Gavin Macomber is the CEO of Cloudli.
As a small-business owner, you send and receive text messages for all kinds of reasons — from texting vendors and giving employees direction to juggling appointments. Chances are, you’re sending more texts than you think. You’re accustomed to the convenience texting delivers and rely on it to manage your business every day.
But if sending one-to-one messages is the extent of how you use SMS in your business, I believe you are missing out on some of the more powerful features that business texting enables. As someone whose company provides business text services, I have found there are certain strategies and best practices for businesses who want to utilize this tool to its full potential.
Business Texting Defined
Business texting is an SMS (short message service) sent from a mobile or desktop communications app using a text-enabled landline number. This can be done in two ways: the first is by subscribing to a stand-alone business texting solution; the second is to adopt a UCaaS (unified communications as a service) solution that includes business texting functionality.
Utilizing Business Texting
I am a strong believer that business texting should be the centerpiece of your customer communications in 2021. The fact is, your customers want the convenience and simplicity that text messaging delivers, and a recent survey done by my company shows that 93% of people want text and voice options when communicating with a small business. As far as what kind of texts you should send, customers were more likely to respond positively to texts if they were relevant, not frequent and from smaller businesses.
As a part of customer service, text-enabling your small business provides you with yet another channel to engage. This combined with your other resources can help you respond to customer inquiries quickly and efficiently. Communicating with your clients and customers via text also relieves the burden of lengthy phone calls from your staff and eliminates the need to make clients wait on hold.
Especially with the pandemic shifting focus from in-office meetings and in-person shopping to a dynamic, hybrid and, at times, entirely virtual strategy, business texting is a tool among many that can help your team communicate from virtually anywhere. The app lives on their mobile device or computer. So wherever they are, the text message conversation goes with your team.
Best Practices To Streamline Communications
Business texting solutions don’t just add value to your business via the convenience they provide to customers, but when implemented correctly, also help streamline your internal communications. It allows you to share numbers with your team so customers’ texts (and calls, when combined with UCaaS) are always answered by the first person available.
Quality business texting should be thoughtfully implemented so that it simplifies communications for your business, rather than complicating matters. One area of concern is communicating with customers. You’ll need to decide how many customer service reps you’ll need and what issues they will address.
Assign time slots for team members so customers’ requests are being handled timely, but don’t overstaff this necessary role. Also, determine a single “voice” that your company will use over text (e.g., matter-of-fact, relaxed, etc.). In fact, it’s best to anticipate the questions you’ll be asked and create template answers that can be customized on the fly.
On its own, business texting can layer on additional complexity, as it represents yet another channel you need to monitor. But, especially when combined with UCaaS, it can provide a full conversation view through an at-a-glance display that brings all forms of communication together in one place. As long as you have systems in place like appropriate staffing and uniform language, this makes it easy for anyone to pick up the thread and respond.
What Your Customers Want
Almost all consumers want to support local businesses. But in the eyes of many consumers, small businesses lack a convenient and seamless customer experience that giant corporations can provide. According to the same poll referenced earlier, 78% of consumers shared that having the ability to text local businesses makes it easier to support them. Your customers want to engage with you via text and it’s time for you to respond.