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The moment a customer purchases an item in your store is a key moment of your business, but it’s not an isolated one. Instead, it is one of the many moments that build and define their relationship with your business. Look at it as a path your customer takes that leads him to buy your products. A journey built by many moments and touchpoints.
This journey doesn’t end when the item is purchased or received at home. Those are simply steps of a cyclic open ended-journey.
Whenever a customer starts this journey with you, the real end goal is to bring him closer. To ensure that he will return in the future as many times as possible. Either to purchase again, or to purchase what he didn’t last time.
This sounds like a lot of work and dedication. And it is.
But there are tools you can use to save and optimize your resources, while ensuring that it is a smooth process, running like clockwork - automation.
Being born long before the massification of the internet, I cannot help to fall into analogies with traditional commerce.
Being a kid on a busy city block populated by small family shops, I experienced the everyday effort of shop owners to interact with their clientele.
They would go the extra mile to build a personal relationship. Saying hello when you walk into the shop or walking out of the shop to say hello when you pass by. Answering your questions about a product promptly, or asking you promptly about your family and your dog.
The goal is simple - show you that they care.
And they genuinely do. They would care about you as a customer as if their business depended on it. And they had a clear understanding that person and customer are the same.
Some of these small shops still endure today, even with higher prices than the big chains. Because they enjoy a bond with their customers built on every opportunity they were offered. Making their customer feel valued and being present every step of the way.
I could draw a good number of analogies with this. But where I want to get is that your customer journey starts when you first interact with a potential customer and it ends, well... never.
Every interaction is an opportunity to strengthen the relationship and all steps are built with one goal - making the customer return.
That means that communication with your customer is essential. As it is how you create a bond and deepen his trust in your brand.
To build your customer journey, you first need to acknowledge this dynamic. Then, map every touchpoint and design your customer journey. From the moment you catch their attention (the first touchpoint) to the moment(s) you remind them to come back.
By predicting the sequence of interactions from point A to point Z (where Z triggers A again), you gain a high level of control of the process. And you can implement well-thought actions to trigger the events you want to see played out and strengthen the bond with your customer.
You can also anticipate the moments where your customer is susceptible to contact your support team. Then, proactively provide him the help or the answer in advance to minimize the need to spend your support team time.
These actions can be of all sorts.
And on and on.
Most of these touchpoints are repetitive interactions where you need or want to communicate with your customer. So you reach him with a message, either proactively or as a response to a specific event or schedule.
These messages are simply perfect for automation.
Whether individual or mass promotional campaigns, wake-up or happy birthday messages. Confirmations, reminders or transactional notifications and information.
With the tools available today, the level of personalization required for these communications is achieved easily without human interaction. This saves a huge amount of your team’s most precious resource - time.
Summing up, with automation you cover most of your customer journey touchpoints automatically while ensuring a high level of personalization. This means that you optimize your team resources and increase their productivity.
Ideally, you would have a broad choice of different channels, including specifically those channels relevant to your industry and region. Your customer should be able to communicate with you in an easy and frictionless way. Preferably on the channels he feels more comfortable with.
But unless your customer takes the initiative to communicate with you, the best you can do is an educated guess. So just have the channels open and choose your main outbound channel.
It will still depend on what kind of communication you are going for.
To engage in a richer conversation, automation may be something trickier. True that there are smart AI chatbots out there, but you need to ensure that it feels close to human conversation.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. You receive an automated message, that’s ok. But if you engage in a conversation, you probably want it to happen on a human level with an actual person.
If you want to deliver a call to action or information, you’ll need to choose a channel that is universal and provides the best open rate and conversion.
And the undisputed winner channel is SMS.
If you have any doubts about SMS as a channel of communication, let me dismiss them.
And because these facts, SMS boasts some impressive numbers:
SMS is a powerful channel. Combined with automation it can be a driving force for your business.
While other apps may be more friendly for longer conversations, SMS is the top channel for reach out with short messages. Especially if they are meant to be read in a short time-lapse.
This makes it the perfect combination for automation. So here are the 5 key benefits of SMS automation.
At a certain point, you may realize that your team is swamped in time consuming repetitive tasks. But before you expand your team because of these, remember that SMS automations:
When you design your customer’s journey, I am sure you think “ok, all looks good!” but you cannot afford to make things happen manually. Not if you want to implement tight processes on the rich journey that your customer deserves. It’s not only the time it would consume, but the possibility for errors and delays. In this case, automation are key to:
Worse than forgetting or delaying a predicted step on your defined customer journey, is to fail to answer your customer. I am sure that you’ll eventually reply to your customer, but maybe not while he's waiting. A study found that 90% of customers expect an immediate response, which 60% define as less than 10 minutes when they submit a query to a support team.
Looking at your customer journey, you can identify those moments when your customer is most susceptible to contact support or change their mind if given a push. SMS automation allow you to:
Keeping a close bond with your customers brings essential benefits. Not only it boosts loyalty, but it allows you to capitalize on a good experience or learn and try to make up for a bad one.
Keep in mind that most of the benefits of SMS come from the fact that it is a highly personal channel. And because it is so personal, you should make sure that you collect the phone number of your customer with his consent before you send him SMS text messages.
If you take your customers and potential customers by surprise when you send them SMS for whatever reason, they may feel their privacy breached or consider you spam. This can have the exact opposite effect of everything we talked about throughout this post and you lose a customer forever.
Another bad scenario of a lack of clear consent is the infringement of GDPR, CCPA and other regional data privacy regulations. You don’t want that.
But collecting your customers' phone numbers from your website and getting them to opt-in can be done with creativity, in a fun and natural way. To play in your favor and have a highly positive impact on your brand perception.
Done right, a consent or opt-in process can reinforce the customer’s trust in your business and provide a gamified experience. This will make your customer not only “ok with”, but more receptive to receive your SMS in the future.