How Franchise Businesses Can Use Texting During COVID-19

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From medical providers and gyms to restaurants and staffing agencies, franchise businesses worldwide have been impacted by COVID-19. It’s more important than ever for franchisors to provide their franchisees with effective customer communication tools, and new data shows that consumers prefer texts for important updates and alerts from businesses.

If your franchise business is being impacted by the coronavirus, here’s why you should consider texting and some ways your franchisees can use it for better communication.

Why business texting

Consumers’ email inboxes are overcrowded with COVID-19 messages, making it easy for them to miss important information. Research shows that 83% of consumers respond to a text within 30 minutes or less, which means customers will receive (and read) your texts faster than emails. With enterprise-grade business texting software, your franchisees can text from their existing phone numbers on any computer or mobile device, and you have oversight that will help you maintain brand standards.

Here are some of the common texting use cases for franchises across the U.S. right now:

  • Rescheduling appointments
  • Eliminating person-to-person contact
  • Handling high-volume inquiries
  • Notifying customers of new services (like an online fitness class)
  • Updating customers on new safety procedures
  • Running promotional campaigns
  • Communicating with employees and franchise owners
  • Engaging with customers

In addition to your franchisees using texting to reach customers, you can use it internally to communicate timely updates to your employees and your franchisees. Here are some tips and best practices for effective COVID-19 business texting.

1. Provide franchisees with text templates to ensure message consistency

Because your franchisees are representing your brand, it’s important to provide them with consistent messaging. Text templates are a powerful tool for this. Once your franchise has written crisis communication messaging like answers to FAQs, you can easily create text templates with those messages for your franchisees to use again and again.

For example, if you’re in the medical industry and your clinics need to reschedule non-emergency appointments, you could create a template like the one below for your individual locations to use. Many texting tools offer dynamic fields, which allow you to automatically populate texts with info like a contact’s first name, your office name and more.

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2. Set up auto reply texts to ensure customers always get a response

Your franchise customers are likely trying to reach you through multiple channels right now. An auto reply text is one way to ensure they get a response, even when a location is dealing with high-volume service inquiries or adjusted hours. Many texting providers offer “office hours” auto replies, so you can set your hours and compose a message to go out any time a customer texts outside those hours. For example, a restaurant franchisee with new hours may set up the following auto reply.

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If you’re unable to respond to customers throughout the day when your business is open, many providers also offer “general” auto replies. A business receiving a high influx of texts, like a medical office, might use a “general” auto reply to set an expectation for reply time and provide important information.

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3. Use group messaging to reach many customers at once

When you need to send important coronavirus updates to your entire customer base, sending in bulk is most efficient. Group texting tools allow you to send BCC texts, so customers don’t know they’re part of a group and any responses are private.

Texting is the communication medium that consumers prefer and it’s not going away anytime soon. To learn more about how your franchise can adopt it successfully, visit Zipwhip’s Texting for Franchise page.