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How to Use SMS Customer Support to Accelerate Your Retail and eCommerce Business

Customer Service, E-commerce 10 min read

SMS messages have a whopping 98% open rate. In comparison, you can only expect around 25% of opens in your emails, even if you create compelling messages that people will be motivated to open.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that SMS marketing has become an increasingly popular channel for engaging customers and making sales. But that’s not the only way you can use the technology to your advantage.

If you want to provide a better service to your customers, you could also use SMS messaging to provide an additional level of customer service for your eCommerce customers, engaging them in a way that you know they are more likely to see and respond to.

But how can you get started with SMS customer support for eCommerce? And why should you use it in the first place?

Let’s answer these and other important questions below.

What is SMS Customer Support? 

SMS customer support is any helpful communication that a company has with its customers or prospects using SMS messages. Some of the types of messages that could be included as part of an SMS customer support channel include cart reminders, support question answers, updates about orders, or anything else that might help the recipient.

In many ways, SMS customer service isn’t that different from other channels such as email or phone. The end goal is to provide a convenient and accessible service to your customers, and it’s always better to have more options to communicate rather than fewer.

However, SMS messaging does have unique advantages that make it an excellent supplement to your overall customer support efforts. Unlike email or even live chat, SMS usually allows you to get the messages across almost instantly, with most people checking their phones as soon as they receive an SMS message.

If you want to make sure that your customers read the message right away, or even if you have urgent information you need to share, having an SMS delivery system your support team can use can be very helpful.

For instance, when a sudden security issue requires your customers’ attention, sending an SMS message will increase the likelihood that they’ll respond quickly, which can be vital in situations where every minute could be decisive. 

While it may seem unusual or even intrusive for eCommerce businesses that haven’t used SMS messaging before, as long as you get permission and are transparent about what types of messages you send, it’s much more likely that your audience will respond positively.

SMS Customer Service Benefits

Now that we’ve looked at the SMS customer support definition, let’s explore some of the key benefits that make it such an excellent choice for communicating with your audience.

Immediate Engagement

As mentioned a few times already, the most distinctive advantage of using SMS messaging in your customer service efforts is the immediate response and engagement that it can provide.

Once you send out an SMS message, it will be seen and opened almost immediately in the vast majority of cases. Instead of having to wait for hours or days for a response or even risking the message not being read at all, you can rest assured that your customers will receive the information you want to provide them and will be able to respond quickly as well.

And that brings us to the second part of the engagement benefit, which is the fact that people are used to quickly typing SMS messages and communicating on the go. If you offer the opportunity to reach out using SMS messages and get answers, many people will opt for that instead of sending an email or typing information in a website chat.

More people are using smartphones than ever before, and many of them make purchases on the phone as well. Because of that, offering customer service channels that are more convenient on the phone can provide your store with a significant advantage, as you will be catering to a segment of your audience that is bound to become more prominent with every year that goes by.

It’s Affordable

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Another reason why SMS customer support is an excellent choice is its relative affordability, at least when you consider the value you get for the price and the convenience you can offer your customers.

Sure, you will need to use a paid SMS service to send and receive messages, but there are many options available. You can also outsource the entire customer support service to a professional third-party provider, which can help you avoid a lot of the hassles that come with setting everything up and ensure a high level of professionalism.

As an eCommerce business operating in 2021, you can no longer get by with a contact form and a phone number on your site. When people want to reach you, they need to be able to do it immediately, and SMS messages are the perfect option that gives them the necessary convenience and fast response they are looking for.

Even if your support team member isn’t immediately available, customers won’t have to keep a chat window open to receive a response. Instead, your team will be able to reply using an SMS message whenever they are available, resuming the conversation with minimal inconvenience to the end-user.

It’s Personal

The most personal way to communicate with your customers is a face-to-face conversation. But for eCommerce companies, that’s not an option they can include as part of their customer service processes.

But SMS communications are probably as close as you can get to having a personal and immediate conversation with your customers without being in the same room. 

People have their smartphones with them at all times and are used to communicating via messages with their friends and family. When you start a similar conversation over the channel, it also feels like a personal conversation compared to a chat function or email, which can seem much more formal.

Even if you send out an automated message, it can receive a much better response as long as it is crafted in a way that’s informative and personal. And by establishing a more personal connection with your audience, you will provide a better service, which will result in an improvement of your customer retention as well.

SMS Customer Support-Best Practices

SMS customer support can become an integral part of the way you communicate with and help your customers. But to make the most of what it has to offer, it’s essential to learn from the best practices of others and implement them in your processes as well.

Let’s explore some of the vital aspects of SMS marketing you should consider below.

