In this next-to-last post in the Results series, we’re going to look at how SMS messaging is transforming customer service. All sorts of companies are finding that it works much better than traditional customer interaction channels like phone calls and emails.
It’s being used for appointment reminders, health reminders, room service, account information, and loyalty or reward programs. Why is SMS turning out to be such an important channel for customer service? These statistics from Microsoft tell the story:
64% prefer texting over voice calls for customer support.
81% of people don’t like to be stuck on the phone or a computer when contacting customer support.
44% prefer SMS messaging over waiting on hold.
Those numbers tell how people feel about using SMS for customer support. But what results are companies who implement it seeing?
No More No Shows
Most service industries have processes in place for reminding customers of appointments. This often includes making a call (sometimes automated) to the person and leaving a message with their appointment information. I say “leaving a message” because most people just don’t answer their phone anymore. About 25% of UK smartphone-owning adults don’t use their phone for calls at all.
But people do have their phones with them nearly 22 hours a day (yes, even while sleeping), so if you want to remind them of something, it’s best done with a text. That’s what these example companies found:
A dentist used automated SMS messages and “eliminated” his no-show rate.
A beauty salon had a 100% decrease in no-shows after starting an SMS reminder program.
An ophthalmologist practice saw a 38% decrease in “non-attendance” of people who received an SMS reminder
Using SMS for these reminders also saves their staff time. Usually the no-shows would be called to reschedule. This could take many hours per week, wasting time that could be put towards other activities. Also, with everyone showing up, the company’s revenues went up too.
Here’s another example: There was a study done of NHS’s “did not attend” rates. While it was a limited study, the conclusion was that if SMS messaging was implemented, NHS would have 5,800 more people make their appointments than if they didn’t use SMS messaging. If NHS can get results like that, I think just about any business can.
Showing You Care
One of the most important aspects of customer service is giving the customer a sense that you care. One way to do that is to keep them informed. Banks have become an excellent example of this out of necessity. The growth of online and mobile banking has caused a major disruption to how they’ve done business since, well, since there’ve been banks.
These days, people may never even know there’s a local branch they can visit. They’ll never see the faces of the clerks or develop any kind of personal relationship with any of the staff. They simply don’t need to go anywhere except the website or app.
That leaves a void that needs to be filled. One way banks are doing that is by providing personalised updates and alerts via SMS. Two banks shared some data in a report on the bank disruption. Here’s what they said:
Lloyds says they send 3.8 million SMS messages to customers in just one week.
HSBC also sends alerts in these amounts: 52% balance alerts, 33% balance notifications, 15% purchase made above a set threshold.
You know that these two banks, some of the biggest in the country and even the world, wouldn’t be using SMS if they weren’t seeing results. By offering SMS alerts they cut down on customer service calls. And because the information is customised to the account holder, it makes customers feel like they are being looked after. And that’s one way they can make the personal connection they miss when people don’t visit the local branches.
There are many ways using SMS for customer service can benefit your company. For example: extra revenue from reduced no-shows, extra time for staff who don’t have to make phone calls any more, and customer service representatives not burdened with simple requests now have the time to focus on more needy customers.
SMS is often so helpful to companies that they find they suddenly have the opportunity to grow. The next post is the last in our Results series, and will cover just that. Make sure you come back to see it, or you can start the series from the beginning here if you missed the previous posts.