Texting: No Longer Just an Interesting Idea for Consumer Affairs

Sep 03, 2015

Chief Innovation Officer

Take a hard look at the people in this picture. Do you recognize anyone? Are you sure? Look again, I’ll wait…

They are your consumers!! Okay, they might not exactly be your consumers, but they’re acting like them — they’re texting.

More than 5 billion text messages are sent in the United States each day. Do your consumers want to use texting to interact with you? Are your competitors interacting with your target consumers via text messages? How could you leverage the texting channel to meet your objectives?

Let’s explore these questions.

When I refer to texting, I’m talking about native texting via a mobile device, including SMS (Short Message Service) for text only messages and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) which includes multimedia such as images and video in messages. Native texting does not include things like direct messaging via social media platforms or in-app texting which both offer opportunities to engage with consumers, but are not as broadly adopted as native texting.

A recent Harris Poll indicated that 64% of consumers, with texting capabilities, would prefer to use texting over voice as a customer service channel.  And 77% of millennials, with texting capabilities, are likely to have a positive perception of a company that offers text capability for support.

Do your consumers want to use texting to interact with you?  Yes!

Telerx researched the top 25 consumer products companies globally (by 2014 Revenue) to determine who was providing texting as a channel for support to consumers of their brands. Our informal research indicated that only one of the top 25 CP companies was offering texting as an option for a select number of their brands.

Are your competitors interacting with your target consumers via text messages?  Probably not…yet.

I think it was in a Business 101 course many years ago that I learned:

Customers want something you can provide + Competitors not providing it = OPPORTUNITY

There are many scenarios where consumer product companies can leverage texting to engage and support their consumers. Basic scenarios start with enabling “call or text” capabilities and promoting the new channel on packaging, websites, etc. This scenario can be expanded to enhance compliant support by allowing customers to text (MMS) pics of issues such as damaged products. The benefit of these “basic” scenarios includes increased customer loyalty and satisfaction, and increased efficiencies in your contact centers by driving interactions to a lower cost channel – texting.

More advanced scenarios extend to the point of sale where product questions can be answered, offers can be extended, and “personal shopping” services can even be delivered via your customer’s channel of choice – texting. Interacting with a prospective customer during a purchase decision can deliver high value results including new customer acquisition and increased customer loyalty.

Outbound texting scenarios should be considered as well, but thoughtfully. Consumers may not want to be marketed to via text, and some may have mobile coverage plans where they are charged per text message. But outbound scenarios, where consumers have opted in, can be a real differentiator. A product recall notification, reminder of a subscription renewal deadline, or reward notification from a frequent buyer program could really increase customer loyalty and drive up renewal rates, again all while communicating with your customer in their channel of choice – texting.

The consumer products and retail industries have been using texting for promotional activities for a few years with mixed results. The challenge with this approach is that it requires a shortcode and is limited to a keyword text (i.e. “Text ‘Coupon’ to 555888 to get a free sample of ProductX”). Not ideal or user-friendly.

The more effective approach to support the scenarios outlined above is to enable the use of the 800#s that are currently in place for consumer affairs. The great news is that technology vendors have developed solutions to do just that — enable texting to 800#s — and telecom carriers are supporting the technology.

Consumer product companies can deploy texting as a consumer affairs channel today and consumers are eager to engage. Will you or your competitors be first to market?


Forbes: 5 Trends Shaping the Future of Customer Service in 2015
Deadzones.com: How Many Text Messages are Sent a Day 

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