Business texting lets you communicate with customers through the most convenient and efficient channel: text messaging. Many businesses use texting to handle outbound communications, but it has applications for inbound messaging as well.
Unlike personal text messaging, business texting typically doesn’t just happen through a single device, such as a phone. Instead, companies use business texting software or a business texting app to turn their phone number into a communication platform. So while your texts show up on a customer’s phone just like a normal text conversation, you can send them from any computer or mobile device.
While most people are very familiar with how texting works, business texting has some unique applications and more advanced capabilities. And if you’ve never used business texting before, you may not know all the ways it can improve what you do.
In this guide, we’re going to cover the basics of business texting, including:
Let’s start by looking at what business texting software is capable of doing.
Business texting sounds pretty straightforward. You send text messages from your phone. But since business texting is typically managed through software or an app, there’s a lot more you can do with it. It is as simple as you might imagine. But it’s also more useful.
The biggest difference between personal and business texting is that business texting isn’t limited to your phone. You manage your communications through an app, which you can install on a computer, phone, or tablet. So you don’t have to constantly juggle devices or track down a particular phone to reply to a customer—you can respond from whatever device is most convenient, so long as it’s connected. However you use Numa, your customers can text you like they text anyone else. And whatever device you respond from, it shows up as a single text conversation in your customer’s phone.
The whole point of curbside pickup is to create convenient, contact-less service. If you don’t have a good system for customers to indicate when they’ve arrived and where they’re located, your curbside pickup service starts to break down.
You don’t want to make customers call you and potentially wait on hold or leave a voicemail to tell you when they’ve arrived. That takes time and ties up your phone lines. With a business texting solution, they can simply text “I’m here in the red Honda Civic,” or “Picking up order #47.”
Since you can text from any device with the app, you can also give multiple employees access to your business’ texting capabilities. Whether you have two business phones or two hundred, any texts from the business texting app appear within a single text conversation on a customer’s phone.
Good business texting software will also ensure each employee using the app has a unique login and username, so on your end, you can see who has sent what to your customers.
Ideally, your employees should be able to simply add the app to their personal devices and access it when they’re on the clock. This makes it easy for your front desk receptionist to ping specific employees when their expertise is needed. If a customer has a question about gardening supplies, your administrator should be able to divert that conversation to someone working in the gardening department.
Phone calls are extremely inefficient. If you’re busy doing another task, you can’t always just drop everything and hop on the phone. Talking on the phone prevents you from doing other tasks, and the same conversation takes significantly more time and effort than it would via text. This is true for you and your customers.
Business texting allows you and your employees to respond to customers when it’s convenient. And it only takes seconds to give clients the information they need. If there needs to be any more follow up, both parties can carry out the conversation while doing other tasks.
Your business may already use a call answering service or virtual receptionist of some kind. These can help make your call volume more manageable and reduce the strain on your employees. But business texting can help here, too. And it ultimately provides a better experience for your customers—because they don’t really want to talk on the phone anyways.
When you can’t answer the phone, solutions like Numa pick up for you, then ask your customer if they’d like to chat via text instead of leaving a voicemail. Given the choice, our data shows that up to 80 percent of callers choose to start a text conversation.
And even if a client does leave a voicemail, the right business texting solution makes it so you don’t have to listen to several minutes of um’s and uh’s to find out what your customers need. Numa will transcribe the voicemail for you and put it in a text conversation, so you can quickly reply when your hands are free.
Your business texting solution should enable texting with your existing business landline, so you don’t have to change phone numbers to send and receive messages. This creates less confusion for customers. If anyone saves you as a business contact, they won’t have any problem recognizing your number when you text them.
Another application of business texting is the ability to schedule text messages. Instead of setting reminders in your calendar to send a text message, you can simply schedule the message to send the day before an appointment, the day a payment or document is due, or whatever makes the most sense for your business.
Sometimes plans change. Or new information becomes available that you need to relay to a customer. Maybe the dentist is sick, or there was a family emergency. Perhaps someone was waiting to get a quote for a job, and you have an estimate now. Or your on-call electrician is available now.
Business texting makes it easy to communicate these important changes quickly. And since text messages have open rates as high as 98 percent, and response rates as high as 45 percent, you can be confident that your clients have seen the relevant information. If a response is needed—such as rescheduling an appointment—you’re a lot more likely to get one from a text.
(Alternatively, most people don’t even listen to voicemails, even from numbers they recognize.)
In any business, there are bound to be types of messages you send over and over—like those appointment reminders, texts to wish a client a happy birthday, or requests for reviews. With a business texting solution, you can often create templated messages for repetitive communications. Anytime you need to send one of these texts, you can simply swap out the person’s name and any key details.
This saves time, but it also helps you be consistent. You can determine the best wording once, then send it every time. And you can also ensure your employees always send messages in your approved voice, in a style that reflects well on your business.
The more stellar reviews you have, the better. But if you just wait for reviews to accumulate on their own, it’s going to be slow. And according to ReviewTrackers, consumers are “21 percent more likely to leave a review after a negative experience than a positive one.” So it helps to ask the right people—and in the right way.
Business texting makes it easy to send a customer a link to where they can leave a review. Some business texting software recommends automating this process, but there’s a problem with that approach: it’s pretty tone-deaf to ask for a review after someone has a negative experience. If you automate review requests, you’re going to get a lot more of the reviews, but it may wind up doing more harm than good.
At Numa, we urge our clients to have an employee decide who to ask for a review and when.
Even if you don’t redirect phone calls to text messages, enabling business texting will decrease your call volume over time. Once clients discover that texting is an option, they will choose this channel when they need to interact with you in the future. You can speed up the process by updating your Google My Business account to show messaging options, highlighting this channel on your website, and mentioning it to customers in person.
