December 6, 2012
In previous posts, we emphasized the importance of mobile as the channel of choice for consumers, focusing on the advantages that come along when consumers are able to decide how and where they want to interact. We also discussed ways to reduce business costs through mobile and the various advantages of the SMS customer care services that a number of vertical markets benefit from.
In considering the above approaches, it is important to recognize that customers take a holistic view of the companies they choose to do business with. They are looking for quick, easy, and convenient ways to manage their relationships with these companies; and whether or not your company can benefit from such a trend is based on the cost-saving strategy that you will implement. Even if it is not a direct sales opportunity, the mobile approach your company takes influences how customers see your business and their willingness to engage with the offered services; ultimately, customers using these services will save you significant operational costs.
Typically, SMS customer care communications are the type of important, time-sensitive, transactional, two-way communication that customers want and expect from a business. With this viewpoint in mind, let’s take a look at a couple examples of programs that can be implemented with SMS.
1. Deflecting Operational Costs With Mobile Customer Care
Let’s say a large wireless carrier is spending tens of millions of dollars per month on incoming customer service calls from people who have questions regarding their plan usage or wish to make small adjustments to their plans. These “short” client service calls range from $5-$8 each, and generally involve a customer service representative simply reading account information off of a terminal screen to the caller in order to process their requests. Same goes with the carrier’s IVR call center where the spending is smaller, $2-$1, but yet significantly high and in most cases results in a customer representative coming on the line to assist with the final request. Additionally, such process are also time consuming for both the customer representative and the subscriber.
To preserve operational costs and increase revenue by reducing call center volume, as well as provide customers with an additional on-demand contact channel, the carrier also provides a SMS-based customer self-service program that allows their customers to obtain basic account information, such as minutes/data used, account balance, and upgrade eligibility. The SMS-based service provides users with on-demand access to their accounts 24/7 with a simple request, where the back end system of the Operator automatically retrieves the information required and instantly provides the requested information.
Users are able to reach out to their carrier with specific requests and retrieve information instantly via an incoming SMS alert, at no additional cost. The reduction in incoming calls also saves the company millions of dollars per month, and allows customer service reps to focus on more complex customer problems. Additionally, customers are engaged in a 2-way communication with the carrier initiated by them on their own time, place and based according to their needs.
2. Reducing Installation Appointment No-Shows
Let’s say a large cable/satellite provider employs a large installation and repair workforce made up of both employees and contractors. Installation and repair services are scheduled via phone, with email and outbound voice calls made to confirm the appointments the day before. A typical installation appointment costs this company in excess of $50 just for the technician to arrive at a customer’s house. If the customer is not at home for his or her appointment, the cable/satellite provider is losing money in three ways: (1) the $50+ for the technician’s trip; (2) the opportunity cost of the technician not performing an installation where someone is actually at home, and (3) the lost revenue from the new customer not yet having their service activated.
By implementing an SMS-based reminder service, the cable/satellite provider is able to reach more people with appointment reminders, and allow for easy confirmation or re-scheduling–also engaging them in a two-way conversation. The SMS reminders are more effective because they reach a greater percentage of customers in an instant and less-cluttered manner compared to email. In addition, SMS are opened and read 98% of the times received, with a 90-second response rate compared to 90 minutes from emails.
By reducing no-shows by just 10%, the company is able to save over a million dollars per year, provide a more reliable service, minimize the time needed to install/service a new or an existing client and further engage its subscribers, setting up values for a long lasting partnership.
Incorporating SMS into your customer service communication channel increases responsiveness and provides consumers with information when and where they need it. Consumers can trigger the communication during their own personal time, making SMS an ideal communication channel for customer support interactions.
Taking under consideration the above examples, implementing the right mobile strategy to the right audience can increase your overall profitability and engage consumers with your brand through simple, yet vital SMS communications. It may not be a direct sales tool, but it will have a significant impact on the overall cost reductions and sets the tone for an effective and well-structured loyalty program.