Businesses were challenged to quickly adapt to changes brought by the pandemic and, in most cases, were forced to reevaluate and change their entire customer experience strategy. As the light at the end of the tunnel becomes more visible, decision makers are faced with yet another new challenge: How to integrate those quick-pivot changes into lasting communications strategies.

SMS is an Expectation

SMS notifications are a great way to keep in regular contact with customers, especially when things get topsy-turvy – and they allow for proactive customer communication, which is crucial for engaged, satisfied and loyal customers.

According to a 2021 TechJury survey, SMS messages have a 98% open rate and consumers are 10 times more likely to engage with SMS offerings, like coupons and discounts, than those received via other platforms. The survey also reported that SMS sees a 209% higher response rate than phone, email and Facebook. This data illustrates the shift in consumer expectations and preferences seen across industries in recent years, particularly as SMS becomes one of the most accessible channels around the world.

Why does something as simple as text messaging keep customers coming back for more? Texting enables organizations to connect quickly with customers while keeping those interactions personalized and actionable. SMS notifications help companies build personal connections with customers, save both employees and customers time, automate the customer experience, and easily collect customer feedback to continually improve the experience.

Omnichannel is Forever

Text messaging offers unparalleled open rates and high response rates, however it is but one form of communicating with customers and a customer experience that relies on just one communications channel will likely fail. Today’s customers demand swift responses, engaging interactions, and to be spoken to when and where they prefer. Businesses who want to delight and retain these customers must take an omnichannel approach to communications.

Consider two companies. The first company charges $100 per month for its product but only interacts with customers via text messages. The second company charges $150 per month but enables on-site webchats, text messages, email interaction, and even in-app communications. Customers are more likely to choose the company that offers the seamless experience across multiple communications channels.

Customers Expect Self-Service Offerings

A major component of omnichannel strategies is self-service offerings, because some customers prefer to do things themselves. One prominent self-service tool companies use is interactive voice response (IVR). These platforms can act as a virtual receptionist while giving customers control of the interaction. The best part of IVR is that it, in true omnichannel fashion, can route calls to human agents if necessary.

These systems are also often integrated with other platforms, such as CRMs, that companies use to keep their sales funnels in order. With an IVR backbone, organizations can build a customer experience that includes everything from self-service bill pay and appointment scheduling to automatically routed inquiries and notifications on customer-selected channels.

24/7 Communication Can Make or Break CX

Where the customer experience is concerned, fallback channels or platforms are absolutely crucial. Take two-factor authentication as an example. Every 2FA one-time password (OTP) must be delivered as quickly as possible. Though SMS is very reliable, it can be subject to delayed or dropped delivery, thanks to snags such as high network loads, unreliable carriers in some countries, and a host of other issues.

Organizations should implement a fallback authentication channel, such as voice calls. When SMS authentication fails, voice has the same advantages of ubiquity and intuitive use that SMS offers. Carrier networks also prioritize voice traffic, because those calls must sync immediately.

The same benefits of voice fallback apply to other types of SMS alerts and notifications. If a business needs to support multiple markets, setting up voice notifications to support different languages can greatly enhance the customer experience.

Being Quick is a Must

If 2020 taught businesses anything, it was the importance of being nimble when it comes to the customer experience. What began as a two-week disruption turned into a year-long metamorphosis of entire business models and customer interactions. Businesses had to adapt, to ensure their experiences were seamless and available to customers on their terms, even amid unprecedented disruption. Leveraging some of these tactics as the underpinnings of a customer experience offering will help businesses improve their agility and ensure smooth service even when the next crisis strikes.

Anusha Venkat is the Senior Product Manager for Plivo’s messaging API where she leads the development of Plivo’s next-generation messaging technology platform. Anusha is an experienced and innovative senior technology leader with experience in communications, fintech, internet retail, and commerce services. She has previously held product and technology roles at PayPal, Amazon, eBay & JIO.

Adaptable businesses stock photo by Master1305/Shutterstock