Why You Should Be Offering Two-Way SMS as a Support Channel

by UJET Team

How has two-way SMS improved the customer experience?

Pre-internet customer support consisted of in-person help at a retail store to return an item, get product help or speak to a salesperson about a potential purchase. Traditional call centers, originally known as private automated business exchanges, were created in the 1960s. Interactive voice response (IVR) was invented In the early 1980s and continues to be used today. Customer support in the mid-to-late 20th century had two main channels: a phone call or talking to someone in a store.

Pew Research Center’s 2021 Mobile Fact Sheet reports that 97% of Americans now own a cell phone, and 85% own a smartphone. Your customers use their cell phones for everything from paying for groceries to buying airline tickets, so why are so many companies still using to outdated support technology? It's time for forward-thinking business leaders to take advantage of smartphone technology and use it to their advantage, or risk being left behind.

By integrating features like photo and video sharing, biometric identification, and SMS support, companies can design intelligent customer journeys that improve first call resolution (FCR).

Your customers want to text you

Voice is the default support channel for most companies. But the data shows that customers want to interact with businesses the same way they do their family and friends, so it's important to give them multiple options for accessing support, including channels like live chat and two-way SMS.

woman ios text messaging iphone

Many companies are already using mobile SMS marketing to incentivize customers to engage with them on mobile, but not as many are taking full advantage of two-way SMS as a support channel. The Attentive Mobile 2021 SMS Marketing Consumer Trends Report found that 70% of consumers want to receive customer support via text message. They found that customers appreciate being able to respond to the agent on their own time, and also appreciate the ability to interact naturally with brands the way they do with loved ones. Google even offers the option for companies to add text messaging to business listings so customers can text instead of calling.

Solve customer issues faster with two-way SMS

Innovative contact center platforms like UJET enables your business to send and receive photos, videos, and screenshots from customers via text so your agents can visualize the problem right way.

If a product like a glass baking pan is broken, the only context an agent might receive is “the pan is broken.” Based on this sentence, the agent has no idea where the crack is located or the severity of the breakage. It might even frustrate the customer if the agent asks for a longer description. By sharing a photo of the pan, the agent will be able to see the existing damage immediately. The customer is able to visually communicate the issue without needing to spend time explaining it.

Sending a video for more complex issues is also helpful. If a smart home device is stuck in a loop, the customer can record a video to show the agent precisely what is happening.

smart home smartphone customer support

In addition, the problem might be a technical issue that the customer isn’t familiar with, and so an explanation through a voice call or text wouldn’t necessarily help the agent identify the problem. The video provides important context, so the agent can provide the right solution.

Why you should be offering self-service options

Consumers are becoming more savvy and self-sufficient, and they expect businesses to provide self-service options when they encounter a problem. According to CMS Wire, 73% of US consumers expect companies to provide a self-service portal. Technologies like chatbots and virtual agents can enable your business to present self-service options to customers, with the option to connect to an agent when necessary.

Virtual agents can be used in two-way SMS and web chat to help resolve low urgency, low complexity issues quickly. If a customer has a question about their subscription renewal date, they could simply text the question. With the phone number, an agent could quickly pull up the customer account, find the renewal date and text it back.

If all renewals happened on a specific date, a chatbot could reply with the date and a link to an FAQ page with more detailed information. If the customer is reaching out about an urgent issue, the virtual agent can route the customer to an agent for assistance. 

Utilizing virtual agents and chatbots help reduce queue times and improve customer satisfaction without any additional work from your live agents.

Two-way SMS is now a preferred channel

The smartphone has many technological advantages compared to the landline, but many customer support orgs still rely heavily on voice as a primary channel. A phone conversation is important for highly complex and highly urgent issues because an immediate resolution is needed.

However, voice shouldn’t be the only support channel you offer. Agents can be overwhelmed with the amount of calls causing long wait times or customers might stop doing business with you if they can't get support quickly. Text as a channel is more than a quick conversation. It has the potential to be a digital concierge. Text can guide customers exactly where they need to go, whether that be a self-service solution or an agent for a white glove experience.

By offering multiple support channels, including two-way SMS, you can optimize the customer support experience for both customers and agents, reduce wait times, and improve customer satisfaction.