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How to Leverage Texting for Superb Customer Service

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Today’s consumers want business communication that’s flexible, which means only offering phone call or email support isn’t going to cut it anymore. More than 90% of consumers say they’ve hung up while waiting on hold for customer support. But the solution is right at your fingertips—literally! Eighty percent of consumers say it’s important for businesses to offer texting as a communication option.

Check out this 50-minute webinar to learn how you can transform your own customer service with text messaging. We cover loads of customer service use cases, from appointment scheduling to answering common questions and much more. Plus, hear how we use Zipwhip in our own service and success departments and our biggest takeaways.

You’ll learn:

  • Why SMS creates a better customer experience
  • Common uses for texting in customer service
  • How real businesses are improving customer service with texting
  • Tips for providing top-notch support via text
  • And more

Featuring

Megan Wildwood
Senior Technical Support Specialist, Customer Experience
Elisa Ruehlmann
Senior Customer Success Manager

Keith Hitchcock:
Hello, and welcome to another webinar at Zipwhip HQ in Seattle. This is How to Leverage Texting for Superb Customer Service. So glad that you’re joining us today. I’m your host for the day, Keith Hitchcock, Digital Content Manager at Zipwhip. Right away, I want to introduce the two folks that are going to be along on the journey with us. Are you out there, Megan and Elisa? All right. Hello, and welcome.

Keith Hitchcock:
I want to introduce Megan Wildwood. She is Customer Advocacy Program Specialist at Zipwhip. Megan, can you tell folks a little bit more about who you are and what you do>

Megan Wildwood:
Hi, Keith. I started as a frontline support person at Zipwhip, and now I partner with the Support Operations Team and as part of the product release cycle, so I consider myself an expert on Zipwhip’s features from a best practices point of view as well as having real experience using them in real life situations while assisting customers. That is what I hope to share today.

Keith Hitchcock:
Awesome. Glad you’re here, and Elisa Ruehlman [crosstalk 00:01:13] Senior Customer Success Manager at Zipwhip. Elisa, tell us a little bit more about who you are and what you do at Zipwhip.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Oh, for sure. I have been at Zipwhip for almost three years and as a Senior Customer Success Manager, I work with some of our larger customers on texting strategies to make sure they are communicating the best they can utilizing Zipwhip.

Keith Hitchcock:
Awesome. So glad that both of you are with us today because this is all about customer service and support and you two are experts in that, so perfect people for the job today, being here and drilling down on how to do texting for customer service.

Keith Hitchcock:
A quick note, this is a live webinar. As we’re doing this, I am noticing an interesting issue with my computer not charging. It should be charged into a dock, just FYI, but there is a chance that I will, poof, disappear at some point, and one of our moderators hopefully will be able to take over the deck and we’ll continue. If it all falls apart and crumbles, never fear. We will follow up with a video link and a PDF to a webinar that will record at another time, so you’ll still get the info.

Keith Hitchcock:
With that in mind, I mentioned moderators. We do have a robust team of moderators behind the scenes helping us out, answering your questions that we’re not able to answer along the way, so thank you for being here, moderators. You’ve got to know us a little bit. We want to get to know you just a little bit, so I’m going to launch a poll. This helps us get to know you a little bit and understand who we’re talking to. It’s a simple question. How does your company currently text with customers? Take a moment and engage with that. Love to get a sense of how you’re texting or not texting yet and where you’re coming from. I’ll give you another few moments to engage with that, and then we’ll close up the poll.

Keith Hitchcock:
Another few moments, another few moments. Okay, I’m going to close the poll and we’ll take a look at the results here just to see who we are. Okay, some of you are texting with a business provided a personal or business cellphone. A lot of customers on the line, whether it’s software or API customers, and thanks for your business. Some other folks who are using other texting solutions, and there’s no one who’s not texting customers right now, so great. Thanks for playing. We have a little greater sense of who we’re talking to today.

Keith Hitchcock:
Okay. A quick look at our overview. It’s pretty simple. After a couple of more moments of housekeeping, we’re going to dive into the main content, and we will have a dedicated period for Q&A at the end, so do ask your questions whenever. In fact, if you’re new to GoToWebinar, that should be pretty simple. You can engage with that question window and it comes to only us. Don’t think that you’re broadcasting it out to the whole audience here. It’s just us that get that. A moderator might be able to help you out with it if it’s just kind of a techy question, and we’ll also be seeing those questions later on for the Q&A.

