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When and How to Use Human-Powered SMS Conversations
SMS Marketing Best Practices

When and How to Use Human-Powered SMS Conversations

How do you balance implementing scalable technology and human-powered messaging to create a delightful customer experience? Here’s everything you need to know.

February 16, 2022

Text messages get opened at a whopping rate of 98%.

This means that SMS is one of the most powerful forms of communication that brands have today. The direct line to your customers opens the door to creating delightful experiences that turn into loyal customers and increased revenue. 

But, when done poorly, or that direct line is misused, you can easily annoy customers and negatively impact your brand reputation and bottom line. 

So, how do you balance implementing scalable technology and human-powered messaging to create a delightful customer experience? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is Conversational Commerce?

Conversational commerce was a term coined by Uber’s Chris Messina in 2015, referring to the intersection between messaging and shopping. Conversational commerce can radically change the customer experience for shoppers. Receiving personalized recommendations, chatting with an agent to ask questions or solve problems in real-time, or never having to leave the messaging app to make a purchase is all possible with conversational commerce. 

Providing a personalized, seamless shopping experience is the goal. 

When to Use Human-Powered SMS 

So, how can eCommerce brands use both live agents and automated SMS to power their conversational commerce strategy? 

When to Use Live Agents

74% of customers say they would rather interact with a person than a chatbot or automated text. From a customer's perspective, it is a much better experience to reach a live agent, especially if they are trying to resolve an issue or have a question. In fact, the majority of customers want to actively write back to businesses for customer support issues. 

Adding the personal touch of a live person sending your text messages can be just the thing that makes a customer feel it’s not a waste of time to engage with your brand. 

So here’s where the investment into human-powered messaging is the most effective: 

Cart Abandonment 

Cart abandonment is an issue that every eCommerce brand faces. The top cart abandonment reasons are: 

  • Unexpected costs (high shipping/handling fees) 
  • Requiring an account 
  • Delivery speed 
  • Too long of a checkout process

When a brand representative reaches out to a customer who abandoned their cart, they can read nuances, answer questions more satisfactorily, and even offer incentives to get your customers back on your site to finalize their purchase. 

Related: How Disco Skincare Earned $30k From Recovered Cart Sales

Brands that have implemented this type of cart recovery strategy benefit from recovered revenue, but beyond that, they are cultivating meaningful relationships with their customers to improve their CLV. 

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Customer lifetime value, or CLV, is a key marketing metric to track your customer experience and how your customers contribute to your company as a whole. This is the total amount spent by a customer throughout their relationship with your brand. It is more cost-efficient to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones, so increasing the value of your current customers is important to the growth of your brand.

Check out Voyage SMS Glossary for More Terms and Insights

Customer support

For customer service inquiries or questions about a product, SMS can be used to connect your agents and customers. While some simple questions can be answered with a chatbot system, having the option to loop in a brand representative is vital for more complicated inquiries. 

SMS provides real-time connection and high open rates allowing you to resolve problems and answer questions quickly while being more flexible than live chats. 

You can also convert more of your website traffic by giving people a number they can text to get answers to any questions. You can display a CTA along the lines of “Have any questions? Text us at 123-123-1234” on your product pages. 

Overall, human-powered SMS is the most powerful and effective when it’s used to help customers at the bottom of the funnel overcome buying obstacles or to increase the customer experience. 

When to Use a Workflow

SMS workflows can be incredibly effective but need to be built out carefully. Even when there isn’t a human behind your texts, you want them to feel personalized and thought out.  

You can blast your whole SMS list five times and you most likely will generate incremental revenue every time. But there are two problems you will face when you do that. First, you will have people unsubscribe, so you lost that relationship most likely in perpetuity. Secondly, it’s a bad customer experience, so the likelihood that they are going to be a repeat purchaser is low. 

When you are thoughtful about the way you are engaging your customer, for example, via good experiences like human-in-the-loop and personalization, the likelihood they are going to be a repeat customer and overall have a strong relationship is very high.

Using segmentation to micro-market based on customer attributes and event history is necessary to create personalized workflows. Through SMS partners like Voyage, brands can create automated drip campaigns with powerful filters capabilities to make sure the right message gets sent at the right time. 

How Thinx Recovered $450k Worth Of Abandoned Carts Using Human-powered SMS

Thinx, a niche online underwear brand, had an issue all eCommerce stores face—cart abandonment. Abandoned carts were a constant headache and costly challenge for Thinx. When customers made a last-minute decision not to go through with a purchase, it added up to missed revenue, diminished profits—and the painful knowledge that they weren’t realizing their full commercial potential. 

Using LiveRecover by Voyage, Thinx had live agents personally engage with customers to convert abandoned carts into sales.

“Having live agents—not bots—recover our abandoned carts is super powerful,” said Brendan Hastings, VP of Digital Product and Engineering at Thinx. “They contact our customers manually to understand why they didn’t purchase, are able to answer their questions in real-time, and help them make a decision to buy.”‍ 

LiveRecover’s agents and SMS platform allow Thinx to have:

  • Their abandoned carts and customers’ contact details automatically sync to LiveRecover, meaning no admin time or input is required by Thinx.
  • Tailored, personalized texts are sent to customers 30 minutes after every cart is abandoned to understand why they didn’t buy.
  • Knowledgeable agents at the end of every text. They have the training and resources to answer all the common questions that make customers hesitate—such as shipping, fit or measurement, and other product-specific queries. 
  • Agents offer a small discount, typically in the form of free shipping, to seal the deal.

In just eight months of Thinx using live agents, they have recovered more than $450k of revenue. That’s a huge chunk of previously lost income that’s now in their bank account. 
Click here to read the full case study.

Human-in-Loop + Technology + Data = Conversational Commerce of the Future 

The challenge of conversational commerce so far is that it hasn’t felt organic. By putting an emphasis on making scalable systems, human power is sometimes looked over. A human experience can’t always be automated. This is why placing live agents to interact with customers at the bottom of the funnel, not only provides an amazing customer experience, it can gain your company hundreds of thousands in revenue. 

By combining live agents with well-thought-out automation, made possible by powerful segmentation and filtering, you will have all the tools needed to create an incredible SMS marketing strategy. 

Our goal at Voyage is to give brands all the SMS tools needed to engage, convert, and delight customers. Through seamless two-way conversations, custom campaigns, and automation, brands can quickly scale their SMS subscriber base, drive revenue, and cultivate deeper customer loyalty. 

If you are ready to add human connection to customer engagement, increase conversion rates across the customer journey, and turn one-time buyers into repeat ones, schedule a demo today! Then get a free month of messages on us.
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