Column: All messaging is not created equal

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Commentary by George Klein

My pharmacy sent me a text message to tell me I had a prescription ready for pick up. I only had to respond with “YES” to complete the interaction. But I had another question for the pharmacist and couldn’t use that SMS text to ask it. I still had to make a phone call. Although the basic SMS messaging my pharmacy uses is helpful, it falls short in how I, as a customer, want to interact. I want to be able to easily text my pharmacist, or any other business, instead of calling or emailing them.

Changing customer expectations

Next time you’re in a restaurant, mall or other public place, look around. How many people are looking at their phones? Phones have become our gateway to connect everything in our lives. While we still call them “phones,” fewer and fewer customers actually use them to make phone calls. They prefer to use text messaging to interact with just about everyone. More than 6 billion texts are sent in the United States every day. On average, Americans text twice as much as they call, with 97 percent of American adults texting weekly. These stats will only accelerate as millennials continue to become the dominant consumer group.

Businesses can enjoy a strong return on their investment in offering a text messaging channel. I would suggest that the key is to invest in a two-way text channel that allows businesses and their customers to interact in an easy, conversational manner.

Benefits of two-way text channel

A two-way text channel is faster and easier. Employees can manage multiple text conversations at one time as compared to a single phone call at a time. Interactions are quicker, increasing employee productivity by as much as 25 percent.

A text channel increases customer satisfaction by as much as 7 percent. Texting is familiar to customers and reduces the friction and aggravation of being put on hold, transferred multiple times or waiting for an email response.

Ninety-six percent of text messages are read. Two-way text messaging increases engagement between businesses and their customers. Customers are more likely to text a business than they are to call them. Customers will stay engaged when they can easily ask about products or services early in the purchase process or ask questions after a purchase.

Businesses can text personalized offers for products and services directly to customers, increasing the likelihood that they will act on the offer. Pharmacists, for example, can increase compliance with taking medications by sending prompts or valuable information about the medication.

Text messaging is the channel customers want to use. By making text messaging truly interactive, you make it easy for customers to interact with you in the manner they prefer.

George Klein is the CEO/Founder of Peoplocity, a text messaging and engagement platform. Contact him atGeorge@peoplocity.com.    

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