As a result of the pandemic, restaurants and retailers are reworking their consumer-engagement strategies to ensure maximum safety and ease of access. Having spent the past five years as a marketing executive in the mobile app and web development industry, I've observed that providing mobile communication services seems to be an effective method of accomplishing this.
Curbside pickup, for example, has doubled since last year. GPS tracking is also among the most recent industry trends I've noticed. This feature allows consumers to "check in" when picking up their items at a store so that employees are prepared for their arrival. Or, look at pizza orders and deliveries: Due to an increase in pizza orders since the pandemic began, I've seen a number of pizza parlors offering mobile communication services.
Why? I believe the answer is because mobile can work. Just consider that a 2016 report by AT&T found that 85% of smartphone owners prefer messages to calls and view companies that offer text messaging customer service options positively. Furthermore, the majority of consumers ignore emails from retailers, and a RetailMeNot survey (via eMarketer) found that 69% of people would rather use their phones to study reviews of a product or service than approach an in-store employee.
Before Covid-19, 68% of businesses used texting to connect with their clientele. Businesses can use texting services to direct customers to their website for information on policies and procedures. This is often done by adding a short bit.ly-style link to the end of the text.
Regardless of the form it's presented in, I believe mobile communication can help drive business. But in order to leverage texting effectively, it's important to keep a few best practices in mind.
Finding success with mobile messaging
First, ensure you create unique exchanges between the receiving consumer and you. Not only does responsiveness build repeat business, but it also builds relationships.
In other words, monitor your communication style, and keep a human touch. A hint of humor and personalization will naturally humanize your interactions, even when using a prewritten script. Consider combining template and auto-bot reply commands. This way, you can mass-text while still addressing consumers by name.
With this, you can schedule reservations and appointments and even keep an updated contact database by periodically sending text messages such as, "Would you like to remain on the email list?" and allowing consumers to reply yes or no. Having an accurate reading of your audience's preferences can steer you in the right direction as a supplier.
Furthermore, set clear expectations across your team. Remember, bots are smart, but nothing beats a human touch. Ultimately, it is up to you to have a positive texting mindset. Having clear expectations for texting policies, such as expected response times, can help maintain momentum. Typically, the ball is in your court as a business owner. Consumers cannot run curbside pickup themselves or check themselves out in most scenarios, so it's crucial you smooth the process. Lifting the burden of communication means the process is already easier.
When all is said and done, you can measure your progress. The best way to do this is by self-reflecting on the experience. Did texting improve your circumstances? Would that very same commerce experience have been havoc without the aid of mobile communication? You can also use texting to prove itself. Text consumers requesting feedback — another way mobile communication can serve a benefit.