How to Text With Customers Effectively
More and more businesses are embracing texting as a customer communication channel, especially as COVID-19 continues to necessitate a "new normal.” Texting allows businesses to reduce their time spent on the phone and ensure their messages are seen quickly. And texting is how many consumers want to communicate with businesses. In a recent Covid-19 survey, 48% of respondents said they prefer to receive alerts and important notices from businesses via text, compared to email (45%) and phone calls (7%). Because many consumers are at home with easy access to their mobile devices, they're more responsive, too. Sixty-two percent say they're responding faster to incoming texts during the pandemic.
So, how can your franchisees adopt SMS effectively? Here are some of our top tips for a successful texting strategy.
1. Outline goals before choosing a texting platform
Understanding how your franchisees will use SMS and determining goals ahead of time will help you select the right software. Some important questions to ask yourself before you select a provider include:
- Do we want to engage in back-and-forth conversations with customers, or will one-way alert texts (via short code) serve our purposes?
- Would we like to be able to text enable our existing franchise phone numbers?
- Will our franchisees benefit from built-in automation tools like auto-reply texts and SMS keywords?
- Do we need a tool that integrates with our CRM?
2. Set etiquette guidelines for your users
Once you have your new texting tool, it’s important to train your franchisees on how to use it effectively. Though we’re all familiar with sending and receiving personal texts, a separate set of rules applies to business texts. Here are some to keep in mind:
- Only text during business hours – Just because texts are relatively informal doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to send them after hours. Stick to your regular business hours so you don’t disrupt your customers.
- Always lead with an introduction – You don’t ever want to come across as spammy, so be sure to introduce yourself. Lead with something like, “Hi, this is Natalie from Seattle Fitness...” so your customer knows right away who’s reaching out.
- Personalize your messages – You want your customers to feel important to you, even if you’re using automation to reach out. Make your messages more personal by including their first name and even emojis if the context feels right.
- Respond quickly – Getting back to customers quickly shows that they’re a priority to you. If it’s not possible to respond right away, set up an auto-reply so your customers at least get a message back letting them know when to expect a response.
- Have a clear call to action – Your customers should never have to hunt down the reason for your text. Make it as clear as possible. Do you need them to confirm an appointment? Or want them to check out a new sale? Make it clear so your customers know why you’re reaching out right away.
3. Let your customers know you now offer texting
Once you’re set up with texting and have trained your users, it’s time to spread the word about your new texting capability. There are lots of ways to market that customers can text you! A few good places to start are in your email signature and voicemail recording, store signage and your social media pages.
There’s never been a better time to adopt a texting channel for customer communication. Learn more about the use cases for franchise texting here, and check out this article for more information on how to incorporate texting into your Covid-19 communication strategy.
For more information about International Franchise Association (IFA) supplier member Zipwhip, click here.