Have you ever been caught in a restroom with your pants down — literally — because there was no toilet paper? Wouldn't it have been great to have another choice between flashing the office building across the way or making an embarrassing phone call? Mobile business solutions that allow for text messaging between customers and businesses would solve these and many more mundane customer issues.
This is especially true for businesses targeting millennials. According to AllBusiness, millennials unsurprisingly prefer to communicate with businesses via text, citing its ease of use, convenience, and speed as their top reasons why. Despite this preference, not many businesses are using "conversational commerce," the fancy new term for texting with customers. Only 30 percent of millennials say they receive texts from businesses regularly.
Making Conversational Commerce a Conversation
By being one of the visionary businesses communicating with customers in this way, you can develop deep customer loyalty. While there is no doubt you feel undying gratitude toward the person who brings you toilet paper in a time of need, texting with customers can help businesses build loyalty in much lower-stakes and less awkward situations. It's immediate. It's personal. It shows millennials that you understand their needs and desires.
Conversational commerce is more than just texting appointment reminders or delivery notices. Those are nice, but they are one-way communications and just an extension of the reminder phone calls you've been getting for years. Think about all the times you communicate with your customers. When would receiving a text be more helpful and immediate for them?
The following are three tips for interacting through text:
- Publish the phone number. Yes, it seems very basic, but many companies make it difficult for people to figure out how to reach them with problems, questions, and even good news. Make it as easy as possible to reach you by putting the phone number your customers should text in places that come in handy when they have a problem, such as your website, printed materials, and social media accounts.
- Ask customers, especially millennials, about their experience interacting with your business. Find out whether your customers have any questions. And, most importantly, follow up on any in-person conversations you've had. Tell one customer about the new necklace that just came in and how it matches the blouse she bought last week. Let another customer know that alterations on suits take four days — the answer to the question he asked yesterday in the store.
- Be authentic. This is probably the most important thing to remember, besides not accidentally sending customers texts meant for your spouse. Texts to customers should imitate the way you would talk to them in person so interactions match the customer's overall experience with your company. While it's about more than branding, texting is most effective when done in a way that fits with your entire brand voice, to employ an overused yet accurate term.
It's Easier Than You Think
No, you don't have to ask your employees to use their personal phones to inconspicuously text customers underneath the dinner table after hours. Nor do you have to spend a bunch of money on text charges from company-owned mobile phones. Technology has you covered on this one. By choosing a business phone system with a mobile app for conversational commerce, you can avoid having to purchase any additional equipment or software.
One option many companies prefer is publishing a dedicated phone number for customers to text and having employees monitor the channel. If your company has individual employees communicate or respond from their extension, this feature allows them to answer customers from whatever mobile device is nearest. The customers see only their business identity, not their personal number. Texting from a business identity also leaves a much more professional image than your employees texting from their personal phones. This keeps customers from calling your employees with a question at 2 a.m. or worse, your employees accidentally pocket-dialing from happy hour or their kid's soccer game. Not all mobile apps offer texting, so it's important to shop around.
Salespeople tend to work from anywhere and everywhere, whether from the airport, their car, or even a beach. Mobile texting apps are great options for these employees, and customers are none the wiser to the surf and sand. In the rare cases these on-the-go employees are actually at their desk, they can use apps offered by a cloud business phone provider to text from their computer desktop.
There are many ways to communicate with your customers. By using mobile business solutions that offer text messaging, you can increase satisfaction among millennial customers — and make sure no one ever gets caught without a roll of toilet paper in your bathroom again.
Visit Vonage's website for more information about how you can get started texting with customers today.