VoiceSage’s Steven Robertson discusses why reports of the demise of texting is not realistic
Industry commentators seem keen to sound the death knell for SMS, thanks to the arrival of Rich Communications Services (RCS) for experiences beyond voice. Google may be supporting RCS to create a new messaging service, but the truth is there is plenty of life left in SMS yet.
Back in 1992 the first SMS message was sent over the Vodafone network. Now over a decade later SMS is still as compelling as ever. Why? Because it is simple, cost effective and private, unless of course you send a text to the wrong person.
According to Pew Research Center, texting is still the most widely and frequently used app on a smartphone, with 97% of Americans sending a text at least once a day.
In addition, text messages are much more likely to be opened than email. According to Mobile Marketing Watch, text messages have a 98% open rate against 20% with email, which makes it a marketing no-brainer.
Boosting contact centre productivity
RCS SMS may be the new player on the block, but ignoring SMS would be commercial suicide and incredibly important in promoting contact centre productivity.
Texts enable non-contiguous, highly responsive interactions, in asynchronous, multiple timelines. This means that a call centre agent can easily track and manage multiple simultaneous conversations. Our customers, for example maintain that a single agent can manage no less than 15 conversations via our own product’s ‘SMS Conversations’ feature.
Another advantage of context-based interaction is that if any customer handover needs to take place, i.e. the agent needs to accelerate a query to the next level or they are scheduled a break or shift swap-over, they can switch to another team member quickly and efficiently retaining continuity for the customer. This happens seamlessly as the conversations are digitally captured.
In addition, simple interactions can also be automated over text and visual elements added so that customers can click a hyperlink and receive an intuitive tool for moving a delivery slot, or make an instant payment, for example.
Not only is it a hugely responsive medium, but it can save the contact centre by being proactive at a low cost.
A large business with 10,000 customers compared three ways of interacting with customers: outbound dialing (with 30 agents), interactive voice (10 agents) and
text conversations. The latter team consisted of two people and achieved the same results in terms of collections and promises to pay as the other two contact media. The savings are clearly huge.
With all this in-built functionality and clear benefits, SMS is still a disruptive technology and it will be some time before it is unseated, even by RCS.
SMS is still a powerful business tool
The roadmap is clear – contact centres need to retain SMS at the core of their omnichannel outreach strategies for the foreseeable future. Why? Because in both the B2C and B2B worlds, text/SMS can provide huge productivity gains and seamless proactive customer contact that are key to effective business operations.
Ubiquity, convenience, responsiveness and the lack of learning curve are clearly huge advantages for SMS, compared to other types of contact centre communication.
SMS has near universal acceptance which makes it the number one brand communication for major customer bases, and anyone that tries to convince you otherwise really hasn’t stepped back and looked at the bigger picture.
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