Business SMS already has an advantage when it comes to speed. Ninety percent of texts are read within the first three seconds of receipt. The average response time for a text is 90 seconds. When is comes to SMS customer service, this speed goes a long way; the less time an agent needs to wait for an answer, the less time the resolution process takes.
But with a few additional best practices in place and with the help of an SMS customer service platform, your business can further accelerate resolutions.
Read on to learn 4 ways your teams can improve customer resolution times with SMS, from routing texts more quickly to streamlining data access.
SMS Customer Service Tip #1: Quickly Route Texts to Appropriate Agents
When providing assistance via text message, customer service agents need to be able to provide fast and accurate replies. Without efficient SMS management, incoming customer texts will immediately experience a roadblock. To help your agents organize incoming messages, SMS customer service platforms offer two key features:
Shared inboxes. Business SMS platforms empower teams to receive customer messages from both SMS and third-party apps in a shared inbox. Select members of your team can see incoming messages, reply to them, and assign them to appropriate agents. Advanced platforms offer private messaging, too, so your employees can coordinate on a chat without a customer’s awareness. Shared inboxes can help teams route incoming messages to the appropriate agent that much more quickly.
Automated routing. SMS customer service platforms also facilitate automated routing, so that customers who text in certain keywords or during certain times can be automatically routed to the appropriate agent. For example, customers who text in with the word “running” can be routed to a running expert, while customers who text in with the word “basketball” can be routed to a basketball expert.
Customer service software integrations. Most teams use service-based apps like Zendesk and Help Scout to manage their customer tickets, but juggling multiple apps can be difficult. Top business texting platforms allow agents to text from within your SMS platform and sync customer data, decreasing the amount of time spent switching through tabs on your computer and increasing the amount of time spent on customer resolution.
SMS Customer Service Tip #2: Write to-the-Point Messages
The format of business SMS encourages brevity; only so many words can fit on phone screens, even smartphone screens. This can be a benefit for agents, who often find that the limited space makes it easier to communicate articulately with customers. It can be easier to maintain customer attention with brief messages, since the average person loses his or her concentration after a mere 8 seconds.
However, to ensure that each message they write is as clear as possible, agents should follow these practical business texting tips:
- Avoid obscure acronyms
- Use short words, few adverbs, and simple sentence structures
- Check for proper grammar and spelling
When possible, it can help agents to work from templates (sometimes called macros), a feature your SMS customer service platform should provide. These reusable texts can reduce the number of errors and the chance that texts become longer than necessary. They also reduce the time it takes agents to write out frequently used messages.
By sending clear, straightforward texts, agents can eliminate confusion and resolve customer queries far more quickly.
SMS Customer Service Tip #3: Set Expectations with Auto-Replies
When consumers send in a text message, customer service representatives are expected to reply immediately. Otherwise, customers may step away from their phones or attempt to contact a competitor. In fact, messaging etiquette says that waiting more than 20 minutes to respond to a text can be seen as rude. To prevent your customers from losing their focus, set up auto replies. These can be useful both during business hours and after business hours.
During work hours. During business hours, your SMS platform should send immediate auto-replies that inform customers that their messages have been received. Your message should also let customers know about average response times, so they know when to expect a reply. For example, if your business is contacted during the holiday rush, you can let customers know that they can expect a message before the end of the business day. If your business is contacted during the summer, you can let them know to expect a message within minutes. A standard during-hours reply might look like this:
Hello! Millennial Travel here. We’ve received your text and will get back to you within 10 minutes. Thanks for your patience!
After work hours. Providing an after-hours reply is a must-have for any business. Advanced SMS customer service platforms empower businesses to set up multiple after-hours replies that change based on keywords or other triggers. For example, a person who texts in the word “question” can receive a different reply from a person who texts in the word “problem.” In general, your reply should include business hours and when the customer can expect to hear back as well. A standard after-hours reply might look like this:
Hi there, you’ve reached Sam’s Auto. We’ve gone home for the day, but we’ll reply when we’re back in the shop: Monday-Sunday, 8am to 7pm PST.
SMS Customer Service Tip #4: Expedite Customer Record and History Access
Agents constantly toggle back and forth between CRMs and their customer service platforms. Customer history and information is key to providing a top-notch experience, allowing agents to gain a full picture of their customers and tailor conversations to their needs.
However, switching between web apps constantly can be distracting and time-consuming. That’s where SMS CRM integrations come in.
When a business texting app and CRM app are connected through their APIs, the two systems can interact, sharing and syncing data. With this kind of SMS CRM integration, agents can:
- Access updated data in both platforms, as data in both systems sync automatically
- Open an SMS window from within a CRM app
- Update customer information and history from within both apps
Faster access to customer data will empower agents to answer and resolve customer chats far more quickly—while maintaining a personal touch.
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