Defining SMS Technology
While most individuals are familiar with SMS (short message service), not many people will spend much time thinking about its larger definition. It is, in fact, a web-based software as service (SaaS) technology, and as such it can be used for more than communication between two phone users. Thanks to its standardized communication protocol, companies can therefore leverage the power to send and receive messages by reaching customers and users in an unobtrusive and engaging way, making SMS an ideal tool for Contact Centers.
Why use SMS for Contact Centers?
According to a Forbes article, text messages now outrank phone calls as the dominant form of communication for most US users. This is particularly true of the younger generations, and especially Millennials, who appear to rely on text messaging 68% more than on voice calls.
This insight should convince contact center managers that this method of communication will become increasingly prevalent in the coming years. Below are other reasons to integrate SMS into your Contact Center infrastructure:
- Enhanced customer satisfaction: the unobtrusive nature of SMS makes it a perfect communication method for users who need rapid and efficient replies to their queries. Customers feel in need of the communication process, and it provides them with more self-service options than via phone.
- Reduced inbound queues: Since SMS allows customers to request call backs, they can actually reduce the pressure on queues, which in turn makes for a faster and smoother customer experience for phone users.
- Accelerated workflow: Agents can send out automated responses much faster than with standard calls, alleviating the effort needed for the team as well as any subsequent database updates.
- Flexibility: Whether it is to confirm the details of an appointment, provide reminders for contract renewals or simply to highlight new products and services, the SMS format has the advantage of being extremely versatile. This means less training for agents who can simply adapt their message according to the offer instead of having to learn every detail when explaining them via phone.
- Extra revenue stream: SMS can also become an excellent marketing tool as a sales channel. The ability to secure the customers’ interest and to provide extra downloadable content makes it a great technology to find leads.
- Improved quality monitoring: A great advantage of SMS technology is that it allows Contact Center managers to gain fantastic insights into their data. By integrating this reliable communication channel with speech analytics, businesses can automatically categorize, tag and score all conversations and even monitor sentiment.
What to look for in a Contact Center SMS solution?
Like with any other communication channels, your contact center needs to ensure that SMS technology is implemented with the right features. These include:
- Outcome based SMS: the ability to send a message via trigger after a call is made (appointment reminder, for instance).
- Bulk outbound SMS: for sending large groups of messages at once.
- Support for MMS: enabling multiple media support for pictures, audio and videos as well as text.
- Data-merging: allowing agents to merge customer data when sending a SMS based on a template.
- Inbound keyword support: the ability to reroute received SMS to certain campaigns, effectively sending customers to the right agent.
- Suppression list: to ensure phone numbers are validated.
- Delivery receipts: an important feature for monitoring the status of the SMS. Typically, you will know whether it is in route, failed or delivered.
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR): an advanced option that allows customers to self-service via SMS - typically found with cinema ticket vendors, for instance.
- Premise-based Vs hosted kit: you should be able to choose whether your SMS modems and hardware should be on-site or whether you want your vendor to host them for you.
While less established than live chats, emails or phone channels, SMS is proving to be a reliable and potentially increasingly popular technology for contact centers worldwide.
By deploying SMS technology as an integral part your contact center infrastructure, you will not only be able to benefit from additional data, but will also make the most from what could be a predominant communication channel in the future.