Tips for Including SMS Into Every Stage of The Customer Journey

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In today’s world where consumers are inundated with technology, information, channels, and choices, companies are prioritizing customer experience in order to stay competitive. According to Gartner, 89% of companies surveyed compete primarily on the basis of customer experience.

For example, when you buy an iPhone from Apple, you’re not just buying a phone. You’re buying a whole customer experience – from your initial website research, to opening the box, to making a Genius Bar appointment.

Your customers are experiencing and evaluating your company in a similar way, based on interactions at multiple touchpoints throughout the customer journey. How and what you communicate is just as important as how easy you make it for customers to reach you. To stand out, many companies are adding SMS, a technology everyone is already familiar with, into every stage of the customer journey.

Why Text Messaging?

Text messaging has been around for over 25 years, but its ability to capture people’s attention is not only still relevant – it’s unparalleled. Open rates are as high as 98% compared to 22% for email, giving businesses the assurance that their messages are seen. Texting is the original “mobile app.” It comes standard on almost every phone and is heavily used, especially by the highly sought after millennial consumer. There is nothing to download and even if you’re out of WiFi range, you can still receive messages. It is reliable, convenient and ubiquitous.

Here’s how companies can integrate text messaging into the customer journey:

Start from the inside. Make sure your company has a clear vision and purpose that is clearly communicated across every department. Send regular text blasts to all employees with reminders to keep them aligned with the company vision. This way, no matter what part of the customer journey your customers are on, your message to them will be consistent.
Happy employees, happy customers. Employees that are engaged and satisfied with their work tend to deliver the best experiences for your customers. Consider building an “employee-first” culture and using SMS to constantly keep staff informed and involved.
Make it easy to get to you. Increasing brand awareness means capturing people’s attention and getting more people to the front door of your business. Add a text call-to-action (CTA) to your awareness campaigns (i.e. billboards, TV, and radio) as an easy way for people to text for a link to your website.
Capture interest. Use texting as a way to capture people’s contact information, collect messages from interested prospects or just be available to chat and answer questions.
Be the solution that comes to mind at the right time. Customers may be searching for something your business offers. Send them a text to remind them you are there to serve them. For example, hair salons can send text reminders to previous customers to make an appointment before the holiday parties start. Or, restaurants can send mass SMS reminders right before the end of the work day to promote take-out dinners.
Close the deal. Do you have a customer on the fence about whether to buy right now? Send a promotional offer or a giveaway by text message as an incentive.
Keep your customers engaged and loyal. Create a VIP text club and send out special exclusive offers to your customers as a way to increase satisfaction and retention. Or, set up a text survey to collect customer preferences for use in future retention campaigns. These are the customers that will advocate for your company, so use SMS to reward them for their loyalty.
Add a dash of delight. Whether you are an airline with flight attendants who sing or a hotel that offers a goldfish for your room, little things can make a customer’s experience with your brand memorable. Consider sending a text on a customer’s birthday.
Add multiple ways to reach support. Some customers may prefer calling support directly, while others may be fine sending an email. Many people would also appreciate texting as an option for getting their problems solved. Whether your customers have a billing issue or just want to provide feedback, adding alternatives like SMS will go a long way in keeping them happy.

If you think your company is already providing a great customer experience, but your business isn’t thriving like you think it should, take a good look at every touchpoint along the journey. What are you communicating? How are you communicating? How often? With what tools? How quickly do you respond? Is there any friction for the customer?

Text messaging can easily be built into your customer experience, resulting in loyalty, better retention and higher revenues.

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