Keith Hitchcock:
As a thank you for engaging with a brief survey, when we close the webinar today, we will be sending along a video recording and a PDF of the slides that you’re seeing today, so no need to make copious, copious notes. You’ll get those resources. With that, I’ll mention just an overview of the content, which there’s four main sections today when we dive in. All about how SMS creates a powerful customer experience, common use cases for texting in customer service. We’ll take a look at a couple of businesses and actually how their texting and their ROI that they’re getting from it, and you’ll be getting tips for how to provide excellent tech support from our special guests who are experts in this.

Keith Hitchcock:
All of this content is inspired by an e-book that we recently published of just How to Transform Your Customer Service with Texting. I’ll tell you how to… Well, I’ll tell you now how to get that. We are showcasing our keyword capability that we do with texting, so if you want to text this word right now to our webinar info line, which is this number, we’ll send you a link to that e-book and some other helpful resources. We’ll text it right to you, and a lot of customers on the line, so be sure to toggle your signature off so we’re getting only that word when you text that line. I’m going to move the slide on, but you will be getting that. I’ll show you that word and number later on as well if you happen to miss it.

Keith Hitchcock:
Before the main content, not many people very new to this concept of, what is texting for business? I’m not going to spend a lot of time here. Suffice to say, is different than personal texting. There’s such a thing as business texting etiquette. Generally means dedicated software or API like a lot of people are already using. Generally means text-enabling your existing business number or toll-free number. It generally involves lots of other extra features and functionality, some of which we’ll be discussing today.

Keith Hitchcock:
Why are businesses using texting? Also won’t belabor this. In short, it’s that email and phone are just not as effective anymore, along with the fact that texting seems to be the preferred medium for most people these days. There’s some stats here. We love to do research at Zipwhip, and you’ll be seeing more stats along the way that are kind of fun to spice in along the way.

Keith Hitchcock:
With that, I want to dive into our main content so I can stop blabbing at you and we can talk to the experts today about customer experience, customer service, customer support. Diving in with why SMS actually creates a great customer experience, and Elisa, I think you’re going to kick us off with the key benefits of texting.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Yeah, it sounds great. As you can see outlined here, we have a few of the key benefits to texting. As you know, if you’re working in a customer support team, calls can be very expensive. You need somebody to answer the phone. It takes time back and forth. Voicemail, also time-consuming. It’s a lot easier to connect via text. Chatbots also can be really frustrating for customers. A lot of times they are powered by AI, so they’re a bit automated. They can be frustrating when a customer just wants a quick question answered.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Not only that, but texting can really help you close out any customer request a lot quicker, so we know if you’re a big customer experience team or even if you’re just a small office, you want to close out any requests as quickly as possible. Not maintaining an app is also a cost savings, and we’ve found that customers don’t really want to have to download another app, so on their end of things, they’re just using their texting on their phone, so it’s just super easy for them.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Another one we’re going to talk about more throughout the webinar is helping more customers at once. It’s really, really easy to do in the Zipwhip platform. Your customers, they want to be texting you, so anyone who’s already using Zipwhip probably has a pretty good understanding of that.

Keith Hitchcock:
Awesome. All right, those are a lot of the key benefits of texting, and the rest of this section I feel like is really dedicated to why some of these other forms of communication aren’t working so well, so Megan?

Megan Wildwood:
Yeah. We all dread having to call customer service and waiting on hold, especially if we have a simple question that we just need a simple answer to. Maybe we already checked out the website and a lot of customer service lines have a lot of interruptions with voice recordings telling you to check out this help search stuff, which can be additionally frustrating if you have that simple question that could just be solved via text.

Megan Wildwood:
In addition, phone calls are really the most costly form of support a company can offer, so it’s a win for your customers and a win for you as a team to switch to texting instead of phone calls. The states down here, we have 92% of consumers said that they’ve hung up after waiting on hold for customer support. I know I have in the past, and 77% of those consumers say that if there’s an offered text support, the situation could have been improved. If you just take a moment to think about past interactions you’ve had and when you’ve had more like via text or even the chat versus a phone call, you can kind of understand where your customers are probably coming from, too.

Keith Hitchcock:
Awesome. Some thoughts on phone calls and also going to talk about email here. There we go. There we go. Elise?

Elisa Ruehlmann:
I’m going to talk about email a little bit. I’m sure all of you have emailed a support team and waited a day or two for a response. It’s not always the most top of mind for a lot of customer service teams are checking a lot of different streams of communication. Emails can really get lost in the bottom of inbox, especially for your customers. You go and email them back, I mean, maybe they check their email eventually that day, so you just really lose touch with them when they need you the most. It’s just frustrating when a customer just needs a quick question answered. Email’s just not a really great medium for that. Texting is quick and easy and it’s personal.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
We have some stats to back that up. 39% of consumers have more than a hundred unread messages in their inbox, and what’s really scary is 20% have over a thousand, which you can only imagine that your response is just going to get lost in there and they might even think you never got back to them. 56% estimate that they received anywhere from 25 to a hundred emails a day, yet nearly half are reporting they’re only reading zero to five, so I think those stats really speak for themselves.

