10 Things To Consider When Text-Enabling Your Contact Center

The following provides a rough outline of what needs to be considered when implementing text messaging services in a contact center or business. While some of these items may seem daunting they can actually be completed pretty quickly depending on the size and scope of the implementation.

  1. Identify text support targets (Based on value and feasibility) – Not everything can be or should be supported through text messaging. Companies should consider using texting for support tasks that can be resolved quickly or that can reduce customer wait time. (such as order or ticket status) Tasks that require sensitive data such as password resets or billing information should be avoided unless precautions can be taken on the implementation.

  1. Automation and Live agent blend – Over 60% of Americans who text would prefer to text a contact center with their customer service needs rather than call in. Companies should determine what level of automation is appropriate for each support task and when to include an agent. Some tasks can be completely automated while others can be only partly automated ending in an agent interaction. Using relevant data from back office systems during a text interaction can reduce agent chat time and improve customer experience.

  1. Text support discovery mechanisms – In order for customers to use text support, they need to know about it. A common and effective way to introduce the concept of texting a business is to announce it in the IVR. Another option is to have a live agent inform them that they can send them a text message notification for things like problem resolutions, documentation, schedule reminders, etc. Websites and other online and printed material are also useful.

  1. Customer experience plan – Because text messaging is such an intimate channel, it is critical to get the user experience right. Chances are if a customer has a bad experience they will decide to go back to calling your company and leave the text channel for good. To ensure that CX is accounted for during the deployment of text services, companies should consider establishing a UX outline, adding A/B testing support, and determine appropriate KPIs and reports.

  1. Inbound/outbound mix – Based on the type of text message support services that are identified, the texting volumes between inbound automated messages, live support and outbound proactive notifications must be determined. This will help identify the type of text message solution to implement. Establishing a baseline of estimated inbound/outbound text message volumes can be done based on the type of task and the automation that will be implemented.

  1. Long code vs. Short code – For common support interactions, long codes (a company’s 10 digit telephone number) can be used for 1-to-1 interactions between a business and a customer (1 to 3 is a rough limit). Long codes are more recognizable to a customer since they text people all the time. Short codes are generally better for large volume outbound blasts but can be used interactively as well. Both have their merits but long codes are generally cheaper, more flexible and can even be enabled for a companies 1800  number. Companies must consider MMA and carrier guidelines when determining the type of number and implementation to use.

  1. Back office Integration strategy – As part of the automation strategy you need to determine which back office solutions are required for integration and what integration options are available. Common ones are CRM, Billing, and Ticketing.

  1. Agent staffing – While it is possible to use your  existing web chat agents to support text messaging support tasks, it is not always the best choice. Phone agents are usually trained to answer support questions and already have the required tools therefore it may make sense to have phone agents  manage text interactions depending on where the customer is in the support process. Also, since phone agents take calls, they can easily transition from text to voice and back if needed. However, it’s important to remember that text chat is not the same as a web chat. For instance, there are text restrictions (160 characters) and the type of interactions and approach will vary.

  1. Channel integrations – As part of an overall customer experience plan there needs to be thought given to how text messaging will fit into the overall channel strategy. For instance, will the customer be able to start on a voice call and transition to text messaging and back? How will agents support text along with other channels? How will you be able to track a customer’s interactions across channels? This might include the need to consolidate of Voice of the Customer (VOC) customer satisfaction scores.

  1. Text support rollout plan – Once the decision has been made to include text messaging into the support mix, there are different ways to go about the implementation. Generally, starting with a pilot which is only exposed to a certain amount of the customer pool is the safest. This can be supported in a typical A/B testing fashion, such as only exposing the service to a limited amount of people that call in or visit a page. The other option is to choose one or two support tasks with limited use and track the engagement level. Data gathering and testing is the goal in the initial phases. Based on initial customer feedback you can iterate through the experience until you get the VOC scores that are desired.

To learn more about text-enabling your existing phone number, visit onereach.com.

Photo by Flickr user CWCS Managed Hosting.

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