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SMS and customer care in the post Covid-19 era

9 November 2020

SMS and customer care in the post Covid-19 era

In this article we examine how SMS has proven its mettle for customer care teams during 2020, and how it will continue to play an important role going forward.

SMS has been used widely this past year in the Retail, Healthcare and Service sectors who have all had to adapt rapidly to “the new normal” and found SMS to be a particularly agile, impactful and personal way of getting the message out.

Customer Care challenges during Covid

As a society we have had to deal with an array of issues and stresses during the Covid pandemic – adapting to work from home environments, school closures, loss of income, isolation; the list goes on. These stresses apply equally to staff working in customer care, stretching contact centre capacity to breaking point even as demand from anxious customers has increased. As a result the wait times for many customer care lines has been longer than normal which can add to customer frustration. 

“Particularly in times of crisis, a customer’s interaction with a company can trigger an immediate and lingering effect on his or her sense of trust and loyalty”

McKinsey Global Institute, April 2020

The golden rule in customer care has always been to “treat your customers as you would like to be treated”. According to the CXi Ireland Customer Experience report some brands have adapted well to the challenges of the pandemic, others not so much. 

“Those brands whose staff went the extra mile for vulnerable customers, called in to people, delivered prescriptions etc, who became frontline heroes, they are the ones who did well. We can see a strong correlation between the brands that exceeded customer expectations and the ones that scored highest overall for customer experience”.

Cathy Summers, thcxompany (The Irish Times Sept 2020)

Time is of the essence

In this environment consumers appreciate flexible and straightforward communication – keeping them informed in a timely way of any delays or updates. Even the busiest of customers doesn’t see SMS as a disruption to their day in the same way they would view a phonecall; a timely SMS update is viewed as a courtesy not an inconvenience. If you allow the customer to respond or confirm by SMS you make the interaction even easier and more convenient.

SMS is great for your customer care team too – a 160 character message can be formatted and scheduled in minutes. SMS is used in multiple ways by the Insurance sector with use cases including renewals, claim notifications as well as disaster and weather alert notifications which are effective at minimizing damage claims. For more benefits in the insurance industry check out our earlier article: Insurance Industry: Focus on SMS.

Delivery and logistics companies such as DHL Ireland use SMS to quickly get information out to individuals or groups of customers, saving their contact teams from labour-intensive phone calls or emails. 

Púca: DHL Ireland SMS delivery alerts

Maintaining and Increasing sales

SMS can impact directly on sales for example reminding customers to complete forms, abandoned basket remarketing, and sending reminders and offers at renewal time. With its high open rates SMS can be so useful to get a message through to the customer and an SMS reminder at renewal time is more effective than using email or voice alone. 

In retail, with so-called “non-essential” stores closed due to the pandemic many stores have adapted quickly to a click and collect model. Customer care teams are taking sales over the phone and sending secure payment links by SMS and other channels. Paytech software company Prommt is used by retailers such as Selfridges Group for VIP shopping and sales, as well as a number of insurance, motor and utility companies for contact-free payments where the customer is not present;

“You can send customers a payment link for the exact amount and ensure that payments are made remotely before the goods are collected…. ensuring customers don’t need to hang about needlessly when picking up orders.”

Prommt: Click & Collect’ Payments for Retailers During Lockdown

SMS in the post Covid era

While the prospect of widespread vaccination is cause for great optimism it is clear that Covid is here for the forseeable future, and that how we do business and engage with customers is changed permanently.

Even when we emerge from lockdown companies will want to embrace all growth opportunities but also maintain the highest standards of customer care. Using SMS as part of your customer care response plan ensures that your customers are kept informed, happy and loyal.

If you would like to discuss how SMS could help your customer care team, please do not hesitate to contact us

Feature image courtesy of Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels. Secondary image courtesy of Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

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