Keith Hitchcock:
Awesome. Phone, email, and how about branded apps, Megan?

Megan Wildwood:
If you are not a software company, do you really want to hire someone to design, build, and maintain an app that your customers don’t even want? If you’re like Zipwhip, our app is integral to what we’re providing, but if you are a gym or a vet or a doctor’s office, you probably don’t need to spend all of the time creating your own app. You could invest that money somewhere else in your business and get a better return, for sure, because consumers have app fatigue and we all have trouble remembering our existing passwords and definitely don’t need another log-in to juggle.

Megan Wildwood:
64% of consumers said they’re unlikely or very unlikely to download a business’ branded app, and 61% said that they’re very likely just to delete it shortly thereafter. On top of that, if you’re not a software company, there’s a high chance of your app glitching or having bugs that really increase frustration in the customer experience, so probably best to just avoid that overall.

Keith Hitchcock:
All right, and there’s one other medium to consider here in this first section here, chatbots, Elisa.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Yeah, so chatbots really lack that personal connection that your customers are craving. They can be really inauthentic. I don’t know if you’ve ever communicated on a chatbot. It really there might be a safer way to communicate with the businesses that I’m a customer of. Not only that, but the really frustrating thing, it’s like let’s say you’re starting to type out a question.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
You as a consumer, let’s say, have a question for a company and then, “Oh, something else came in.” You go to another tab, you come back, your conversation could have disappeared. Then, you have to reengage another person, wait for them to get back to you. It’s a lot to manage and it lacks just some of the features that Zipwhip has like our custom signature, which allows you to personalize that communication.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
It’s that one-to-one and you’re not also dealing with that AI component where it’s just like an automated answer in a chatbot, which is a lot of how they are set up. It seems like it’s this immediate form of communication. It’s super easy and front and center, but can lead to frustration for your customers. Again, there’s some great stats. 74% of consumers prefer to speak to a person versus a chatbot when they’re conducting business.

Keith Hitchcock:
All right. Well, you’ve both built a strong case for using texting versus some of these other methods, and a lot of this is probably already preaching to the choir because a lot of people who are watching today are already texting. Let’s dive into part two, which is about the common uses that businesses are texting these days for customer service, starting with some of the features that businesses use intensively for service and support. Megan?

Megan Wildwood:
As Keith said, texting makes sense as your customer service method of choice. It’s easy, so the real question here is, why Zipwhip? We combine the ease in texting with powerful features that every business needs. We have auto replies to ensure your customer is never left waiting even if you are helping another customer in person or out of the office. Keywords help customers self-serve on [inaudible 00:15:40] when we ask questions, templates to save your team time and money, and scheduled messages to plan ahead.

Megan Wildwood:
On top of that, you can see in the image that we have dynamic fields, so we can take those templates or scheduled messages and personalize them with people’s like first name or other custom fields you can set up, so like a vet office could have the pet’s name. Then, your customers can benefit if you’re doing like a personalized response and you have all of the efficiencies that a business needs to operate today.

Keith Hitchcock:
You’re right, and I think we’re going to have some examples of some of these throughout the webinar, so you can stay tuned for auto replies, keywords, templates, et cetera. Moving on to this common use case for customer service. Elisa?

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Yeah, so you can see in this one… This is one of my favorite use cases, by the way. I’ve seen a lot of success with customers I’ve worked with that are appointment-based. One of the features that we didn’t mention in the previous slide is something we call group messages. You can send messages up to a hundred people and it comes through like a blank carbon copy. You can personalize it with those dynamic fields that Megan pointed out, so it really just looks like a text going to one person when it’s actually going out to a hundred.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
If you’re appointment-based, you can reach out to a lot of people at once to let them know an appointment’s open, and that really drives ROI, keeping those appointments booked, or fifth key. It’s just a really, really great way to achieve your business goals by utilizing texting and, again, it’s just a quick and easy… Somebody responds to you back and forth and you’re good to go.

Keith Hitchcock:
Awesome, sharing information instantly, and Megan, on to reducing phone call volume.

