Texting and Contact Center Customer Support

Written by KOVA Corp

The average American exchanges a whopping 914 texts a month.  That comes to around 30 texts a day, and the figure is doubled for those between the ages of 18-24.   While some of these texts are definitely lovers exchanging xoxos and friends trading stories and jokes, many are working out scheduling conflicts or troubleshooting arrangements like, “I’m cooking dinner; will you do dishes?”  Though they are exchanges that take place in relationships more intimate than that between you and your cell phone company, they also include a certain transactional tone.  Another way of putting it is that texting is highly functional, even if sometimes we see it as a symptom of an ironically disconnected society.

If there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come, is there a way for contact centers and other businesses to ride the wave of texting to meet their customers where they are and leverage already existing cultural innovations?

In a recent study carried out by Harris Poll and sponsored by OneReach, it was found that 64% of customers preferred texting to calling for support.  The “Harris Report” also discovered that there were specific needs which customers felt best about addressing through text.  These included checking their order status (is it here, yet?), scheduling and changing appointments (gotta get that hair done!), making or confirming reservations (table for two, please), and asking a question, like, “what time do you close on Sundays?”

Customers also felt at home texting for directions, checking balances or deadlines, refilling orders (think pharmacy prescriptions), and resetting passwords.  Notice any common threads?  Many of the above tasks are a little tedious, a little mechanical, and don’t require highly personalized care by any means.  And though there is a delight in making small talk as you check things off your to-do list, in an increasingly busy and demanding world, some consumers make the decision that their time is better spent on their loved ones and creative pursuits.

But, the contact center need not feel rejected, for if the basic spectrum of requests can be automated to be handled through text, it saves the company money and pleases the customer.  What could be more ideal?

If your call center does choose to incorporate more SMS channels, it’s prudent to choose a messaging provider that can seamlessly merge with your API, or Application Programming Interface.  This sync will help connect a particular client’s records with their phone number, so that questions that are more personal like “How much do I owe?” can still be processed without an agent needing to pull a file.

Once you’ve got your system in place, get the word out to your customers through a variety of channels – social media, email, flyer – that you’re now open to texting.  You can also allow them to switch to text if they’re being helped via phone and it’s taking a little long.  The invitation can even be a part of your IVR.

In conclusion, the time is ripe to capitalize on the phenomenon of “texting” to help ease customer-business relations, save money, and automatize routine requests.

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