On Tuesday, June 13, Lauren Kindzierski, the VP of Solutions and Capabilities at HGS gave a webinar for SOCAP called “How to Launch Text Message Customer Service”. The one hour webinar was so rich with insights (I actually took four pages of notes in a Google Doc).

Webinars are not a favorite pastime of mine, seeing as I am an animated person who learns the most from doing and being taught via multiple channels (or visual stimuli) at once rather than a screen. However, this hour-long webinar flew by as Lauren presented every facet of deploying SMS as a customer support channel from choosing a long code vs short code number to the expectation in response time by agents.

Here are five key takeaways you should know about launching texting for customer service:


1. Deploy it in phases.

There’s no need to be afraid of adding your customers’ favorite channel (did you know that the average American adult spends 23 hours per week texting?), just be sure to deploy it thoughtfully. Lauren suggested that you deploy a 90 day pilot to test out your text volume, average number of texts to resolution and necessary response time.

2. Text enable your existing toll-free number.

Three years ago, the capability to text enable landlines became available. According to Lauren, you’d be amazed at the number of people that have already tried texting your toll free number, assuming that it was text enabled! Text enabling your existing number allows you to send and receive photos, ‘How To’ help-videos, links, and plain SMS messages to your customers from the number that they probably already have saved in their phone. (Teckst is a provider who can do this for you).

3. Know the legality around texting.

You should be aware of the legalities around text messaging with your customers. Mass messaging is not the same as conversational text messaging. If you were to send a marketing blast via text to your customers, your toll free number would be shut down. If you want to text your customers solely for the purpose of marketing, you need to purchase a long code which Lauren described as a long and expensive process. If you will be answering customer inquiries, sending them updates about their purchase or reaching out to help them, you are in the clear.

4. Integrate into your CRM.

Lauren advised that you choose to integrate text messaging into your existing CRM if the resources are available to do so. Having all customer information stored in one place makes conversations more organized as well as more relevant when discussing a previous phone or email conversation with a customer via text.

5. Promote your texting functionality to your customers.

Lauren described three ways to do this and also describes the phone call deflection rate for each:

IVR: Whenever customers dial in and receive an estimated wait time, give them the option to ‘Press 1’ to receive a text message instead. This deflected between 15-17% of HGS’s phone calls to SMS.

Click to Text from Mobile: Customers contacting support from their mobile device via a contact us page can instead click ‘Click to Text’ where they can relay their message and send it to your team as a text instead. This deflected between 20-40% of phone calls for HGS.

Click to Text from Desktop: Customers that are contacting your CS team via desktop can click ‘Click to Text’ and receive a text message from your customer support team to their mobile device. This deflected 40-50% of phone calls to SMS support, according to Lauren.

I applaud Lauren for taking the time to educate all CS Leaders on launching SMS as a channel and appreciate her honesty and helpful feedback describing concerns, triumphs and lessons learned about her experience with the deployment of this channel. According to Source Dimension Data, in 2017 we can expect to see over 77.5% of all contact centered to have deployed or be in the process of launching text messaging as a customer support channel!

Happy Texting!