Megan Wildwood:
In this example, you’re going to see that it’s an auto reply that somebody logged in… Or, sorry, somebody texted the company that they’re having trouble logging in. Then, there’s an auto reply that there is an existing issue. Auto replies are great at helping to reduce phone call volume, so telling your customers that they can text instead of call and wait on hold if they have an issue. It helps in situations like where you can’t have your staff answering a phone. Maybe there’s bad weather, there’s a bunch of snow and it’s unsafe for your staff to come into the office. Maybe your CRM you’re using is experiencing an outage, so you’re having trouble with those appointment reminders or other parts of your normal business.

Megan Wildwood:
You can log into Zipwhip and set up an auto reply to let your customers know that you’re aware of the issue. You can provide information instantly about that SLA. You can quickly update it as new information comes around, but basically, you’ll want to tell your customers that they can text you for any updates, even in weather situations like that, and you’ll save yourself a lot of unnecessary phone calls. Then, hopefully the only phone calls you have are the ones that can be solved without an actual call.

Keith Hitchcock:
Awesome. On to the next common use case. Elisa?

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Yeah, so you can definitely increase, or I should say decrease, your response time by helping people really quickly by reaching out to a lot of people at once. The platform makes that super easy through a number of our features. For instance, our Customer Experience Team that Megan works on recently put “Text Our Number” on our support page. Just really easy to connect, and then since you can help multiple people at once, you can just easily answer a question really quickly.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
There’s also other tools you can use to make the platform work for you, which we’ll get into this call a little bit more. know Megan talked about auto reply. That’s something that takes just a second to set up and it can automatically trigger to any incoming message should there be an outage or if there’s a weather event or any other number of things that can come up. It’s the Zipwhip platform just has a ton of features to make it really easy to connect with a lot of customers at once and help them right way.

Keith Hitchcock:
Awesome. On to the next one, Megan.

Megan Wildwood:
A picture is worth a thousand words is a cliché, but it’s definitely true for text messaging. In this example, there is a potential customer for a landscape company and they had a tree fall over and they sent a picture so that the landscape company could assess the job. When you think about how this would have been handled without MMS, possibly at the cost of the company they would offer free consultations, send at least one person out to go see what the situation was so they can have a good idea of what it’s like before they get in their truck and go out there. They also know what equipment to bring depending on the size of the job. They are not wasting any time with those two thins as part of their regular business.

Megan Wildwood:
Instead of the customer trying to explain the size of this tree without a picture, they can just send a picture and be on their way. That company will get the right jobs for them and save a lot of resources in the meantime.

Keith Hitchcock:
Yeah. It’s fun to see how… I often see companies using MMS in really interesting, innovative ways, so it’s always fun to see how businesses can implement that to really improve their customer service flow. All right, and on to this one, Elisa.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Yeah, so I know I touched previously about scheduling appointments. Zipwhip is a really great tool for doing that. You can see in this example a customer reaches out. “When do you have availability?” It can be really easy to set up an appointment. Just a couple of quick back-and-forth, checking the receptionist or whoever’s at the front desk, checking availability. Then, what you can do on the back end is you can set up a scheduled message to go out at a later date to remind that person of their appointment.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
You can really reduce any missed appointments or anything like that, which is, of course, very important that we make sure all of the appointments actually show up. You can just set up the platform to do it for you. This is just a great example. It doesn’t have to be a haircut. It can be any kind of appointment. You know, you could be a mortgage company, insurance, any industry where you’re setting something like that up. You can use those scheduled messages to Geopointe Net Reminders, so just quickly reschedule an appointment.

Keith Hitchcock:
It’s true. It’s not just your dentist giving you a reminder anymore. It’s like so many different businesses can be reminding you that, “Oh, we have a phone call coming up,” so-

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Yeah, for sure.

Keith Hitchcock:
Awesome. All right, and our last common use case in this section. Megan, walk us through that.

Megan Wildwood:
Yeah, so to build on the scheduled messages, in this example we have an auto repair shop using scheduled message to reach out to the customer who has recommended maintenance coming up. I’m sure we’ve all gotten this message before from our auto repair people if you have cars, and prior to texting, this would have taken several phone calls probably and resulted in phone tag. There’s no real good time. If you work a nine-to-five job and then the mechanic’s open nine to five, trying to get connected during your business day is more difficult on the phone than it is via text, obviously.

Megan Wildwood:
Now, they can go ahead and pop that scheduled text in like after the oil change they do for three months down the road or whenever it is. Their customer can respond to it at their convenience, so it saves a lot of time, money, and also as Elisa mentioned earlier, just make sure that more appointments are booked, which definitely helps the ROI of any company no matter what service you’re providing.

Keith Hitchcock:
For sure. All right, those are the common use cases for texting customer service. In a brainstorm, there were a bunch of other ways that texting is being used, so here is just some of the many ways that businesses, depending on what business you’re in, you can use texting for customer service and support.

