Zipcast Episode 13: Best Practices for Texting for Business

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As phone calls and emails lose their customer responsiveness, businesses need to adapt their communication to connect with consumers. That’s where Texting for Business comes in.

In this episode of Zipcast, host Scott Heimes sits down with Zipwhip’s VP of revenue marketing, Adam Anderson, to discuss common use cases and best practices for businesses looking to improve their strategy and customer experience.

Want to see the data and findings Adam references in this podcast? Download your free copy of The Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers and follow him along as he explains a few of best practices when Texting for Business!

Listen below:

Tune in each month for the latest episodes of Zipcast. Don’t forget to follow us on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. If you have a suggestion for the show, feel free to text us at (206) 582-3740 or email zipcast@zipwhip.com.

Resources Mentioned:

Full Transcript:

Scott Heimes: Welcome to the Zipcast, where we talk about the latest trends in texting for business, customer communication strategies, and technology. I’m your host, Scott Heimes, Chief Marketing Officer at Zipwhip, and thanks for tuning in.

Scott Heimes: Zipwhip recently published The Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers. This e-book is full of helpful info any company can use to build a successful texting strategy.

Scott Heimes: In honor of the occasion, we’ve invited in Zipwhip’s VP of Revenue Marketing, Adam Anderson, to talk about it. He’s going to break down the most important tips, takeaways, and best practices from The Ultimate Guide. Stick around to learn more.

Scott Heimes: Welcome to the Zipcast, Adam.

Adam Anderson: Thanks. Happy to be here.

Scott Heimes: So tell us about yourself, your background, and your role at Zipwhip.

Adam Anderson: Sure. I am the VP of Revenue Marketing. My job is to go out and let the world know about texting for business and the Zipwhip solution, and make sure they’re set up for success after that. I’ve been in marketing for 20 years, primarily in the tech industry. This is a great place for me and my career right now.

Scott Heimes: Yeah. Good.

Scott Heimes: Your Content Marketing Team just launched another new e-book this last week called, The Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers. So I wanted to invite you on to the Zipcast to talk about some of the many great tips and takeaways from this e-book.

Scott Heimes: For our listeners, can you start with this: What is texting for business and why should businesses care?

Adam Anderson: Yeah. Texting for business is really just using the texting medium to communicate with a business’ customers more effectively. Essentially, phone and email have lost their efficacy due to spam and overuse, and so many businesses are struggling with customer responsiveness. So texting comes into play because it’s just a much more urgent medium that cuts through the clutter. In fact, 87% of customers indicate that they ignore phone calls from businesses or unknown numbers. I know, personally, I’ve gotten some phone calls during meetings and I immediately send those to voicemail. But if someone shot me a quick text and something I could respond to quickly I’d take advantage of that right then and there.

Scott Heimes: Yeah. So is business texting applicable for all different types of industries?

Adam Anderson: Oh yeah. Anyone who has a customer, basically. I think that applies to every single business. Across verticals, real estate is a big one that we’ve seen a lot of our customers in. Insurance and financial, entertainment, automotive. It really runs the gamut.

Scott Heimes: Got it. What are the primary tools that businesses use to text with their customers?

Adam Anderson: There’s really three things that I think about when it comes to texting for business. First is, you want to enable the landline that you have today, your main business line. That’s the line that is on all your advertising. It’s the line that might be on your business card. People are accustomed to calling that number.

Scott Heimes: And customers are probably trying to text it right now.

Adam Anderson: Yeah, that’s exactly true. In fact, sometimes when we business enable, I’m sorry, texting enabled the main number, we see some of those old messages pop up, so it’s kind of a fun game.

Adam Anderson: Secondly, you need really easy to use software.

Adam Anderson: And the third is the reliability and the security of a network. That generally comes through strong partnerships with different carriers.

Scott Heimes: Yeah. So there’s other alternatives besides landlines for texting as well, right?

Adam Anderson: Yeah. There’s something called short code.

Adam Anderson: You’ve probably come across these before where you get a random five or six digit number and …. my dentist will send those to me and it’ll be, press C to confirm your appointment. Those, they tend to be kind of expensive if you do your own custom implementation there, we’re talking literally thousands of dollars a year. For the most part, they’re one-way texting. So in that example I gave you with the dentist, if you text anything but C. Like, “Hey, do I need my insurance card?”, “I’m going to run a little bit late,” “I’ve got some pain in my back molar.” That’s just going to go into the ether and they’re never going to get it.

Scott Heimes: Yeah. What are some of the common use cases that you’ve seen applied successfully in business texting?

Adam Anderson: Sure. I think the most common is customer service and support. It’s a really great opportunity to have a conversation over text message and the key there is that you’re having real time dialogue with somebody. It speeds up the process for a customer service perspective, you can handle multiple customers at once, multiple conversations at once. You can check documents before they’re submitted. For example, insurance companies will often have folks take a picture of the form that somebody is filling out, just to take a quick look at it and make sure that they didn’t send something in that will have to be sent back.

