Meeting your customers’ textpectations

Customers clearly want to communicate using text messaging. You don’t have to look further than your own phone to know text messages are read more consistently and quickly than email or voicemail. And with every day feeling busier than the last, no one wants the interruption of a phone call. As much as we know texting is the best way to communicate with today’s customer, it takes thoughtfulness and restraint to do it well.

When implementing a texting solution, or any process with a customer touch point for that matter, it is critical to keep in mind how the system works from the customer’s perspective. With a few simple questions, you can put yourself in their shoes and figure out what changes are needed to make sure you are creating a positive experience.

Am I texting in a way that is natural and familiar to the customer?

Everyone has expectations on how a text conversation should work. Links to and from web pages are awkward and almost never used when talking to friends and acquaintances. We intuitively know that every text message should either need some action or confirm that a message was received. People don’t think about using texting for getting invoices or sending payments. These unwritten rules define what is an acceptable use of texting in the customer’s mind.

Is the message clear and concise?

Texting technology originally had a strict limit of 160 characters per message. It isn’t quite that confining anymore, but people still want short messages that get right to the point. If it takes more than one text bubble to get the message across that can be okay, but only when necessary. How would you respond if you got a text appointment reminder that also asked if you need a loaner car, and did you want your car washed, and would you please send your friends to me when they need service, and give me a good score on the survey you will get in a few days? The example is a bit ridiculous, but by thinking about the customer receiving your text you can see how important it is to limit your message to a single call to action.

Most importantly, is there a good reason they are receiving each message?

Before hitting “send” you should be certain that this message will benefit the customer’s experience with this transaction. When the message answers a customer question or requires them to respond to properly resolve their service needs it is absolutely safe to send. But if you are asking a favor (“Please give me all 10’s on my CSI survey!”) or looking for the next sale (“Ask about our transmission flush special!”) it will be received as self-promoting and spammy rather than improving the service experience.

The bottom line.

The biggest reason texting is so effective is the belief that each message will be short, timely and meaningful. If customers can’t trust us to respect these expectations, eventually texting will suffer the same fate as email and become mostly ignored as the number of unwanted messages increases.