Staying Top of Mind During COVID-19

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Staying Top of Mind During COVID-19

Ira Cohen, our VP of business development and head of marketing, talks to small businesses about staying top of mind with customers during the shutdown.

He shows how businesses can use SMS to maintain continuity with their customers, and highlights a dry cleaner who used texts to arrange pickup and delivery services when her store was shut down due to the global pandemic.

Talk to our support team to find out how MessageWhiz can help your business use SMS to maintain its customer relationships. 

 

 

 

Foster Intimate Customer Relationships During Social Distancing

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Foster Intimate Customer Relationships During Social Distancing

It’s not easy maintaining customer relationships during COVID-19. Social distancing has forced many businesses to shutter, while economic realities have pushed many small businesses toward the brink of extinction. Despite the crisis, however, we’re seeing sparks of creativity and innovation from businesses that refuse to let the economy dictate their economic future.

One of our VPs at MessageWhiz, Ira Cohen, recently shared a story on his Vlog about his dry cleaner. Like many other businesses that rely on walk-in traffic to survive, Katie’s dry cleaning business was in trouble. Rather than sit at home all day wishing things got better, Katie turned to SMS and reached out to all her customers.

Her customers, which included Ira, all received SMS messages asking if they were OK, followed by an offer for pick-up and delivery service. Those customers who responded had their laundry picked up that afternoon, and Katie used SMS to coordinate logistics.

In retrospect, it’s easy to look at the actions Katie took and reduce it to a business’ need to adapt or die, but there was more to the interaction.

SMS messages create a level of intimacy you don’t find on email. Our phones are not only communication devices; for many they are the most personal of our items. We carry it with us wherever we go. It’s privy to our searches, messages to our family and friends, and during this pandemic, our window into the outside world.

SMS messages give you the opportunity to tap into that close relationship between people and their phones, and become a part of the inner circle. What Katie did was remarkable because she started out by asking how her customers were. She knew they were struggling to deal with the fears and loneliness created by the disease.

She helped form an emotional connection, and then she offered a new twist on the relationship. Her messages essentially said I know you can’t come to me right now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t come help you out and service you the same way I have been doing for years.

Things are tough for all service businesses right now, and even as stay-at-home orders are being lifted, now is the time to prepare yourself for a potential second wave. Find a way that you can apply your service to today’s medical reality, and use SMS messaging as a cost-effective tool for inquiring about your customer’s well being, and how you can serve them.

MessageWhiz is supporting small businesses during the pandemic with 30% off messaging rates. 

 

 

 

Delivering Customer Service during COVID-19

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Delivering Customer Service during COVID-19

As smaller businesses reduce staff and shorten hours to cope with the sudden changes imposed by the coronavirus, many are looking for customer service solutions. Lacking the manpower needed to answer every customer question or request, they are increasingly turning to text messaging to ensure that their customers are taken care.

Fortunately, chatbots are robust enough to deliver basic customer service, and capable of passing customers off for human intervention when questions are beyond their capabilities.

Billing and Account Questions

Chatbots are perfect for helping customers understand their bill. Depending on the billing system being used, your chatbots will let customers know their outstanding balance and due date, provide recent payment information, and furnish PDF copies of invoices.

They can also be programmed to provide payment deadline extensions, and allow people to question items on the bill. Those items, which typically require human intervention, can be handed over to decision makers, who then respond within the published SLA timeframe.

Appointments and Reservations

Chatbots are also designed to take customer reservations and schedule appointments. Medical practices can use chatbots to both schedule and confirm appointments, as well as ask patients if they are experiencing any coronavirus-like symptoms before they come to the office. For those patients that are exhibiting symptoms, they can be directed to the right facility for treatment.

Meanwhile, hotels which are currently operating on limited with limited staff can take advantage of chatbots to handle reservations. Chatbots can help customers book rooms, reserve banquet halls, and plan vacations, as hotels prepare to return to business as usual.

Orders and Fulfillment Updates

When customers want to check on the status of their orders, chatbots are a great solution. They can be programmed to let customers know when orders have been processed and shipped, and can include links to tracking codes for additional delivery information.

When there are problems with an order, or delays of any kind, you can use chatbots to update customers, and allow them to modify their order when needed. Chatbots can help get payment information and verify shipping information, all which helps free up your staff to handle other pressing tasks.

Serving Throughout the Pandemic

Chatbots can help in numerous other ways, including helping customers locate information, learn more about products and services, and simplify interactions between customers and brands.

At MessageWhiz, we’re looking for new ways to help your business engage with customers. That’s why we’re offering 30% off your messaging through June 30, 2020. 

