Apr 10 2018 Capital One’s SMS Notification Evolves Into Customer Interaction


PhoneSMS.jpgAs a customer of Capital One, I signed up to receive SMS notifications when a recent charge hits an account to prevent both fraud and to track online purchases of my four children. The buzz word of the day is “bots” and the need to use natural language and artificial intelligence as the next “game changer” in support of your customers. The Capital One story provides some interesting tidbits on the benefits of a proactive notification strategy and its link to the development of a first generation chatbot.

Channel Support

The Capital One SMS notification story appeared in several industry journals and business publications, such as this article in Fast Company. Capital One noted research stating that 97% of all mobile phone users text regularly and opted to start with SMS over Facebook Messenger for that reason. While engaging your customers on a channel they use frequently makes sense, I would like to raise the issue of the ongoing costs associated with any new system. It is important to avoid silos, so when it comes to text interaction please ask the question, “will this new solution support SMS, Facebook Messenger, Twitter DM, and other text channels?” You do NOT want the expense of maintaining separate applications for each text channel.

Notification to Interaction

While the initial intent of the Capital One SMS application centered on one-way notifications for fraud alerts, customers engaged and started replying to the texts with questions. While it has been a few years, you can still read about the benefits of proactive versus reactive customer service, and sending your customers text notifications helps with your proactive customer service strategy. A proactive strategy will reduce costs and drive positive changes to your service metrics.

Today, customers want to be able to react and engage with your notification, as Capital One learned when it started sending out SMS texts to customers. I would recommend a few items to add to your implementation planning or upgrade project as it relates to texting:

  1. Consider “text enabling” your toll-free number versus the use of a short code. The toll-free number builds a single point of contact with your customers, as they can call or text the number in the future without the effort to look it up on the web.
  2. Enable a system or report to track all SMS responses from your customers. You need to have a process documented for handling the customer responses.
  3. Assume that almost all “notification” use cases will evolve into interactive dialog with your customers. Start planning for automated and agent “interactive text response.”
Text Notification – Gateway to Chatbots

The benefits of engaging customers on any text channel is that they will start to respond with questions, and help your organization adopt a “chatbot” strategy and initial use cases to automate. Whether you are sending a notification of a past due bill, an appointment reminder, or an outage via SMS – customers will respond and provide the foundation for your evolution to interactive text response customer service via chatbots.