SMS has been a customer care staple during the pandemic in a number of industries but particularly in the retail, healthcare and service sectors – all of whom have had to quickly adapt to “the new normal”. And although the prospect of a vaccine around the corner is cause for great optimism, it is clear that how we do business and engage with customers is changed permanently.
In this article we examine how SMS has proven its mettle in the customer care arena this year, and how it will continue to play an important role as we emerge from lockdown.
Customer Care challenges
As a society we have had to deal with an array of issues and added stresses this year – 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. 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.
SMS is also 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.
Maintaining and Increasing sales
SMS use cases that can impact directly on sales include 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.”
SMS in the post Covid era
With the promise of a Covid-19 vaccine on the horizon and hopeful green shoots beginning to emerge in the economy, businesses will no doubt want to embrace all growth opportunities but also balance this with the imperative to maintain the highest standards of customer care.
As we have explored above SMS is a flexible tool to keep customers informed and happy during these times of rapid change, which is always good for business.
If you would like to discuss how SMS could help your customer care team, please do not hesitate to contact us.