Keith Hitchcock:
All right, moving on to part three, taking a look at a couple of different businesses and how they’re using texting and how it’s working for them. Let’s dive into the first one, Providence Animal Care. Megan?

Megan Wildwood:
Yeah, Providence Animal Center is a veterinarian hospital and what they shared with us is that using the book protecting, they’ve saved more than six hours a day. They said that their favorite feature was the auto reply for when their office is closed. It’s important to note that we can set up auto replies when your office is open that are different, too, so you can let people know like how long it will be before somebody can get in touch with them. Auto reply is a great feature that many businesses use and really appreciate.

Megan Wildwood:
They said that they mostly use texting as a replacement for live calls because, as a veterinarian’s practice, they receive hundreds of questions daily, so they probably have a lot of various animal patients. There’s scheduled vaccinations and other stuff, but there’s also like those emergency questions of, “Unfortunately, my dog ate something and now I need to know if it’s urgent, or I can wait it out.” That all is a lot easier to handle via text, at least to assess whether or not a phone call is necessary.

Megan Wildwood:
Then, there’s also the [inaudible 00:25:42]. People love sending and receiving pictures of their pets, and I know that when I have dropped my cat off, for example, for some surgery or something, that I appreciate getting a picture in between just to make sure that he’s doing okay and that the location is clean and friendly and as nice of a veterinarian hospital as it could be.

Keith Hitchcock:
Awesome, and…

Megan Wildwood:
They have a quote here that says, “We can support more than one client at a time. Phone calls can last eight to 10 minutes, and most of the conversation is unnecessary information.” In addition, they use like the appointment confirmations and clients like it more, and as somebody who’s been on the front lines, there is a lot of downtime on a call and if somebody signs like a waiver form an then you’re on the phone as they’re filling it out when you could be texting them that link to that form and they could fill it out at their convenience, get back to you for the next step. Then, you could like help somebody else answer a question about their prescription pet food, for example.

Megan Wildwood:
This is a really strong use case, but even non-veterinarian hospitals find a lot of benefit in these features, as Elisa will talk about next.

Keith Hitchcock:
All right. Awesome. Providence Animal Center. Moving on to Diamond Transportation, Elisa.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Yeah, so Diamond Transportation is a great customer of Zipwhip. What they do is they provide chauffeured transportation for big events like think of big business events, a wedding, something like that. You can only imagine how many logistics are involved, both internally and externally, so the features they liked the most is scheduled messages, which we have spoken about a lot. They really rely on automated messaging to send those reminders like, “Your big day is coming up. Here’s what you need to know.” You can only imagine like the communication that’s going on for them.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Also, they said that it just helps them… Oh, I was going to say they use status updates to their clients about their trip, like what’s going on in process, so that’s really easy to do. Most of their customers, specific day of thing, you don’t have time to jump on the call. A quick test to be really appreciated, I know we’ve all probably planned big events and the last thing you want to do is answer a call when you’re in the middle of all of the other things that could be going on. They get an instant answer and they can communicate internally. It’s really helped cut down with their day-to-day communication, and they even take sent payment links as well through text.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Here’s a great quote for them. They’re able to help a lot of customers at the same time versus that one at a time on the phone. Like Megan said, waiting for paperwork to be sent back. “Oh, did you get that email?” You’re really just saving time and that helps with the back-and-forth with their drivers, that internal communication, checking in on the logistics, that they arrived. Did they find the location? All of that good stuff.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Again, that kind of as the photos come in where they can send photos back and forth. “Hey, we’re here.” Take a picture of where the driver’s at, what the car looks like, and using templates, which is like a standardized communication, which I usually recommend to keep it in the voice of your business. It’s just really enhanced our overall customer interaction.

Keith Hitchcock:
All right, two very different businesses using texting a lot, and something like using the same feature like MMS in such a different way. So interesting. All right, there are more, by the way, case studies, businesses in the e-book, so I recommend going through that, but we need to dive into our last section, last same section here. Getting into the nitty-gritty of some tips for how to provide excellent text support, so let’s dive in with that. I think that is Lisa, Elisa.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Yes. You got it. Replying quickly is important. This is something I actually talk about quite a bit. Your customers are expecting an immediate response with texting, so I usually recommend that you answer any text within 10 minutes. If you’re not able to, what you can do is you can set up some kind of an auto reply, which this very well may be in that example up there, or it could have just been some of the things that somebody individually sent out. That’s the beauty of a lot of the features is it’s hard to tell on the customer’s end of thing. It all seems very personal depending on how you set up your communication.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
If you’re not going to be able to answer a question within 10 minutes, they usually recommend set up an auto reply that goes out that just says, “Hey, we got your message.” That’s important that the customer knows you received it. They texted the right number. They didn’t like mistype a digit in case they don’t have you saved as a contact, and so then they know when to hear back. You can just let them know how long it’s going to be. We usually reply to all texts within 30 minutes, is really a great best practice for any business.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
You can also utilize keywords within any auto reply that can quickly answer any FAQs. An example might be like hours. It could have in your auto reply like, “For basic questions, here’s,” you could have several keywords in there. Then, they get the hours and then the platform’s basically done the work for you. Those are all of the ways you can quickly help your customers.

