Phone calls are an essential part of customer service. They’re great for making immediate, personal connections.
But phone calls…
So what’s the better way to engage customers?
The answer is: business text messaging.
I’ll show you why texting has clear advantages compared to phone calls. And I’ll also give you, your front desk staff, receptionist (or anyone else managing phone calls) nine ways to use business text messaging to:
Read on for more.
Call management is the process of routing, filtering, and managing inbound phone calls. Advanced contact centers often use a call management software or system for call handling, call queues, call recording, and call routing. Smaller businesses and organizations often manage inbound calls at a front desk or from a personal phone.
There are many advanced business call management systems available. But they often come with phone call management features and price tags that don’t suit smaller businesses or organizations.
This is where business text messaging and text enabling your existing business number can help.
When you text-enable your business, the number of calls you receive daily drops.
Questions and requests like appointment scheduling and reminders (that would normally require a phone call) get handled with a text message.
Business text messaging is a short messaging service (SMS) built for businesses and organizations. Business text messaging allows for two-way conversations between contacts, customers, clients, and employees. With business text messaging you can text enable your existing business number or landline and even text from a computer without being tied to a phone.
Wondering whether your contacts or customers would be open to texting? Consider this:
Phone calls are a tried and true method of improving customer engagement. But they’re not the only way to get an instant response and build a personal connection.
Communication preferences are changing, and telephone culture is declining. The reason? People aren’t answering the phone because of the recent rise in spam robocalls.
Fewer people trust phone calls, especially from unknown numbers. It’s why they prefer texting to talking. Plus, texting is less obtrusive, more discrete, and just as instant as a phone call.
And because texts are instant, they frequently get up to a 98% open rate. That’s higher than any other communication channel, including email.
Finally, texting is also more efficient than calling. Phone conversations take much longer to complete.
Advanced VoIP telephone systems and autodialers can make calls more efficient. But they’re still not as fast or as scalable as texting.
If business text messaging is the best way to help manage calls and reduce call volume, what do you need to get started?
The first step is to text enable an existing or new business phone number. Here’s how you can do that with MessageDesk.
To manage calls and conversations with business text messaging you’ll need to start a free trial with a business messaging platform like MessageDesk.
Platforms like MessageDesk, give you access to a team inbox for texting that plugs into any existing business phone line. It allows you and your front office staff or receptionists to text contacts and customers from any device including their mobile phones and desktop computers.
There are a bunch of great business texting services out there. The trick is determining which one is right for you.
Next, you need to connect your business phone line.
Most businesses and organizations already have a business landline that they use to make and receive calls. But services like MessageDesk allow you to text-enable your existing business landline.
Other phone number options include:
Which one’s better? If you’re messaging over 1,000 people at once you may want to consider a toll-free phone number and carrier-verified A2P delivery. It’s ideal for large-scale broadcast text messaging.
Otherwise, MessageDesk can help you register your local phone number for regular volume messaging.
Call forwarding is another call management feature that allows you to route incoming voice calls through your business text messaging service. If someone calls a separate phone number, you can route the call to another number of your choosing.
Plus, you get to retain all of the standard phone call features like caller ID and call waiting. This feature works great for businesses and organizations that prefer having separate numbers for texting and calling.
So you have a business text messaging provider and a phone number setup. The next question is: who are you engaging with?
You can usually import contact information into your business text messaging inbox and start texting existing contacts and customers.
With MessageDesk you can import contacts in 3 easy steps. Watch the video below to learn how:
It’s inefficient to make phone calls and leave voicemails. And it's clear that texting works well as part of a customer engagement strategy.
But how can you use texting for service call management while spending less time on the phone and reducing call volume?
The first way to improve call management and reduce call volume is to let people know they can text you.
I’ve got many strategies for businesses on how to start text conversations. But the easiest way to do this is by adding a click-to-text button to your website.
What is click-to-text?
It’s an easy way to start conversations with people over the phone (but with texting). It usually appears as a button, chatbot, or clickable phone number listed on your website.
“Click-to-text” can come in several different forms:
Click-to-text is my preferred method for starting a conversation over text message with customers. But there are plenty of others to choose from.
