Snippet imageThis is the first of my 3-part series on how to use SMS/Texting in increasing communication with your customers, employees and others to improve efficiencies and provide a better engagement and experience. We recently moved into a new house (in a new City, State). The move necessitated a visit to the local DMV to get a new State ID/License.  I haven’t been to a DMV office in a while, and the last memory wasn’t a pleasant one – I had to stand in a stagnant line behind 20+ people, not knowing when my turn will come. I prepared myself mentally and physically, and walked in expecting a repeat of my last visit. This was different. When I walked in, I was promptly directed to a kiosk conveniently located right next to the main entrance. The Kiosk collected two pieces of information from me – the reason for my visit (I was provided a menu of options) and my Cell Phone number. After collecting the information, the display told me that I will receive further instructions to my Cell Phone. Within a few seconds, I received a Text message informing that I had a wait time of approximately 45 minutes and I will be notified via Text if things changed or when it is my turn to meet one of the DMV staff. About 30 minutes in, I received an update that I am next at counter 5. I am over 40, so it wasn’t my first visit to the DMV; but this experience at the DMV was a first. This demonstrates how texting, combined with other tools, can be used to improve the customer experience. Soon thereafter, I had a couple more experiences. The first one, a text from my doctor’s office confirming my next appointment. This one was interactive, I could reply with a C to confirm or call them at a phone number to reschedule. The next one was at a restaurant. We have been to the one of their locations near our previous house (different city), where they were still using the coaster things that light up and vibrate when it is your turn. This location just takes your cell phone number and sends you a text with estimated wait time etc. Very similar to the DMV. Main Image In all of the above scenarios, SMS/Texting capability was added to the Information Systems and Processes to improve efficiencies and save time for both the service provider and the customer. Depending on your business, Texting could be embedded in various systems. But the most effective and common place to embed texting is in your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This is typically the system that is used by most businesses to engage with their customers. Do you have a CRM System that supports SMS/texting? Does it allow you to customize who, when and how you want to text? Since we are a Salesforce.com partner, I will use it to discuss a few scenarios. Of course, all of this only works if you already have cell phone numbers of your Leads and/or Customers. The following are a few examples of activities you could implement in your CRM system to improve engagement.
            1. Lead – Related Activities
              1. A New lead captured through a Web to lead form – Send notification texts to the assigned Sales Rep.
              2. Send a text to the Lead confirming that you got their information and a sales rep will be in touch with them soon.
              3. Depending on your business – if you want to, you can even conduct a short interactive SMS/text exchange to qualify or find out more about the lead.
              4. Ask the Lead questions to better align their needs with your offerings.
            2. Customer – Related Activities
              1. Order Confirmation
              2. Order Status updates
              3. Delivery Status, ETA etc.
              4. Post-Delivery Confirmation
              5. Support Request Status
              6. Information Campaign
            3. General – Relationship & Loyalty building Activities
              1. Send a Birthday greeting
              2. Send Reminders
              3. Send Holiday greetings
              4. Send Alerts
I am sure you can come up with a lot more scenarios on how to use texting as part of your CRM system’s activities. open_sms_pro_boxThe next question is does Salesforce support texting as a built-in feature? At the time of writing this, the answer is No. However, Salesforce’s AppExchange marketplace has some texting applications. One of them is AppShark’s own “Open SMS Pro”. Open SMS Pro can help you achieve most of the above goals with out-of-the-box features. Open SMS Pro is an “Open” texting platform that allows the use of any SMS Gateway world-wide. Depending on your location and/or the location of your target audience (Customers, Leads etc.), you can sign up with a gateway that provides the best pricing and use that Gateway through Open SMS Pro. For more information visit the AppExchange listing OR the Open SMS Pro site. You might also like:

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