Keith Hitchcock:
Love it, and just a quick note, what you’re seeing on this slide is a part of the Zipwhip tool. A lot of people online already recognize that, but if you’re not, this is what it looks like. It’s almost like a cellphone, but with some added bells and whistles like adding the templates, emojis, your signature, a photo, that sort of thing, down there on the lower left of the tool. Just so you know what you’re looking at there. Moving on to the next one, Megan.

Megan Wildwood:
Yeah. As Elisa mentioned, you can use auto replies during the office hours to set expectation for when you’ll respond. In this example, the Walrus company lets customer know that they got the right person when they tried to text them and that somebody will be with them in 20 minutes. In the meantime, they asked for an account number so that when that rep is available, they have that information and don’t need to waste any more time. That’s definitely a best practice we recommend and use on Zipwhip support.

Keith Hitchcock:
Awesome. Great. Quick tip to introduce yourself, Elisa.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Yeah, for sure. One of the really great features is, obviously, you can personalize your communication. Zipwhip is the one-to-one medium, so one of the features we do have that we haven’t touched on is a signature that you can attach to every message you send out. Again, it just lets the consumer, the customer know who they’re communicating with because you might have many different people on your customer service team reaching out. Just makes it personalized, then the person will be like, “Oh, hey, Wally.” It just really keeps that conversation professional as well as personalized.

Keith Hitchcock:
Awesome. Love it. The next one, Megan? Hello?

Megan Wildwood:
Sorry. This is a little it of a silly example here. Maybe a little more extreme than a typical person would have, but we recommend using templates to standardize your language. First, you will, of course, need to set expectation with your team about the kind of language you want to use when communicating with customers because texting does walk the line between a more casual form of communication, but you still want to be professional and respectful. Depending on your customer base, it may be a very different tone that you take. You can create templates for frequently used responses to help ensure consistent language for either more complicated things or procedural things, as well as just avoiding too much slang.

Megan Wildwood:
In this example, that employee is using some text slang that’s probably not appropriate for their workplace, and a template would likely help them respond in line with their company’s standards. To use a template is just that T icon on the clipboard, and then it just pastes right into the box and you can customize it and then click “Send.” It’s a really big time-saver, but also really helpful if you find yourself having issues with non-standard language depending on who’s responding to your customers.

Keith Hitchcock:
Yeah. Also a huge time-saver I know, templates. Moving on, a couple more left in this section, Elisa.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Okay. Got another thumbs down situation here, so you can see there’s a lot of slang being used in this one as well and their spelling, so I think it’s important, really, just to communicate with your team this is professional communication. This can also be an instance where those templates come in handy. You could use your corporate voice or whatever your tone is for your business, so I usually recommend templates are good because you can spell-check them, make sure the grammar is great and get them in there.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
There’s also a lot of browsers have an option to use a spelling check before you send it out, but in general, just communicating to the team you want to make sure you’re double-checking everything to keep that communication professional and error-free.

Keith Hitchcock:
Awesome, and last one in this section, Megan.

Megan Wildwood:
Sorry. You can help your customers all serve auto replies by including like a URL to your website, and this example is a hair salon that’s closed, so they have the out-of-office hours response and they also include that call to action, so scheduling a service online. This business frequently gets people texting about having a haircut appointment scheduled. That is a great way to help them get those appointments booked even if they’re not in the office while also providing valuable information and resources to their customer.

Megan Wildwood:
Other things they can do is auto replies. Include letting your customers know when they can expect to hear from you, as we mentioned, providing hours. If you’re unexpectedly closed for any reason, like in Seattle where we’re all located, a lot of businesses were closed for the heatwave a few weeks ago and having that kind of text auto reply would help avoid people unnecessarily trying to go and visit them and waste their time, which customers appreciate even if that business is closed that day.