Suggested Article: Top SMS Marketing Services & Mass Text Apps
When it comes to call management, it’s not uncommon to be helping multiple customers or contacts at once. You might have people on hold while you’re helping others or emailing one while you’re chatting with another.
A shared team SMS inbox allows you to reduce calls. Instead of a phone, you can communicate right from your computer screen with a text. This gives you the flexibility to help more people without long wait times.
When a customer texts your business, your front office staff gets a notification. The inbox also marks the new incoming conversation as “open”. This means that the contact needs a response from you or the first available team member.
And what about when a customer calls in and you have to place them on hold? Your on-hold message can prompt them to text the same number if they’d like to skip the wait time.
The best team inboxes also come with granular permission levels. This allows you to give team members access to specific contact information and conversations.
Text message automation saves you and your front desk staff a ton of time. You increase call handling efficiency when you hand off repetitive tasks like responses and follow-ups.
Text message automation frequently includes:
But other features like text message templates, tags media and links also make it easier to create more personalized, conversational experiences at scale.
Suggested Article: Ultimate Guide to Text Message Automation
Texting web links can help your business or organization fill the conversational gaps between email and voice. It makes it possible to collect and share information and add direct calls to action.
Some text messaging platforms (like MessageDesk) even offer website contact forms that automatically text contacts when they submit information.
All you need to start collecting information from your customers is to link your form in a text message.
Scheduling meetings over the phone can be an endless hassle. Reviewing calendars, identifying compatible meeting times, inviting attendees, and confirming appointments take time.
Appointment reminders prevent no-shows from happening. But if you’re only doing that by phone or email, customers might not see your reminders.
Integrating text messaging with your meeting scheduling software helps you keep to a schedule. It also stops no-show appointments and double bookings all without having to talk on the phone.
Texting makes it easy to front-load your scheduling and appointments and reminders. You stand to save hours normally spent struggling to reach customers through calls and voicemail.
Suggested Article: Sending Appointment Reminders: Texts, Phone Calls & Emails
One of the best ways to reduce phone calls is to proactively communicate changes and updates.
But when you’re trying to reach a bunch of people, calling everyone individually takes too much time.
Compared to phone calls, text messaging is the best messaging channel for quickly communicating. It works well for changes to operating hours, inclement weather notices, and general business information.
With texting, there’s no need to cycle through a contact list and make phone calls. All you have to do is add contacts to a group, compose your message, and hit send. This is why texting also works well as an internal employee communication platform.
Good business messaging etiquette starts with prompt replies. This is especially important when you're closed or your front office staff is away and unavailable.
A simple out-of-office text message can help you set response expectations. It also clearly communicates to customers what they should do and how they can take further action.
And having quick, clear responses is especially important if you’re sending messages as a salesperson, or providing customer service.
There’s debate over email vs text and which is better for reaching customers beyond business hours. But both are great tools for sending automatic out-of-office messages.
Suggested Article: How to Set an Out of Office Message for Text & Email
Getting paid isn’t easy. Reminding someone to pay you takes time and can be a hassle. This is especially true if you’re only making phone calls to remind people of their late payments.
In a recent survey of 400 businesses, 27% noted that they have a hard time creating and sending invoices. Another 46% said they have difficulty getting paid on time. While 49% said they have a hard time following up on late payments.
These numbers probably don’t surprise you.
But what will surprise you is how text-to-pay can help you collect payments and send reminders.
Suggested Article: Small Business Invoicing Guide | How to Send an Invoice
Retaining existing customers is far cheaper than acquiring new ones. But it’s tedious work to follow up and ensure a good customer experience.
So instead of calling to follow up for customer satisfaction, consider sending a text message. And while you’re at it, you might as well ask your customers to leave a review too.
In fact, 85% of consumers are actually willing to leave a review. All they need is the right prompt at the right moment.
Calling and asking loyal customers to leave positive reviews works well on a small scale. But building and managing an online reputation at scale can help you drive more long-term traffic and business.
This is where text messaging can help you automate the follow-up and review collection process. Most text messaging platforms even allow you to send automated texts based on customer actions.
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