Texting has an array of benefits for businesses.

Just as they do with friends and family, consumers want to communicate with businesses via text because it is easier, faster and allows for no-nonsense answers. Texting is also preferred because it isn’t viewed as disruptive, as phone calls often are.

Other interesting facts:

According to Text Request, 89 percent of consumers want to use messaging to communicate with businesses Text Request also states that texting is the #1 preferred and highest rated customer support channel in the U.S. According to CIO Today, 64 percent of consumers are likely to have a positive perception of companies that offer communication via text; that number increases by 13 percent for consumers between the ages of 18-34

Businesses should communicate via text because it is what customers want. Texting also has 98 percent read rates, and the channel offers the ability to reach more customers in less time. Because of all this, 38 percent of contact centers currently offer SMS. However, despite these and many more statistics demonstrating the importance of business texting, the majority of companies are still not equipped to handle any form of messaging with their customers and even less are equipped to handle inbound SMS.

Beyond using texting as a marketing vehicle or as a way to send reminders, some companies are way ahead of the curve. Some large companies are experimenting with artificial intelligence and other innovative technology allowing customers to order product, ask about order status, schedule a delivery or even pay, all within the SMS.

Imagine a prospective customer who forgot to buy flowers for an anniversary or friend’s birthday. This potential customer searches for nearby flower shops, find a company, and sees that company has a chat option. The individual types in, “I want to order flowers.” Immediately, the flower shop’s AI chatbot responds, “Sure. To get started, what is the recipient’s zip code?” The conversation continues until the flowers are ordered and paid for.

In this example, the AI chatbot is able to ask for location and take payment. Consider a chatbot that can make recommendations based on an occasion, offer suggestions based on past customer orders, schedule a note for the recipient, etc. While this example may seem too good to be true, it is coming.

Without human interaction, AI/chatbots will help reduce companies call volume, improve customer satisfaction scores, cut costs and create the differentiated experiences customers crave. If human assistance is required, the AI/chatbot can seamlessly transition the message while maintaining the full context of the conversation.

To stay relevant, businesses should consider the variety of ways texting can help them grow as well as improve the customer experience. Business texting can generate sales and acquire new leads, update clients, provide tips, and significantly improve the customer experience with a company’s contact center.

Texting in business as a contact center channel has a long list of benefits, with four highlighted below:

Because over half of customers would rather text a customer support agent, the option to text improves the customer experience and creates brand loyalty Texting gives businesses a competitive edge (if they are prepared to respond quickly), as it helps a business be more convenient to connect with and more personal According to Forbes, customers are more likely to read or answer a text vs. an email or call, as 95 percent of texts are read within three minutes of being sent According to both Forrester & Contact Babel, texting will save a business money, as customer service center calls cost several dollars per call and texts cost pennies per conversation

Are you ready to stand out and offer a true omnichannel experience for your customers by offering SMS/texting as a contact center channel?

Nick Glimsdahl is a client enablement director at VDS. VDS has been a visionary leader in customer experience technology integration for 30 years, with a core purpose to create effortless interactions between their customers and their customers’ customers. Email at nglimsdahl@govds.com.