Protocols and Etiquette for Texting in the Contact Center

In a world of ever-changing technology, your contact center should be avidly looking to implement the “latest and greatest.” With a new generation of customers, the millennials, comes a new preferred channel of communication, text messages.

Texting, also known as Short Message Service (SMS), is perfectly positioned to explode in demand within contact centers. SMS text messages have a phenomenal open rate of anywhere from 82 percent to 98 percent (compare that to just 22 percent for email). These figures alone should compel businesses to optimize texting to drive business growth.

So, where did this push to communicate with brands via text messaging originate? Primarily, it grew out of common usage by non-business entities—regular everyday people—who use their omnipresent smartphones to communicate with their friends and family. Naturally, the trend started with millennials—the generation of people born between 1982 and 2000 who were raised on digital technology.

With texting as integral as it is to the lives of millennials—and many of the rest of us—it was bound to take its place in contact center communications eventually, especially since the technology to integrate the channel has been around for a while. However, texting mustn’t be introduced without first considering its impact on the entire operation—from the cost and implementation of new technology and infrastructure to staff selection and training.

Once you’ve decided to join the multitude of contact centers embracing the text channel, be sure your Communicators understand the do’s and don’ts, so they can interact successfully with customers.

Texting Protocols and Etiquette:

  • Respond quickly: Like other digital channels, such as live chat and social media, texts require a quick response time—five minutes is great, an hour the end limit—to result in successful interactions. Even if your Communicators can respond quickly to texts, it’s a good idea to provide an auto-text reply for first contacts to assure customers that their message was received and will get a prompt reply.
  • Be friendly: Use a polite, upbeat tone. Don’t be silly or sarcastic—like you are when texting with friends; be business-appropriate.
  • Spell out the process: Exchanges with customers should be efficient. Tell them exactly how to proceed and what kind of information to supply.
  • Write well: The format (160 words or less) requires that you be concise, but don’t forget to be clear. Use terminology consistently (e.g., don’t switch from “reply” to “respond”) and always provide value. The use of correct spelling and grammar is also a prerequisite—no matter how casual the medium may seem.
  • Limit number and length of texts: Take care not to inundate customers with texts (especially for marketing purposes). Also, split long texts into two or more parts—and make sure each one can stand on its own logically.
  • Allow customization: Let customers customize their texting experience. Give them options for the type and frequency of messages they’d like to receive.

When strategically integrated into your contact center, texting can enhance the overall customer experience. Remember, communicating with your audience in their desired channel is essential to your contact center’s success.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.