The challenges of 2020 put contact centers agility to the test. And with a lot of those challenges continuing in 2021, many contact centers are still struggling to manage with a variety of issues.
- Call volumes are still a significant problem, whether due to an increase during the pandemic or limited resources because of cutbacks or shutdowns.
- IT departments saw their world turned upside down. They continue to face the daunting task of helping remote agents maintain a consistent customer experience despite their questionable home network infrastructure.
- Contact centers realized the importance of a unified omnichannel strategy as more customers took to digital channels like social media. Unfortunately, analysts predict only 50% of businesses will have unified their customer engagement channels by 2022.
Fortunately, advancements in communication are making these issues manageable. One of those advancements is business texting, which is making waves in the contact center community as organizations see the critical role it plays in delivering a modern, agile, and efficient customer experience.
Customers Text, Businesses Should Too
Business texting is gaining momentum more than ever before, and for a good reason. Texting has long been the preferred method of communication. Historically, businesses leveraged texts solely for promotional purposes using shortcodes (e.g., 55555). Nowadays, companies are text-enabling their current local or toll-free phone numbers to make it easier to engage with customers at every step of the customer journey. It’s an effective strategy since 60% of customers want to be able to respond to text messages they receive from businesses.
Business texting is outpacing other communication channels in several ways:
- Better Accessibility: Webchat and social media channels are great, but they aren’t as convenient as texting. 95% of Americans have a cellphone, which means they have access to texting everywhere they go. In contrast, webchat isn’t always accessible via mobile, and not everyone has a social media account (especially the elderly who also text and may not have a smartphone). That’s probably why 59% of people would rather receive messages directly from a business rather than contacting them through an app.
- Better Engagement: For contact centers involved in any outreach, texting connects you to customers better than anything else. 98% of all text messages are read in the first three minutes. Only 22% of emails are read at all. If you need customers to respond, you’re in luck—customers are 4x more likely to respond to a text than an email. They’ll do it quickly too. That’s because it takes about 90 seconds to respond to a text vs. 90 minutes on email.
- Better Customer Experience: Customers expect faster responsiveness from businesses. Hardly anyone tolerates waiting on hold anymore, even for a minute. If you have a customer waiting minutes on the phone, they likely won’t stay your customer for long. Texting is a gamechanger for call queues. Agents can manage multiple, simultaneous text messages rather than have one call monopolize their time. Vera Bradley, a NICE CXone and Textel customer, saw their abandonment rate drop to 0% when they communicated with customers over text. While texting is great for customers, it’s equally great for contact centers wanting greater agility.
Texting – Unlocking Contact Center Agility
The key to greater contact center agility is having the right resources (time, talent, and headcount) available when they’re needed most. By embedding texting into your contact center, you can reclaim precious agent bandwidth and use it where their skills are needed most.
- Deflect Calls Using Text in Your IVR: Give customers the option to start a text conversation in your IVR. Something this small can generate tremendous results. For example, a major state government agency used Textel and NICE CXone to do precisely that and deflected over 800,000 calls within the first three weeks.
Diverting calls to text mean agents don’t have to engage with incoming texts immediately. Creating text IVRs can handle the process of routing texts to the right agent, similar to how traditional IVRs route inbound calls.
- Send MMS for Faster Communication: The adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is especially true for customer support. MMS texting gives agents and customers the flexibility to exchange images, gifs, emojis, PDFs, and Word documents, which can communicate complex ideas faster and easier than trying to explain things verbally. Valvoline found MMS texting to be a faster, more effective way to send coupons to its customers. In doing so, they increased their coupon send rate by 76% while reducing their AHT by 20 seconds.
- Automate Text Conversations: Sending an automatic text response does two things—it assures the customer that they have the right number, and it also gives them that immediate response they want (even after hours).
Automated texts aren’t limited to incoming texts. Automated outbound texts can save agents the headache of chasing down customers, leaving countless voicemails, and hoping they’ll respond. For instance, Sono Bello sent automated appointment reminders via text to their customers, which reduced no-shows and resulted in $1.5M in incremental monthly revenue.
- Use Textbots to Conserve Resources: Textbots, like chatbots, can automate mind-numbing tasks like gathering customer information or qualifying a prospective lead through a series of if/then text responses. Once the textbot collects the necessary information or qualifies the lead, it can automatically pass the text message to the appropriate agent.
Unified Customer Engagement with Texting
Texting can be a fantastic tool for improving the customer experience, but it’s most useful when unified with other customer engagement channels.
- Text enable the same phone numbers that customers use to call your contact center is a significant first step.
- Tie texting into the systems your business relies on to support your customers, whether it’s a CRM or a CCaaS solution. It creates greater simplicity for your agents and allows management to see texting within the context of other interactions for greater insights and process improvements.
Improve Contact Center Agility with Textel + NICE CXone
Textel provides a texting platform for contact centers that is specifically designed to improve the customer experience, increase customer engagement, improve contact center performance and efficiency and drive revenue. Textel integrates seamlessly within the NICE CXone MAX agent interface and with CXone Agent for Salesforce to help contact centers communicate with customers faster and more efficiently than traditional channels (email, voice, chat) and positively impact the KPIs of the contact center. Learn more about Textel on the NICE CXone CXexchange.