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Jul 27 2017 Texting Has Become The Channel Of Choice

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We all read the statistics – we might even question their validity – but study after study after study continues to repeat the concept that the world has gone mobile. I recently conducted a personal study and attempted to engage 25 utilities in a mobile self-service test. I found the customer care number and via text sent each company the following question: “How do I start service?”

I wanted to see how many utilities have launched self-service texting of their customer care phone number and could respond to my question. I was somewhat shocked that a perfect zero out of 25 did not support text self-service.

As a technologist, I thought how I could convince every customer care leader to stop all projects and jump on the texting bandwagon. Here are a few thoughts I had, as I considered this:

No. 1: Statistics

I suppose I could act like a million other bloggers, marketers, and shove 100 stats into a blog or whitepaper to drive a point home. Personally, I have grown tired of every company attempting to sell me something or convince the world to take action because research or surveys tell us to.

Putting my attempts at sarcasm to the side for the moment, however, numbers do have their place. Here are my top three researched statistics on texting:

  1. Per Harris Interactive, 64 percent of us (and growing) prefer texting over voice for service.
  2. Mobile users are reading 98 percent of text messages sent! Email is down to 22 percent! Do your customers actually answer the phone if you call them or ever listen to voicemails left?
  3. We are also reading our text messages on average within 5 seconds.

You have a ton of communications channels available today. Why not embrace the channel that the world uses, wants to use and prefers that you support?

No. 2: Reducing Operating Costs

A large number of projects receive funding because a ROI shows a reduction in costs. On the other hand, I can put on my business consulting hat and use the more appropriate “operational efficiency” term, develop a business case to support the more broad initiative to deliver service in the most cost-effective manner possible, while maintaining the quality of support.

Either way, we have a continuous mission to drive down costs without negatively affecting our service level metrics. How does this happen with texting?

  • Texting costs less than an agent.
  • Texting costs less than IVR self-service phone call – which your customers strongly dislike.
  • Texting costs less than web-based self-service and far less than an Apple or Android app.
  • Text-based self-service, known as ITR (Interactive Text Response), is driving game-changing reductions to costs.

While a ton of companies attempt to win your business with the solution of the day that reduces costs by 5 percent, 10 percent, 15 percent, how about a concept that drives potential 30 to 50 percent reductions in customer service costs?

No. 3: Improves Key Metrics

Most of us live by metrics and hold our teams accountable for service levels to both our company but more importantly our customers. Whether you use NPS, CES, CSAT, AHT, or any other metric acronym that I failed to list, texting will drive improvements.

When I am working with our clients on consulting engagements, I reference three critical items that we need to address with new technology, upgrades or changes to our agents’ interactions with customers from the book Outside In:

  1. Meets Needs – Customers accomplished their goal.
  2. Easy – Amount of customer effort was minimal.
  3. Enjoyable – Customers’ emotions, how they feel.

Texting represents a channel that tackles the elusive item No. 3 on the list above. It is an enjoyable communication channel that your customers want to use and allows for a positive emotional experience. How does this happen?

Texting drives all three principles of our reduce customer effort methodology: (1) Engage Me – you can provide proactive support by sending notifications via text; (2) Know Me – we can predict why a customer is asking a question and personalize the experience; and (3) Value My Time – texting allows you to guide a customer to resolution with minimal effort and time.

OK, I Get the Concept, What Do I Do?

Well, I suggest you “text” me via my mobile number, tweet at me on Twitter or message me on Facebook to start a conversation on how to improve your key metrics by 30 to 50 percent, or how to reduce costs by the same numbers.

It all starts with the right strategy, but here are a few ideas to consider:

  1. Text enable your company’s toll-free number.
  2. Allow your customers, or potential customers, to interact and respond to the texts – avoid the “notification only” trap.
  3. Develop and implement “Interactive Text Response” for text based self-service.
  4. Integrate “disposable mobile applications” to achieve service level metric improvements.

Finally, pick out the design for your new corporate office suite for when the recognition and praise comes your way because you were the advocate to revolutionize customer care through texting.