Two things we know for sure about communication: It’s a two-way street. And it’s the key to any successful relationship.
Wondering why this is relevant?
We’re here to talk about how ISVs like you can help your clients strengthen the way they communicate with customers by using technology that enables two-way texting.
In this article, we’ll explore:
- Historic challenges of communicating with customers
- The shift in how customers want to communicate with businesses
- How two-way consumer messaging looks in action
Let’s get started!
First up: a brief history of business-customer communication challenges
Since the beginning of business itself, entrepreneurs have relied upon one thing to gain and keep customers: communication.
But even up until recent history, communication has been a big drag on resources.
Businesses have largely depended on front desk staff to handle customer communication. This left employees bogged down with the manual labor of constantly talking on the phone with customers or patients to facilitate scheduling, give appointment reminders, take payments, and field questions. Not to mention the additional strain of multiple callers vying for their attention at once.
This way of operating takes a lot of time—and it leaves a lot of room for human error.
For example, what happens if that over-worked front desk employee at a dental office forgets to call a patient to remind them about their upcoming appointment they booked four months ago, and as a result, the patient misses the appointment?
That one mistake could result in the no-show patient getting fined, disputing the missed appointment charge over not receiving a reminder, and changing dentist offices because of the bad experience, all resulting in a loss of revenue for the business.
The back-and-forth between employees and customers can make or break a small business. So it’s important to get it right.
Thankfully, businesses have better options to turn to today. Communication tech has been evolving at a rapid pace with mobile phones, short message service (SMS messages), multimedia messaging service (MMS messages), and mobile apps like social media. The evolution is moving so fast in fact, that modern businesses now have such a wide range of communication channels to choose from it’s difficult to know which one to focus on.
That brings us to the main communication challenge of the modern age: How to break through the noise and communicate with customers in a way they will hear—and respond to.
So what’s the answer? Let’s dive into the research and find out.
We’ve all thought, “This could’ve been a text.”
Customers and patients are turning away from traditional communication methods and toward something new: They want a conversational, two-way communication stream. And they want it over text.
In 2022, 85% of customers say they prefer to receive text messages over phone calls or emails.
So, why the enthusiasm for texting?
1. It’s communication on the customer’s terms.
Text messaging meets the consumer where they are while allowing them privacy with a less-intrusive experience.
Imagine the typical, busy, 21st century customer juggling work, kids, and a thousand other things. They probably don’t have the ability to drop what they’re doing to get on the phone with a business, or worse, wait on hold for hours. Text is great for getting them a quick answer and giving them the autonomy to check the notification on their own time.
Another argument for text? A survey found that 75% of millennials actually avoid phone calls and 81% experience anxiety before a call. And it’s not just millennials who prefer text. Boomers are now twice as likely to text as they are to call, with four out of five Boomers wishing businesses texted them more.
2. It’s good for business.
You might be thinking the ease and comfort of text sounds pretty good. But what about cost comparison?
Well, it turns out the pricing of SMS text messaging is cost-effective too. Research shows that the cost per phone call lies between $6-$12, while cost per text interaction is $1-$5, with automated messages costing even less at $0.25 per.
Text has also been proven to get effective results for businesses when it comes to connecting with customers, winning engagement, and increasing customer satisfaction. 53% of consumers reported they feel more positive toward a business that uses mobile messaging to communicate with them. 97% of companies who launched a texting initiative also found they were able to communicate with consumers more efficiently.
Even more compelling, the data shows texts are getting through to customers. SMS open rates are as high as 98% and have a response rate of 45%, where email’s response rate is only 6%. Here’s another way to look at it: People take 90 minutes on average to reply to an email, but just 90 seconds to respond to a text.
That’s a pretty big difference.
3. It’s a conversation.
In the age of non-stop content, consumers are fatigued from being endlessly talked at. They’re looking for a conversation they can be an active part of instead. Enter the two-way communication stream of SMS messaging.
The consumer appetite for two-way texting is actually ahead of what businesses are delivering. About one in three customers have texted businesses and never received a response. According to another source, 60% of consumers want to be able to respond to business SMS messages they receive.
Despite what the stats are telling us, only 39% of marketers use text messaging, with 61% leaving this communication tool on the table. And SMS marketing only scratches the surface of the potential for business text messaging applications, like customer support and customer relationship management (CRM).
Here’s what this means for you and your clients: The market isn’t saturated yet and there’s a golden opportunity to get ahead of the curve.
Keep reading to see what two-way communication tools look like in real-life scenarios.
Conversations with customers: two-way communication in action
Say you have a few clients who’ve been struggling with inefficient manual communication processes. Their staff is stressed out, their customers are unhappy, appointments are falling through the cracks, and their businesses are losing money from no-shows.
Let’s walk through some of these pain points for two different types of businesses and see how two-way tech can help.
Welcoming new customers
Imagine your client runs a physical therapy (PT) clinic. They know this can already be an emotionally tough time for their new patients and want to make sure they feel prepared and comfortable prior to their appointment.
With conversational texting, pre-appointment communication becomes simple. The clinic can send welcome messages and relevant information to the patient like customized turn-by-turn directions from their home address to the business or “about the team” videos to show who will be taking care of them.
These template texts take almost no time on your client’s end but enhance the customer experience before the appointment even begins. Opening up a messaging platform also provides the perfect opportunity for patients to ask any burning questions prior to the appointment.
