Tamara Irminger Underwood
Published: November 03, 2015 | Comments
Is your organization feeling the millennial push? If you are tracking feedback from your millennial customers then you have likely noticed that this cohort isn’t satisfied with the status quo of customer service. This generation is comfortable with disruptive change and technology that evolves at a rapid pace, and has little patience for stodgy, antiquated customer service channels that limit their options to phone calls and e-mails. Millennials live their lives on their smart phones and expect companies to meet them where they’re at. If your company hasn’t yet considered how it will expand to include MMS/SMS text in the call center, now is the time.
Why millennials like this channel
Most millennials carry a smart phone and most rely on these devices to conduct business, stay connected, and make purchases. With a device that is so integral to this generation it’s somewhat surprising to see how long it is taking companies to integrate texting into its inbound and outbound communication channels with customers. The technology to integrate texting into contact centers has been around for a while, but most companies have limited its use to surveys and password resets or for notifications and marketing.
Millennial customers, particularly, would prefer to see more customer service options with texting. Although most millennials own a smart phone, the ‘phone’ feature is used less as more users communicate over chat, messaging, email and text. It’s time for companies to catch up to how smart phones are being used.
In a comprehensive report focused on millennial’s expectations regarding customer service issued by Aspect Software and The Center for Generational Kinetics, some key findings were:
- Millennials don’t want to communicate face-to-face. They prefer to engage with companies over social media and text
- Millennials are seeking out companies that allow them to communicate in their preferred ways and are abandoning companies that aren’t evolving their communication strategies
- All consumers (ages 18-65) in the study said they would increase their use of texting with companies if given the option.
Texting Do’s and Don’ts
Each communication channel within an omni-channel bundle is unique and has its own protocols and etiquette. Integrating SMS/MMS text into your contact center is no different. While the list of do’s and don’ts extends beyond what is listed here, a few key points to consider before incorporating text into your contact center include:
- Snappy response times. Customers have come to expect quick response times from certain communication channels (live chat, social media, etc.), and text will be no different. Aim to respond to customers within 5 minutes, but no more than an hour after initial contact. Regardless of how quickly your agents can respond to customers via text, setting up your system to provide auto-text answers upon first contact assures customers that their message was received and they can expect a more detailed reply within a certain amount of time.
- Don’t get long-winded! Text communication is best when abbreviated, but concise. Depending on how your organization uses text to communicate, be careful not to over-do it and inundate customers with texts (particularly for marketing purposes.)
- Be mindful of how the customer wants to use text. Yes, customers are clamoring for texting options, but that doesn’t mean they want to relinquish control for how it’s used. Allow customers to customize their texting experience. For example, some customers may want to receive weekly special offers while others may want only appointment reminders.
There are a number of companies that offer texting services for companies and it is anticipated that this segment will continue to grow. Companies such as HeyWire, OneReach, and In The Chat all offer texting services that can be integrated into your current omni-channel bundle. As with any communication channel, your customer is the most important consideration for setting up a new option.
The introduction of any new communication channel requires forethought, strategic planning, training, and appropriate staffing. While it is expected that texting will continue to grow in regards to customer service, it’s better to start slowly with its rollout and work out its kinks so that your organization ultimately gets it right. At the end of the day communicating across multiple channels should enhance the customer experience, not complicate it. MMS/SMS texting options for customers is expected to grow in popularity. It is not a replacement for any one channel, but another option that provides convenience. When strategically integrated, it can enhance the overall customer experience, and there is no guessing as to whether or not customers will use this communication channel. Millennial customers, especially, have already spoken loud and clear. There is no time like the present to see how MMS/SMS texting can possibly be incorporated into your repertoire of customer service channels.