If it seems like customer care has been lacking lately, that’s because it is. Just listen to one customer’s recent exchange with a take-no-prisoners Comcast agent, or read about a travel blogger that was kicked off a plane for taking pictures of the interior. Interactions like these only reinforce the belief that businesses are no longer paying as much attention to providing good customer service.
Are companies keeping this in mind?
Almost 90% of customers want more communication options than companies are offering, with traditional channels taking a serious hit. Despite its reign as the most-used customer service channel, voice calls at contact centers are decreasing, while the use of smartphone apps and SMS are on the rise. Top complaints about the voice channel include long hold times, repeating the same problem to multiple agents and having to call in more than once. All in all, 85% of Americans are dissatisfied with their current phone experience.
There’s one customer service option companies might want to start thinking about: texting.
Why? Not only do customers want more channels, but they want that specific channel. A recent study conducted by The Harris Poll and commissioned by OneReach shows that 64% of consumers with text capability would prefer text over phone for customer service. Additionally, 64% of customers are likely to have a positive perception of companies that offer text. A different study echoes the positive power of text: customers who texted a contact center had a satisfaction score of 90 out of 100, the highest score among all channels and 13 points ahead of the phone channel.
Remember those earlier complaints that detracted from the customer experience, like long hold times, repetition and multiple calls? Texting solves all of those problems.
- Long wait times: The average response time to a text is around a minute and half, but most people respond almost immediately (companies can also automate text responses to further expedite the process). Being on hold also means a customer is tied to their phone or computer, but with text, a customer can set the phone down and pick it back up when it’s convenient for them.
- Repeating the problem multiple times to multiple people: with text there’s a written record of what was said, meaning companies and customers can refer back to what problems have been going on and eliminate the need for repetition.
Contact centers that offer text will be leaps and bounds ahead of their competitors in customer satisfaction, and that’s not the only benefit they’ll see. If companies diverted one-third of their calls to text chat and automation, they’d see an immediate 25% savings. Contact center employees can also handle more conversations than they could with the phone, making the contact center more efficient and freeing up the phone lines for more complex customers. If a customer wants to do something simple like check their account balance, they can manage that without the help of an agent and instead interact with automated text.
Some companies are wary of texting, and that’s understandable. It’s a relatively new way of approaching customer service, one that provides a more comprehensive view of the customer while delivering a more personal experience. In theory, companies would be all over this opportunity: it’s a cheaper solution that doesn’t sacrifice the customer experience.
For the companies that are still thinking about texting, remember that competitors aren’t just thinking: they’re doing. Your company can begin adopting text messaging using these following steps:
- Guiding employees on proper use. Everyone knows how to text their family and friends, but texting a business is a little different. Employees can present themselves in a professional manner over text by avoiding text slang. Just saying “please” or “thank you” or anything that conveys a positive, polite tone can go a long way.
- Integrating it with other channels. Texting is stronger with other technology than it is alone; think of it as one instrument in the communications orchestra. Companies can apply this philosophy when integrating channels, making sure that all the data each channel collects is stored in one central location. When each instrument plays their part, it’s music to the audience’s ears.
- Identifying what success looks like. Why does your company want to add text? Is it to increase customer satisfaction? Decrease cost? Grow your customer base? It can be one or a mix of all of them, but keeping your goal in mind is essential. Look at where your numbers are now and where you want them to be, then devise a strategy to make that happen.
- Recognizing customers’ problems. Before implementing a text channel, survey your customers to see what challenges they’re having and how they would fix them. If there’s a problem that text can solve, like notifying them that their package has arrived or that it’s time to take their medication, solve it.
It’s not as hard as you think.
Companies that have adopted texting have received an overwhelmingly positive response from customers. Customers shipping packages with UPS or FedEx can opt-in to receive automated texts that track their shipment, and medical organizations can send patients reminders about when they should take their medication. Contact centers can send customers personalized text based on service history and past interactions, increasing customer satisfaction.
Unfortunately, only 29% of contact centers are SMS-enabled. Customers may want to text a business, but currently they don’t have the means to do so. Solutions like OneReach let customers communicate with companies exactly how they want, leading to an overall better experience for everyone.
And who doesn’t want that?
To learn more about custom text, professionally designed or do-it-yourself, visit onereach.com.
Photo by Flickr user reynermedia.