Beth Schultz
Beth Schultz is editor of No Jitter and program co-chair for Enterprise Connect. Beth has more than two decades of...
Read Full Bio >>

Beth Schultz | July 16, 2015 |


Text-to-Toll Free: Coming to a Contact Center Near You

Text-to-Toll Free: Coming to a Contact Center Near You With texting so prevalent among consumers, customer-facing organizations best think about text-enabling their inbound numbers.

With texting so prevalent among consumers, customer-facing organizations best think about text-enabling their inbound numbers.

At the rate modern society is progressing, the ability to text will soon be as innate a human behavior as smiling when happy.

Any parent with smartphone-wielding children knows this all too well. Why talk to your mom, even if she's sitting in the next room, when you can text her instead? Why return your dad's phone call when you can drop him a quick "'Sup?" text instead?

Familial joking aside, the texting preference requires immediate attention by any contact center or other customer-facing operation that hasn't yet text-enabled inbound numbers. Research shows that customers are going to send support- and service-related text messages to those numbers, so companies must act -- or be prepared to be held accountable for their unresponsiveness.

Texting Into Oblivion
You may have heard some of the stats from Harris Interactive's 2014 nationwide customer service poll, conducted on the behalf of omnichannel contact center provider OneReach. In that survey of 2,000 adult consumers, 64% of respondents with texting capabilities said they'd prefer to text with rather than talk to customer service agents. A good chunk of those folks -- 44% -- indicated they'd rather push a button and start a text conversation on the spot than wait on hold to talk to an agent.

OpenMarket, a division of Amdocs that supports multichannel enterprise mobile engagement, dug deeper on this sort of consumer behavior by analyzing traffic patterns on a sampling of Fortune 100 toll-free (1-800) numbers. OpenMarket conducted this research in conjunction with Zipwhip, a cloud texting platform.

OpenMarket and Zipwhip each connect text messages into carrier networks, giving them the ability to watch calling patterns. "We can see when callers attempt to send text messages to numbers that aren't enabled to handle them. These messages are essentially going nowhere," said Tim Fujita-Yuhas, director of product management at OpenMarket, in a recent interview.

Fujita-Yuhas highlighted what he felt were the researchers' most salient findings. First, consumers attempted to send more than 400,000 text messages to F100 toll-free numbers during a one-year period. Second, more than 50% of these attempted texts were intended for financial services companies -- "that's the bull's-eye," he said. "Consumers very much want to be texting to and receiving text messages from the companies from which they have their financial services."

Supporting that claim, Fujita-Yuhas shared: The top 10 companies, five of those being in financial services, were at the receiving end of 85% of the attempted messages.

Researchers supplemented these findings with customer interviews. In those surveys, they found that nine out of 10 consumers prefer texting to calling, Fujita-Yuhas said. Overall, he added, OpenMarket and Zipwhip feel their numbers are conservative.

Text-to-Toll Free In Action

He then shared a few use case examples. One contact center, for example, changed its opening IVR prompt to a greeting saying, "Feel free to hang up and text this number instead if you want faster service." Turns out that 40% of its callers are doing just that, he said.

"This is a hard ROI on call deflection," Fujita-Yuhas said. "An agent can serve only one voice call at a time, but the ratio is 6 to 8 chat sessions simultaneously, based on real-world customer experience."

In another use case, retailers or other companies could use text-enabled toll-free numbers for two-factor authentication from their websites. Should a hacker obtain user account information, he or she also would need the user's mobile phone in order to authenticate -- i.e., verify identity -- by texting to the provided toll-free number, he said. Some companies might try short codes for this purpose, but that can be limiting for a number of reasons. For example, not all mobile virtual network operators can accept short codes.

Service Disassociation
Short codes can take four to six weeks to provision, Fujita-Yuhas also noted. Text-enabling a toll-free number, on the other hand, is doable in a few days if not hours.

OpenMarket sees text-enabled toll-free numbers and landlines as the next evolutionary step or alternative option to short codes, he said. "What we tell our customers is that there are pros and cons to each of these. 'Tell us your use case, and we'll give you our opinion on which is best.'"

While Fujita-Yuhas acknowledged that OpenMarket has its work cut out for it in educating companies about the value of text-enabling their toll-free numbers, he said he's convinced this is the wave of the future. "The medium or the channel of texting is starting to be more associated with phone numbers, and I think we're moving into a world where, if you have a phone number, you'll have it associated with different voice and data services," he said. "Phone numbers are going to be disassociated from the service."

Follow Beth Schultz and No Jitter on Twitter and Google+!
Beth Schultz on Google+


October 24, 2018

With disparate workplaces and ever-expanding volumes of information to manage, the challenges for collaborating effectively are only intensifying. Many critical applications are not integrated, and

October 10, 2018

Businesses are growing across international borders quicker than ever, but scaling operations to follow suit can be a harder, longer process.

This webinar focuses on scaling your next-generat

September 26, 2018

Join Kevin Kieller, Microsoft UC&C expert, along with Ribbon Communications and Polycom, for an update on Microsoft Ignite, and a focus on critical things you need to know about your voice deployme

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.