If you’re not already familiar with it, cloud phone SMS, also known as texting using cloud phone numbers, is one of the more recent players in the business communications arena. Emails and phone calls will always have a proper place in sales and support operations, and cloud phone SMS is a nice complement to those communication channels.
Cloud phone SMS is a valuable business tool because people have become more familiar with texting in recent years, and they like it! It’s not a completely foreign notion to get a text from a company customers enjoy doing business with. When you incorporate SMS text messaging into your sales and support workflows, it sends a clear message to your customers that you’re willing to pull out all the stops to improve their experience with your company.
Let’s take a look at best practices for SMS, and how sales and support teams can leverage SMS as part of your growth strategy.
The Benefits of Cloud Phone SMS for Your Business
SMS is a concise way of saying short message service. The term cloud phone SMS refers to text messages that are sent using VoIP (voice over internet protocol) technology, which is a technical term that means making phone calls over the internet.
From a practical standpoint, it’s less important to understand what’s behind cloud phone SMS technology than to learn how to put it to use to enhance productivity and efficiency. From the very first day that you begin using SMS text messaging, you’re sure to notice some of the benefits of this tool.
Here’s a quick look at some of the main benefits of cloud phone SMS for your business:
Let’s face it, we live in a fast-paced society. Convenience often makes a difference between which companies consumers choose to buy from and those they choose to take a pass on. Text messages are convenient. They take less time than making a phone call, waiting for it to go through, and then waiting for someone to answer it.
Your customers likely have their mobile phones with them all the time, but it’s not always convenient for them to answer a call. If they’re at the doctor’s office or picking up a pizza, it’s more private and convenient for them to send you a text rather than answer a call. If they’re already on a call and they receive a text from you, they can respond immediately without disrupting their phone call.
Text messaging gives your customers an additional communication channel, which gives them more chances to engage with your brand. The most successful businesses give consumers many different options for contacting them.
The more opportunities you can offer for communicating with your customers, the more it will strengthen your brand and give your company a stronger voice in the marketplace. Text messaging also gives you a concrete way to track conversations with your customers. It also gives you a detailed record of the customer journey.
SMS text messaging increases efficiency by leveraging the power of automation. As well trained as your employees may be, they’re human. They make mistakes either because they’re rushed or they simply forgot to follow up. With text messaging, you can set up automated messages directed at consumers for any purpose including reminders, special sales, and updates.
Increases Open Rates
The chance of someone opening your text messages and reading them is actually pretty good, as the following statistics indicate:
- 75% of customers don’t mind getting text messages from brands they like.
- 98% of customers will open text messages.
- Text messages have a higher response rate than the phone, email, or Facebook.
- 90% of people read text messages within three minutes of receiving them.
Messages are a good way to communicate a sense of urgency, such as a sale that’s ending soon. Text messages also give you an easy way to allow customers to opt in or opt out of text messages. That’s a benefit that helps you comply with spam laws. At the same time, opt-in and opt-out preferences help you qualify leads.
How Sales Can Leverage SMS
Sales team members want to grab every opportunity they can to make a sale. Often, it’s a matter of keeping prospects interested and engaged, and swooping in at the right time to close the deal.
Plug text messaging into your workflows in exactly the right places to reap the benefits of this valuable communication channel.
Check out these tips for how sales teams can leverage SMS text messaging:
- Confirm appointments to ensure the buyer is available and on time.
- Answer simple questions about a contract to prevent holding up a sale.
- Use text messaging to enhance your email marketing campaign.
- When customers request a download from your website, ask them to agree to certain terms and conditions that include sending them text messages.
- Develop a stream of automated messages that lead prospects strategically through the sales funnel.
- Establish touchpoints in your workflows where you can switch the conversation to a live salesperson who can close the deal quickly.
- Use text messages to follow up after emails that didn’t get a response.
Best Practices Sales SMS
When you’re not sure what approach to take when using a new tool or process, you can always rely on best practices to guide your path.
The following best practices for SMS text messaging will point you in the right direction:
- Identify yourself. Customers get annoyed when they don’t know who’s sending them text messages.
- Make sure that you know the state and federal laws regarding obtaining someone’s permission before you send them any text messages. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is a good place to start.
- Be brief and to-the-point. Some devices or applications will limit your messages to a maximum of 160 characters. It’s a good rule of thumb to stay within this limit.
- Don’t blast your customers with too many text messages, even if they’ve opted in. A constant stream of text messages will only serve to annoy them and motivate them to opt out.
- Respect their decision to opt out, and take action immediately.
- Be aware of the time zone that your customers are in, so they’re not getting text messages in the middle of the night.
