How Text Messaging is Changing the Customer Experience
Where once voice ruled, our fingers are now doing the talking.
Here are a few statistics I want you to consider:
- Of all the uses for cell phones, sending and reading text messages come in at number one and number two. Making a call comes in at a distant number six, according to a study by taxi app Hailo.
- Texting is the most widely-used and frequently used app on a cell phone with 97% of Americans using it at least once a day, according to a Pew Research Center report.
- Over 80% of American adults text, making it the most common cell phone activity.
- Text messages have a 98% open rate, while email has only a 20% open rate.
- On average, Americans exchange twice as many texts as they do calls, according to data from Nielsen.
- American women text 14% more than men.
- A large public utility company analyzed their incoming contact center calls (400K calls per month) and discovered that 80% came from cell phones.
- A 2012 study found that text was the highest rated contact method for customer satisfaction out of all other customer communication channels. Text earned 90 out of 100 points, while voice calls earned 77 out of 100.
- SMS text chat converts a $6-$20 call to a chat that costs pennies per session.
- Roughly half of all customer service calls go unresolved, according to a TalkTo study.
Sadly, far too many contact centers primarily rely solely on voice for their customer care. This results in millions of people engaging contact center agents with their least preferred method of communication. Clearly, there is a serious disconnect between consumers, their behavior, and the prevalent customer care technology -- a disconnect that will ultimately lead to lost customers and poor customer service statistics.
So, what do you do with this new breed of consumers who are ready, willing and able to spend money on products and services, but have no desire to call someone to buy them?
You could, of course, ignore them and continue on with business as usual, but that's not a winning strategy. Instead, you wholeheartedly embrace their communication choice and wrap that "Open for Business" sign around SMS messaging.
Toll-free text is starting to play an active role here. Like the direct-dial 800 numbers we've used for years, toll-free texting takes cost out of the connection equation and puts voice and text on equal footing. Customers no longer have to worry about unknown or hidden fees and can choose how they want to transact their business.
Of course, it takes more than enabling a new communications channel into a contact center. You need software to present, manage, and report on those connection mediums. You need to take the raw aspect of an incoming text and turn it into customer context that can be used to solve problems, sell products, and create customer stickiness.WEBTEXT Cloud Messaging
What makes WEBTEXT different from the other leading messaging companies is that it recognized the disconnect between consumers and contact centers and developed a suite of cloud-based applications that bring SMS and MMS messaging into existing Avaya and Cisco contact centers. Integration with these two vendors gives them access to 70% of the global contact center market share.
There are other text messaging solutions out there, such as OneReach and nexmo, but most require that companies port their existing voice services in order to add SMS message processing. Since WEBTEXT works in the cloud as an SMS broker, contact centers can keep their existing voice service provider as they add SMS messaging.
Dividing their products into three main categories, WEBTEXT supports SMS and MMS contacts through the following services:Contact Center Messaging:
This service allows contact center agents to become fully multi-modal in terms of voice, text, and combined voice and text. For instance, a contact center agent can be on a voice call with a consumer, recognize that the call terminates on a cell phone, and text the consumer information that would normally be conveyed audibly. Imagine how much simpler navigating a difficult technical issue would be if the agent could use text to send pictures, diagrams, and written directions within the context of the voice conversation. This leads to greatly reduced talk time and an increase in the number of agent to consumer engagements.
This service also allows agents to operate in full text mode where engagements begin and end with text. Unlike voice calls and its one-to-one nature of communication, text agents can process several text conversations at the same time.
Lastly, contact center messaging allows contact centers to intercept calls early on and deflect to text messaging when high wait times might otherwise drive away customers (see my previous statistic on unresolved customer service calls).Smart Notifications:
This service is used to automate bulk SMS notifications. Think appointment reminders and "stay in touch" courtesy messages to customers that subscribe to different services.
One of the most exciting aspects of smart notifications is its ability to be embedded within an enterprise's existing business applications. Used in conjunction with contact center messaging, any subsequent replies to text messages can be forwarded directly to live agents who can then offer real-time support.Desk Phone Messaging:
This service enables SMS and MMS messaging using a standard desk telephone and its associated number. Designed for the knowledge worker, this solution gives busy mobile employees access to multiple, simultaneous text sessions.
Most importantly, desk phone messaging does not require any further contact center software or applications. This allows it to act as a standalone solution for companies that want to text-enable "agents" without the added expense of another vendor's products. In other words, this service is a powerful solution for businesses that may want to add text processing on the cheap.At a Glance
The following graphic illustrates each of the three solutions, their intended uses, and the value they create.
As I previously stated, WEBTEXT is a cloud-based solution. By this, I mean that all SMS gateway functionality is hosted off-premises in WEBTEXT servers. These servers perform all the necessary interactions with the wireless carriers while communicating with on-premises software via Web services. This frees up enterprises from having to purchase and maintain their own gateways and carrier contracts.APIs Galore
If you have been following my articles here on No Jitter, you know that I am a big believer in software openness, and WEBTEXT does an amazing job of exposing an impressive suite of APIs. While it's possible to use WEBTEXT software out-of-the-box, with or without another vendor's products, the ability to tailor it to a contact center's specific needs are nearly infinite. Using RESTful Web services, an enterprise can create unique solutions that meet its specific needs. This leads to more efficient agent interactions and happier customers.Mischief Managed
The way we choose to communicate is undergoing a renaissance. Where once voice ruled, our fingers are now doing the talking, and businesses need to keep up with their customers' preferences. Initiatives such as toll-free text and the solutions offered by WEBTEXT are improving the customer experience and helping both legacy and greenfield contact centers stay one step ahead of the communications curve.
See Andrew Prokop at Enterprise Connect 2016, coming March 7 to 10, in Orlando, Fla. View the conference program here, and register now using the code NJPOST to receive $200 off the current conference price.
Andrew Prokop writes about all things unified communications on his popular blog, SIP Adventures.