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Do's and Don'ts To Successfully Leverage SMS for CX

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Brooke Lynch
04/28/2021

Contact center news, customer experience, CX trends, call center challenges, amazing customer experience

SMS messaging and texting channels are becoming prime real estate for brands seeking a more direct and personal connection with their customers. With customers’ inboxes filled with promotional material, news updates, and discount codes, it becomes difficult to stand out in the crowded and, at times, oversaturated email environment.

While the traditional email campaign will always remain standard in most brands’ marketing and customer service repertoires, companies are now working to include text message outreach to gain more direct access to their mobile-friendly customer base.

Additionally, since the pandemic began customers now spend even more time on their phones — with social distancing guidelines in place, texting became one of the most direct lines of communication between isolated friends and family. 

However, because this channel offers a unique opportunity to instantly reach customers, it’s important to abide by some best practices to avoid overcommunicating and potentially damaging this critical point of interaction.

Here are a few do’s and don’ts to consider before leveraging texting channels:

 

Do: Take Advantage of Open Communication

Text messages have a notoriously high open rate, with up to 90% being read within 3 minutes. This is clearly attractive to brands seeking greater recognition and interaction from their customers. It represents an opportunity to both reach and target customers in a personal and intimate way.

Open lines of communication can be leveraged to offer personalized messaging, access to exclusive discounts, and order updates in a more proactive and engaging way. Additionally, it can be an effective way to acquire genuine customer feedback.

According to a recent survey, 45% of review requests were sent through text messaging channels in 2021. With such successful open rates, customers are much more likely to respond with valuable feedback. Also, as customers become used to receiving more frequent updates and offerings, they may be more likely to reward a brand with trusted reviews and increased engagement. In forming more direct relationships with customers, brands benefit from greater levels of loyalty and increased customer retention rates.

 

Don't: Overdo It

While it seems enticing to take advantage of its high open rates and instant reach, texting is still a fairly intimate channel.

As we outlined earlier, many individuals use it as their main form of communication with friends and family — positioning it as a sensitive space for persistent brand outreach. While a text here and there may be acceptable for some customers, consistent outreach can be invasive for others. 

Additionally, because customers always have the visual reminder that they are able to opt-out to messaging services at any moment, it’s important to be mindful of the tone and consistency of the outreach your brand is providing.

 

Do: Experiment with Styles

Although many companies utilize the texting medium as a broad forum for fun announcements and sales, there is plenty of room for experimentation on the platform.

Southern clothing brand Draper James introduced a holiday SMS feature called DJElf that allowed customers to converse directly with service associates, discussing gift ideas and providing personalized product recommendations. 

The service was implemented after the brand noticed a heightened level of engagement in its SMS outreach; it then redirected its formerly one-way style of communication and allowed customers to utilize messaging in a more conversational and casual way.

Draper James has seen major success with its messaging outreach — although the SMS customer list is only about 15% of the size of its more substantial email list, it drives 4-5 times more revenue.  

 

Don’t: Forget Intent

Customers use different channels for a reason, they may be reaching out via messaging to avoid a real conversation, or using phone to discuss a deeper issue surrounding their experience. It’s important to recognize the way in which customers use each medium to decide the best strategy for every form of communication.

Because customers use text messaging so frequently, it is clearly one of the most visible channels. This visibility should be leveraged during instances where customers may not have immediate access to email. With retail increasing buy-online, pick-up in-store options, text messaging is likely the most direct and informative channel to provide updates about pickup or availability. 

On the other hand, an extensive policy update or long and wordy message is much better suited for the email inbox. Since customers may make a more concerted effort to read through their emails instead of quickly opening and moving on from a text, it’s probably the best option for important, text-heavy updates.

 

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