Top Tips For Proactive SMS Outreach Success – VoiceSage product expert Stephanie Keyes shares best practice around making SMS part of a proactive customer contact strategy
I’ve been working with customers at VoiceSage trying to help them get the best out of the SMS services they’ve signed up for. I’d like to share some of that best practice with the wider contact centre community, and help brands take their use of SMS-based proactive customer contact techniques to the next level.
Keep It Personal
You only have 160 characters to play with in a business text. You can send multiple messages, but that can be potentially confusing. The better approach is to be precise, concise, as well as personal. Make each message feel relevant and about their individual needs.
To do that, ideally you need to include the recipient’s name, the delivery or specific tracking number they are interested in, the information they’re going to care about, as all this shows you are using the character space to best effect, and are therefore more likely to get a response.
Avoid Long Codes
Yes, you can send an 11 digit number to prompt a response. But much more effective is a short code response, great for branding and recognition and which makes you much more identifiable and easy to remember. It’s also a way of building that all-important sense of trust; a vague string of numbers from the people you bank with does not fill you with confidence. By contrast, a more easily digestible, five-digit type identification would, you probably will feel yourself, be being sent from a company that actually knows who you are and what they are doing. It is also a good way to start a two-way SMS conversation be it an automated response or not.
Don’t Call When I am In The Middle Of Something
I am struck by how many firms don’t always appreciate the value in knowing when to reach out to a customer. I’m a blur of motion in the morning as I get to work, I have a couple of calmer periods in the day – and by 8pm I’m halfway through a new episode of the latest box set on Sky. In other words, work with me and my schedule – don’t expect me to take a sales call before I get to the office, and don’t try to market research me for 30 minutes while my favourite television programme is being broadcast.
A good B2C SMS service provider ought to be able to offer insight into mobile users and their pick-up patterns, and offer guidance on the optimal time to send out texts on an individual consumer basis. This will help with response rates, as it raises your window of opportunity for customer attention.
Use the Internet As Part Of Your Omnichannel Strategy
SMS Conversations are a great delivery medium for links to areas of the Internet you want to encourage your customers to visit. You can make those 160 characters a portal to a microsite or an app download page by using drop in links and code to extend your offer. Customer really appreciate this functionality, as it’s such a simple, but powerful way of linking clients to your bigger identity and services portfolio. The link can also be personalised so the page they see can be personalised to them.
Proactive Customer Contact with SMS Can Be Used To Elicit Callbacks
Finally, don’t just blast out your company propaganda endlessly via text, as it’s fairly pointless and annoys consumers. Much better is to use text as a prompt for a response: let’s work together to get this bill paid, let’s agree a delivery date, call us quickly to address this account issue… let’s engage.
You achieve that by framing the text as a way to begin a useful interaction. This can – and does – generate great results. For example, we have a campaign taking place with a retailer who had some big broken delivery promise issues to address. Inside a month, it was getting – from pretty much zero by outbound voice – a 65% response rate. In marketing terms, that’s stratospherically high, and the company is happier – as well as its customers.
A final point is that these call-to-action two-way text scenarios can be highly efficient for your contact centre staff. It’s very common for an agent to conduct up to 15 concurrent interactions using SMS, given the asynchronous nature of the service. Also, many response can be automated using keywords on links to personalized mobile web pages.
Putting it all together, SMS, once you start using it properly, is the most useful, practical route to omnichannel and proactive customer contact you can get.
Stephanie Keyes is Account Manager at VoiceSage