Effective communication with employees, customers and partners has become the cornerstone of the service-led organisation. Yet many businesses are overlooking a communication tool already used by 95 per cent of the population.
From one-to-one messages to field services engineers to one-to-many customer offers and updates or free inbound messages to the customer service centre, texting is a low-cost, low-risk killer application.
Emails may easily be overlooked in a crowded inbox. Mobile phone calls can be expensive. Customer reminder or marketing letters may remain unopened.
Despite massive investment, organisations are still failing to achieve real-time, cost-effective communication.
Mobile email has been hyped up. In reality, only a small percentage of employees, customers and partners access email via their mobile phones.
As a result, urgent communications require an expensive mobile call, perhaps risking interrupting the recipient mid-meeting or, in the case of field engineers, in the middle of a complex repair job.
Few organisations are using text messages.
It is the success of texting in a social sense that has proven the depth of this technology. Texting is a perfect business application, demonstrating resilience, immediacy and popularity across networks, handsets, countries, languages and age groups.
Using a managed text service, organisations can deliver one-to-one and one-to-many texts with a full audit trail and complete compliance.
Text messaging can be automated to respond to specific events. It can also be used to drive down the administrative burden. For example, linking to the council tax system enables local government to send payment reminders on overdue accounts automatically – and it can be easier and cheaper than a letter or phone call.
SMS can also be deployed to require an immediate, automated response from the receiving phone. This enables service organisations to verify that work orders h ave been received onsite, that customer service queries have been addressed and that internal company messages have been disseminated.
A major barrier to adoption has been an insistence by vendors on long-term contracts, monthly licence fees and a requirement to send a large number of texts each month. Understandably, organisations have been deterred, unsure just how much use and value texting can deliver.
The alternative is to look for a vendor that eschews any lengthy contract, licence fee or minimum text number and simply charges on a per-text basis. Bringing down the cost to about six pence per text, potential benefits can be rapidly assessed.
Billions of texts are sent every month. Yet most of these are sent for purely social purposes. It is time that business took control and tapped into this under-used messaging bandwidth to deliver serious commercial benefit.
Peter Tanner is managing director at TMC
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