Texting as a Customer Service Tool

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The small, independent business person may understand and accept the concept of ‘omnichannel’ marketing and customer service, and want to expand their own modest single channel platform to include a wider variety of ways to contact consumers both locally and nationally — but many neighborhood entrepreneurs wonder about the time it would take to set up and properly exploit an omnichannel approach to their customers and potential customers.

Taking the conversation from a landing platform to a texting channel can be the way local merchants overcome that challenge. But will customers really want to give up their contact information through a text conversation with a company?

The answer is both yes and no. Customers continue to be reluctant to give up much personal information to large corporations such as Walmart or big franchises like Applebee’s — because their information is so frequently used for automated texts and sold to outsiders for annoying marketing texts. On the other hand, a small local business can guarantee their customers that their information will not be sold to any third party and that it will be used only by real human beings to contact them on the local level for important matters or to answer their requests and questions. — much like a local dentist sending out text reminders to his or her customers for teeth cleaning appointments.

Look at it this way: When a customer wants personal service from a local business, and if they can’t get immediate contact with that business, they are liable to ‘jump ship’ to find another business that will handle their matters in a quick and efficient way. And the best way to do that for many small enterprises is through texting. “The one on one experience has always been one of the best ways to conduct customer service and make sales conversions more likely to happen,” according to experts from Addiction Now.

Most small businesses limit their contact options to a landline phone and an email address. But this is the Day of the Customer. King (or Queen) Customer demands immediate response, and will not put up with leaving a voice message or sending an email, with no guarantee of when it will be answered. But the immediacy of texting will give customers the feeling that their concerns are being seen and processed right in their own backyard, so to speak; instead of being sent to some chat center in Timbuktu to be puzzled over by a non-native English speaking third party. With texting there doesn’t have to be anything as limiting as ‘business hours.’ A text can be sent anytime, and then the customer can go about their other business until their text response arrives.

Customers are more patient with texting than with some distant webchat channel, because they can text their mechanic, for instance, to find out how car repairs are going, and the mechanic can text back a photo of the car up on the hoist being worked on while giving an immediate update on what’s happening. That kind of detailed response is what keeps customers loyal and helps spread positive word of mouth.

The bottom line here is that a customer need never be put on hold or receive an automated ‘out of the office’ email again. Texting does away with those irritations and insures a positive experience — for both the business and the customer.

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