It is no secret that people have become increasingly reliant on their smartphones. In fact, texting has become the #1 way people choose to communicate. Back in 2017 a DOMO study found that worldwide over 15 million text messages were sent every minute. That is a lot of communication happening via SMS, and that number is only increasing as the years go on.
Businesses that haven’t embraced this method of communicating with their customers are behind the curve. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Twillo, 89% of consumers would like to communicate with businesses via messaging, but only 48% of companies support this sort of connection. So how do you give your customers what they want? That is where inbound SMS comes in.
What is Inbound SMS?
Inbound SMS, also known as Inbound Texting, is when a customer initiates a conversation with a business through the use of a keyword, phrase, or short code. It essentially enables a fully interactive, 2 way conversation between a person and a business. Inbound SMS is ideal for businesses whose customers are already regular SMS users – which are generally people in the 16-40 age range.
How it Works
Inbound SMS is a low-cost solution to improving your customer service. Ideal for any size business, you can set up inbound SMS utilizing short codes, long numbers, or keywords and start chatting with your customers via their preferred method of communication.
Short codes are a 5 digit number that can be used to receive SMS or MMS. The benefits are short codes are that it is easy to remember.
Long numbers are traditional eleven digit mobile numbers that are used in lieu of your personal mobile number. This Dedicated Inbound Number exists entirely online and are generally cheaper than short codes, but can be harder to memorize or copy down quickly.
When you don’t want or need to pay for a dedicated short code or long number, renting a keyword is always an option. Any message that starts with the chosen keyword will be forwarded to your inbox automatically. For instance texting HELLO to 55577.
When implementing inbound SMS, it is important to remember that customers expect immediate responses. This means you will need to provide 24×7 customer service. If you do not have the ability to staff agents around the clock there are options. For instance, DiRAD provides a web and mobile client, and if you are not able we can “take a message” or provide interactive chatbot functionality.
Taking it a step further, you can leverage Artificial Intelligence to create a more human interaction. For instance, you can utilize inbound SMS combined with AI to allow customers to interact with your business 24×7, without hiring extra staff. For example, say a customer has a toothache bothering them at 2am. Rather than waiting until you open to schedule an appointment, your could access your calendar in real time and schedule an appointment with a simple text. Talk about service.
Improving Your Customer Service with Inbound SMS
We have all dealt with bad customer service. Who hasn’t dialed an 800 number, navigated through an automated call forwarding system, waited on hold, talked to a representative only to be transferred to another representative, waited on hold again, repeating the same information you gave the first representative, and eventually, after a half hour or better (hopefully) resolving your issue. It’s no wonder why so many customers hang up frustrated and with a less than ideal opinion of the organization!
Offering texting as a customer service option can cut through the frustration and long wait times and give consumers the experience they are looking for. With inbound SMS, messages can be forwarded to your team wherever they are. Forward to another phone, to an email address, or fifty email addresses. Texts can be spread out amongst staff and typically take less time to handle than a phone call. This allows your team to handle more service requests and reduce hold times.
Taking it a step further…
How many times have you as a customer wished you could just text a customer service rep a photo to explain the problem you are having? This becomes an option with “call or text” capabilities. While still a relatively new concept, the ability to “call or text” a number will become a standard that customers will expect. Start planning ahead now!
Inbound SMS in Action
A service company providing product support on appliances recently went from telephone support to texting for all communications. The results? Happier customers and employees. Both sides found texting more convenient as they could chat back and forth while accomplishing other tasks. They also found it extremely helpful to send photos to quickly identify & troubleshoot issues. Interested in implementing inbound SMS for your customer service team? Let’s chat about your options.