As more people transition from office settings to remote work, internet bandwidth and Wi-Fi connections to homes and apartments throughout the country are being tested. The surge in video conferencing and other virtual gatherings is putting a strain on resources that can lead to glitchy connections, frozen video screens and intermittent delays in e-mails that often end up sitting in overflowing inboxes.
Staying connected with co-workers, friends and family is now more important than ever, and relying on the internet to do most of the heavy lifting is the virtual equivalent of putting all your eggs in one basket. What if that basket starts to overflow and your eggs take longer to get delivered?
Instead, what if businesses started to shift some communications to text messaging?
Businesses and customers come together with texting
Business texting is a fast, effective and convenient way for companies to say connected with customers. Using cellular networks rather than internet networks means texting providers have a separate platform to send and receive messages. Texts aren’t affected by the ebb and flow of internet capacity that can cause disruptions as web data is streamed at increasing rates.
Being able to reach customers and have them reach back is crucial in stressful times. Business texting software allows companies to send and receive texts using their computer while customers receive the messages on the native texting app already on their phones.
How to reach out to your customers when they’re staying in
This is a golden opportunity to get creative. Your usual methods for reaching out to customers are being affected by factors beyond your control. But there are things you can do to get through this challenging time. Below are 9 examples of how businesses are keeping the lines of communication open to help customers and stay connected.
- Appointment Rescheduling
When a pandemic or another urgent situation occurs that shutters offices temporarily, texting with customers to reschedule appointments is an effective way to manage an upended calendar. Staff members can provide alternate dates and times within the text messages or ask if the customer would prefer to call them to reschedule their appointment. Remaining flexible and providing individuals with options is the best way to assure a smooth transition.
When the new appointment date approaches, it’s a good idea to send a reminder text with the date and time clearly stated. Customers will feel reassured when a business has plans in place to deal with scheduling changes in times of urgency and when life returns to a more normal pace.
- Eliminating Crowded Waiting Rooms
As social distancing becomes the new norm for now, doctors’ offices and medical facilities are doing their part to reduce crowding in waiting rooms. Texting enables healthcare workers to inform patients waiting in their cars in the parking lot when they can enter the premises.
To avoid confusion, texting patients well in advance of their appointment time is an effective way to inform them about the new check-in procedures. It also ensures that an appropriate amount of space is kept between individuals. Having a texting plan in place reduces stress and quells the anxiety people may feel when sitting in an enclosed space with others whose health status is unknown.
- High-volume Service Inquiries
With nearly all service-related industries being affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, customers have been left wondering what to do about travel plans they may have made months or even weeks earlier. As a result, airlines and travel companies are experiencing extremely busy customer service phone lines as customers call to cancel or reschedule their reservations.
To deal with this increase, companies are sending texts to pre-empt the need for one-on-one phone conversations if the situations can wait. This proactive approach reduces the total call volume and subsequent wait time for those who need assistance first. It also allows companies to direct customers to online resources for updates and other important information. Receiving a text reassures customers that the company is aware of their situation and affirm that they’re doing all they can to address the situation as soon as possible.
- Notifications of New Services
Although in-person classes and activities have been suspended for the time being, many businesses are finding new ways to use online tools to keep participants engaged. Sharing news that your art studio, fitness center or cooking school is now offering virtual classes is easy to do with text messaging. Here are a few important steps to follow to ensure a smooth event.
First, let members know you’re offering online classes. Send a text with links to your website where they can get more details or to sign up. Your text can contain some general information but keep it as concise as possible and still include a link to more information.
Secondly, let customers know the URL of where they can access the class and if a login and password is required. Will the event be hosted on a private YouTube channel or other platform? Providing helpful bits of information upfront will increase your sign-up rate. It’s also a good idea to create a FAQ web page and link to it in your text to answer questions you expect to receive.
Lastly, send reminder texts up to an hour prior to the class starting to increase participation. People are craving human interaction more than ever. Offering “live” classes where students can see familiar faces and follow a regular routine will benefit them physically and emotionally.
- Notifications of New Safety Procedures
With CDC guidelines urging social distancing to limit the spread of the coronavirus, restaurants and other service businesses are modifying how they serve patrons. Many are using texting to let customers know they’re offering take-out orders only and have put new safety procedures in place. Restaurants are texting customers to let them know what’s on the menu (as it may differ from their regular fare), how to pay, their revised hours, where to pick up their order and more.
A best practice to follow is to send a brief text with a link to the restaurant website to share this key information. It’s also a good time to suggest customers add the restaurant’s number as a contact on their phone. Ask diners to text your number when they arrive in the parking lot and reply to their text when their order is ready. Transferring the take-out container to a table inside for the customer to grab and go ensures plenty of personal space for everyone.
- Promotional Campaigns
If you can’t open your doors to customers or clients at this time, you can still generate revenue while delivering your products or services to them later. Use text messages to promote special deals, limited time offers and other incentives that customers can buy online now but take advantage of in the future when things return to a more normal routine.
Offering tangible gift cards that can be mailed or printable or digital versions is a great way to promote your business. Entice customers to purchase one or more by offering a value that is greater than the purchase price (see example below). Not only will it help carry you through a difficult time, it will give your customers something to look forward to when this period of social distancing is over.
- Internal Communication
With remote work taking center stage in our lives, keeping employees in the loop and feeling connected to their teams and the larger organization is key. Companies of all sizes are using text messages to share important updates and link employees to resources that they can access remotely. Sending a single text to a large group with mass texting also saves time.
Zipwhip’s business texting software features both a desktop app and a mobile app that allows employees to communicate internally by sending and receiving texts on their computers and cell phones. Texts can be sent outside the company just as easily. To learn more, check out our desktop and mobile app for internal communication.
In times of need, it’s heartwarming to see texting being used to help charities and civic organizations communicate by dispatching volunteers to deliver food and other supplies to those unable to leave their homes. Businesses are also using texting to dispatch drivers to deliver goods so others can stay in to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. A single dispatcher can communicate with an unlimited number of drivers quickly and conveniently by text and track the messages on their computer using texting software’s intuitive dashboard.
- Innovative Customer Engagement
When clients or customers can’t come to your place of business, text messages can be used to engage with them one-on-one or in groups in innovative ways. Yoga studios, personal trainers and fitness centers are connecting with members via picture messaging (MMS) using creative methods. Keep members on their toes with workout challenges that push them beyond their comfort zones.
A quick touch base over text can also help clients keep their goals in mind while working out (or sitting around) at home. Texts can provide boosts of encouragement and show proper exercise techniques. Fitness-minded folks appreciate having an outlet to let off some steam, reduce stress levels and build muscle at the same time. Encouraging texts work well for other types of businesses going virtual during the coronavirus outbreak too, such as churches and other houses of worship.
We’re all in this together
For every industry or type of business mentioned above, there are many more examples of companies and organizations that are using texting to easily and affordably connect with their customers, members, students, faculty, constituents, congregations and others.
Free e-book on adopting texting for business
As the leader in Texting for Business™, we literally wrote the e-book on how to use texting to improve your company’s communication strategy. The Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers explains how texting increases customer satisfaction and eases daily workflow.
This valuable resource also includes clear guidance on best practices, tips on training teams to use texting effectively, examples of marketing opportunities and ready-to-use templates as well as proper etiquette when it comes to texting with consumers.