SMS: the new (old) trend?
Two factors have encouraged the use of SMS by individuals and contributed to the transformation of uses.
The first one is the end of unit SMS billing thanks to the generalization of mobile packages with unlimited SMS (which is not a reality in all countries); the second is the generalization of smartphones which, by displaying a full keyboard, have eliminated the discomfort of having to write all the letters of the alphabet with only 9 keys.
Thanks to these two developments, SMS has been able to take a new conversational dimension. This dimension is further reinforced by the display mode that allows SMS exchanges between two correspondents to be seen not as separate messages but as continuous conversations. This feature makes SMS very similar to chat and other instant messaging applications, with one difference: using SMS does not require the installation of any additional applications since it is a standard feature on all mobiles – even on the most basic phones which, against all odds, are enjoying a resurgence of interest
A channel mostly used in push mode by brands
Companies quickly became interested in this channel to communicate with their customers, but it is clear that in the field of customer relations, they still use it mostly in “push” mode – for confirmation, notification or alert purposes. Mobile operators have logically been the first to do so because they have access to their subscribers’ mobile numbers. These uses spread to other sectors – banking, utilities, e-commerce and transportation, in particular – as customers began to provide companies with their mobile numbers rather than their landline numbers (although the majority of them still have one.
Today, SMS notifications are a classic part of the customer journey, whether to confirm a delivery date/time, remind the customer/patient of the date of their next appointment, confirm a transaction or issue the security code to validate a credit card payment when making an online purchase. In addition to these individual uses (which can be fully automated by the issuer), it is also possible to send important information to multiple recipients, as most airlines and railways do when traffic is disrupted. For example, during the last SNCF strikes, millions of passengers were informed by SMS about train traffic. This was not always enough to calm people’s spirits, but it undoubtedly prevented many of those whose trains were cancelled from going to the station for nothing or from calling customer service, which was quite saturated…
These SMS alert and notification services have many advantages for brands/companies: they are easy to set up, they are cheap, and above all, they are highly appreciated by customers because they provide them with information that concerns them directly and that they have deliberately consented to receive. This is not at the case with advertising SMS messages, which are mostly perceived in a negative way and seen as a privacy “violation”. Unlike unwanted advertising messages, SMS messages sent by a company you are customer of or a brand you appreciate or with which you have a relationship are read on average within 3 minutes of receipt by 95% of recipients. In case of emergency, it is by far the most efficient way to contact a customer!
A conversational potential underestimated within customer relations
On the other hand, companies do not really get the most out of the conversational potential of SMS.
They do not promote it even though it is convenient: on the one hand, it can be useful who customers who do not want to make a call, and it also can help contact center agents deal with difficult peak times!
With Diabolocom’s contact center solution, a customer can send an SMS request via a dedicated emergency number, for example, or via the generic customer service number if it is a simple request for information. The request appears in the queue of the agent who can either call the customer back on his cell phone or answer him by SMS and engage with him in a real conversation on this channel. SMS requests can also be directed to agents exclusively dedicated to written requests.
A real reflection needs to be started on the use cases and situations where conversational SMS can bring value to the customer, make his life easy, et meet his needs – all the little things that can help bringing up his satisfaction level and… engage customers!
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