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Texting - The Future is Already Here

There are nearly 8 billion people on this planet, and I think nearly every one of them have a cell phone…some have 2 or 3.  Cell phone users are everywhere…they walk into walls…they walk into each other…they trip over things…they miss airline flights…they forget to get on elevators…they forget to get off elevators… they step into traffic, and hopefully, are not hit…they march off piers into the ocean, hopefully, not drowning…they are oblivious to the surroundings because they want information right now---instant gratification.

 

And what are they doing?? Texting! Now for my Public Service Announcement: “Do Not Text and Drive.”  You will get a ticket or worse.Cellphone text.jpg

If you are under 50 years of age, most likely texting is your preferred communication channel.  So, what is the implication for our industry and your company?  Should it be a differentiating priority for your company?  Perhaps, a customer care priority for your company or a different way of marketing?  Will texting assist you in moving towards marketplace dominance?

About 18 months ago, Vicki and I attended a seminar and the main speaker was, “The Gen Y Guy.” He said, “For Generation Y (also referred to as Millennial) employees (born between 1980 and 1994, ages 23 – 37), if your message is really important, then text.”  E-mails, not so much.  A Gen Y may never read it!  Did I mention this speaker was young?  No more than age 30.

This caught my attention.  So recently, I conducted some non-scientific polling.  I asked our Millennial niece this question: “Would you text a service company for air conditioning service?”  The response was: “Why wouldn’t I?”  An almost stunned response.  Like, “You must be crazy!”  “I text to order a pizza.  I text to set an appointment for an oil change in my car.  I text if I need to see a Doctor at Urgent Care.  I should be able to set a service call for my home via text.”  Like Dah!!...What planet have you been living on??

Did I mention that I belong to a group called Baby Boomers?

Another woman (in her 30s) at work with young children said, “At the end of the day, dinner is over, kids are in bed, laundry is started and I have a bit of time for a breather.  And if I need service, yes, I want to text.  It is off my plate and I don’t have to worry about it.  The ball is in the service provider’s court!  It is handled.”

So what did I learn:  Texting is here.  It is clearly meeting customer expectations.  But be aware a big part of the consumer experience is immediate response.  96% of text messages are read within 4 minutes, virtually real-time response.

NEWS ALERT.  THIS JUST IN:  Hawaiian Airlines and JetBlue Airlines announced they not only offer texting communication to customers for responses, but customers will also be able to initiate contact by texting.  From:  Bloomberg and SmartBrief Leadership for the Business Traveler from August 10, 2017.

Another NEWS ALERT. EXTRA, EXTRA READ ALL ABOUT IT:  Amazon Lockers are in the marketplace.  Currently, being offered to selected Amazon Prime customers in a few specific college and university towns, students can text in their orders for “convenience store-like items” such as, chips, drinks, candy, toiletries, etc. and pay for it all via text.  Orders are filled in 2 minutes and ready for pick-up at the locker. 

I called Mr. Brian Elrod, CEO, of textrequest.com, Chattanooga TN, www.textrequest.com. His firm works with over 600 home service based companies of which, several are HVAC or plumbing companies.

Here is what he told me:

            Texting is the native language of cell phone users;

            Texting is the preferred means of communication globally;

            Over 60% of website reviews happen on mobile devices;

            People find your business online;

            Google now has an icon for texting messages.

So, why should a home service based company use text messaging features?

            Generate and follow-up with lead opportunities;

            Schedule and confirm appointments;

            Boost customer reviews;

            Market specific items to specific customer groups of need;

            Create links and/or photos to enhance marketing;

            Improve collections; thereby, better managing A/R;

            Streamline employee communications internally and externally;

            Group customers for better database management, e. g. maintenance agreement folks;

            Up-load contacts with no real limit;

            Increase efficiency of office staff operations;

            Create a convenient “Dashboard” to monitor activity and history with customers.

And, there is always more.  Text messaging is easy to implement and integrate for ERP.  It is the professional approach to streamline customer care by building the company brand and promoting relationships and trust with customers.

Your company should embrace and engage with text messaging.  It is the future and yet, it is here.  A number of companies are already successfully on this track.  Consider using this marketing and communication vehicle or risk being left in the dust.

Topics: Marketing, business culture, Building a Business, Management, Customer Connection, Plumbing, hvac, learning, knowledge, innovation, communication, texting, phones, cellphones

Posted by John LaPlant on Aug 27, 2017 12:00:00 AM

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