By Rich Hamilton, Director of Marketing & Product Development
In the beginning, there were phone calls. Then there were call centers to handle those phone calls. More recently, businesses found that customers and prospects prefer to communicate with businesses through different channels, other than a phone call. Call centers now became contact centers and the single channel strategy was replaced by multichannel. First came email, followed by chat, social media and more recently, video calls. So what is missing with this strategy? Texting.
According to the CTIA, over 6 billion text are sent every day and Americans text twice as much as they call, on average.
Obviously if most people prefer a text to a phone call, then we as businesses need to figure out how to effectively use this medium to communicate with our customers and prospects as part of our telemarketing services strategy. Here are a few ideas on how to incorporate text into your overall telemarketing services program.
Texting in Inbound Telemarketing Services
Allow customers or prospects to send in their questions or complaints by text message. It would work the same as an email or filling out an online form. Keep in mind that unlike email that is expected to be responded to within 24 hours, a response to a text message should be much quicker (At QCS, we recommend a text response within 5 minutes).
Many times on an inbound call, the caller needs a piece of information. Such as:
- A confirmation code after making a purchase
- A tracking number for a shipment
- More info about a product they want to buy
- The time and place for an appointment that was set
- A link to create an online profile
This information could be easily and quickly sent by text message.
Nobody likes getting stuck in an IVR. Instead of forcing callers to use the IVR, allow them to use texting to obtain basic information. During the intro to the IVR, add a message that allows callers to text in a keyword to a specific number such as HELP and then use auto-responders from your texting platform to send back templated messages. The first text could instruct the sender to use MENU for a list of commands. Commands could include HOURS, LOCATIONS, or other commands specific to your business. My favorite would be to have a keyword of CALLBACK which would place the senders phone number in a queue for a call back instead of sitting on hold.
Texting in Outbound Telemarketing Services
On many outbound campaigns, voicemails need to be left. As part of the voicemail message you could state “…please call us, or text us, whichever is more convenient for you”. This would then give the person the option of how they communicate back with you. It is also a best practice to text enable each phone number that the customer sees on Caller ID or is given in the voicemail message.
Whenever a sale is made as part of a telemarketing services program, it is a best practice to provide a confirmation of the sale to the customer. The telemarketing services agent can offer to send that confirmation by email or text. For many, a text message is easier to manage and organize than an email. With the click of a button, a simple API call through the script can be used to send out the perfect confirmation text.
For appointment setting campaigns conducted via outbound marketing, using text messaging can be very effective. Instead of calling each person and hoping to get them on the phone, a text message can be sent using variable data so that it is a personalized message for each recipient. This method can potentially save a lot of time. Plus, when the appointment is set, a confirmation text can be sent to the recipient who can instantly save it as an event in their calendar right on their phone! So not only is time saved for the contact center but the process was much easier for the customer/client.
Depending on the type of outbound marketing or telemarketing services campaign, sometimes there are multiple touch points to push a prospect through the sales process. Replacing phone calls in a few instances with a text message can save time and be a better, more effective way of contacting the prospect and keeping them engaged throughout the sales process.
Local Caller ID
If you use local caller IDs when dialing outbound, you could send a text just before calling them – “You requested information on our program. Expect a call from this telephone number in the next few minutes. Or text us your questions, whatever is your preference.”
There are so many ways that text messaging can be integrated into telemarketing services campaigns. Adding text messaging will enhance the customers experience and ultimately increase your revenue. Do you have a reliable texting platform that integrates seamlessly with your existing contact center systems and processes? Here is one that we offer. Questions? Email, call or text me!
Rich Hamilton is the Director of Marketing & Product Development for Quality Contact Solutions, a leading outsourced telemarketing organization. He works tirelessly to bring new products to the teleservices and call center market. Rich is also the creative powerhouse behind executing on a wide spectrum of marketing initiatives for the organization. In addition, Rich is a telemarketing compliance guru with a Customer Engagement Compliance Professional (CECP) certification to back it up . You can contact him by email at [email protected] or by phone at 516-656-5105.