Including text support (or SMS support) as part of your multichannel strategy is a great way to provide better customer experiences, differentiate your service, and make your team more efficient. With text support, your mobile customers will appreciate the easy access to information or help. In fact, 52% of US consumers would prefer texting customer support over their current preferred form of communication. Another great benefit is text can help teams decrease handle time: consumers are accustomed to the more casual, succinct exchanges made via text, so agents can respond faster and more concisely. Many companies are already seeing great results from offering text support.
That being said, providing text support is new for many companies. It’s important to follow some very basic best practices or risk using it incorrectly, leading to interactions that will turn customers off to what otherwise can be a channel for great experiences.
Here are a few tips and best practices:
Ease into it
As your team ramps up text support, gradually introduce your text support number to customers. Don’t immediately publish your text support number on your website or in your app. Instead, extend your text line to VIP customers via email or proactive text messages. Once your team understands how often and how many of your customers will like use the channel, and what their expectations are, you can introduce it more broadly.
Set yourself up for quick responses
The average response rate for text messages in general is 90 seconds, so be prepared to respond quickly (and succinctly). To save time, create text-specific macros, keeping in mind that the average text character limit is 160 characters.
Manage customer expectations
Although your customers may expect quick responses, you might not be able to respond immediately to all inbound text requests. Set expectations for response times wherever you promote your text support number. For example, one Zendesk customer includes a note on their website that says, “Text Messages responded to within 2 hours from 9am to 6pm Central Time.” Also, create an automated text response to any inbound texts, confirming receipt and providing a clearly defined window for a response.
Take advantage of customer profiles
According to a support manager at an ecommerce company, your customers may get in the habit of sending text messages without any background or context. Be sure to save your customers’ phone numbers to their user profiles so you know who is texting and have their full contact history readily available.
In addition to two-way text conversations, triggers and notifications can be used with text to keep your customers updated. For example, you can automate texts to let your customers know that you’ve received their voicemails, or follow up a phone support conversation with a text requesting their feedback. Check out more ideas in our Help Center.
Teams can get started with Text in minutes—no coding or additional software is required. Text, a feature of Zendesk Talk (available on the Talk Basic and Advanced plans), allows companies to provide customers with one phone number for both phone and text support.
Learn more about providing proactive support