These 4 Non-Profits Have Had Great Success With SMS–Now It’s Your Turn

The question isn’t what can text messaging do for your organization, it’s what can’t text messaging do for your organization?

From setting up a simple automated survey to initiating more complex fundraising campaigns, SMS offers an abundance of possibilities. The best part, especially for organizations with limited financial and technology resources, is that it’s easy, far-reaching and inexpensive.

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Interactive Text Response is the New IVR

With technological advances flooding the market everyday, interactive voice response (IVR) is looking more and more like a thing of the past.

Modern speech technology dates as far back as the 1930s, but IVRs didn’t really come into their own until the late ‘90s. In theory, customers would be empowered to solve their own problems while agents would be able to handle more pressing calls with IVR. In actuality, this new system caused companies to value speed over service, stressing out agents while creating more and more dissatisfied customers.

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Drop the Megaphone: Customer-Centered Text Messaging

I spent a lot of time in Ghana, and Ioved it there. However, whenever I went into the bustling city markets many of the shop-keepers hustled and pushed me like their life depended on it. I’m sure for some of them their life did depend on it, but like most other visitors, this annoyed me to no end, often ruining any chance I had of enjoying a leisurely market stroll.

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Email and Voicemail Are in Hospice

Remember when TV used to only be on television? Remember that “Can you hear me now” TV commercial for Verizon?

Would you say that the new version of “Can you hear me now” is “Did you get my email?” or “Did you get my voicemail?” I wouldn’t – quite simply because everyone sends text messages–and reads them–really really fast. In fact, if I had sent you a text when you started reading this article, there’s an extremely high probability that you’d have already read it by now.

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OneReach Proudly Supports The USA Pro Cycling Challenge

The only thing more exciting than hosting The 2014 USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado is having it supported by the OneReach platform!

The US Pro Cycling Challenge is leveraging the OneReach SMS Contact Center Solution to make it easy for spectators to obtain key event information by simply texting the word “info” to 70700.

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The Next Big Bet in Business-Customer Communications

The International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) recently conducted a poll revealing that 79% of companies believe customers want SMS/text support.

Turns out they’re right. The New York Times published that at least one in three texters would rather text than talk.

With statistics like those, you’d be smart to bet a million dollars that most companies and their competitors are at least offering customer support via text messaging. After all, the number of text messages sent per year bypassed voice calls in 2008 and has done so every year since.

But it’s a good thing you didn’t really bet a million dollars – you would have lost.

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The Benefits of Text-Based Tech Support

If your company is one of the many now opting to provide tech support through text, you may be anxious about implementing this new technology. There is good news, however. First of all, integrating text is likely way more simple and straightforward than you think (as you can read about here). Secondly, the benefits of switching to text-based tech support vastly outweigh the risk of lagging behind in an outdated voice-only system. Here are a few that come to mind.

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Can I Text Your Call Center?

Immediately reduce your call center cost by 25% and increase customer satisfaction by 65%

According to a recent Forrester and Oracle report, the cost of the average phone call is increasing each year, up to $6 – 20 per call in 2012. While automated IVR solutions can significantly lower that cost, 93% of them actually decrease customer satisfaction. Thus it is no surprise that many businesses are forsaking the billion-dollar “phone only” strategy and looking to other channels to help solve customer service needs. Forester reports that the last three years has seen a 12% rise in web self-service, a 24% rise in web chat usage and a 25% increase in community-driven customer support. Pivot strategies are becoming the key to seeing ROI from customer service investments, as many organizations have begun guiding customers to different channels based on the complexity and urgency of their needs.

With so many channels gaining ground in the customer service field, it is surprising how often text messaging is overlooked. According to Pew Research, text messaging is the most common function currently performed on phones, outranking even voice calls. Another study shows that young adults not only prefer text messaging over voice, they would also prefer to text message companies to resolve simple customer service issues. Despite this, many companies are slow to see the solution “texting a company” can offer.

Here’s a common scenario: a customer needs to reset her password or check on her account, but she’s in line at a crowded restaurant or walking along a busy street. The robot IVR can’t understand her verbal commands with all the background noise, and she doesn’t want to search for and download an app just for this rare situation. With text messaging, voice recognition and app dependency becomes unnecessary, allowing the customer to easily resolve her issue either via automation or by connecting her texts to a web chat session with a live agent.