Adam Anderson: There’s all these automation opportunities as well in that customer service and support use case, such as auto reply. If you’re off, out of business hours, for example, if it’s after 6:00 PM and your office is closed, you can let them know that you’ll respond the next thing in the morning, at 8:00. Or, keywords is another one where you can set up an auto-response based on the keyword you said. Maybe someone texts you about hours, well, you can set it up to say, “Oh, here are our hours.” And that way they get information instantly and they don’t actually have to even wait for somebody to respond.

Adam Anderson: So customer service and support’s a great one. Scheduling is another huge one. Setting up appointments, obviously a big issue for a lot of small businesses, in particular. Customers can text their availability and confirm the appointment within the same conversation, so eliminate phone tag. You can set up a reminder ahead of time so that we can schedule messages. When you’re setting up your appointment with your patient, you can just program and say, okay, a week before they’re supposed to come in, I’m going to send them a note. The great thing in this scenario is, if they need to reschedule or they have any questions, based on the reminder, they can just get right back to you. They can call you on that same number or they can just ping you back and ask you their questions. Really important for scheduling.

Adam Anderson: We also do alerts and reminders, marketing and promotion, time-sensitive offers. We get analytics that we build into the software. All these great use cases really apply across the gamut to small and medium businesses.

Scott Heimes: Yeah. So many applications. I think about recruiting and the whole process of bill collection.

Adam Anderson: Yeah.

Scott Heimes: And internal communications, inside of a university system, for example.

Adam Anderson: Yeah.

Scott Heimes: Or a large business. It’s just sort of endless how many different ways you can use business texting.

Adam Anderson: Yeah, the internal comms one is really good. I know folks who had a business, actually it was a sanitation business, who used it to communicate with their folks in the field, and it was really effective. These guys have their cell phones on them. They were able to really treat it like a switchboard.

Scott Heimes: Before businesses dive into texting, what are some of the other considerations they should think about before they launch a program?

Adam Anderson: Sure. Like any technology implementation, you’re going to want to make sure you start with an easy to use tool. You’re going to want to focus on training and adoption. Help them see the value–how it’s going to help their everyday, how it’s going to help the company. And, texting is a high priority medium. Our research says that 74% of business customers will read a text and respond within an hour. And that’s not just millennials, that’s a misconception, is people think that this is just the younger generation, it’s not actually, we’ve got data as well on the generational practices of texting, and it’s something that is welcomed and appreciated across all generations.

Scott Heimes: Yeah. How about the legal side of texting? What about compliance?

Adam Anderson: Yeah. That’s a really important point. People often will not consider that, but it’s an important part of your consideration when you enable a solution like this. And really, text like you want to be texted yourself. Don’t spam people. And if you want some more specific guidance, we’ve got some great resources on our website. You can check out The Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers, and also, we have something called the TCPA Compliance e-book, in addition to a webinar, so that we can make sure you get all the information you need so you can apply this.

Scott Heimes: Yeah. Obviously, business texting is different than personal texting. What are some of the nuances that come to mind?

Adam Anderson: Sure. I think there are a lot of similarities. Obviously, you’ve got to apply some common sense. You’re talking in a business setting, so you want to be professional. Introduce yourself. Keep it short. Though, if you do want make it a little bit longer, Zipwhip’s just enabled a character limit of 600 characters into their text messages, which is much more than your typical text message. So that’s great, gives you that flexibility if you need it. Really helpful for cutting and pasting URLs, by the way, when you don’t have to use a bitly, which sometimes can look a little spammy.

Adam Anderson: But, in general though, keep it professional and have a little bit of fun. Keep the momentum going. Reply quickly. You can set up keywords for common inquiries, where you might have a delay in responding and someone would benefit from an answer right away. And then be mindful of the time of day. It’s a business communication, you may not want to text them at 9:00 PM. You can use the scheduling functionality to send a text the next day, if it’s more appropriate.

Scott Heimes: How about emojis? Can you use emojis in business texting?

Adam Anderson: You absolutely can use emojis. In fact, emojis are one of our most used features. So, definitely. Just consider what’s appropriate for the workplace. But yeah, I think that’s warm and engaging and generally I think it’s a way you can get improved customer response if you show a little personality.

Scott Heimes: Yeah. Well, where can our listeners go find information about business texting and The Ultimate Guide?

Adam Anderson: Sure. You can download The Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers on our website, Zipwhip.com, and check out the Resource Center for this e-book and other e-books and resources like that.

Scott Heimes: Alright, well thanks for joining us on the Zipcast, Adam.

Adam Anderson: Yeah, thanks, it was a lot of fun.

Scott Heimes: Thanks for joining us. Make sure you subscribe to the Zipcast on Apple podcasts, or wherever you listen, so you get the latest episodes. And feel free to text us with topics you’d like to hear about, or other feedback for the show. Just text (206) 582-3740 anytime of the day. Until next time.

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