How to Use Text Messaging to Improve Customer Retention
One of the first rules you learn in business is that it’s more affordable to keep your existing customers than it is to attract new ones. That wisdom holds especially true for small service providers in industries like pest control or lawn care, where building a positive relationship with clients is paramount.
Over the years, small businesses have experimented with numerous strategies to make customers happy and keep them on board, but in the modern day, SMS (short message service) texting has emerged as one of the most prominent options. Consider a few statistics, courtesy of TechJury:
• An approximate 48.7 million people will opt into business text messages by the end of 2020.
• The majority of the world’s population can send and receive texts.
• Business-related text messages have a 98 percent open rate.
• Business texts have a 209 percent higher response rate than channels like email, phone, or Facebook.
• A majority of customers prefer conducting customer service matters via text when given the option.
The list goes on, and it all points to the fact that texting improves customer retention and gives you more reliable access to customers in a cost-effective manner. The following are points to consider when you’re ready to take advantage of text messaging to optimize your customer experience.
Improving Customer Service & Support With Text Messaging
While marketing is important for drawing customers in, stellar customer service is essential for keeping them with you. An estimated 73 percent of customers say that the customer experience is an essential component in how they view a business and whether or not they’ll become repeat clients. In addition, those loyal customers are more likely to refer your services to others, so providing excellent customer service pays you back double.
How does text for customer service improve the experience? First and foremost, text is ubiquitous. Not everyone has a smartphone and reliable internet access, but most adults have a phone that can send and receive text messages.
Texting gives you the ability to reach customers at virtually any time (and vice versa). What’s more, it provides your customer service team the flexibility to engage with customers in a space they feel comfortable with, rather than dragging them into forms of communication they may not have access to or wish to actively avoid.
Secondly, text messaging is quick. It takes up less of your customers’ time and they’re more likely to pay attention as a result. Let’s look at how customer service text messaging for pest control providers might work as an example:
• Implementing SMS communication in this context might allow you to rapidly notify customers of important details — such as appointment reminders or when a service team will be on the way — without interrupting their day with a phone call.
• Customers, in turn, can text you just as they would friends or family to get on-the-spot answers about customer service matters — like changing the time of an appointment or gaining clarification on certain procedures.
• The text-only format bypasses the normal stresses of making a customer service phone call: being put on hold, having to explain an issue to multiple reps, disrupting the flow of the customer’s day, etc. — resulting in more satisfied clients overall.
This accessible, one-to-one style of communication makes interaction easier for you and your customers, but it’s not the only way you can use texts to keep customers loving your business. You can also leverage texting for continued customer engagement after an initial service interaction.
Building an Ongoing Relationship
Customer engagement is a well-known driver of customer retention and profits for service-based businesses. Using text for existing customers allows you to interact with them in an ongoing manner, driving engagement and boosting profit margins in the long term. Here’s how that engagement might take place:
While offerings for a service-based business may not change as frequently as for a product-based one, it’s likely that your existing customer base isn’t aware of everything you can do, and text messaging can serve as a way to clue them in.
A quick, personalized message informing a customer of the useful services they’re missing out on might be enough to spur them to additional purchases — if a need for such services exists:
“Hey Joe, thanks for trusting us to protect your yard against mosquitoes this year. As winter approaches, we’d like to remind you that we can also help safeguard your home against mice and other small animals that might try to sneak inside to escape the cold. Just let us know! - Darryl @ Pest Control Company”
Offering discounts and recommendations to existing customers is a way to show them you value their patronage. Distributing promotional offers via text is a great way to personalize your message and upsell current clients for repeat business:
“Tanya, we’ve got a special offer for our most valued customers and we thought you might be interested. Want to see how you can save 20% on your next lawn treatment? - Jerry @ Pest Control Company”
In addition to aiding the customer support experience, appointment reminders can provide an opportunity to build rapport with customers — provided you take the time to personalize them instead of automating your messages:
“Hello Mateusz, our service team will be at your home @ 1:00PM. Please let us know if you have any questions! - Mary @ Lawn Care Company”
Your regular customers can provide you with lots of insight on how you can improve your services to better suit their needs — proactively solving problems before they snowball into bigger issues. They might not offer that advice without prompting, though, which is where a quick text can help:
“Kassandra, we greatly value your opinion as a long-time customer. Do you have time for a quick survey to let us know how we’re doing? - Candy @ Lawn Care Company”
A Quick Check-In
Sometimes, all it takes to keep your business in customers’ minds and generate repeat business is a brief reminder that you exist:
“Hi Darius, hope you’re doing well. Mosquito season is right around the corner, so don’t hesitate to call us if you need any help! - Stephanie @ Pest Control Company”
Don’t Forget These Best Practices For Texting With Customers
While texting is an excellent customer retention tool, it won’t be effective if you don’t know how to use it properly. When developing a game plan for text-based customer support and outreach, remember to follow these best practices:
• Keep your messages short
• Don’t send too many messages
• Connect messages to a larger platform
• Use promos for retention and prospecting
• Consider professional, third-party assistance for managing your text messaging implementation
With the right text messaging strategy in place, you’ll see your current customer experience optimized and your client base happier than ever before. Remember to A/B test frequently so you know what’s working (and what isn’t), and always put yourself in the customer’s shoes so you don’t cross any lines.
About the Author: This is a guest blog post from Slingshot, the modern customer and sales answering service. Slingshot helps home services providers adapt to the on-demand economy through virtual, around-the-clock sales and customer support.