2-way SMS Chat: Build good customer relationships easily

More than ever before, brands and businesses need to build and maintain deeper, richer and more loyal relationships with customers during tough times. Acquisition of new customers has doubled in cost over the past few years thanks to rising global economic uncertainty.

This is where the ease and affordability of text chat can help.

What is text chat

Similar to texting friends and family, text chat is simply between a business and its customers, staff and other stakeholders.

When a message is sent to a recipient, the recipient is then able to reply. Responses from the sender can be automated or be relayed to an employee who will reply 1-on-1 with the original recipient.

Here is an example of two ways a brand could send out messages about an upcoming VIP sale:

1-way vs 2-way messaging graphic

In the 2-way example:

  • Customers feel and get instantaneous access to the brand, and support for queries without having to go out of their way. In the age of immediate gratification and ‘Uberisation’ of services, this is a competitive advantage.
  • Automated of registration saves the brand time pushing customers to another website where they may fall off.
  • Communication feels more human and the ease of feedback/queries helps draw greater insight. In this case, Cate was looking for a specific discount from one of Kiki Fashions’ lines. Another customer may want to know if she could bring a friend. These questions enable businesses to better iterate their experiences, products and communications in future.

Why 2-way communications

Texting’s purpose is simple: connect people and exchange information. Even now, as messaging has evolved into numerous other forms, this has remained the same.

Businesses today still largely rely on effective asynchronous communications – i.e. I yell about what’s important to me and you listen and act accordingly. We know from our experiences with real people and conversations that this is not reality.

Brand or business speaking to but not listening to their customer
Why aren’t my customer’s aren’t listening? Maybe it’s because you aren’t.

Customers are bombarded with asynchronous communications all day; every day and they’re frustrated by it. How many emails, phone calls and in-app notifications do you immediately delete or ignore on a daily basis? You can tailor and personalise every communication but ultimately, you should invite their feedback into all interactions with customers.

Two-way communications work because they synchronise with the values, insights and feelings of their customer. Customers are invited to participate in the brand such as taking on feedback after a product or service experience.

Graphic of a brand and customer having a conversation.
When customers are allowed participate in communications, they’ll listen and invest in you.

Participation and genuine communication lead to two important things: emotional connections and validation. At the heart of any communication is the need to feel validated. You’re telling a customer their feedback will only enhance and advance your business and mutual goals.

Why 2-way texting will work for you

There’s live chat, phone calls, emails. Almost every other form of communication is two-way, right? Why should I pick an SMS service?

Two-way comms may pose a very valid solution to your current challenges. However, texting alone allows for true flexibility, affordability and time-urgency unlike other formats.

Live chat: Difficult to come back to, appears in different and confusing formats, and often has a poor user experience (UX).

Phone calls: time-consuming, long wait times, requires both agent and caller’s entire attention.

Emails: 20% open rate, often ignored or missed due to how cluttered inboxes are becoming.

That’s not to say that these formats are unusable. Instead, working together with a texting channel, they can really power up your communications to reach customers in every possible way.

Texting is:

  • Affordable – our basic plan starts at just $39 or you can start a free trial now (no CC or obligations)
  • Easy to use and maintain
  • Conversational – 2-way text mimics conversations we have in our daily life, lending it a human, personal feel
  • Quick set up and implementation – in fact, we can help you start sending within 30 minutes in our latest webinar
  • Familiar for customers and users
  • Universal – reach 5B people with phones, not even smart phones
  • Time-critical – 90% of messages are read within 90 seconds
 

Want to try SMS chat?

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6 common use case for 2-way SMS chat

1. Reminders & Confirmations

Booked an appointment lately? It’s likely you’ve received a text message straight after confirming your appointment. Then, a day before, another appears reminding you.

Businesses want to help customers out amid busier lives but there’s a strong commercial purpose behind it too. Customers on average across all industries miss 10-15% of booked appointments costing companies a sizeable chunk of their profits.

That’s why service businesses employ simple 2-way SMS automations to help customers and patrons remember their reservations and appointments. And they work!

Energy retailer Synergy employed a text-based program to help customers manage overdue payments with automated text reminders. This helped to reduce the total balance of payments owing by a whopping 45%.

SMS template of a booking confirmation

HOW: Set up simple automations through existing software like your point-of-sale (POS) or customer relationship management (CRM) software. If you’re still unsure, talk to one of our experts today OR sign up for a free trial. You’ll be shocked at how easy it is!

2. Automations

Automations have a simple purpose. To save your business time and money on pesky, repetitive tasks. Many organisations use them in a variety of ways such as data sheet entry, scheduling or enhancing customer loyalty through their CRM system. What tasks could you currently automate through text?

