31 July 2010

Business SMS Users : Five Top Tips to Keep Your Customer Communications in Shape

by belinda

business communications and TextMagic business SMS

However you use your SMS service to engage with your customers, all businesses need to consider how SMS usage fits into the overall customer communication strategy. What’s that, you say? You don’t have a customer communication strategy? Then read on and find out if you’re making any elementary mistakes and missing valuable business opportunities.

Creating a great relationship between your business, brand and customers all points back to one core objective – which is to create a desire for what you provide via listening to your customers needs and delivering on these within a profitable framework. In terms of communication strategy, a business which puts its customers first will always rise to the top. In essence, it’s really as simple as that – but businesses, time and again, continually fail to deliver what their customers need due to a lack of understanding of basic principles. Make sure you don’t fall foul of some of the basic guidelines of customer communications by checking out our top tips below:

1. Make your customers feel wanted

As a company which already uses business SMS services such as TextMagic, you’ll already be aware of the power of communication and how this can benefit your business. But – make sure that this communication isn’t one sided. The golden rule is that business communications aren’t just about telling your customers how great you are – far more importantly, it’s about giving your customers a chance to tell you what they want and what they think about you.  You’ll learn much more about your business by listening to your customers than by any other method.

So how do you make sure your business communications aren’t one-sided? For starters, ensure your staff are trained in customer care, that they ask and listen, that they understand each individual customer’s need – even if they’ve just popped in to buy a pencil. Treat customers as individuals and genuinely care about their requirements – and particularly if they have a complaint or issue – and that’s the cornerstone in any good customer communication strategy.

2. Give your business a communications health check

How many times have you heard complaints about companies such as ‘I was on hold for hours’ or ‘I got passed from person to person’ – or even ‘I couldn’t find the right telephone number for the customer care section’?  Customers get frustrated when companies aren’t proficient at handling incoming queries, particularly when it’s regarding cancellation of a service or a product or service complaint. Make sure you don’t fall foul of this by making sure each element of your business has a dedicated phone number and email address – and more importantly, is answered promptly during business hours by the right member of staff. Don’t forget that communication channels can only be effective if people can find them – so ensure all these numbers and email addresses are clearly promoted via your website and on your advertising and promo literature.

3. Use social media to up your communications game

If you haven’t considered Facebook and Twitter as business communication channels, you’re missing out. Not only are these – and other – social networks adept at increasing footfall to your website and increasing awareness of your brand and product, they’re also invaluable for analysing what’s being said about your business and – most importantly – should be used as a customer care channel to speak directly to your customers who are talking about issues they’re having with your business. Most importantly – if you’re using social media, make sure you broadcast this via your website and advertising – and use it regularly. A poorly managed social media channel which leaves customers expecting replies which never come is a timebomb waiting to explode inside your business.

4. Give customers a reason to help your business

Business and product surveys land in our inboxes every day – and whilst they’re useful for identifying customer opinion and requirements, they can be time consuming to complete. That’s why you should always give something back to customers who take the time to help you – it’s just good manners and you’ll receive a much higher response rate. So, whether it’s a money off voucher for their next purchase with you, an entry into a prize draw, or even a free gift, make sure your customers feel valued.

5. If you’re using SMS as a one-way channel, you’re missing out on 50% of its effectiveness

There are times when a ‘one way SMS’ approach seems to be the only way to use this hugely powerful communication tool, such as appointment reminders. But, don’t forget that text messaging was developed not as a one-way broadcast system, but as a way for people to communicate effectively and concisely with each other – and this is also true of business SMS and marketing SMS use. If you haven’t done so before, you should look at unlocking the power of two way SMS usage, such as via TextMagic’s SMS Reply Service.

Two Way SMS helps build even stronger relationships with your customers, as by giving them an easy way to engage with you and your company, they feel closer to your business and also experience a sense of personal involvement and ‘ownership’ which just isn’t available via one-way SMS messages. So, for instance, if you’re sending appointment reminders, why not use the SMS Reply Service to ask for a confirmation of attendance – ‘reply with YES’ if you are able to keep your appointment’? The benefits for your business are clear to see – and you can receive replies to your mobile phone, to your email address or via the web, so you can perpetuate and expand that relationship wherever you are.

If you’re serious about customer relationships and even more serious about doing great business, you’ll put great customer communication at the core of everything you do. Maximise the potential of the incredibly powerful tool which is business SMS – and you’ll be keeping your customers happy as well as making a sound business decision.

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