Preparing for the Day After

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Preparing for the Day After

One day, hopefully soon, the COVID-19 pandemic will subside, and businesses like yours will return to normal operations. In your vision of tomorrow, you’ll open your hair salon, restaurant, or retail store, and customers will walk in the door, grateful for life returning back to normal. However, with much of the world’s population turning to online services during this period of social distancing, quarantines, and isolation, how confident are you that your customers will return? Sure, your business will be open, but will they come?

Forward thinking business owners are already preparing for the next day, and maintaining contact with their customer base. They are cementing relationships and engendering loyalty through messaging applications that can help bring their community together, even while physically apart. Here are a few things you can do to so that the next time you are able to open your doors, your customers will continue to use your services.

Continue to Serve Your Customers

Does your restaurant have a signature dish? Or do your nail salon customers need help with home gel removal? Are you a local tour guide, focused on showing your customers different areas in the city?

Your doors may be shuttered, but that doesn’t mean need to stop thinking about customer service. Create a series of do it yourself videos using low-cost tools on your computer or phone. Share recipes. Offer home nail care tips. Show interesting sites in town.

Offer Emotional Support

Most customers don’t normally turn to businesses for emotional support. However, people do share their feelings with hair stylists, bar tenders, baristas and other service professionals.

If your customers often treat you like a therapist, let them know that you’re still there for them during this time of stress. Share daily affirmations, positivity quotes, and maintain two-way conversations when needed.  

Organize for a Cause

If there is a local cause related to your business, consider rallying your customers to participate. Even if they aren’t able to participate financially, they will appreciate the difference you are making in the lives of local families.

For example, if you own a toy store and would like to donate games to children stuck at home with nothing to do, run a fundraising campaign to cover wholesale costs involved. You can manage the campaign through messaging applications, and update your contacts with amounts raised, and pictures of families receiving gifts. 

Focusing on Tomorrow

These techniques will help you maintain your relationship with your customer base. When the pandemic subsides, you’ve laid the groundwork for them to come back for your services.

At MessageWhiz, we’re looking for new ways to help your business engage with customers. That’s why we’re offering 30% off your messaging through June 30, 2020. 

 

 

 

 

Developing eCommerce Solutions During COVID-19

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Developing eCommerce Solutions During COVID-19

For many brick & mortar small businesses, developing an online presence was never a high priority. Many built websites, but they didn’t focus on the user experience, the interface, r even ensuring that their product lines were up to date. Others used their site to promote their business, but never added ecommerce modules to allow them to sell through their sites.

As a result, these small businesses, including bakeries, hobby shops, and burger joints, have developed loyal customers who aren’t aware of the store’s online existence. Forced to close their doors to walk-in traffic, many of these businesses are fast-tracking their web design, in the hopes of delivering products to their customer base.

Here are a few ways these businesses can use messaging to drive traffic to their online shops.

Special Promotions

Even businesses with tight margins can find ways to create promotions that their customers will love. Bundling products, through buy-one-get-one offers, or offering perks like free delivery can help move items off the shelves and into customer’s homes.

Contests

Create giveaways to customers who register on your site, or raffle off vouchers for merchandise.  These types of perks will help drive online traffic, and help you maintain sales even while your store is closed to consumers.

User Generated Content

Challenge your customers to share pictures of them using your products with a hashtag on their favorite social media channel. Offer giveaways for your favorite ones, while sharing links to winning pictures through your messaging application.

Building Online Traffic

These techniques will help you grow your ecommerce customer base. As the pandemic continues, this channel could be the difference between developing a steady income stream and going out of business.

At MessageWhiz, we’re looking for new ways to help your business engage with customers. That’s why we’re offering 30% off your messaging through June 30, 2020. 

 

 

 

Delivering During the Pandemic

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Delivering During the Pandemic

COVID-19 has shuttered businesses in nearly every corner of the globe. Government-mandated closures coupled with fears of germs have pushed consumers to move their shopping online. Leading the boom are grocery sales, but many consumers are purchasing home gym equipment, over-the-counter drugs and puzzles and games for children.

Businesses are taking a few different approaches with these online orders. Some are offering contactless curbside pickup, while others are delivering directly to front doors. Both of these delivery methods are using SMS and other messaging applications to ensure frictionless deliveries.

Curbside Pickup

Preferred by many businesses because it doesn’t require delivering to consumer’s homes, these businesses accept orders through websites or chatbots. Once the order is fulfilled, the consumer receives a text message directing them to come to the store for pickup.

Upon arrival, the consumer texts the store to let them know they are in front of the store. The text message includes their car model and color, and may include a license plate. Employees bring the merchandise to the car and put it into the consumer’s trunk or back of their car.

Home Delivery

While many people do find themselves either working from home or waiting for their positions to be reinstated, they are not comfortable opening the door to delivery people. This is creating delivery challenges, as delivery servicepeople are uncomfortable just leaving a package at the door.

