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.