As a presenter at the recent Engineering the Customer Experience event, I started my talk with the question: “Do you text with businesses?”
Not a single hand went up.
Then I changed the question to: “Have you ever received a text notification from a business like a bank, an airline or Facebook?”
All hands went up.
Why does everyone initially get this wrong? Because people assume that when I say “text with” I’m implying a two-way conversation…just like the ones they have with their friends. Notifications from a business, however, are one-way and therefore not considered true text conversations.
Plus, when a customer gets a text notification, it is often in response to something they initiated on a different channel. Perhaps the text is confirming an appointment they made by phone or an account they set up online. As a result, customers don’t see these notifications as actual texts, but merely as the continuation of an interaction begun elsewhere.
Let’s talk about social rules for a moment. A social rule is a norm that we all agree to follow. When we finish eating, we tip the wait staff. When we meet someone, we shake hands. And when we text someone, they text us back, right? Right??
Companies break this social rule all the time. They text us with a notification and we are stuck being talked at rather than being interacted with. Those of us who are optimistic enough to send a text to a business get nothing in return but the sound of crickets. Where do all of these earnest text messages go? They actually still exist…floating around in the great big database in the sky, so to speak. In fact, there are estimated to be 4.5 million of these unclaimed text messages per month.
(As a fun experiment, type your 800 number or landline in here and OneReach can see if your business has any unclaimed messages.)
It doesn’t have to be this way. The next step in the evolution of communication between businesses and customers is to make text notifications interactive. Let’s say a business texts a customer to confirm their appointment. The customer should be able to text right back with a question and get a response, rather than having to respond through a different channel.
Customers are already demanding two-way texting, and that demand will continue to increase going forward. They will expect their texts with businesses to be interactive, either through automation or live text chat. And they will assume that either they or the business can initiate a conversation.
Companies who want to stay ahead of the curve are already adding two-way texting as part of their customer experience strategy. That way, their customers can claim to text with their business…and will be right.