Additionally, individuals living in apartment buildings do have trouble getting their packages delivered. While they prefer to have their parcels left at their own front door, communicating directions to delivery people can be complicated.

Using text messaging, however, can alleviate those challenges. Prior to delivery, dispatchers can send messages alerting recipients of upcoming deliveries. The recipients can respond with detailed instructions, describing where the package should be placed upon delivery. Once the package is in place, the delivery person can send a confirmation message with a picture, showing that the package has been delivered.

 The Changing Face of Delivery

While global delivery companies have been using text messaging and online tracking as part of their process for some time, today’s local food and grocery delivery services are still developing processes

At MessageWhiz, we’re looking for new ways to help your business engage with customers. That’s why we’re offering 30% off your messaging through June 30, 2020. 

Staying Relevant During Coronavirus

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Staying Relevant During Coronavirus

The scope of the coronavirus is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Aside from the serious public health concerns that the virus has introduced, public health restrictions are  wreaking havoc with small businesses who have been forced to shutter their business to comply with social distancing, quarantines, and the public’s fear of being out in public.

Even in these troubled times, it’s important for business owners to keep in mind that adversity can open new opportunities. Small business owners that are developing strategies to keep their business relevant even in these difficult times and prepare it for re-opening once the restrictions are lifted, will be well- positioned to transform a very big negative into a positive business result.

How Can SMS Help During a Pandemic?

Stay Connected

Let your employees, vendors and customers know that you care and are thinking of them. A short text message updating them on what you’re doing in quarantine and asking them to share with you how they’re coping keeps the community that you built connected and engaged. They already have shown have in interest in your product or service so share an activity idea related to your business that they can keep busy with at home. Ask them for feedback about changes that you’re considering or suggestions for other upgrades. Keep your business at the top of your mind and make it the public square for your community.

Order Fulfillment

SMS chats with customers allows businesses to stay in contact with their customers. Maintaining your relationship during difficult times could ensure that when the current health crisis is over, your customers will return to your shop.

More than that, though, SMS chats and chatbots can help you continue to sell merchandise. Consider offering SMS order fulfillment. After an order is received, you can let your customers know by SMS what time to arrive at the store for curbside pickup.

When the customer arrives to the store, they can reply that they are outside waiting. An employee can bring the merchandise out to the car, and put it directly into the customer’s trunk. Payment can be made using a credit card through one of the many digital payment options available, including through SMS.

Digital Promotions

Businesses that provide digital products and services haven’t been affected as badly as other verticals, but they are still facing an uneasy public that is hesitant to spend money. Concerns about the economy abound, with ripples being felt from the disease in every corner.

To break through the fear, digital businesses need to deliver their best offers. The channel most likely to be seen, especially in this time of uncertainty, is SMS. SMS messages have an open rate well above 90%, and are typically read within 3 minutes. If you are going to put out your best offer, you want to make sure customers can see it.

Other Businesses

At MessageWhiz, we’re looking for new ways to help your business engage with customers. That’s why we’re offering 30% off your messaging through June 30, 2020. 

 

Some SMS Don’ts From Fashionista

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Some SMS Don’ts From Fashionista

Fashionista style reporter Mekita Rivas was surprised when she got a text from “Lucy” 23 days before Christmas. It contained a promo code, an offer for 50% off, and a link to the website. Over the next three weeks, Mekita received 14 more texts from Lucy, and a primer on worst texting practices. 

To help in your next campaign, we’ll go through some of the mistakes this beauty brand made in the three weeks leading up to the holidays.

Don’t Invade

Rivas reported that she the texts felt invasive. She had given the brand her phone number while making an order, but she hadn’t realized they were going to use it to hound her. Instead, make it clear when a customer gives you a number that they are opting in to messaging communications from the brand. 

Don’t Force It

Rivas didn’t really want the offers, but she had no choice. She had no way to opt out until message #9. To Rivas “The fact that this option wasn't explicitly spelled out from the very beginning frustrated me more than the texts themselves.” Whenever you text customers, make it clear that they are in control, and can stop receiving messages at any time. 

Don’t Just Sell

Another turn off for Rivas was the constant sales push that the brand took throughout all the text messages. Brands are better off creating value messages for their customers, rather than constantly selling in their approach. 

Don’t Overdo It

Even during the holiday season, when consumers are in the throes of shopping, brands need to limit the number of messages they send out to the customers. While there is no magic formula, texting more than twice a week is sure to make many customers opt out of your messaging campaign. 

