Scroll through your text messaging app until you find a message from a business. Is the number displayed only five or six digits long? If so, that business is using a short code phone number to reach you. That doesn’t seem like a big deal at first, but if you ended up texting that number expecting a human response, the short code is the reason you didn’t get one.

As a consumer, you probably don’t think twice when you get a text from a short code number. Short codes are super common nowadays and used by businesses of all sizes to send mass texts to customers about things like special offers, two-factor authentication and alerts. Short codes work like a megaphone for businesses, blasting one-way messages to the consumer. But here’s where the customer experience gets wonky — short codes don’t allow the consumer to text back if they need help, and if they’d rather call the business, they’re out of luck, too. Short codes don’t replace 10-digit numbers (landline, VoIP or toll-free numbers), which means the consumer can’t easily place a call.

Customers expect conversational texting with businesses and short codes don’t offer that. There can be a time and a place for short code use, but if your business wants to form stronger customer relationships, you’ll want to consider texting from a 10-digit phone number instead.

Pros and cons of short codes

First, let’s clarify the pros and cons of short codes. Short codes are five to six-digit numbers that companies use to reach customers via text on their mobile phones. As mentioned above, short codes are used to send mass text messages to customers. There are two different types of short codes.

Shared short codes. Shared short codes are just what they sound like, a short code that can be shared by many companies. To ensure that users are texting the right company, a designated keyword must be texted to the short code. For example, if a company wants to offer their customers an exclusive coupon, they can advertise this message: Text ZIPWHIP to 555-55 for 20% off your next order.

Dedicated short code. A dedicated short code is rented or leased by one business making it a good option for brand recognition. However, it’s the more expensive choice of the two.

Short codes provide a broken customer experience

In our 2019 State of Texting report, we found that three out of four consumers are frustrated when they can’t reply to a company’s text message. With an exchange like the one shown below, it’s easy to see why.

This is a waste of time for the consumer and for the business, too. Having to find the contact’s 10-digit phone number to place a call is already inconvenient, but now the consumer is forced to exit the texting experience to reschedule their appointment when the benefit of using a texting option is to make the customer experience smoother. As for the business, they now have to spend extra time on the phone assisting the consumer. Rescheduling could have been done over text had the phone number been text enabled.

Why text enable a 10-digit number?

Think about how you text with family and friends. There is a real-time back and forth exchange with another person, and if you need to speak with them, you can just call the same number you’re texting them on. That’s the same kind of experience that customers expect to have when texting businesses. Using short codes greatly limits the opportunity to build relationships with customers and can leave them frustrated when they want to reach you.

Text enabling your 10-digit number will give your business the same benefits as a short code but instead of broken text exchange, your customers will experience this:
Text conversation with 10-digit number
Text conversation with 10-digit number
Want to learn more about texting for business on your 10-digit landline, VoIP or toll-free number? Read more here.

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