Differences Between an SMS Contact Center and a Call Center

An SMS contact center

There’s no denying that text messaging has transformed communications. Today, nearly everyone texts—including businesses. In fact, texting and other messaging channels have become so popular that they have transformed nearly every traditional call center into an omnichannel contact center

SMS contact centers are sleeker, more efficient, and more effective than traditional call centers. So what’s the secret behind this new kind of customer service? 

Read on to learn about the differences between an SMS contact center and a call center—and why an SMS contact center solution will bring your business better results. 

Looking for ways to streamline your customer service with texting? Read our SMS Customer Service Handbook.

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What Is an SMS Contact Center?

An SMS contact center is an omnichannel customer service center that encourages customers to use texting or messaging instead of other channels. (Business text messaging platforms receive and send messages from both native and third-party apps.) To emphasize their texting capabilities, an SMS contact center will often use call deflection strategies

These SMS contact center solutions will use texting to:

  • Resolve customer queries
  • Send notifications or alerts
  • Schedule meetings or appointments
  • Follow up with customers about a prior query

Besides business text messaging, an SMS contact center will offer assistance to customers via phone calls and email. 

What Is a Call Center?

Call centers are more traditional than SMS contact centers. While most call centers today use business text messaging, they focus on phone calls. They encourage customers to call in with their questions instead of texting or sending emails. This is what classifies them as call centers, not SMS contact centers. Depending on how much they use other channels, one might call them “contact centers.” 

A call center will certainly get the job done. However, when it comes to popularity, response speed, team efficiency, and customer satisfaction, an SMS contact center has the clear advantage.

SMS contact centers are gaining popularity among cutting-edge businesses. Regardless, the majority of organizations—especially those that are more traditional—still use call centers to serve their customers. 

Comparison: Popularity with Customers

Today’s customers are busier than ever. Person using SMS contact centerWhile it takes someone’s full attention to call a business and speak to a customer service agent, sending a text or message only takes a few seconds. As companies adopt business text messaging, customers are using it more and more.

In a recent customer service survey, customers revealed that: 

  • Over one-fourth (26%) of people have tried to contact customer service through SMS, while over one-third (38%) have tried to contact customer service through web chat
  • Nearly half (48%) of people would rather text a business than call
  • Well over one-third (38%) of people say that a brand having a text messaging option increases their chances of continuing to use them
  • 30.6% of people say they are less likely to interact with a brand that only offers phone-based customer service
  • Over one-third (34%) of people view a business who offers SMS customer service as superior

By emphasizing its messaging capabilities, an SMS contact center solution appeals to customers who prefer business text messaging to any other channel.

Comparison: Resolution Speed

Business text messaging empowers customer service agents to resolve queries far faster than they can through other channels. 

On the customer service team side, business text messaging platforms support speed. These platforms accept all types of messages, including texts from native SMS apps and over-the-top (OTT) apps, like Facebook Messaging, Apple Business Chat, and WhatsApp. All messages arrive in a shared inbox, where every permissioned team member can see and reply to them. Team members can quickly review incoming messages and respond, or choose to assign them to a team member who they know is an area specialist. This ensures that no messages slip through the cracks. 

Customer service teams can answer customers faster with the help of a business text messaging platform—and customers naturally engage in SMS conversations quickly. In fact, 98% of SMS messages are read, 90% of texts are read within the first three seconds of receipt, and the average response time for a text is 90 seconds. In other words, while customers sometimes take a while to respond to an email or phone call, customers will almost immediately respond to a text. 

Quick responses from both customer service teams and customers are what empower an SMS contact center to resolve more customer queries than traditional call centers, faster than ever before. 

Comparison: Customer Satisfaction

Compared to a traditional call center, an SMS contact center focuses on an extremely popular communication channel and offers fast resolutions. Combined, these two factors lead to the third difference between the two channels: an SMS contact center can secure higher customer satisfaction ratings than a traditional call center. 

It’s easier for companies to send CSAT surveys through business SMS, too. Customers are far more likely to reply to surveys sent through SMS, plus nearly 20% of customers will click a link in a text message. (For comparison, only 4.2% of customers click links in emails.)

Considering all of these benefits, it’s difficult to ignore the appeal of the SMS contact center—and how much it can boost your customer satisfaction

Want more ideas for building an excellent customer experience with texting? Read our SMS Customer Service Handbook.

Ebook Cover: SMS Customer Service Handbook

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