Texting Done Right

Rivas reports that brands who understand messaging are finding success. Cariuma, a sneaker brand, finds that texts generate clickthrough rates that dwarf email, and conversion rates are twice as good as email. While they don’t claim to have found the perfect balance, they try not to overwhelm their customers with excessive messages, and are cognizant that they are entering an area that is usually reserved for friends and family. Mejuri, a Toronto-based brand known for their fine jewelry, uses texts to alert customers when items they want are back in stock, or to answer questions. However, the only text customers who have opted in, and each message they send has a specific purpose. The brand considers texting to be extremely successful. 

Talk to the texting professionals at MessageWhiz to ensure that your campaigns follow best practices. We provide results-based, optimized sms solutions for retail.

Something Funny Happened on the Way to a Mobile-First World

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Something Funny Happened on the Way to a Mobile-First World

If you’re an online retailer, undoubtably you’ve been told the importance of creating a mobile-optimized experience for your mobile traffic. That makes sense. After all, according to a Monetate eCommerce Benchmarks report, over 60% of global web traffic takes place on mobile devices. However, the same report shows that while 3.9% of desktop visitors are converting on sites, mobile users convert at a rate of less than half, at 1.82%. 

For retailers who are relying on mobile traffic for sales, that’s a troubling conversion rate. Developing a strong sales pipeline built on mobile traffic is at the heart of most retailer’s sales strategy. Discovering that mobile consumers are on your site but less than half as likely as desktop traffic to convert can make retailers question their entire mobile strategy. 

Redefining Mobile-Optimized Experience 

Mobile optimized sites can mean a lot of different things. At its most basic level, it means that the content on the desktop site has been modified to fit a mobile screen. More advanced retailers may create different types of content for their mobile and desktop visitors. However, to be truly mobile-optimized, retailers need to rethink the online user experience. 

Most ecommerce sites make it easy for mobile browsers to view merchandise, read product descriptions, or watch product-related videos. The problem for mobile users comes up at the next stage – conversion. Far too many sites force users to pay using small form fields, uncomfortable drop-down menus, and the wrong keyboard. When asking for a phone number, how many mobile websites access a number keypad rather than a standard QWERTY keyboard? 

Optimizing Mobile Conversion 

Online retailers need to rethink the final steps of their customer journey to improve their mobile conversion rate. Rather than using desktop tools to drive conversions, they need to implement mobile-first, chat-based tools. Using chatbots, RCS messaging and messenger applications, retailers can drive sales and improve upsell opportunities using mobile-native messaging applications. 

Mobile users thrive on chat apps, and they are perfectly comfortable providing information needed to close a sale, such as name, address and credit card information, through secure chat windows. Implementing chat-based tools to close your mobile customer sales will complete a mobile-optimized experience, and make your customers much more likely to close, rather than abandon another shopping cart. 

Talk to the MessageWhiz chat experts and find out how you can improve your customers’ user experience on mobile devices. We deliver a company text message service that converts. 

S is for SMS

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Text Messaging Services for Teachers and Students

As schools prepare for an exciting new academic year, it’s time school administrators added SMS messaging into their communication plan. SMS messaging is particularly effective in crisis situations, as it can provide parents and teachers with information even when the Internet is down. But SMS is also an effective channel for routine communications between teachers and students, schools and parents, and school staff and their administrators. 

Teachers and Students (and their Parents)

The average student is in fourth or fifth grade when they receive their first smartphone. Teachers have the opportunity to instill positive phone usage in their students, by encouraging their pupils to use SMS to keep up with schoolwork. 

To that end, teachers can send text messages to their students reminding them of upcoming tests, or alerting them that the book report they had been working on for the last month is finally due. 

Triggers can be set up to automatically text students who have missed a few days of school or habitually forget their homework, asking them how they are feeling or reminding them to do their work. 

For schools that have an online student portal, two-factor authentication can be used to maintain a student’s online privacy and protection. 

Schools and Parents

Over the course of a school year, administrators and parents require multiple touchpoints. They remind parents to attend school events like teacher conferences, plays, or basketball games. In colder climates, schools could use SMS to let parents know that there will be outdoor recess, and students need to dress warmly. 

The always-on nature of SMS makes it easier to alert parents when their child is sick or injured. While many working parents might not answer their phone during a business meeting or while on the job, most parents check text messages within minutes of its arrival.

Administrators and Staff

SMS is a highly effective tool for managing a large teaching and administrative staff. Sick teachers can text their supervisors that they will be out, while administrators can use the channel to find available substitutes. 

For schools that require teachers to participate in recess or lunch duty, SMS can also be used to communicate those schedules and help coordinate teacher’s participation in student activities. 

A Better Way to Share Information

SMS messages aren’t about to replace parent-teachers conferences, but it can create a more effective path of communication coming from the school. To find out more about how your school can create an SMS communication plan, contact our SMS text messaging service team today.