Scheduling appointments and sending reminders
Now, let’s say you have another client who owns a beauty salon that survives and thrives on appointments. Which means whenever there’s a no-show, that's bad for business.
With SMS consumer messaging, when a customer schedules an appointment, the salon can open a text channel with them. Not only can they send automated appointment reminders via text to reduce missed appointments, but the customer can respond with a confirmation or a request to reschedule. The salon can even set up autoresponder prompts for replies.
A recent survey shows customers want to receive these types of messages from businesses: 60% of respondents would rather schedule hair care appointments over text and 75% said they found appointment reminder texts helpful.
On top of that, text allows the salon’s conversation with their customer to be automatically recorded and saved for easy reference later on. This reduces miscommunication mishaps and the anxiety of forgetting to write down appointment details during a phone call.
Answering customer questions
The power of conversational texting is that it’s just that, conversational.
In other words, customers can have an open dialogue and ask unprompted questions. It’s not a one-sided, command-based “conversation” where they’re given a limited menu of reply options like “yes” or “no.” Nor is it like mass texting where the recipient knows the interaction isn’t personal.
For this example, let’s head back to the PT clinic. Say a new patient wants to know what they should wear to their appointment. That kind of information request doesn’t have to be a phone call. By shooting the clinic a text, the patient can receive a quicker answer than they might trying to get someone on the phone. Text also opens the door to easily sharing more resources with the patient like a link to other frequently asked questions.
When it comes to asking and answering questions, two-way text is great for both the patient and the clinic’s support team. It allows both parties the freedom to get to the heart of their question quickly and efficiently without any major interruptions to their day.
Giving customers convenient ways to pay
Remember your salon client? They may rely on deposits for upcoming services to protect the value of their team’s time. And when a service is completed, it’s important employees get compensated quickly and correctly.
Text to pay tech allows the salon to send automated payment requests with a unique payment link that takes the customer to a branded, PCI-compliant site where they can enter their card details on their mobile device. Pay by link provides a secure, quick, and contactless payment experience—all done on the customer’s cell phone. Plus it gets your client paid faster.
Text payments can be used to send first-time requests and reminder invoices for patients with unpaid balances. This automation saves time on the entire collection process, minimizing human error and reducing team member time spent taking payments in-person or over the phone, verifying patient identification, manually entering credit card numbers, and managing late payments.
This frictionless payment process makes for happier employees and customers alike.
Following up on missed calls
We get it, despite the popularity of sending texts, some customers still call in.
But what if that PT clinic’s front desk employee is stuck helping a patient when another caller rings? Up to 80% of callers prefer to text over leaving a voicemail. Which means if that’s not an option, the caller might just hang up and never call back.
The last thing your client wants is for a returning or potential patient to feel ignored. With intuitive communication tools, they can follow up the missed call with a real-time auto-reply text letting them know they’ll be with them as soon as possible, or offering to skip the phone tag and answer their question over text.
Some enhanced communication solutions connected to a business phone system even display caller ID details associated with the phone numbers on their contact list. Knowing the patient’s name and appointment history makes it even easier to send a personalized follow-up text, minimizing the chances of missing out on potential business.
Two-way texting isn’t just great for day-to-day tasks like appointment reminders and answering phone calls. It’s also great for capturing reviews.
Let’s go back to our imaginary salon. The customer loved their haircut. And the salon doesn’t want to miss out on that glowing review!
But you can’t rely on customers to remember to leave a review after they walk out your client's doors, even if they did have a great experience. Using a business text messaging service allows the salon to send a quick request following a customer’s appointment with a link to leave a review while it’s still fresh in their memory.
Asking to be reviewed might feel awkward. However, asking for good publicity with a quick automated text and prompted script is about as painless as it gets.
Analyzing business interactions
Last scenario. Your PT merchant wants to analyze how their business is performing so they can better serve their patients.
Modern communication solutions can also provide analytic features that help business owners gain key insights into their operations, make informed staffing decisions, and optimize workflow.
For example, what day of the week and what time of day gets the highest call volume? How many new versus existing patient interactions are they having? The right technology can help the clinic learn more about their business and make the right changes.
A modern communication solution
So, what’s the big takeaway? As we saw in the examples above, with just one communication tool, your clients were able to transform their top challenges into their top strengths.
For the customer, communication became easy, convenient, and centralized through their preferred channel.
For the business owner, having a texting platform allowed them to provide a responsive, human, personal experience for their customers that increased retention and loyalty.
For you as an ISV, it enhanced the value of your technology offering and won a stickier portfolio.
This scenario doesn’t have to stay hypothetical. Global Payments Integrated offers a powerful solution for ISVs—Callpop, a communication tool that streamlines every part of the customer journey with innovative two-way texting capabilities.
With Callpop, you can empower your clients to get straight to enhancing their customer relationships with more effective communication by implementing a fast, simple integration. No upgrading existing phone systems required.
We understand the challenge of outsourcing to multiple vendors for different needs, and it’s something we’ve solved for. That’s why in addition to features like Callpop, Global Payments Integrated offers customer relationship management software, commerce enablement solutions, payment functionality, and so much more all in one place.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you implement consumer messaging, text to pay functionality, and more into your software solution.