Is your business using SMS yet? If not, you’re missing key opportunities for customer engagement, from marketing to customer service.
Every business, especially a small business, needs to be in touch with its customers. Even without big budgets for pricey advertisements, individual contact and highly personalized communication will put your company top of mind. Hands down, SMS has become the best way to develop this personal relationship. SMS puts you in direct communication with your customers.
Why exactly is SMS customer communication becoming indispensable for small and midsize businesses? Let’s look at how it compares to other communication types, making it the marketing tool of the future.
SMS vs Email Marketing
First, we’ll dive into marketing. Email marketing is incredibly popular and successful. It’s the backbone of many businesses’ marketing efforts. When evaluating the success of a marketing email, the most common metric to look at is CTO (click to open) or CTR (click through rate), basically to see what percent of people receiving the email actually look at it and engage with it. Average CTOs and CTRs for email are abysmally low – around 4%.
Compare that rate with SMS, which has a nearly 100% open rate and 19% CTR. More than that, over 60% of people read their SMS within 5 minutes. SMS, over other marketing channels, puts you immediately and directly in the mind of your customers, alerting them to offers, sales, promos, or new products.
The reason is obvious once you think about it – texting is the number one way people today use their phones. 88% of people report using their phone mostly for texting. While people may have notifications turned off for other apps, everyone still receives texts in real-time. By showing up in their text message inbox, you are showing up where people already are.
SMS vs Email vs Phone for Customer Communication
Now let’s dive into another category: customer communication for things like appointment reminders, booking confirmations, and feedback requests.
In the past, these touchpoints have often been done through phone calls, or perhaps email. But even with visual voicemail, 9 out of 10 customers prefer SMS messages to direct phone calls. And 8 out of 10 customers say they would like push notifications such as appointment reminders via text messages. Put simply, SMS is how people are communicating, and they want their businesses to communicate the same way they do. Plus, from the business’s side, individual phone calls are time-consuming and hard to keep track of unless you have an expensive automated service. SMS, on the other hand, is easy to track and automate.
SMS vs Email vs Phone for Customer Service
The last major category is customer service. Customer service can be make-or-break for a business. Every business makes mistakes or has hiccups. Being available and responsive for customer service issues can set you apart from competitors and keep customers coming back for more. While some people will still prefer to email or call customer service, SMS adds another way for people to reach you.
Truthfully, email is probably the preferred method of customer service for a business. Emails can be triaged to the right people, information can be looked up, and managers can be called in when needed, all without a super-urgent time constraint. But unfortunately, email doesn’t provide the instant help that customers today often expect. That’s where SMS comes in. SMS can be real-time, providing a back and forth “conversation” to resolve issues quickly for customers.
Why is this important? It’s called Time to Resolution (TTR), and it’s one of today’s most important customer service metrics. A shorter average Time to Resolution, in other words, the more quickly issues are resolved, the better. A shorter TTR improves customer satisfaction and loyalty. SMS for customer service can drastically improve your TTR, especially compared to email.
The best news is that, when implemented correctly, SMS can also be much more efficient than phone calls for a business. A customer service employee can look up information, talk to a manager, or even add another person to the text conversation without ever disrupting the flow of the conversation for the customer. This gives the customer the feeling of a seamless interaction, while enabling the business to resolve the inquiry quickly and correctly.
Keys to Success for Customer SMS
There are two major keys to success for customer SMS, whether for marketing or customer support. First, SMS needs to be two-way. 60% of customers want to be able to respond to SMS messages they receive from businesses.
Second, SMS needs to be connected to a real person, in real-time. Texting is supposed to be instantaneous – that’s the big draw. But if you, as a company, are not actually available, SMS may seem disingenuous. This is probably one of the biggest hurdles for companies implementing SMS, especially two-way SMS. Luckily, there is an easy solution.
Clerk for Customer SMS
For companies that use an internal communication tool, you can actually pull your customer SMS directly into that platform and text from there. Clerk works natively with Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Salesforce to enable companies to send and receive texts from inside that platform using their business number. That means you can take the simplicity, productivity, and efficiency from these programs and apply them directly to your SMS marketing and SMS customer support efforts. You will be able to easily and quickly send and receive text messages, assign questions to internal team members, and track conversations.
Your company can start sending customer SMS in just minutes, sending targeted messages that provide real value, right now. No matter your industry, from construction to medical to tech startup, you can benefit from SMS. Learn more about how Clerk works.