Keith Hitchcock:
All right, and if we had more time, we’d be going into depth with some other tips here. I’ll note that, again, this content was inspired by this e-book that just came out, so if you are wanting to go further with this, get some more tips, more case studies, et cetera, do download that. Again, a link to that will be coming in a follow-up email to you and via that response text if you text in that line, which I’ll show that number in a little bit.

Keith Hitchcock:
To recap where we’ve been, we’ve built the case for using SMS for customer service. Gone over some common use cases and looked at a couple of businesses that are using texting heavily for customer service, and then went over some tips for providing excellent text support. Hope that is helpful, and it’s time for questions, so whatever has come up for you, feel free to type that into the question panel now and we’ll do our best to get to your question in the time that we have left. Maybe we can stay for another couple of minutes, depending on how many questions are coming in.

Keith Hitchcock:
We already have some coming in, and some people submitted some via registration as well. You may be hearing some of those, so let’s just dive in. “What are best practices when it comes to texting response times?” Who would like to take that?

Elisa Ruehlmann:
I can take that one. I already touched on it a little bit. Obviously, quicker is better. I usually say 10 minutes. I saw 20 minutes in one of the auto reply examples. Anything beyond that, again, texting is meant to be an immediate medium, so I would say that best practice aim for 10 minutes. You can work with your team on getting somebody assigned to manage the text line for that day. That’s a great way to handle it while somebody else manages your other streams of communication, so that would be my recommendation.

Keith Hitchcock:
Yeah, and I would guess that if you’re short-staffed or if you can’t get to it in 10 minutes, then that’s where setting expectations tip comes in, too, I would think.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Yeah, for sure. That’s where an auto reply, you just set that up. Let’s say you’re having a busy day. You have a company meeting, picnic, whatever, you can set up an auto reply so that way even if one of your staff isn’t personally responding to a text, your end customer is still getting a response quickly.

Keith Hitchcock:
That’s awesome. Okay, next question. “We would need to have multiple users using the same text line. How would that work?” That might be a good one for you, Megan.

Megan Wildwood:
Yeah, I can take that. If you are Zipwhip user or noticed in any of our screenshots, there is an internal signature [inaudible 00:39:39] who replied, so if Keith, for example, had messaged somebody, I can see that it’s Keith, which is a great tool for managers or other team members to just know who is interacting with the text line. Another strategy that’s used is having a playbook on who is monitoring the text line when so there’s accountability about getting back to customers within that 10 minutes, action plans on if… A lot of customer requests coming in, having a backup person.

Megan Wildwood:
It’s really about communication internally, and even if you work remotely, hopefully you can have a game plan at the beginning of the day and check in frequently with your coworkers. Then, what the customer sees, unless you put a signature on with your name on it, they’ll just see like one cohesive person, which is very standardized language when it comes into play.

Megan Wildwood:
If your customer requests are more complicated, you think you want to work one on one, you can have that person just like own the response even if they aren’t monitoring the overall text line so they can keep that flow going. Or, if it’s just a string of basic inquiries that anyone could help with, you can jump in and the customer won’t see a difference. It’s just really good customer experience, even if you have multiple people on the text line.

Keith Hitchcock:
Awesome. Thanks for that question and answer. Here’s a big one. We’ll give this a shot. “How to make SMS texting a part of a larger customer experience strategy.” Elisa, that might be goo for you. Maybe some high-level thoughts on this?

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). For sure, so I do work with a lot of companies. Very in depth on plans. I’m like, “How does SMS fit in with our other communication let’s say for a customer experience team?” Just keep in mind that texting is a tool in your tool belt. I always find it’s really helpful to define what your goals are, so maybe your goals are like some of the things we talked about on this call already. It’s a matter of filling more appointments. Maybe it’s turning texts quicker.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
The best first place to start on a high level is just deciding what your goal is and then executing on it. There’s a million ways to do it within Zipwhip, so if it’s to get those appointments filled quicker, then setting up keywords that respond, sending those group messages when you see you have an opening. I think Megan alluded to like a lot of times people have downtime, so those are just some quick ideas on how to do that, but I would just take it seriously as a business tool and really think through what you’re trying to accomplish and what part do you want texting to play a role in.

Keith Hitchcock:
Right. Thanks, Elisa. Next question, “What’s a simple way to group text clients?”

Megan Wildwood:
For group texting clients, my biggest recommendation is to have a single source of truth for all of your clients to have to opted-in detecting, remembering opt-in is really important nowadays to make sure that texting stays a professional and reputable form of communication. Having just one spreadsheet really helps if you have different tools, like maybe you use Zipwhip and a CRM for other aspects of your business. Then, you can easily take that data and format using our contact import template to get your contacts into Zipwhip.

