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2F4U: Are you missing the message on customer engagement?

(Image credit: Image Credit: Georgejmclittle / Shutterstock)

Over five billion text messages travel each day on wireless networks in the U.S. alone, and 93 per cent of consumers believe wireless messaging is a trusted communications environment, according to CTIA. Regardless of what business or industry sector you’re in, there’s a very good chance your customers are trying to reach you via text. The question: are you missing the message?

Companies and organisations that haven’t enabled business messaging are missing a critical piece of their customer engagement strategy. Don’t miss the word “engagement” here. It’s not just about getting the message, although that’s certainly important. It’s equally important to start by meeting customers where they are via the communications channels that they prefer. To effectively interact with customers and prospects, you need a communications strategy that will take the conversation to the next level to not only gain initial interest and address basic questions, but also solve their problems, or – even better – make a sale.

Having another effective channel for business interactions can benefit virtually any type of organisation. There are a few environments in which business messaging is particularly valuable in addressing pain points:

  • Team selling and enterprise sales environments that require high-touch interactions: Business messages that can be easily accessed as part of a broader CRM/360-degree customer view strategy is a key enabler of collaboration for sales teams who may want to tag team on responses. Most enterprise sales also require engagement with multiple stakeholders, and having another easy-to-access channel facilitates getting broader buy-in to a sale across the organisation.
  • B2C marketing and customer service: Business messaging enables companies to be responsive to customers in real time.  For instance, auto-responses (i.e. promotions, surveys, etc.) triggered by customer messages or actions can deliver a more personal experience that improves lifetime customer value. Using MMS messages allow you to create a richer experience with video, pictures and music.
  • Highly regulated industries such as law, medicine and education: In these environments, messaging can have audit or compliance implications if the messages are sent to a doctor, lawyer or teacher’s personal number. This is where organisations that don’t have business messaging could get into concerns with HIPAA, attorney-client privilege and other issues. 

If you aren’t set up for business messaging today, talk to your communication service provider about your requirements and understand the options available to you based on your provider’s capabilities. You may also want to explore doing more than just text-enabling your existing business phone numbers: some providers allow you to add new vanity numbers reflecting your brand or consecutive numbers so that your customers can easily remember them and/or utilise local numbers in addition to toll-free numbers to further personalise the customer experience.

While you’re talking to your provider, also ask about what insights you can get into your communications so that you can better understand what strategies are working for your organisation. This will enable you to map out how to best incorporate business messaging into your broader marketing strategy down the road as well as understand the success of all of your communications channels.

Once your company or organisation is set up for business messaging, here are tips for succeeding at customer engagement via SMS:

  • Have a specific use case in mind when you get started. Don’t try to boil the ocean by doing everything at once. Organisations that succeed with business messaging tend to start with one thing – i.e. sending out a promotion offer to existing customers via text so you can see how this new channel can broaden your reach. Keep in mind that customers are likely to respond to the message so be prepared with auto responders or a way to engage the customer further once they have initiated conversation.
  • Make sure your customers know about it. This may seem obvious, but it’s easier than you think for customers to miss the message on what you offer – especially if they’ve tried to message you in the past and not received a response. Promote your business messaging capabilities in a big way to differentiate you from competitors and get the word to customers and prospects. Businesses usually send out an initial message to let customers know that SMS and MMS messaging is now available.
  • Get your employees to use it first. Using your messaging capabilities internally will not only help employees see first-hand the experiences your customers will have with your company, but will also help make business messaging second-nature for employees who can help you uncover new ways to make the most of these capabilities. The more your employees are using these tools to engage with your customers, the more natural and common the communication will become.  This typically means a much more efficient and fulfilling customer experience.
  • Make it natural for the end customer. Customers want to engage with you using the channels and language they use with everyone else. Having access to features such as the ability to auto respond to emojis will make customers feel at home. It’s all about customer experience (CX), and many times customers will choose CX over price, product and loyalty. In fact, a Walker Study found that by 2020, CX will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. 

In short, don’t miss the message on business messaging. Your customers are already looking for you there. Make them 😊.

Joe White, CTO, Brightlink

Joe White is the CTO of Brightlink. He built the original Brightlink network, and is responsible for sales engineering, network engineering, information technology and product development.