- When customers respond via text, get back to them as soon as possible.
- Be sure that the tone of your text messages is in keeping with your branding and other types of messaging.
While there are many practical sales applications for text messaging, support teams can also leverage the benefits of text messaging.
How Support Can Leverage SMS
Support teams aren’t on the front lines making sales, but they play an important role in helping your customers with their questions and concerns. There are a host of ways that support team members can leverage SMS text messaging. Once they start using it, they’re bound to find even more.
The following list gives you some great tips on how support teams can leverage SMS text messaging:
- It’s easy to personalize text messages. Support teams can make a personal connection using a text message that includes the customer’s name. It’s a valuable strategy that prevents customers from feeling like a number.
- Text messages provide a good way to keep customers updated. Support team members can utilize text messages to tell customers when to expect a delivery, when a particular product will be in, or when they can expect a call back.
- Send offers to customers for cross-selling, upselling, or add-ons.
- Support representatives who have a customer on hold can get back to the customer via text to let them know they haven’t been forgotten.
- Notify customers of special sales, coupons, time-limited promotions, and seasonal offerings.
- Send a text message to trigger a survey for a Net Promoter Score or other feedback.
Best Practices for Support SMS
Once again, let best practices be your guide as you train your support teams how to leverage SMS text messaging protocols.
Get started with the following best practices for SMS customer support and keep building on them:
- Again, be sure to know and follow all state and federal laws regarding electronic communications.
- Monitor text messages to be sure grammar, punctuation, and spelling are accurate. Use templates as needed to ensure consistent communications. Be wary of changes in messaging that are due to autocorrect functions.
- Avoid abbreviations, acronyms, and slang. Your customers may misunderstand or misinterpret them.
- Use complete URLs when sending links. Many people are suspicious of shortened hyperlinks.
- Type once and read twice before sending text messages to prevent sending out anything that could be inappropriate or embarrassing.
- Don’t over-rely on text messaging. Identify the most appropriate touchpoints where it makes sense to get one of your customer support representatives directly involved.
- Set up a system to categorize and prioritize incoming text messages and how to respond to them.
- Integrate text messaging applications with other communication channels such as email, phone, and chat. Train your customer support representatives on how and when to use each channel effectively.
- Publicize the fact that customers can communicate with you via text messaging on your website, social media platforms, and other applications.
How to Evaluate Your Cloud Phone SMS Needs
Now that you have the basics of SMS text messaging at your disposal, it’s time to evaluate your cloud phone SMS needs. If you haven’t already explored the advantages of setting up a cloud-based phone system, this is a good time to do so. Cloud phone systems offer a large variety of business phone system features. Modern phone systems make it possible to bring all software applications together into a central location for a single source of data.
If you’re still considering the prospect of SMS text messaging, ask yourself the following questions to evaluate your cloud phone SMS needs:
- Would text messaging enhance your sales workflows?
- Would text messaging enhance your support workflows?
- What is your ideal customer profile, and what percentage of your customers regularly use texting?
- Are you searching for new strategies to help you gain an edge over your competition?
- Have your sales or support team members suggested incorporating text messaging into your communication channels?
- Are you getting regular feedback from customers and surveys wishing they could contact you via text?
- Are you having trouble getting the word out to your customers about time-limited sales, special promotions, and special offers?
- Would text messaging prevent prospects from dropping out of your sales funnel?
- Are you searching for new ways to increase your availability to your customers?
- Are you looking for ways to enhance the customer experience or to get better online reviews?
- Have you set a goal to improve the rate of canceled and postponed appointments?
- Are your sales representatives missing calls because they can’t respond to prospects in a timely manner?
Add your other questions to this list, and in no time, you’ll be able to identify valuable ways to leverage SMS text messaging.
VoIP Integrations, SMS Text Messaging, and Improving Team Performance
If you’re envisioning SMS text messaging as a mobile application only, you’re missing out on the benefits of a VoIP phone system and VoIP integrations. The right VoIP integrations work together with call center software and a cloud-based phone system to give you access to multiple communication channels, syncing all your customer data into a central location.
These are the tools that connect your phone system with your emails, texts, and chat applications. Sales and support representatives can be talking on the phone with one client and texting with another at the same time.
What’s more, one sales or support team member can easily pick up a call where another representative left off. The customer’s details, including the texting history, will be available on the customer’s screen. It’s an efficient way for teams to collaborate to expedite issues, resolve problems, and solidify sales.
Cloud phone SMS is a highly effective tool that can greatly enhance the way your sales and support teams interact with prospects and customers. SMS texting allows them to connect with your customers in deeper, more personal, ways throughout every step of the customer journey.