In education, reaching parents can be difficult and time-consuming. Education software specialist EdSmart automated rapid text message blasts that achieved a fast response rate of 65% from parents within 24 hours.

SMS template of an automation

HOW: Learn how to set up your own by starting with these 5 easy text automations! Text-in lines and text-based programs are easy to implement through existing software or a bulk messaging service like MessageMedia. Talk to our experts or sign up for free account if you’d like to try it yourself.

3. Delivery & Ordering

Another example of two-way messaging is through one of the first forms of widespread text automation: ordering, tracking and delivery.

From your latest online shop to Friday takeaway, we’re used to knowing exactly when and where our purchases are. Automated tracking and delivery text integrations can help customers feel assured that their packages will arrive safely and with on-time.

SMS template of a delivery

HOW: Go through our existing integrations marketplace or you can build one yourself with our free API key.

Non-profit Rona Scrubs wanted to support the personal protective equipment (PPE) needs of essential workers throughout COVID. As they were constantly improving the sizes of scrubs for workers, they often needed to reconfirm sizing. This wasn’t an easy task and email response rates proved slow. By sending bulk SMS, they were able to achieve a 50% response uplift within 10-15 minutes.

RELATED: Contactless delivery and curb-side pick-up has become almost compulsory during COVID. Find out how to implement a new service offering like Click and Collect, and why SMS is so important to its delivery.  

4. Customer comms and support

Automation of two-way messaging is powerful but can only go so far. Many customers expect, and in some cases, demand a more personal and human touch. According to the Wall Street Journal, there is a growing trend of businesses using texting to support customers while their agents work from home.

While technology has the ability to disconnect us, there is a unique intimacy to texting that better connects us. We’ve seen similar effects in arts organisations using texting to connect new and more diverse audiences to theatre in Australia.

Port Networks, a US-based telecommunications provider, expanded their communications to include SMS-based messaging for technical and support queries. Before, they had relied purely on phone calls which were taking too much time and focus. Customer representatives complained their support queues were building up to the dissatisfaction of their loyal customers.

SMS template of two-way customer support

Their founder Hugh Bethell noticed many younger customers preferred the unobtrusiveness of text messaging instead. Support agents could multitask between multiple requests while customers could come back to a query at their leisure. Not only did this reduce support time by 2 – 10 hours per representative, it also cut queue times by 50%.  

HOW: MessageMedia’s software and online portal is built with an ‘inbox’ that simulates a live customer support hub.  Sign up right now for a free trial and try it for yourself. One of our experts can walk you through it.

5. Sales engagement

As we’ve said before, customer engagement has never been more important to building customer relationships. Customer support is only one area of your business where text can enhance customers satisfaction but what about sales?

Sales relationships are often built on good first impressions. SMS gets to customers fast with 98% cut through, 90% of that within 90 seconds. Where it truly excels, however, is in establishing continuous live support, which cements longevity through immediacy and accessibility.

ANZ company Palace Property Management provides software solutions to real estate agencies offering tenancies. When looking at how their solution could add a competitive advantage, they saw a communications gap between realtors and tenants. Many tenants missed phone calls or never received their mail/email further hindering any relationship-building.

When MessageMedia built a text integration into Palace’s system, realtors found they could more easily engage with clients via text. After early use of the service, not one of their clients cancelled their text subscriptions.

SMS template of a sales engagement

HOW: Two way messaging comes enabled with every free trial of our bulk messaging service but make sure to speak to one of our experts first.

6. Internal communications

While much of 2-way SMS chat is focused on external communications, it can be powerful and effective when used with one’s internal stakeholders.

Building rich relationships with talent is key to keeping them in the long-term. While your teams might be inundated with emails,  texting can cut when important news is announced and cannot go missed.

Two-way texting could be employed in many ways:

  • Connect colleagues
  • Private comms between employees and direct reports
  • Confidential information
  • HR to reach all employees with time-critical information

At MessageMedia, texting is used internally to onboard new recruits. Automated messages welcome and direct new staff to forms or processes they need to fill out.

Though these are the most common uses cases, the opportunities are limitless when it comes to two-way SMS messaging. As always, it depends on your business and the challenges you are facing – or even, the challenges facing your customers.

RELATED: Find out how trade services software platform i4Tradies built an automated text-in line service to help consumers find tradies for home emergency repairs fast – and to drive new business leads for trade businesses.

 

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Final thoughts, further reading

Two-way SMS messaging can help any business improve their standing with new and prospective customers. Are you doing the same to establish deeper connections with your employees, suppliers or shareholders?

Understanding its power is only step one. Stay tuned for Part 2: our methodology for implementing 2-way SMS into your business today.

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