How to Launch Text Message Customer Service?: Our Textpert Weighs In

During our August 31 webinar, “How to Launch Text Message Customer Service,” HGS VP of Solutions and Capabilities, Lauren Kindzierski highlighted the historical challenges of leveraging text in today’s competitive digital business environment. In the day and age when 97% of Americans use text once a day at least, according to Pew Internet, this solution is at the top of any CXO or CMO’s agenda.

How to Launch Text Message Customer Service?: Our Textpert Weighs In

Case in point, our first poll: “What is the status of your brand/company for launching text as a customer service channel?” According to our results, companies are strategizing the use of this channel, with 65% reporting that they are “thinking about launching text as a channel.” With 24% of our attendees already launching this as a two-way, conversational solution and 6% employing text as a one-way, automated solution, we understand these results as signposts for text in action.

Our second poll asked attendees, “How are you currently using text in your customer service?" The survey response? According to the majority of our HGS webinar attendees—71%, they are not yet using this channel for customer service. A total 14% of attendees are employing the one-way automated text solution, with 14% using both one- and two-way text, for interaction with customers to resolve issues.

Q1: What should the average response time be for text?

Lauren A: When you think about the typical consumer, when texting friends and family, the text message is opened in 90 seconds. On average, it takes 90 seconds to respond to that text message. From a business perspective, the expectation of a customer texting a business will be higher than 90 seconds, because they expect prompt service. Anywhere between 30 and 60 seconds would be a good expectation for response time.

Q2: What’s the difference between mobile and SMS text?

Lauren A: The difference between mobile messaging and SMS is that mobile messaging uses data. Usually it requires downloading an app to deploy it. But everybody has SMS on their phones, and there is no need to download an app to communicate back and forth. When talking about text plans in the U.S., carriers are trying to focus more on data and less on SMS. Usually carriers call it unlimited texting, but it’s a different data type plan. Mobile messaging uses data. If you are in an area with bad weather, or you don’t have good phone reception and you are trying to mobile message from your phone, it might be a bad experience. With SMS you won’t have that issue. When you look at the adoption of mobile messaging from a customer care perspective, a report by The Customer Front Summit showed that mobile messaging is on the decline by about 22–23% from last year to this year, whereas text was on the incline. When you look at the adoption rates, over 6 billion people use SMS on their phones. Mobile messaging is not nearly that high. There are different use cases, and you need to analyze what makes the most sense for your brand and customers. SMS cannot be said to be better than messaging because it depends on who your customer is, where they are located, and what type of issue resolution process you have. If you are mainly collecting orders, mobile messaging is the way to go. If your customers are all in the US, SMS might be the way to go. Both are very good channels with their own pros and cons.

Q3: How do you ensure QA for text interactions?

Lauren A: We have put together a quality assessment score card. When it comes to quality for SMS, it mirrors your quality for chat and social media. You are going to want to look for good quality, good typing and grammar, and things like whether the agent addressed the customer and used their name. There are all kinds of attributes we look at and score each agent on.

Q4: Can you use your existing voice toll- free number for text services, or do you need to have a separate one for text?

Lauren A: You can use your existing toll-free number for text. You don’t have to get a new one.
Another follow-up question people ask is if IVR inclusion is difficult. The answer is that we can integrate into any IVR. It’s not as challenging as one might think. I would encourage you to use your existing toll- free number and not deploy another one.

Q5: Is it okay to use emoticons?

Lauren A: Absolutely. I would encourage it. But there is one addendum to that answer. When it comes to digital customer experience, all you have to work with is text. On calls, you can hear the customer, you can feel how they are feeling, and sense their voice tone. With text, you want to ensure that the emoticons you are using are the simple semi-colon ones and not the yellow face emoticons on iPhone or Android. Because different customers have different cell phones, using the fancy emoticons will come through as a bunch of symbols and not make sense to the customer. If you keep it simple with semi-colon smiling faces, it’s absolutely acceptable. In fact, I highly encourage it, so that the agent has a way to show their positivity and emotion where it makes sense.

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