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4 Essential Rules for SMS Customer Support

by Shana Carp
Your customers prefer getting support via text message. Here are some best practices to help them, including how to handle the images they send

customer support via text example

Your customers are always on to their smartphones.  72% of consumers would give up chocolate for their smartphone according to the CTIA.   Meanwhile, half of all Millenials keep their phones nearby at all times.  And the number one activity for nearly everyone is text messaging.  Over 6 billion SMS messages are sent every day.

It’s driving changes about how consumers want to engage with their favorite brands. More than half of consumers say they would like to text with a customer support representative.

SMS is a great option as a customer support channel.  It’s simple to implement.   Plus, texting is a low-cost customer service channel;  the average cost to resolve a ticket via text is around 1 dollar.

However, there are some issues with using SMS as a customer service channel. Here are the 4 essential rules to succeed in supporting customers by text.

SMS Requires Fast Responses 

What is the recommended response time for SMS tickets?  Texts have a 99% open rate and 95% of people read them within 3 minutes.  The best practice is to respond to a text within 1 minute.  To make sure agents answer quickly, check if your agents can type at least 80 words per minute.

sms customer support by the numbers


Customer support agents should handle between 3 and 5 SMS conversations at the same time. 

Everyone multitasks with their phones.  Some customers will start doing something else, like playing a game or answering a work email, after they send their message. Agents should be prepared to wait for a response. If you don’t hear from a customer after 15 minutes, message them again to see if they still need help.

Texting is Informal

great copy for sms customer support





Texting is casual.  Customers do not want long, stuffy text messages.  Short messages asking specific questions are always appreciated.

It’s also common for people to text in shorthand,  ie: “How are you?” as “how r u?” However, just because your customers text in shorthand, it’s not an excuse for bad grammar and spelling.

SMS Supports Rich Media Like Photos 

SMS supports sending and receiving pictures.  Encourage customer service agents to ask customers for a photo, especially if a customer messages about damaged items.

Using Images to Expedite Replacements and Returns

Many brands are also saving money by using text to verify if their products are broken. If they receive a photo via SMS of a damaged item, they automatically send out a replacement or credit the return.  They save money because they do not have to cover the cost of shipping the broken item back to their warehouse, nor do they have to pay the warehouse’s fee for handling damaged returns. Plus, it makes customers happy because they receive their replacement quickly.

Texting is Fun

thank you dog


Texting is a very personal form of communication. It’s great for reinforcing your brand’s identity and message.   Experiment: Send a smiley emoji or a great GIF.  It’s guaranteed to make your customers smile.

Curious about trying SMS as a customer service channel?  Sign up for a free trial and text your way to customer happiness!

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