Field Services Gut Check: Text Messaging—Do Customers Love It or Hate It?
Quick question: When you need to provide a customer an update on a scheduled service call, what do you do?
- Pick up the phone and call the customer
- Send a text message to the customer
You might think that customers want to hear a live person telling them what to expect, providing answers to their questions and perhaps giving a little reassurance.
Actually, most customers don't want a call. They’d prefer a text message.
And if you're in the field services business, that turns out to be very good news, as we'll explain.
They don't want to talk…because?
It may seem surprising that messages are preferred to calls because, for many of us, a phone call just seems more personal. But respondents to several surveys on the topic provide a lot of good reasons why customers like messages more.
For them, messages:
- Take less time. They get the information they need and move on.
- Are less disruptive. There's no requirement to drop everything to check a message, as there can be with a phone call.
- Have become their preferred way of communicating in everyday life—more so than phone calls or emails.
The data shows they're not kidding: Americans spend on average 26 minutes a day texting vs. six minutes on voice calls.
Some of this can be attributed to age differences. Many surveys suggest that millennials are more message-inclined than older generations.
A survey by OpenMarket found that if they had to give up one or the other, 75 percent of millennials would sacrifice their phones' voice function rather than its messaging function.
While this generation prefers messaging, communications is a two-person activity and other generations have seen the benefits and subsequently adopted as well.
Preferences for messaging go beyond generational differences. Call centers have their own frustrations that everyone experiences: Long delays in responding to calls, information being lost when subsequent calls go to another representative, etc.
So it's not surprising that anyone needing service – whether a consumer or business—would love the option of getting a message from the company rather than a phone call.
That's good news for B2B service companies
Not only are messages generally more efficient and inexpensive for a company to provide, they also allow a company to better monitor its customer service activities than phone calls do.
When messages are part of an embedded communications platform, they're captured in its CRM.
So now you have a record of information provided to a customer, such as the initial response from customer service agents, subsequent messages from a field technician to the customer and a precise timeline for all the exchanges.
That not only allows you to provide better service to the individual customer, when aggregated they can give you useful information that can help you improve customer service.
Another benefit: Despite growing preferences for messaging over voice, most companies have yet to implement messaging-based communications. By doing so, you've got a competitive advantage that positions you as a progressive, forward-thinking, customer-minded company.
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