The How (do you) and Why (should you) of Messaging
Messaging is everywhere these days: SMS, WhatsApp, Messenger, Twitter and it seems new messaging platforms emerge every day. Since it’s where customers are, businesses naturally want to be there too. Luckily, messaging is cheap, cost effective, and customers prefer it to traditional methods of business communications (phone, email, contact forms).
Big businesses who want to message with customers can take months to put together a program that fulfills all their needs (compliance, integrations, employee training etc.). SMBs can move much faster to take advantage of this revolution in communications.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Get a phone number. This is where people can message you. Hook up your social media and instant messaging accounts to that phone number. If you’re a sole proprietor, you can use your personal number. But, using your personal number would expose it online and limit the number of responders to just you.
The OwnerListens advantage: OwnerListens provides a virtual number in the area code of your choice. With a virtual number, customers and business responders don’t see each others’ number. This sort of setup also allows for multiple responders, the ability to limit notification times by hour and day and even set up escalation flows.
- Decide how to use messaging. Some businesses use messaging for everything – orders, reservations, customer service, general questions, complaints etc. Some pick only one or two use cases. It’s an important decision which will affect how you market messaging to your customers.
The OwnerListens advantage: OwnerListens doesn’t only relay messages, but can also provide key insights and analytics. What are customers messaging you about? How quickly do you respond? What is the average satisfaction score given by your customers and how does that compare to similar businesses in your area. We provide answers to these and similar questions.
- Set guidelines and goals for yourself and your employees. Things such as response times (the faster the better), style (should be more conversational than email), signatures, and templates should be communicated to anyone who will be responding to customer messages. Remember that messaging should be short and to the point. Avoid any long signatures and marketing messages that may be part of your emails.
The OwnerListens advantage: Just like your brand has a logo and color palette so too should your messaging. With OwnerListens you can customize auto messages that are sent at the beginning of a conversation, put in place rating requests, and include uniform signatures in replies.
- Market your messaging program. If customers don’t know they can message you and what for, there is no way you will get the engagement you expect. Put the messaging number on your marketing materials, encourage messaging on social profiles, send an email to your customer list and most importantly display your messaging options prominently on your mobile website. That’s where many customers will first seek out a way to contact you.
The OwnerListens advantage: Whether you’re a brick and mortar business or completely virtual, OwnerListens has a self serve tool to help you spread the word about the new way to communicate with you. Use the sign builder to create personalized, beautiful signs that fit your brand’s style, or add a Message Mate to your website that will allow customers to contact with one tap or click.
Here’s what you can use messaging for:
- Use messaging for appointment setting, reservations, and order pickup. All those hours your staff spends on the phone coordinating, trying to hear over the noise, understand accents? Gone! Your employees will also make less mistakes since everything is documented. (Pro tip: Encourage customers to save your number to their phone. The way, next time they want a pizza or need a hair appointment, they can message you during a boring meeting or from a noisy bus).
- Use messaging to protect your online reputation. Negative reviews can really hurt a business, especially small ones who can’t compete with the SEO power of Google Places, Yelp, Facebook, etc. Following every interaction with a customer, remind them that they can text you anytime with their feedback or complaint, and promise to reply. It’s as simple as giving everyone a thank you card with your number as they leave the store. Make sure to mention that feedback will be kept confidential, goes straight to a human being, and their private mobile number will not be shared or sold.
- Use messaging to get more shoppers in the store. Encourage customers to engage with your offering by promising something in return if they message you. For example, a 10% discount or a coupon if they text a certain number. Another interesting idea is to promise a discount or coupon if they do not receive a personalized response response within X hours. This addresses one common customer assumption that their message will be lost in some corporate black hole and never addressed.
- Use messaging to turn off-hours into profitable hours. You can’t be at the store all the time but what if you’re closed and someone passes by and takes an interest in a dress they see in the window or wants to ask if you offer catering? Put a big sign up that encourages passersby to inquire about your products/services by sending a message. Texting is so much easier than emailing or calling that there is an increased chance of them following through. You won’t miss a customer again!
Hopefully this has sparked some creative business ideas for you. If you have any features you’d like us to develop for your business, let us know in the comments.