Numa also has a web widget, so customers can start a conversation with your business right from your website.
Some businesses use business texting software to send mass text messages. They send out coupons, sale announcements, special offers, and other marketing communications. It may sound appealing, but tread lightly.
You may have heard statistics like “9 out of 10 consumers want to text businesses.” And when you compare the open and response rates of text messaging to email and other channels, there’s no comparison.
But that’s not an invitation to start spamming people’s personal phones. Nobody wants that. And unless you have someone’s consent, those outbound texts are actually illegal. If that kind of business texting becomes the norm, you can say goodbye to those open and response rates. It’ll start looking a lot more like what you’d expect from email—because it treats your customer’s phone like their inbox.
Your customers do want to text you. But that’s because they want to interact with you like they interact with everyone else, not because they want you to barrage their phones with special offers.
If there are applications where mass texts make sense for your business, make sure you have a system for getting express written consent before sending any marketing or promotional messages, and that you give people a clear, simple way to opt out of future texts.
One of the most significant time-saving capabilities that business texting gives you is the ability to use chatbots. Using conversational artificial intelligence, chatbots automate your most basic, repetitive communications. So in addition to reducing call volume, you’ll also reduce the need for employees to handle every customer interaction.
Some chatbots will simply pull information from your website and other sources to answer customer questions, or link to places where clients can find or do what they need online. They may also let you add pre-programmed responses.
Solutions like Numa take conversational AI even further. When Numa doesn’t know how to answer a customer’s question, it notifies you in the app—and then it learns from your response. Numa will ask if you want to save your response to a customer, so your expertise becomes more accessible next time.
When a similar question appears in the future, Numa notifies you like before, but asks if you’d like to use the answer you gave last time.
You can also just tell Numa to go ahead and use that response next time the question comes up. So over time, you build a database of answers to specialized questions, and Numa frees up even more of your employees’ time.
If your business communicates with customers via phone, you could benefit from business texting. Whether you have one employee or one thousand employees, texting is simply a more efficient communication channel.
Numa specializes in business texting applications for main street businesses like salons, boutiques, restaurants, retailers, realtors, dentists, and trade businesses such as mechanic shops or plumbing companies. If answering the phone interferes with your ability to serve customers and perform other business operations, business texting can give you back that time and make your customer interactions more convenient.
If your business receives five or more phone calls per day, we can save you time and money, and delight your customers.
Try Numa free for 30 days.
To get the most from business texting, there are some best practices you’ll want to follow. These tips will help you save more time and create a better experience for your customers.
Texting is the ideal communication channel for you and your clients. But if they don’t know about it, they won’t use it. Remember that before you enabled business texting, you were essentially training your customers to call you when they needed to confirm information or ask questions.
Make sure your Google My Business profile highlights this functionality. That way, every time someone searches for your business in Google, they’ll see that they can text you.
Anywhere customers might look to contact you, there should be a prominent message telling them about your texting capabilities. Don’t just put your phone number on the contact page of your website. Tell people they can text you. If it makes sense, you might even want to put a sign on your door letting people know about this new option.
Your employees can help with this, too. Encourage them to work it into their customer interactions. Any time they would normally tell clients to call if they have any questions, that’s an opportunity to teach customers that texting is your preferred channel (or at least that it’s an option).
The more you can normalize texting your business, the more you’ll benefit from its time-saving capabilities.
Nobody wants to chitchat with a robot. But when you use chatbots for a specific purpose, it’s better for everyone. Some can handle thousands of simultaneous conversations, providing every customer with a fast, reliable response. And since they never take breaks, sleep, or clock out, you can give clients the service they need 24/7.
If your employees find themselves answering the same questions frequently, that’s probably a communication you should hand over to a chatbot.
It’s tempting to think about flipping a switch and watching the reviews pour in. But when you automate asking for reviews, you’re opening the floodgates to negative reviews, too.
Imagine how that feels to someone who has had a negative experience with your business. Maybe you couldn’t help someone, an employee made a mistake, or something just went wrong. Then a robot asks them to leave a review.
Let your employees act as a review gate. Train them to recognize opportunities to text someone a request for a review. Make this your standard follow up to a quality customer interaction. You’ll get more reviews from the right people that way.
I don’t think any of us want to live in a world where businesses are continually spamming our phones with promotional text messages. And while mass texting might help you pick up some extra sales here and there, it’s going to reduce the effectiveness of business texting as a channel.
People block phone numbers that send them spam. They’re going to unsubscribe. And they’ll learn to tune you out. Mass texting trains customers that messages from you are not urgent or important.
Keeping your text messages relevant will ensure that your customers continue to feel like your texts are valuable, and that your business respects their personal space.
Enabling business texting could be a huge boon to your company, freeing employees to interact with customers faster and more conveniently. But especially if a lot of employees have access to your business texting app, it’ll be essential to think about how you want to communicate as a brand via text messaging.
Are emojis acceptable? What kind? And in what circumstances?
How transactional do you want to be? Where do you fall between professional and informal?
Do you want your texts to feel like they’re coming from a real person? Should employees include a signature at the end of a text or tell customers who they’re speaking with upfront?
The way your business texts your customers is going to leave an impression on them. So what kind of impression do you want them to have?
Some business texting software forces you to use a separate phone number for text messaging. You don’t want that. It’s hard enough to get customers to save one business number in their phone. And if you text someone from a number they don’t recognize (and it’s not the one they see listed for you online), they’ll be a lot more hesitant to interact with you.
Text messaging is the fastest, most convenient way to interact with your customers and give them the personalized service they need. With Numa, we’ll help you turn more phone calls into text conversations, automate more customer interactions, and get more reviews.
Try Numa free for 30 days.