Column: It’s time to embrace texts

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Commentary by George Klein

The first text message was sent almost 25 years ago. Today, 18.7 billion texts are sent every day!

Texting has become the most popular communication channel around the world, across all age groups. A Gallup poll found that sending and receiving text messages is the most prevalent form of communication for American adults younger than 50. Texting is the most common form of communication for almost half of those older than 50.

Texting is real-time communication. Text interactions create faster exchanges between customers and businesses and reduce customer effort to contact businesses. Customers want quick, easy ways to resolve problems and get questions answered. Reducing customer effort increases customer loyalty, retention and spending.

Businesses that open a text channel to their customers can reap benefits that result in both top line and bottom line growth. Here are some benefits of real-time communication for businesses.

Improves customer service

Customers are highly frustrated with having to contact a business multiple times to resolve an issue. In fact, 78 percent of customers have abandoned a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience.

Text communication enables customers to easily reach the right person in a business with one message. Businesses can establish a knowledgeable team to respond quickly to answer questions or provide information. No more phone transfers, phone tag, web-forms or email exchanges.

A robust text communication channel also allows businesses to proactively communicate with its customers, anticipating questions and building trust.

Resolve problems more efficiently

Customers don’t give businesses much time to resolve a problem, with 50 percent leaving within 24 hours of experiencing a problem and 79 percent leaving within one week.

A text channel enables businesses to contact customers quickly when issues arise. Quick response reduces the escalation of problems. Customers who are experiencing problems want to know that someone is working on their issue and will often contact a business multiple times if they feel no one is helping them.

Text messages get read

Businesses increasingly rely on surveys, delivered through email, to get customer feedback.  Survey response rates are often low, resulting in worthless data. At the same time, 97 percent of text messages are opened. Customers desire short, concise messages and are more likely to open a text over an email.

Own their interactions

Businesses that open a text communication channel can control the relationship and own the data they get from those interactions. Businesses can use text communications to prompt actions, ask for feedback and provide valuable information to customers.

Businesses that offer a text communication channel must commit to interacting differently with its customers. When they do, they will reap the benefits of real-time customer interactions.

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