Use Text Messages to Provide a Better Customer Service Experience

Customer service isn’t just about solving problems.

 

It’s also meant to nurture relationships and enhance customer experience. If you put yourself in their shoes, then you know that being stuck on hold waiting for help or having to take time out of the day to reach out to an office to resolve an issue is probably the last thing your customers want. In fact, 81% of consumers agree that it’s frustrating to be tied to a phone or computer for help.

 

So, what’s the alternative? Have you considered a text message-based customer service solution?

 

Texting is no longer just for people who want to avoid long, drawn-out talks and endless games of phone tag. Today, texting has replaced phone calls as the preferred method of communication for the bulk of our short conversations, and it’s not just for millennials, either.

 

There are several advantages to using text to communicate with your patients to provide a better customer service experience. We’ll discuss this topic further below and outline 7 scenarios that will give you some ideas about how to use text messages in your office today.

 

Why Use Text Messages for Customer Service?

 

Convenience

 

Phone calls take some planning, but text messages can be sent on the fly without a second thought. From your customers’ point of view, they need to make sure they have at least a few minutes free to have a phone conversation, and they’ll also need to find a relatively quiet place.  However, if they can reach you via text, then they can reach out at any time, even if they’re waiting in line at the grocery store or walking into a meeting.

 

Then, instead of being placed on hold while your staff looks up their information or seeks out a solution, clients and patients will be able to check their phone at their convenience for an answer to their inquiry.

 

Friendlier Correspondence

 

If a customer calls your office during a busy time, your staff might inadvertently take a short tone or act rushed. This is less than ideal. It is likely that you don’t have a dedicated customer service team, and whoever answers the phone is doing double duty. This can be particularly problematic during peak call times like Monday mornings when your team is trying to juggle a million things at once.

 

The benefit of fielding customer service inquiries via text is that your staff can take a moment to respond in a controlled and friendly way without seeming rushed. This is especially true if you’ve developed templates for your most common questions.

 

Conflict Resolution

 

We’ve all had a bad day, and sometimes your customers might take out their frustrations on your staff, especially if there’s been a misunderstanding or a perceived slight.

 

When the conversation moves away from a shouting match and into a controlled texting atmosphere, each party can take a deep breath before drafting a response. A text exchange also eliminates interrupting, and if there is a misunderstanding or mistake that’s been made, there will be a written record that can serve as documentation.

 

Cost Effectiveness

 

If your office is fielding customer service inquiries on the phone, you may need either a dedicated person in your office to help with this task, or, at the very least, allocate labor for this task. However, if you move to a text-based system, your current team will be able to accommodate messaging requests without interrupting the flow of their workday.

 

Record Keeping

 

It’s easy to forget an appointment time, but if your patients have a text message with the date and time stored on their phone, you’ll be able to save them from making a phone call. It’s a win-win for everyone! The same goes for any other details like an address change or instructions prior to an office visit. If your patient has an easy-to-access record of what they need to know, they won’t have to call and ask.

 

7 Ways to Use Text Messages for Customer Service

 

Now you know why texting your patients can enhance the customer service experience, let’s explore some different ways to implement this practice.

 

Expand Your Available Hours

 

Sometimes your patients and clients might need to reach you outside of your traditional office hours. In the past, an answering service would field the calls with instructions to take a message or contact the doctor in the case of an emergency.

 

With text messages, you can instruct your patients to reach out at any time, and instead of having to talk to an answering service, they’ll be able to speak to your office directly as soon as someone is available. If the patient inquiry is an emergency, your messaging system can forward the information to the appropriate person for immediate follow up if necessary.

 

Ongoing Engagement

 

Often, companies view customer service as a one-sided exchange where the customer reaches out when they have a question or concern. But, in reality, customer service is a two-way street. Businesses should also reach out to their clients on a regular basis, whether it’s to remind them of appointments, inquire why they haven’t scheduled a checkup or to inform them of important updates in your office.

 

By keeping an ongoing open dialogue with your patients and clients, you’ll help ensure that your office and services remain top of mind.

 

Build Relationships

 

Similar to the idea of ongoing engagement, you can also use text messages to build relationships with your clientele. Birthday messages are a great place to start. For example, on a patient’s birthday, send them a happy birthday text message and wish them a fun day and a positive year, or something along those lines.

 

If it’s applicable to your office, you could also offer them an incentive for scheduling an appointment during their birthday month, whether it’s a discounted service, a free tooth whitening package or special gift.

 

Other ways to build relationships are to share tips from the doctor or other helpful information. An example would be a groundbreaking report about the dangers of having mercury amalgam fillings in the mouth with a link to the study citing the risks and an offer to have the patient come in to get their mouth checked out.

 

Another idea would be to share some information about the ideal length of time to wear contact lenses and what to do if you have to wear contacts for longer periods. You may be able to share a list of brands that can be worn for extended periods and an invitation to come to your office to pick up a free sample.

 

Notifications

 

Sometimes customer service involves patient outreach, especially if something unexpected has come up at your office and you need to get in touch with everyone. For example, if there was a water main break and your office has to close for the day, it can be a nightmare trying to reach all of your appointments via phone that same day. However, a batch of text messages can be sent within minutes, alerting your patients that their appointments have been canceled.

 

You could even institute a portion of your appointment reminder text correspondence to invite them to reschedule at their convenience.

 

Polls & Surveys

 

Polls and surveys are a great way to get client feedback. You’ll learn what you’re doing well and discover where you might need some improvements.

 

By addressing any problems before they become bigger, you’ll also reduce customer service inquiries and complaints down the road.

 

One of the most streamlined ways to implement this strategy is to send a text shortly after an appointment and ask your patient to fill out a short survey or answer a brief poll. Typically, the questions you’re asking are going to be beyond the scope of a simple text response, so we encourage you to create a survey or poll that’s hosted on your website or a third-party platform and direct your patients to the link via text.

 

You could ask patients to rate their experience, say whether they’d recommend your office to a friend or ask a combination of specific and open-ended questions about the service or care they received.

 

Ask for Reviews

 

Collecting reviews does more than just bolster your online profiles. It’s also a valuable feedback tool and shows your patients that you care about their opinions.

 

“Hi {name}, it was a pleasure seeing you in our office today. Would you please take a moment to leave a Google review about your experience? Here’s the link. Thank you for your help!”

If you’re worried that a patient might leave a negative review, you might want to change your approach so that if they do have a complaint about your office, they’ll be redirected to contact your staff instead. Here’s how that approach could look:

 

“Hi {name}, it was a pleasure seeing you in our office today. We hope you enjoyed your visit as well. If so, would you please take a moment to leave a Google review about your experience? Here’s the link.

If you didn’t love your experience today, we want to hear about that, too. Please share what happened here and we’ll work to improve as well as reach out to you to make this right. Thank you for your help!”

 

By diverting potential negative reviews away from your online profiles, you also get the opportunity to address any complaints head-on. When you take a proactive approach, you can work with your team to fix any potential shortcomings in your care or procedures while also improving your chance of retaining the client as a long-term patient.

 

Conclusion

 

Remember, even though texting offers convenience and immediacy to your responses, it’s still not a substitute for face-to-face interactions, and it shouldn’t replace phone calls when they’re necessary.

 

The goal of texting should be to enhance your customer service experience. By being able to respond immediately and providing more touchpoints for your patients, you’ll have the ability to serve your clients even better.

Want to see more about Weave? Click here to schedule a demo.