Offering a Customer Service Texting Option May Be Good or It May Be Bad

One of the great temptations for marketers is getting caught up in what attracts the attention of the news media. For the news media, when it comes to marketing, a good story is likely one dealing with advertising and product design, and not one dealing with other important marketing decisions such as shipping, warehousing and even product labeling. Yet, these less “glamorous” areas of marketing are still extremely important in building a successful marketing business.

Another area that can be added to this list of less-than-glamorous marketing functions is customer service. Many marketers despise getting involved in customer service as they view this as less of a service and more of dealing with whining customers. Of course, companies do face whining and, in some cases, arrogant customers, though to dismiss or give short shrift to a function that offers direct contact with those who support the business can be a big mistake.

However, recognizing the need for good customer service also means that companies must spend on technology. In today’s instant-contact-is-expected age, marketers cannot afford to let customers be limited to obtaining help from a few phone lines or through email. Companies must expand to offering near instant communication with its customer service department. This means providing such options as online chat and, as described in this story from CRM Magazine, the use of text messaging.

Adding a text messaging option would seem to be easy. Just have a few smartphones manned by customer service folks, and you are good to go. However, as discussed in the story, that is not the way this works, as more technology is needed for text messaging to be a useful customer service option.

Yet, offering a customer service texting option creates a dilemma. While responding to customer issues by text may offer convenience for the customer, on the company end they may be losing out on opportunities to develop stronger relationships with their customers due to the impersonal nature of texting. Unlike a person-to-person phone call, it is much more difficult to engage the customer in communication that could possibly lead them to purchase other products. On the other hand, companies not offering this option could be perceived as not being very advanced or not caring about their customers.

The story offers a good background for why texting is quickly becoming many customers’ preferred channel for reaching a company’s customer service department and also suggests how companies can turn this customer service channel into a sales channel.

 Image by frankieleon