The way that people communicate with each other is changing. Research shows that consumers would much rather engage with businesses via text message, especially for questions that can be answered quickly and easily. If customers would rather engage via text message for those types of communications, then why would local businesses like yours try to interact with them over the phone or by email?

That’s why we developed the Messaging Platform. It enables you to conveniently interact with your customers via text message. It allows you to do things like:

  • Manage interactions, like review invites, appointment reminders, and more
  • Nurture prospective and existing customers via timely interactions for long-lasting relationships
  • Capture in-depth feedback from a broad base of your customers
  • Reduce support costs and inbound phone calls for general questions or concerns
  • Stop playing phone tag with your customers

Podium customers using the Messaging Platform have already seen:

  • 26% increase in customer satisfaction scores
  • 15% decrease in call volume
  • 45% response rate

Best Practices for Messaging Your Customers

Because messaging is such a new way to interact with your customers, we’ve compiled some best practices to help you get started.

1. Find A Consistent Voice

As most everyone knows, a text message is much more casual than other types of communication, while also being more personal and relatable. But, it’s important to strike a balance between being professional and casual. You don’t want your business to come off robotic but you also don’t want to come off as unprofessional. Our recommendation is to simply be personal. By being personal, you can strike that balance between professional and casual. After all, you and your customers are human, so why not talk like one.

One way to ensure your business’ voice is personal and consistent is by using templates for your most common interactions. Not only will this help you avoid common grammatical errors but it will also increase the speed and efficiency of your interactions.

Here are a few templates we’ve created to help you respond to various situations:

  • Asking for a review: Hi {first_name}, it’s <insert your first name> from <insert business name>. Thanks again for coming in today. Is there any chance you’d be willing to leave us a quick review? If so, this link makes it easy:
  • Asking for a review (mid-conversation): That’s great to hear! Is there any chance you’d be willing to leave us a quick review? If so, this link makes it easy:
  • Asking for feedback: Hi {first_name}, it’s {employee_first_name} from {company_name}. Thanks again for coming in today. How was everything?
  • Thanking them for their business: Hi{first_name}, it’s {employee_first_name} from {company_name}. Thanks again for coming in today! Don’t hesitate to reach out if there is anything else we can do.
  • Template for resolving an issue: Hi{first_name}, I’m sorry to hear that. Do you have time today for a quick call to get things corrected?

 

2. Designate A Point of Contact

To ensure you strike that balance of coming across personal but professional, you should also designate specific employees to interact and respond to customers. This will allow you to have more control over your messages to ensure the best possible outcomes for your business.

Here are a few positions we generally see managing the Messaging Platform:

  • Marketing manager
  • Business Owner
  • Manager
  • Front desk personnel

A consistent point of contact helps customers establish a better relationship with your business and also avoids confusion internally as more and more customers adopt messaging.

3. Publish Your Number

If you want your customers to engage with you via text message, you need to make it as convenient as possible. Rather than play phone tag, you and your customers should communicate in a convenient way that makes the best use of both of your time. If you’re looking for a scalable solution, Podium’s Webchat helps you turn website clicks into customers by taking the conversations offline–so you can text customers and they can respond directly from their phones. If you aren’t using Podium, publishing your number directly on your website will allow you to interact via text message with customers.

To enable customers to initiate text conversations about hours, your location, or appointment times, we suggest publishing a textable number on all of your marketing materials. Also, be sure to place it prominently on your website, and business listings–or anywhere a customer would go to research your business. The most engaged businesses we work with publish it everywhere their landline number is. When possible, be sure to mention “text us” followed by the number for the best results.

Here are a few places we suggest placing your textable number:

  • Website (header and/or footer)
  • Facebook description
  • Yelp description
  • Twitter description

Update Your Website Header

website contact

Update Your Facebook Description

Facebook contact

facebook contact description

 

4. Take Advantage of Key Events

There are a number of different opportunities for you to engage with your customers to build stronger relationships. Some of these interaction events occur before a consumer is a customer of yours, during or right after the transaction process, or long after to encourage repeat business. Some of the most common interaction events include:

  • Requesting feedback on a specific aspect of your business
  • Following up on review invitations
  • Providing general updates about your business
  • Sending reminders about upcoming appointments
  • Answering general questions about your business (typically to potential customers)

Here are a few templates for the most common Interaction Events:

  • Appointment reminders: Hi {first_name}, it’s {employee_first_name} from {company_name}. I wanted to send a quick reminder about your appointment on {appt_date_time}. Does that time still work for you?
  • Business hours: We are open from {hours_of_operation}. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any other questions!
  • Driving directions: Our address is {company_address}. You can click on this link for driving directions: {map_link}
  • Basic pricing: Thanks for reaching out! Here is a link to our pricing page {pricing_link}. Let us know if you have any questions!

The secret to any successful customer communication is to put yourself in their place. Is this how you would prefer for a business to contact you? By understanding your target audience it’s easy to appreciate how they might respond to getting text messages from your business. A millennial audience would probably love it, but a less tech-savvy consumer might not be the right fit. For most types of local companies, business text messaging is a great fit, but you shouldn’t ever force it upon your customers. Try testing this type of communication with a small subset of your customers and then rolling it out to everyone if it’s successful.