updated.
Answer a customer question
SMS is awesome to answer customer questions. Especially setting auto-responses for FAQs!
Provide proactive updates
Reach out to customers about relevant updates before they occur.
Troubleshoot a problem
Resolve any hiccups quickly and easily.
Read more: Free customer service SMS templates for your business
Provide the best SMS customer service with Textline
Don’t let poor customer service hurt your business. Add SMS as a cost-effective, quick, and convenient communication channel today. Meet customer expectations and improve staff productivity with an SMS customer service solution.
Try Textline’s SMS solution today and start seeing results firsthand. Sign up for a 14-day free trial now.
Do you have an existing phone number you want to text-enable for customer service? That’s no problem. Textline can do that for you.