Megan Wildwood:
You can also use a template to format a group up to a hundred, so there is a little bit of time to set up your groups, but many different businesses use elements that they have in common with their customers. For example, fitness studios might have people grouped by a new program offering so that they can do like a kind of add a… I mean, a texting campaign for new class offerings, for example, but other companies like an veterinarian office might group everyone that has a dog or a cat with like a December birthday so they can say happy birthday to those people in that month to stay engaged with their customers. It kind of depends a little bit on your strategy and what kind of group messages you want to send out.

Megan Wildwood:
Other people just want to group all of their contacts, so they just have a hundred people in the group and there’s not really a specific common denominator, but naming your group so that you know who is in them and then just having that written down as part of that playbook somewhere so if you have a team or onboarding new people that they understand what process you have set up so that it stays consistent. Clean data is really the important thing when it comes to group texting and making sure that you don’t skip anyone that you wanted to include in the groups, for example.

Keith Hitchcock:
Sometimes people who are not using Zipwhip are concerned about a group text like… The group text thread, someone else texting back and it going to everyone. Can you address that-

Megan Wildwood:
Yeah.

Keith Hitchcock:
… Megan?

Megan Wildwood:
Yeah, I can talk about that, so Elisa mentioned it earlier, but just to reiterate, our group messaging is like BCCing an email. If you’re not as familiar with that, basically you put all of the numbers in, but the person I’m receiving in… Like if I text Keith as part of a group, he will just see the message come from me to him and he won’t see any of the sensitive data about anyone else’s phone numbers, anyone else’s names, and if they reply he won’t see it. [inaudible 00:45:10] he replies, they won’t see it, but really kind of like a bulk texting rather than creating this ongoing group message between everyone that’s a conversation.

Megan Wildwood:
That is a bit of a key difference for potentially like if you have a bunch of iPhones messaging on the same thread, but it is a really good tool for a business to fill those appointments, for example, without having to text each person individually. You can text a whole group of people on a wait list, and then whoever responds back first can get that appointment on their books.

Keith Hitchcock:
Great. We have time for about one more question here and then we should start closing up shop. This question just came in. “How do we use our Zipwhip to send video messages?” Does someone want to address that?

Megan Wildwood:
Yeah.

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Did you want to answer it, Megan? You might have a better answer [crosstalk 00:46:09] than I do.

Megan Wildwood:
I can. Video messages aren’t supported on Zipwhip. We support MMS like pictures. Video messages depending on the file and the size and the carrier that is receiving it, maybe it will be sent, but it isn’t a feature that we officially support yet fully, so if there was an issue with it or somebody didn’t receive it or it won’t send, we don’t have a way to troubleshoot or work on implementing any kind of fixes around that. It is a feature that we know that people are really interested in and we do keep and collect our feature request and discuss them thoroughly whenever we update our product roadmap.

Keith Hitchcock:
Imagine just some workarounds that our customers are using. You’re touching on that, Elisa?

Elisa Ruehlmann:
Yeah. I was just going to say really quickly, I know we showed you guys that you can send links. You can easily send a link to a video that’s hosted elsewhere, so that’s definitely something that you can send out or receive. This is definitely one of the workarounds. One of my understandings about the videos is it’s kind of the SMS medium itself, it’s not necessarily the Zipwhip platform. There’s a couple of limitations and that’s one of them. In general, there’s so much you can communicate over text. Again, feel free to utilize a link if you really need to send a video or some other form of communication.

Keith Hitchcock:
Awesome. Yeah, you can still use the power of video, so it’s great. Okay, thanks for all of those questions and all of those answers. As we start to close up here, I’ll just show this, our keyword again onto this number. This is if you want to get some of those links if you haven’t yet snagged the e-book yet. This is a link so you can download that PDF directly, and there’s a few other resources there. If someone is not yet with Zipwhip and you want to chat about it, you can text us “CHAT” and we’ll set you up. Any other questions, we’ll do our best to continue answering those via text if you want.

Keith Hitchcock:
With that, thank you for joining us today, taking some time out of your day to learn more about customer service texting. Elisa, Megan, thank you so much for lending your expertise to the day. Really valuable information, so thank you for your time, and [crosstalk 00:48:37] if you’re curious about your next step in going deeper with this, again, I’ll mention that e-book. I’ve mentioned where to get that and via links. I think there’s still one in chat. Before we close up here, do take a moment to engage with that survey. We’ll be following up with an email with the video link and the PDF of the slides that you saw today. We hope to see you on another webinar in the future. Thanks again and have a great rest of your day. Bye-bye.

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