Published: March 10, 2014 | Comments
Text me. With the rise of mobile, text messaging is fast becoming the preferred channel of communication for a majority of American consumers. And, that applies to business to consumer communications too.
In fact, a recent survey of 1,000 consumers found that one in five consumers is just as likely to prefer a text message from a business as they are to getting a phone call. And, among 18-to-24-year-olds, this number is even higher with more than 36 percent citing text messages as their preferred form of communication with businesses.
For businesses, this is great news as text messaging brings a wide range of benefits. Beyond the obvious cost savings, texting provides an opportunity to get a better response rate from any outreach. For example, text messages are typically read within 15 minutes of being received and often, consumers respond within one hour or less.
However, while text messaging is becoming the preferred channel of communication for many, there is a fine line that businesses must walk in terms of leveraging text messages appropriately to reach consumers and meet compliance regulations.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991 dictates that companies cannot call or send text messages to mobile phones without the prior express consent of the recipient. Despite this clear mandate from the TCPA for express consent, the majority of respondents (84 percent) strongly believe that if they give their cell phone number as their primary contact to a company, then it is acceptable for that company to contact them.
But, consumers increasingly want these types of mobile communications, regardless of what the rules say. Seventy-nine percent of Americans have given their cell number to a company, with more than one-quarter of respondents indicating they usually or always provide their cell number. Companies must make sure they add consent language to any agreements to make sure they have proper authorization to send the text messages customers want.
Beyond compliance regulations, it’s important for companies to consider the context and purpose of each communications. For instance, in the healthcare industry, our research into proactive patient engagement found that more than half of consumers (53 percent) believe communication over a digital communications channel like text, email or via a smartphone app could have helped them avoid a health problem in the past.
In this healthcare example, a quick text reminder from their doctor or healthcare provider could go a long way in keeping patients healthy by reminding them about appointments, medications or screenings. But, for more complex circumstances such as communicating test results, a phone call where more information can be provided makes more sense. And, the same holds true for other industries. Think about a bill payment reminder versus next steps in a mortgage loss mitigation process.
In short, text messaging will always be most effective when used as part of a larger communications strategy that incorporates a variety of channels to ensure engaging all your consumers on their preferred channel of interaction. With a cross-channel approach that leverages the strength of various channels, companies can get better results and meet customer expectations.