The art of using SMS effectively in business
WRITTEN BY: Dr. Piet Streicher, Managing Director, BulkSMS.com
The drive to increase communication efficiencies using SMS (short message service) is closely linked to how SMS messaging helps reduces the cost of doing business.
Not only is SMS a cost-effective channel for delivering short notifications, alerts or reminders as well as receiving replies from customers, it also provides a way of reducing telephony costs, a major business overhead.
The use of a pre-paid application-to-person messaging service offers your business at least two ways of setting up a cost-effective SMS communication channel.
- You manage messaging by using a self-service desktop or Web application to send and receive SMS messages via your computer connected to the internet.
- System managed messaging where your website or systems are automated to trigger SMS notifications and manage replies during a business process. It is as easy for developers to automate this functionality.
How then do these SMS solutions help you reduce overheads?
Take for example a firm where a customer has placed an order and the order is now ready for collection. A single SMS sent to the customer notifying that the order is ready for collection will save several calls from the company. Instead, this SMS message provides all the collection details. If the company requires confirmation of receipt of the message, this can be gained by either keeping a record of the message delivery status or request the customer to reply to the SMS they received.
Now apply the same order fulfilment process to hundreds of customers and the cost saving benefits of SMS messaging become clear in reducing the firm’s overall telecommunications costs.
If on the other hand a telephone call is necessary, a customer may not always be able to take phone calls. Instead of leaving a voicemail it is much more efficient to send an SMS with all the relevant details. An SMS takes away the need for the customer to dial in, listen to their messages, and then transcribe a message. With an SMS, the firm has made life easier for the customer, who now knows all the details required to collect the order.
In an effort to save further costs and increase its productivity, the firm could create additional business efficiencies by introducing SMS to all customer-facing stages of the order process – from order confirmation, status updates and collection. These SMS-enabled steps would go far in helping reducing unnecessary use of time and resource and so save the firm money.
How to use SMS to manage customer expectations
SMS messaging is ideally suited to allowing a business to better manage customer expectations. With SMS, you can interact quickly and easily with customers by sending them short, informative and relevant messages. This provides you with way of enhancing how customers experience your brand, product or service.
There are some quick-wins in using SMS messaging for managing customer expectations. In each of the three cases noted below, the SMS is sent from an Internet enabled mobile messaging service that allows you to send messages from a computer to the cell phone number of one or many of your customers. Customers can also reply to any of these messages, if necessary.
Scheduling appointment reminders goes far in ensuring that business meeting appointments are not missed. This becomes an important cost saving for small business owners who are then best able to maximise their time for revenue generating activities.
It is best practice to schedule an appointment at the moment when the meeting is set up by pre-programming the time and date using the SMS messaging service’s scheduler. An SMS is then automatically sent at a future date to the person with whom you are to meet. Similarly, you can send yourself a reminder message.
Keeping customers updated
One of the arts of business is keeping customers updated on the status of their order. Using SMS takes all the hassle out of order fulfilment and best manages customers’ expectations of when an order is to be delivered at their home or ready for collection for the store. The main benefit is that customers do not need to contact the business to check up on their order.
Instead of spending time and money taking or making calls from customers querying the status of an order, a business can now send out regular SMS updates to keep customers abreast of when they can expect their order. With large order volumes, a business may SMS-enable their automated order fulfilment process.
Another key area in meeting customer expectations is by providing them with a reference number after they made a call to your help desk. This provides an efficient way of keeping customers satisfied by sending them an SMS with a reference number, name of the person they spoke to, and contact details. Customers also reply to this same SMS to provide feedback or rate the quality of service experienced as part of a firm’s drive for customer service excellence.
Expo 2020: SAP Ariba to Digitise and Automate Procurement
Expo 2020, a World Expo that is set to be hosted by Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was originally scheduled to run from 20th October 2020 until 10th April 2021, but, as with just about everything in the world of supply chain, the COVID-19 pandemic forced event organisers to postpone the highly-anticipated get-together. The new date for the Expo, which will be hosted in the Dubai Exhibition Centre, spanning across a 438-hectare space, is Friday 1st October, until 31st March 2022. But, there will be limitations to who can and cannot attend the event, so SAP has stepped in to fix the problem.
What is Expo 2020?
‘Expo 2020 and SAP have run a series of onboarding summits for Expo’s valued supply chain network. As Expo’s procurement needs shift from construction to interior fit-outs, facilities management and technology services, Expo 2020 and SAP will continue to provide ongoing one-on-one support, including a dedicated helpdesk, to guide suppliers throughout the evolution to digital transactions and processes.
Expo 2020 Dubai, which will open its doors to the world from 1st October 2021 to 31st March 2022, is the first World Expo and only the second mega-event to secure a Procurement Excellence Award from the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply.’
SAP Ariba’s Solution
In a recent announcement, it was told that more than 25,000 of Expo 2020 Dubai’s local and global suppliers would benefit from a real-time, unified digital procurement and payment platform, thanks to technology provided by SAP, the events Innovative Enterprise Software Partner.
The solution, provided by SAP Ariba, will supposedly fully digitise and automate the procure-to-pay lifecycle, providing a streamlined digital experience for Expo 2020’s suppliers while simultaneously enhancing transparency and efficiency across the event’s global supply chain. ‘The global technology company’s cloud-based SAP Ariba procurement solutions run on its UAE public cloud data centre and connect to Ariba Network enabling buyers and suppliers to connect and transact’, according to SAP.
Mohammed AlHashmi, Chief Technology Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: ‘Expo 2020 is a long-term investment in the future that aims to enhance opportunities for sustainable business connectivity and growth in both domestic and international economies. Our partnership with SAP is an example of what can be achieved with the invaluable support of our technology partners to host one of the most digitally advanced World Expos ever. The implementation of SAP Ariba solutions has transformed our end-to-end procure-to-pay cycle and helped set new standards of procurement automation for projects of this scale.’
Through SAP Ariba’s collaborative and mobile-friendly platform, any registered suppliers at Expo 2020 will be able to participate in sourcing events and the negotiation and signing of contracts; users will also be able to submit invoices and track payments in real-time. According to the platform, Expo 2020 has already transacted in excess of AED 1 billion on the platform, ‘highlighting its commitment to driving long-term business growth in the region and beyond, with a particular focus on small and medium enterprises (SMEs).’
Claudio Muruzabal, President of EMEA South, SAP, said: ‘Expo 2020 Dubai is demonstrating global best practices in digitising its procurement process with SAP Ariba solutions to help gain visibility into its spend, tighten collaboration with its suppliers, and achieve process automation, including completely paperless invoicing. Expo 2020 has already brought more than AED 1 billion in spend under management with SAP Ariba solutions.’