Today’s customers don’t want to spend valuable time on the phone to follow up on a query or dig down through an email trail – they want to be kept up-to-date direct to their pockets via their smartphones wherever they are. The simple and most un-intrusive answer is integrating tried and tested SMS (short messaging service) into a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy to manage interactions with current and future customers.
There is nothing new about SMS. It has been around since the 1980s and is still limited to 160 seven-bit characters. Its power, however, is in the fact that it is a fast, simple and efficient way of providing instant contact with customers 24/7 around the globe, which is why it is high on the enterprise radar today when it comes to contact center solutions.
At a time when IP-based chat apps, such as Whatsapp, have encroached on Person-to-Person (P2P) revenues, Application-to-Person (A2P) traffic in business has been rising. Why? Because A2P SMS is now seen as a great transactional message service and is being used by a host of industry verticals, including banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), entertainment, tourism, retail, marketing, healthcare and media for everything from appointment details to billing information. Air France, for example, uses Orange’s A2P SMS platform to let passengers know if there are flight delays due to bad weather.
SMS Is universal
SMS has an array usage from confirming orders, alerting changes, sending reminders and information updates to sending One Time passwords re-engaging with customers and sending courtesy messages. The possibilities are endless. SMS messages can be received and sent to any kind of mobile phone, regardless of the device, the network it is connected to and the country it is located in. It is ideal to communicate with customers in developing countries, for example, where a growing number of the population have mobile phones, but internet access is still scarce. Or where users simply don’t have 3G or 4G signal.
A2P SMS is unique in that it enables businesses to reach out to large targeted audiences of all ages, demography and handset types. According to market research company Frost & Sullivan, 98 per cent of all SMS messages are looked at and are read within an average of five seconds. This gives them a higher reading rate than email or social media. Add to this the fact that SMS call to action messaging is simple and easy to include in brands marketing initiatives and it is easy to see why it is a strong tool for enterprises for improving the customer experience.
The biggest challenge to any enterprise deploying SMS is to provide a satisfactory and useful customer experience. It is key to choose a robust and reliable SMS platform that can deliver a high quality SMS service enabling the personalization and customization of content, whilst having the tools to measure success and an intuitive reporting interface. It is also important that all parties involved have a thorough understanding of industry rules and regulations and the legislation in various countries re the delivery of SMS.
However, you should remember that theoretically SMS messaging isn’t secure. Protocols governing SMS messaging are not encrypted. SMS basically works on a ‘store and forward’ mechanism, so data remains on the providers’ systems, operators’ systems and the mobile phone.
In practice, for A2P messaging, the volume being transmitted means that interception would be near impossible, unless specific mobile numbers were targeted.
However, A2P is increasingly being used for two-step verification processes, where customers are delivered a one-time passcode over SMS and then asked to enter the passcode online to verify their identity.
Sending SMS in bulk quantities is one of the easiest and cost efficient ways of disseminating information. Behind every SMS sent there is a whole ecosystem to ensure it arrives at the right destination on time. To send bulk SMS effectively it is essential to have a stable and official route to network providers.
A one stop shop approach takes the headache out of the interoperability involved in an SMS strategy, enabling enterprises to get a scalable SMS service up and running quickly without hardware and software investment and providing easy integration with existing IT systems and applications. In addition, it is advisable to choose a solution that offers various APIs, providing developers with the scope to add SMS to individual apps.
Experience the power of SMS
SMS enables enterprises to optimize internal and external communications, keep existing clients loyal and acquire new ones. With the rise of mcommerce and the trend for more people to buy goods and services through their smartphones, it also creates a customer rapport using a fast friendly route to the same device.
Remember almost everyone is reachable via SMS.
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Sean is a seasoned IT professional with more than 20 years experience in various international companies ranging from two man startups to Orange Business today. In charge of international business development for Digital Applications, Big Data and Systems Integration at Orange Applications for Business his main task is to show customers and partners how technology can help build solid customer relations and brand recognition.