For many customers, getting in contact with a business has always been a dreary affair: emails and countless follow-ups that stay unread for days, or tinny hold music blaring for long enough that as many as 60 per cent simply give up.
But a quiet revolution is happening - and flexible firms that change with the times are poised to reap the rewards. That revolution is text-based customer service.
While far from all businesses have adapted to the smartphone age, a change is clearly afoot. Almost 70 per cent of firms offer some form of text-based communications; in 2020, business messaging was 10 per cent up on 2019, and there’s no reason to expect this growth to stop. And this is why.
1) People don’t like speaking on the phone anymore
It’s easy to see why many hate contacting businesses by phone. Would anyone miss being placed on hold for hours, being passed from department to department or being cut off accidentally and having to start all over again?
No surprise, then, that 85 per cent of smartphone users say that they prefer texting to emails or phone calls. This is because texting allows customers to interact at their own speed, with no connections dropped or any time spent waiting in queues.
And with evidence suggesting that young people are even more averse than average to phone calls, businesses would be wise to change sooner rather than later.
2) Texting offers a human touch
Contrary to what you might think, the speed of text messaging does not in any way come at the expense of a personal touch.
In fact, as a much more informal means of communication than email and phone calls, text messaging arguably facilitates an easier and smoother connection with clients - on their own terms.
With 74 per cent of customers saying they are more likely to reply to a text from a business if they know the person at the other end is real, the potential of texting for keeping customers satisfied and coming back is undeniable.
Emojis are another tool offered by text messaging that can aid customer service and add a sense of personal connection.Our guide to using emojis provides tips on striking the right tone with clients.
3) The ability to get an edge over your competitors
The smartphone revolution in customer service is far from complete. According to Forbes, fewer than half of businesses communicate with customers via text, despite a staggering 93 per cent of consumers saying they would like to contact businesses in this way.
In other words, while the change has definitely begun, the sooner your business introduces text-based customer service, the more out of date your competitors’ phone and email-based systems will look in comparison.
What’s more, there’s a good chance that your message (and not theirs) will get through. According to a Gartner report, SMS messages have a 98 per cent open rate and a 45 per cent response rate, compared to 20 and 6 per cent, respectively, for email.
4) Increased speed and efficiency
Put simply, texting is quicker, saving both you and your customers valuable time.
Younger generations in particular are more appreciative of the time saved here, although baby boomers are also becoming increasingly aware of the advantages of texting over calling and are now twice as likely to text than call.
Text-based messaging can also increase your business’ efficiency because it gives agents the opportunity to multitask. Instead of only attending one call or email at a time, customer support agents are able to handle up to six interactions at any moment via text-based channels.
What’s more, text interactions can be sped up using Superagent’s Conversation Blocks. These are short, pre-written modular blocks of text that can be used in messaging and easily accessed via keyboard shortcuts. Read more about how they can be used to improve the experience for both customer and agent here.
5) Savings on your customer service team
If your business is on the smaller side, as Forbes pointed out, the thought of massive expenditure on AI chatbots and call centres probably makes you shudder.
As well as being speedier, text messaging is also cheaper. The average customer service phone call costs roughly $16, while the average text message interaction costs between $1 and $5. A potentially sixteen-fold saving is a no-brainer, particularly for a small business where every penny counts.
Labour costs can also be reduced if there is no longer a need for multiple people manning phones around the clock.
Streamline and modernise your customer service with Superagent
The age of ‘this could have been an email’ is fast becoming ‘this could have been a WhatsApp’ - or indeed a Facebook Message or an SMS.
Download the Superagent app now, for desktop or mobile, and bring all these platforms (and many more) together in the same place, saving your business time and money and ensuring your customers never have any reason to go elsewhere.