Automate Processes

Even though it would be great, it’s unrealistic to expect that your support reps will be present immediately when someone needs them, 24 hours per day and seven days per week. But at the same time, you can’t expect your customers to wait for a response for hours, especially when they have a pressing problem right now and need to deal with it as soon as possible.

That’s why when implementing SMS customer support into your eCommerce business, you should think about what you could potentially automate and how that might have a positive effect on customer satisfaction.

You also need to think about how you can balance automated responses with live interactions, as the biggest advantage of SMS messages is the personal communication opportunities it offers both for you and for the customers.

HeyMarket, a business text messaging solution, suggests setting up automated replies that reassure customers that someone will be with them shortly and how much they might need to wait. You don’t want to leave a person who just sent out an SMS message wondering if it got through or whether they’ll receive a response at all.

If you want to take automation to another level, you could even consider implementing SMS chatbot solutions to carry out entire conversations, qualify leads, and direct customers to useful resources regarding their questions or issues. 

Collect Feedback

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If you condition your customers to use SMS messaging as a way to communicate with you, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use this to gain valuable insights into their preferences, concerns, and suggestions.

You could send out a text survey invite, asking them to answer a few questions to help you better understand their needs. To get more responses, you could even incentivize the request with a discount or special offer.

Since SMS messages are such an immediate form of communication, you could get instant answers about the most pressing questions you might have, including customer satisfaction, demographics, or even product preferences, enabling you to make more informed decisions and provide a better overall service.

Integrate with Other Channels

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Even though SMS customer service comes with numerous advantages and is an indispensable tool for modern eCommerce stores, you can’t expect it to substitute other essential forms of customer support that you should still have.

Live chat, social media, email, and voice support should all still be part of your customer support strategy, and you should also think about how you could integrate them to provide a more seamless experience.

Omnichannel support helps ensure that customers with different preferences get the same level of support, but that means you must use a unique service ticket number system to track support requests across platforms and provide a unified service throughout. 

Ensure a Fast Response Time

If you want SMS customer support to become an asset instead of a cause of frustration for your customers, you must ensure a timely response time for every request you get.

Setting up automated responses is a great first step, but you should also think about how to structure your support system in a way that efficiently handles requests based on urgency and other factors.

Most eCommerce stores prioritize based on the submission time, but you could also factor in other variables since a general question about your selection is probably less urgent than a failed order or a problem with the payment. 

You should also develop proven processes for onboarding and training support staff. That’s the only way to ensure consistent service quality and the ability to quickly solve issues. 

Define Your Goals

SMS customer support is a powerful tool, but you should clearly define what you are trying to accomplish before you start implementing it. That way, you can ensure that you prioritize your resources accordingly and build an SMS support system that actually benefits your business and your customers.

The most obvious goal for using SMS customer services is to improve customer satisfaction. By providing more channels to reach you, you’ll reduce waiting times, serve more customers, and make more sales in the process.

But you might also find that you can reduce overall customer support costs by automating a lot of the SMS customer support processes while also simultaneously boosting your support team’s productivity. And these two are powerful goals to strive for on their own.

Find the Right Service

If you have no prior experience with SMS support or SMS marketing, you are probably wondering how to apply it in your business.

Well, the good news is that the process doesn’t have to be complicated, and there are dozens of robust solutions that allow you to automate and streamline SMS messaging with customers. If you outsource your customer support, you can also ask for guidance from the service provider. They will likely have suggestions about which platform would offer the most value in your situation.

Inform People It’s an Option

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Finally, if you want SMS messaging to become a useful support channel, you must make sure that your customers actually know about it.

So, when you’re ready to launch, put together a campaign to educate your audience on the available ways to contact you and lay out some of the advantages they can enjoy if they choose to reach out via SMS.

If you’ve been using other support channels for a long time, it may take time for people to get used to sending SMS messages when they need help. But since most people are so used to sending these types of messages, it won’t take long until it becomes one of the most popular ways to reach you.

Final Words

SMS customer support is one of the most convenient ways for your customers to reach you. Most people have a smartphone readily available and are used to communicating via SMS with their friends and family.

But if you want SMS support to really have an impact, you must make sure your customers know this option exists, implement the necessary features to make it useful, and integrate it with your overall customer support strategy so that you can provide help across multiple channels.

Need a dedicated customer experience team ready to support your brand?

Book a consultation with us and we’ll get you set up.

Digital Marketing Manager @LTVplus Actively participating in the digital marketing world for more than 5 years. Currently making sure that our website content is up-to-date and our blog is filled with actionable tips and advice for online retail businesses. Very passionate about dogs, topics on spirituality and Unicorns.

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