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.

 

Are You Compliant with the New FCC Rules?

On Thursday June 18th, the FCC approved a TCPA Declaratory Ruling that is meant to “protect consumers from unwanted robocalls and texts.” The ruling was approved by a vote of 3-2 and the official text was released, and became effective, on Friday July 10th.

So, what does this new policy mean moving forward?

An instrumental part of providing the utmost quality of customer care in the contact center space is compliance with privacy restrictions implemented by governing regulatory bodies, such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

InfoCision has reviewed internal policies and procedures to ensure full compliance with the Ruling and have implemented the most conservative standard to protect our clients, our company and our employees. We also encourage all organizations to make sure any third party vendors they utilize are compliant.

As an industry leading expert in compliance, we are providing a brief summary of the FCC Ruling for your reference.

ATDS (Automatic Telephone Dialing System)                                   ATDS is defined as any device or equipment which has the current or potential capacity with software modifications or additions to store or produce telephone numbers to be dialed randomly or sequentially without human intervention.  The hardware determines whether the equipment is an ATDS or not, i.e. if the hardware configuration cannot dial without human intervention without additional hardware, it is not an ATDS. The definition also includes calls to a set list of numbers using an ATDS.

The TCPA’s express consent requirements for calls to cell phones apply if the calls are made using an ATDS or prerecorded message.

It’s critical when contacting a cell phone number to use a manual dial solution which meets the specific terms required by the FCC.

Re-Assigned Numbers, Called Party and Wrong Number Calls         The TCPA exempts calls made to cell phones using an ATDS or prerecorded message if the “called party” provided prior express (written) consent for such calls.  The FCC has expanded the determination for who the called party is, in situations where the caller intends to call one person but unintentionally reaches another.  This situation could occur primarily when a number has been reassigned without the caller’s knowledge.  According to the FCC, businesses will have only one opportunity to call a reassigned number.

Text Messages                                                                                       Text messages are defined as a call to a mobile number and subject to TCPA consent and dialing requirements.

Remaining compliant is imperative for the respect and safety of your consumers as well as protecting an organization from significant monetary liabilities.

Click here to read more about regulatory compliance standards in the contact center space.

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 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 has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s highest honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

Opt-out confirmation text messages deemed legal by the FCC

text messagesLast week, the FCC issued a ruling stating that it is legal to send a one-time text message to confirm that someone has opted out of receiving future text messages from a specific organization.  This had been an issue of great interest within the direct marketing industry, as mobile marketing is becoming more and more popular as a meaningful way of contacting customers.

The issue stemmed from a case last year where a consumer sued a direct marketing organization that had sent a follow-up text to confirm his opt-out, and they settled out of court rather than fighting it, setting a bad precedent for the industry.

I applaud the FCC for a very reasonable and responsible decision in allowing follow-up messages to be utilized to confirm opt-out requests for consumers.  When considering that the consumers being contacted had expressly opted in to receiving the messages at some point in the recent past, and were receiving text messages from the organization in a completely legal way, it was a bit frightening that the direct marketer could face disciplinary measures for confirming opt-outs.  Frankly, opt-out confirmation messages are a valuable service that the direct marketing organization is providing to the consumer so that they can be 100% sure that their opt-out request has been received.  To penalize a direct marketer for providing this service would – simply put – be senseless.

To read more on this, there is a good article in AdWeek.

In addition, you can get more information on the ruling by visiting the blog of Michele Shuster of MacMurray, Peterson and Shuster, industry legal experts.