Solutions like make it easy and cost-effective to address customer issues just like that. The text messaging channel allows for automated interactions, providing some of the same self-service solutions that IVR systems, web sites and mobile apps provide, as well as one-on-one support with a customer support representative. Many solutions also allow for integrations with existing systems, such as hooking live text-to-chat into established agent chat tools or pulling customer data from the company’s records for self-service issues.

Innovative organizations are already seeing the value in “texting” customer support. Companies like Comcast will begin piloting text messaging solutions this year, expecting to see a significant decrease in cost for their customer service sessions. Others have found that adding a menu option to their IVR for switching a voice call to text (“press * to continue this call in SMS”) has improved conversion rates by as much as 25%. Those customers that continue on to a text-to-chat interaction help bring the cost for the company down to $1-4 per session.

Companies looking to improve their service options in the following year need to consider seriously the benefits of adding text messaging as a channel. Customers are asking for it, and solutions are available to integrate it easily into a company’s established infrastructure. Not only do early-adopters differentiate themselves in a saturated market, but they maximize the ROI of their customer service investment. Text messaging is poised to explode as the channel of choice between customers and businesses. Companies shouldn’t overlook it, as their competitors won’t.


Is Your Company Making These Web Chat Mistakes?

These days it is pretty common to find a live chat option when it comes to customer support. In theory, the idea is great and has clear advantages over traditional methods of phone support. One, it’s more efficient– customer service reps can provide support for multiple people at a time. Great! Two, Call center employees don’t necessarily have to come into the center to perform Web chat duties – so long as they have an active Internet connection, they can work from home on their own time, which typically means lower costs. Awesome! And more so than anything, it provides a fast, convenient form of communication that will make customers happy, right? Wrong. All it takes it a quick Google search to see the customer service blunders that have occurred when web chat fails. So, if you’re looking to avoid your business being associated with poor customer service, check out the following reasons not to solely rely on a Web chat system for your contact center:

1)    Bad Customer Experience

Considering the one of the main advantages of live chat is to provide customers with a better experience, it’s unfortunate that so many companies fail to do so. A common issue we’ve seen is the dreaded “no agents available”. Nothing is worse than building up a customer’s expectations only to let them down. If you’re going to offer live chat, it’s crucial to make sure your web chat system works correctly and is staffed appropriately. At the very least, make sure to offer customers at least one channel of communication so they are able to get their problems resolved. A great option could be to allow them to SMS text a customer service representative instead.

2)    Low Customer Satisfaction

Not surprisingly, when a customer had a bad experience, they’re usually not going to be very happy afterwards.  Remember that the customer is only engaging with the Web chat window for a very specific purpose. They might be trying to get technical support for a product they purchased, ask a follow up question to something they called about previously or maybe they just want to find out a quick bit of information about a specific topic. For whatever the reason, the Web chat client needs to make the customer feel fulfilled when everything is said and done or it will have all been for nothing. Every inherent benefit to your call center that Web chat communication has to offer isn’t worth a thing if the customer doesn’t feel they’ve gotten what they were after.

3)    Poor Retention rates

So your customer has a bad experience that leaves them unsatisfied with your support service. It’s pretty easy to see how that can quickly lead to poor customer retention rates. A support chat may be a customer’s first impression of your company’s Web presence. If they are immediately dissatisfied with the Web chat experience or feel like it was too difficult to find the information they were after, they aren’t going to return to it in the future. Not only that, they may never return to your site at all… or purchase anything from your company again. According to the 2011 Customer Experience Impact Report, 89 percent of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. That’s pretty scary.

With all that being said, live support chat options can be a great way to interact with customers. The caveat here is that if you’re going to offer web chat, make sure you’re doing it right. And remember if you’re trying to keep your customers happy, web chat should be one of many channels of communications offered for customer service, not the only channel offered. When combined with SMS chat and properly employed IVR, you will be able to create a multichannel experience that leaves customers feeling delighted.