How To Engage with Leads and Customers via Business SMS During COVID-19

Masked woman receiving a business SMS message while waiting for bus

COVID-19 has changed how we interact with customers. Many companies thrived on in-person interactions before. Now, they’re switching to contactless methods, like business SMS. 

Business texting services may seem very familiar to your team members. Business SMS platforms allow them to answer texts and also messages from over-the-top applications (e.g., Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp) in a shared inbox. The platforms are often intuitive, taking mere minutes to learn how to navigate. Business SMS apps can even feel just like native texting apps.

But business SMS is a little different from casual texting. There are a few key things to remember—especially during COVID-19. Even if your teams have been texting leads and customers for a while, your team should reconsider the basics when creating your engagement plans.

Read on to freshen up on engaging with leads and customers via business SMS during COVID-19. 

Secure Opt Ins Before Texting Anyone

Compliance is always important, even during a pandemic. Don’t forget that you need to contend with both federal and local regulations while you’re texting leads and customers. Most importantly, you need to get written consent from customers before you text them. You also need to provide opt-out instructions at the beginning of each SMS conversation.

Customers can give their written consent by:

  • Texting in with a keyword (e.g., YES, OPTIN, SIGNUP)
  • Clicking a box on a web form
  • Giving written permission in person

Make it easy for customers to sign up for your SMS services. Customers are juggling new childcare duties, changing work situations, and constant pandemic-related news. They don’t have time for a complex signup process—and it may not be safe to ask them to sign up in person. Stick to either asking them to text in with a keyword or clicking a web form box. Opting out of your SMS services should be as easy as texting in a keyword like NO, STOP, or OPTOUT. 

Let New Opt Ins Know About Your Operations

Leads and customers may sign up for your business SMS service to receive a variety of information, like pick-up notifications or inventory updates. Regardless of why they sign up, you’ll want to start off by sending them a welcome text. You’ll want to ensure this text contains key pandemic-related information. 

For example, you may want to include:

  • Store hours
  • Contact options
  • Safety procedures and requirements
  • Inventory offerings (especially if you have a reduced inventory or menu)

Send this critical information right away. Each new opt in will have a good idea of how your business is functioning during the pandemic. When they place their first order with you, it’ll be easy for them and they’ll know what to expect. 

Use Business SMS for Curbside Pickup and Dropoff

Business SMS has been a must-have tool for companies managing their new curbside pickup and dropoff services. Team members and customers can communicate in near real-time, streamlining contactless purchases. Texts save critical time for your team, replacing time-consuming phone calls and allowing you to have more than one customer chat at a time. 

To set up business SMS for curbside pickup, your team should:

  • Publicize your new curbside pickup SMS service
  • Text opted-in customers with SMS pickup notifications
  • Use business SMS for real-time curbside pickup coordination

Coordinating curbside pickups via business SMS is one of the most effective ways to offer a streamlined shopping experience—even in the middle of a pandemic. 

Answer Questions via Business SMS 

Since local regulations change frequently, there’s a lot of uncertainty around businesses and their operations. Plus, many businesses are trying to manage newly hectic supply chains and reduced staff. Business SMS is a convenient channel through which customers can send their questions. Plus, it’s easy for teams to manage. 

Let leads and customers know you’re willing to answer:

  • General questions (e.g., “Are you open Sunday?”)
  • Capability questions (e.g., “Can you deliver to the 94702 zipcode?”)
  • Expert questions (e.g. “Are your tools meant to be used on large-scale projects, like houses?”) 

All customer messages will arrive in a shared inbox, where permissioned team members can see and respond to them when they have time. An auto-response detailing your current response time estimates can keep customers patient while they wait for your reply. 

Check In with Customers via Business SMS 

While you’re unable to have in-person interactions with customers, it’s critical that you maintain a strong connection with them. Business SMS is a great way to check in with customers and ensure you’re offering the best service possible during the pandemic. 

To keep in touch, your team can send:

  • Purchase feedback requests
  • Customer satisfaction requests
  • Pandemic use cases or tips for your products

Checking in with customers will ensure that they know you’ve got their best interests in mind. Just make sure your messages emphasize how excited you are to see them in person once the pandemic is over. 

 

Want more information about using business SMS during the pandemic? Check out our COVID-19 guide

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