The Next Customer Service Channel You Are Currently Ignoring

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over the phone. By implementing SMS customer service, a company could convert all of these types of interactions to a text conversation. Anything a company can do today using an IVR can also be done through the text channel, with an even more convenient experience for the customer and saving the company the cost of a live-agent call.

There are several demographics of customers who are more apt to want to utilize SMS for customer service, and they are not surprising. Young adults are the most text-savvy age demographic in the nation—more than 93 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds use text messaging, so it makes sense that 76 percent of texting adults aged 18 to 34 would prefer to use SMS for customer service. This number jumps to 83 percent among students 18 and older. It stands to reason, then, that companies catering to a younger demographic should strongly consider offering a text service option. In fact, three out of every four young adults are likely to have a positive perception of a company they are able to text.

Another demographic group that would prefer to text for customer service is adults with children in the household. Among those who already use text messaging, 71 percent would prefer to text a company instead of talk. And who can blame them? It's much easier to have a conversation via text messaging without being tied to a phone call or computer that isn't disruptive to the other schedules and responsibilities they are busy juggling.

It's easy for a company to look at these demographics and say, "Our customer is an older demographic—this doesn't apply to us," but with mobile phone usage up among all age groups, text shouldn't be ignored when your target customer has more life experience. Among U.S. adults aged 55 to 64, 61 percent use text messaging, and of those, 56 percent say they would use it for customer service.

Texting Benefits

By combining Web chat and SMS into text chat (where customers text a problem and an agent answers on the computer), companies can save money and maintain a high level of customer satisfaction.

New technologies have made it easy for companies to add SMS customer service capability to their existing call centers, and the return on investment is significant. By diverting just one-third of incoming calls to text, companies could decrease customer service costs by up to 25 percent. The average contact center call costs between six dollars and 20 dollars, whereas the average text or Web chat session costs between only two dollars and five dollars.

Customers are ready to text a business to get support and this trend will only grow. Think of it this way: Banks had to change their customer service channel with the implementation of the ATM. Now the ATM is ubiquitous, and we couldn't imagine a bank that didn't offer an automated teller. Texting is the next step in customer service, and the companies that adopt this technology now will lead their industries in customer experience and satisfaction.

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