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Guest Blog: Why is text messaging suddenly a part of the customer service conversation?

This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post, my colleague John Huehn writes about the use of text messaging as a customer service platform. I think he is spot on, especially if my daughter is any indication of the future of texting! – Shep Hyken All of a sudden, in the past 12 […]

This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post, my colleague John Huehn writes about the use of text messaging as a customer service platform. I think he is spot on, especially if my daughter is any indication of the future of texting! Shep Hyken

All of a sudden, in the past 12 months, text messaging has become an important part of the omni-channel customer service discussion. It’s been 22 years since the first text message was sent, so why are we just now beginning to look at text as a viable customer service channel? Like a young adult who’s finally graduated college, texting has just now come of age as a very important sales and service channel. Its maturity is a culmination of the proliferation of smartphones, the rationalization of wireless pricing, the normalization of social media and the rise of the millennial power consumer.

Texting is easier today than it has ever been. Don’t you remember hitting the “2” button on your phone three times just to get the letter “c”? That was the norm for texting until the launch of the first iPhone in 2007. The innovation of touch screen texting really aided in the popularity of text as a mainstream form of communication. However, at the same time the iPhone was launching, social media was also just beginning to pick up steam. Because of the public nature of complaints on social media, companies felt the need to respond to customers via the various platforms. As a result, texting was skipped over as a customer service platform. Instead we saw offerings progress from phone, email and chat to social media.

That’s not the case we’re seeing anymore. The sheen of social as a new channel has worn off, and now companies are looking for other platforms to reach their customers. The great thing about texting is you don’t need data to text and you don’t need to download an app. Texting is a feature that’s built into every phone and furthermore, unlimited texting plans are now the norm. Gone are the days of paying per text message or 100 text message a month plans. No, unlimited texting is now one of those things that most service providers throw in with even the most basic smart phone data plans.

A recent report from Ericson Mobility projected that by 2020, 90 percent of the world’s population over 6 years old will have a mobile phone. That means basically everyone who’s old enough to read will have a phone in their hands in the next 5 years. Therefore, you can reach almost every person in the world via text message.

In our increasingly digital world, people have become accustomed to getting things “on-demand” and quickly. While no one actually wants to be on hold with customer service representatives for hours, new research shows that consumers’ patience is actually getting shorter. Over the last 10 years, the consumers have lowered their tolerance of waiting times from 10 days to just 10 minutes. That doesn’t allow you, as a brand, to waste any time in addressing their concerns immediately.

The traditional call center model ties up customer service reps to dealing with only one person at a time. With SMS, you can have discussions going on with multiple customers at the same time and not sacrifice quality of service. What’s more than that, an astonishing 98 percent of all SMS messages are read within minutes of them being received, so conversations and problems can be quickly solved without the slow back and forth of email. Additionally, the privacy of a text message has huge appeal to both businesses and consumers. Ask yourself: if given the option, would you rather publicly tweet question to your bank or privately text them? I don’t have the stats, but I know which one I’d choose.

Now, let’s talk about millennials. 2015 is the year they’re officially projected to surpass the Baby Boomers as the United States’ largest living generation, and they’re continuing to grow even more as young immigrants expand their rank. As the present and future customer for businesses, what makes millennials happy will make you happy—and millennials love to text. On average, they send and receive more than 3,800 text messages a month.

All signs point to current and future generations wanting to get more immediate responses from customer service representatives. More importantly, they don’t want to waste any of their own time trying to get help. The time has come for businesses to adapt and meet customers where they’re at and where they’d like to be served.

John Huehn is In the Chat’s founder and CEO. Recognizing that the future of customer service will go beyond the traditional contact centre tools, John established In the Chat to deliver the next generation of customer service and help companies better serve their customers through social media.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article:

How To Keep Those Bad Stories From Leaving The Starting Gate


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