“This week, I received a text from my bank with my weekly balance. My driver texted me the location where he was parked. I booked plane tickets and got a text confirmation. And my doctor sent me a reminder so I wouldn’t forget my appointment the next day.”
Mathilde Collin gets a lot of SMS messages. And she likes them, according to her recent essay in Gigaom. The co-founder and CEO of Front, an app that improves shared inboxes, Collin believes SMS is the trump card in today’s game of getting through the clutter to reach customers.
“Why has everyone started sending me texts all of a sudden?” Collin asks. “Maybe it’s because, unlike my emails, I read all of them. And I’m not alone: ninety percent of all SMS are read within three minutes of being received. And since roughly 91 percent of the world adult population owns a cellphone, undoubtedly mobile is eating the world.”
What she laments is that more businesses aren’t getting into the game.
“Today only seven percent of consumers resort to SMS to communicate with businesses, far behind email, voice calls and even direct mail,” Collin explains. “Make no mistake, though: consumers would love to text businesses, but few realize it’s a possibility.”
In Collin’s view, SMS is no more intrusive than email, if employed properly.
“Customers don’t necessarily like texts from brands using them as a marketing tool,” she admits. “People expect every text they receive to be personal, whereas these marketing messages are sent in bulk, with little to no attempt at personalization. For customer support, however, relations are one-to-one by definition, and texting could be a great alternative to existing communication channels.”
In sum, customer service via text could create an enhanced experience for the customer and is, by design, more efficient for brands.
“It’s great for customers because it doesn’t need the latest smartphone; it works on old phones just as well,” Collin notes. “2G networks are the most reliable. And texts are notifications: a lot of information in very little space; there’s usually no action to take; you still get a nice feeling of control.”
But the primary benefit — the proof of the pudding — is that 90 percent of all text messages are read within three minutes of being received. The average open rate is 98 percent (stack that against the poor showing for email at 22 percent).
There’s a lot more to digest in Collin’s commentary, including examples of companies, from Zipcar to cleaning service Homejoy, using SMS effectively.
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