02 May 2018
| James Pearce
Flowroute VP of engineering Al Castle gives tips on demystifying SMS for SMBs
Even in today’s technology-driven age, there
remains a disconnect between how individuals communicate with
each other and how businesses connect with their customers. The
difference is text messaging and it’s
With 98 percent of smartphone owners using text messages on
a regular basis, it’s baffling to see that a mere
14 percent of businesses regularly use text messaging, despite
a recent survey stating that nearly 90 percent of consumers
want to communicate with businesses via text.
Messaging – including both short messaging service
(SMS) and multimedia messaging service (MMS) - creates an
opportunity for businesses to share relevant information
quickly with their customers, as well as differentiate
themselves by providing a channel to drive sales and improve
the overall customer experience. Further, businesses now have
the ability to unify both calling and messaging on one phone
number, including both new and existing landline and mobile
Below is a checklist of three key questions that small to
medium businesses should consider when evaluating how to
utilize messaging in their customer communications.
1.) Am I engaging with
customers in their preferred method?
When asked which communications channel they preferred to
use when engaging with a business, more than 1,300 consumers
surveyed cited an overwhelming preference for messaging over
other methods like email or voice/phone interactions. Messaging
was seen as being both more relevant and timely than email,
with respondents noting they only opened roughly 25 percent of
the emails they received from businesses, versus 82 percent of
their text messages received from businesses.
When so many influential users agree across a number of
different industries, it is time for companies to take notice.
Businesses that still rely on email to get time-sensitive
information and offers to customers have lost their voice.
Consumers increasingly depend on, and demand messaging services
that let them interact with businesses in a fast and convenient
2.) What impact will
messaging have on my business?
There are number of use
cases for messaging, serving industries such as retail,
utilities, healthcare and
pharmacy, and banking and financial services, among others.
As more businesses move
their servers into the cloud, take on partners or create
portals for customers,
better authentication has moved from a "nice to have" to
"absolutely essential." Two-factor authentication via
SMS is one of the most cost-effective and powerful mechanisms
enterprises can deploy to
protect digital assets.
Additionally, appointment reminders can help cut down on
no-show rates and late appointment cancellations, which are
often the single biggest drag on revenues for appointment and
reservation-based businesses, which lead to staffing
inefficiencies and overall operational performance
SMS can improve customer satisfaction and service by
providing accurate ETA windows and real-time arrival and
Quick surveys are a powerful way to harness immediate
feedback from your customers. Businesses can send customized
survey questions integrating data from their customer
relationship management (CRM) platform or other applications
and receive a higher response rate.
By providing proactive conversations around topics customers
care most about, such as fraud threats and low balance
notifications, banks and other financial institutions can build
a level of trust that will make a lasting brand
3.) What criteria
should I consider when selecting a messaging
As with any technology
purchase decision, conducting in-depth research is important to
ensure that the service provider selected can meet the
demands of both the business, and the customers and partners that work
messaging as a business communications channel, below are the
top criteria small and medium-sized businesses should require
from a service provider:
• Quality of
service is perhaps the top criteria a service provider should
meet. Customers expect instantaneous, seamless and flawless
voice and messaging services from the start; anything less can
negatively affect the company’s reputation,
productivity and customer loyalty.
• Ability to
manage services online and through APIs. Businesses should
determine if a service provider can provide their developers
with control and direct access to telephony resources such as
phone numbers, inbound/outbound calling and advanced signaling
data via APIs. Further, developers should be able to access to
a web portal for service ordering, number porting and service
management. Without this, operating processes can be delayed
with potential negative consequences for the customer
• Utilization of
existing phone numbers. Until recently, business phone numbers,
local and toll-free, could not send or receive text messages.
That is no longer the case. Today, businesses in the United
States use more than 100 million local and toll-free phone
numbers and often invest significant resources and dollars on
marketing or promotional campaigns to ensure those phone
numbers are easy for customers to remember.
A carrier should have the ability to unify calling and
messaging on one number, using existing business phone
• Flexibilty and
scalability. Onboarding new users and transferring phone
numbers can be two of the biggest challenges that companies
face when it comes to moving their telecom services.
It’s important that a provider offers simplified
operations to ensure smooth adoption and control over the
porting process. A provider with reliable operations will have
extensive experience with onboarding and automated porting, as
well as with the call flow design, support, service, and custom
Organizations of all sizes are beginning to see the benefits
of incorporating messaging into their communications services,
and finding that the transition doesn’t have to be
a painful or difficult process.
Those choosing not to support messaging are closing the door
on potential customers who are actively seeking
engagement. As a result, these companies are
inconveniencing customers and ignoring opportunities to build