The Customer Support Playbook for Text Messaging - part I

SMS customer support

Customer support is the backbone of every good customer experience. 

It’s not always easy to achieve customer support that customers actually appreciate. In fact, 67 percent say they would pay more for better customer support.

When done well, it can be an extreme asset to a business’s communications. When done the traditional way (with long hold times and slow responses), it can be a major pain point and can even result in lost business. It’s true that 53 percent of people get irritated if they don’t speak to a real person right away. 

It makes sense. We all want to speak to a real person. We want our issue resolved as quickly and as accurately as possible. 

The trouble is, so many customer support teams don’t tap into the right tools to get them faster, more efficient customer communications. 

This is a 2-part guide that will cover:

  1. The state of customer support
  2. How to use SMS for customer support

 

The state of customer support

Customer support today is all about convenience for the customer, delivering fast, helpful information, and letting your customers find you. 

Once a company can nail the modern day expectations for customer support, they can elevate the customer experience and have a real impact on the bottom line.

Customer experience

Customer support is integral to the overall customer experience. It may not be the first or even the most influential touchpoint when it comes to purchasing decisions, but it’s critical. The times that customer support is called upon are the most vulnerable ones in the lifecycle of a customer. When they reach out to your CS team, something has gone wrong or needs rectifying. If you don’t give them the help they need, they’re probably already teetering on frustration at the very least, so they may let their loyalties wander and seek the business of your competitors instead. 

Customer support teams know this, of course, which is why they’re always striving to make the experience a customer has when they get in touch after something has gone wrong as positive as possible. 

Positive, in the case of customer support, means expeditious and helpful. The better a team is at solving a customer’s problem as quickly and as pain-free as possible, the more likely a customer will be to stay loyal and not give up on your business.

It’s a fine line of defense against churn and unhappy ex-customers, but someone has to do it. That’s why CS teams need all the help they can get to do their jobs well.

Efficiency matters, of course, for marketing and sales teams trying to design their parts in the customer experience. But it matters even more to customer support, which has to deliver answers on demand with speed and accuracy. It makes sense, considering the need for quick communications between customers and CS, that customers say they want companies to text them—that it makes for a better customer experience. 

And why not? Texting is fast, it’s personal, it’s more convenient than any phone call, email, or chatbot. It’s exactly the right tool for CS teams to deploy to save the day when it’s needed most.

CSAT and LTV

Customer satisfaction (CSAT) is one of the most traditional ways to measure the success of your customer support team. And one of the best ways to increase your CSAT score is to improve your customer experience.

Focusing on the experience, the numbers show, could improve your CSAT score by 20 percent or more. It can even increase revenue by 15 percent. That’s a powerful shift in focus. 

Imagine if you could improve your score by that much simply by listening to what your customers want and delivering to the best of your ability. 

Imagine if you had the right technology in the hands of your CS reps to be able to do it.

Imagine if you could text your customers instead of making them wait on hold.

This brings us to the idea of how we measure success in customer support. It’s not just

the satisfaction of customers that matters, it’s the value of customers. As we pointed out previously, CS teams are often the last line of defense against lost business, and so we don’t just want to know how satisfied customers are with your business, we want to see the proof.

That proof is found in a metric well known to marketers, called customer lifetime value (LTV). It takes the entire customer lifecycle into consideration and evaluates the customer’s interactions with your business over time. LTV shows just how loyal your customers are.

It’s become a critical metric for marketing professionals, but LTV also has some value for customer support teams as it tells part of the story about how successfully the team is able to keep customers happy—and keep them from jumping ship.

There are so many ways to communicate with customers today—too many, in fact, considering that people see an average of 247 marketing messages every day. But customer support is all about making it fast, easy, and helpful for the customer, which is why there are better ways of communicating than others. Text messaging fits the bill like no other form of communication. It’s immediate and delivers exactly the experience customers are looking for from your CS team.

Convenience for the customer

It turns out, 80 percent of customers are looking for more speed from customer support, and 78 percent want brand employees to be more helpful when they need it. Companies in the U.S. lose roughly $75 billion each year thanks to poor customer support. Bad customer support interactions don’t just deter potential customers from purchasing, they can interrupt subscription retention and brand loyalty. In fact, a third of Americans say that one instance of negative customer support could have them switching companies. 

One instance.

So it’s your team’s job to keep the negative interactions to a minimum and let your team do their job with the tools they need to give better experiences to the customer.

Helpfulness and speed are the top qualities of a CS team that impresses the customer. Businesses that can deliver on these two qualities have the ability to elevate the customer experience overall. The helpfulness of your CS team depends on how well your team is trained, and in that sense doesn’t depend on the methods you choose to communicate with customers. 

Speed, on the other hand, isn’t something you can necessarily train your team to improve upon, namely because it depends on the technology you use. Even if your team is trained to be the most helpful customer support team in your industry but still makes customers wait on hold so they can take care of service calls one by one, they’re not going to be fast. Helpfulness without speed is only part of the picture, just as speed without helpfulness wouldn’t make your customer support necessarily shine.

So how do you get speed when your people are equipped with as much helpfulness as they require? Choose customer support technology that can allow you to get back to your customers quickly and let your agents respond to multiple cases at once. In other words, use text messaging. 

By using SMS rather than phone calls, you’ll automatically cut the wait time down since agents can deal with more than one customer at a time and don’t need to take calls one by one. This level of attentiveness at least eliminates the inconvenience and frustration on the part of a customer who has to wait to get help for an issue. It’s a crucial step to making support a pain free part of the customer experience.

Efficiency for your team

It’s true that consumers are growing overall happier with the state of customer support, which is likely due to the assistance of modern technology and more efficient practices on the part of brands.

If you’re looking for how to improve customer support, the answer is found in increased efficiency. The more efficient your customer support team is, the more effective they can be. As we discussed in the previous section, handling multiple customers at once is a great way to increase the numbers of cases your team can take on overall, decrease the wait time, and all while making it faster and easier for your agents.

An SMS software that is designed for teams to use can come in handy when trying to increase the efficiency of your CS team. Such software might come with a centralized inbox that will route incoming text messages to assigned agents or the first available agent or whomever you specify. This kind of centralized system streamlines customer communications in the best way possible, enabling the best agent to take on the appropriate incoming SMS as quickly as possible.

Another crucial element to enhancing the efficiency of your CS team is to cut costs, of course. And it turns out that customer inquiries are less expensive to deal with via text compared to over the phone

One study shows that, on average, customer support calls cost a business about $16. Texts, on the other hand, cost from $1 to $5. The cost difference between calls and text messages matter when you’re trying to deal with as many customers as you can. As you enhance the customer experience, you want to rely on technology that is just as efficient.