SMS text messages are set to take off as a channel for business to communicate with their customers, research by analyst group Ovum Research reveals.
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Ovum predicts that text messaging will become the communications channel of choice for many consumers when they receive electronic reminders of events or promotional texts offering product discounts.
The findings will have implications for IT departments, which will need to consider how to integrate SMS into their customer relationship management systems, says Ovum research analyst, Ryan Joe.
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"SMS has become such a popular channel to communicate socially, it's becoming the first form of communicating. Everyone has a mobile handset," he says.
For business, SMS offers the opportunity to reach the customer more effectively and cheaply than contacting them by phone or through a mailshot.
Typical applications could include a credit card company using SMS to remind a customer that a bill is due for payment, a chemist reminding a customer to pick up a prescription or a retailer using a text message to send a promotional voucher.
"There are a lot of branding possibilities and lot of marketing possibilities in SMS. It frees up agent's time and reduces the cost of callcentres," says Joe. "If you get an SMS you are actually going to read it, but if you get a voicemail or a phone call from someone you don't know, the chances are you are going to ignore it."
Businesses will start using SMS messaging in an interactive way, by inviting customers to text back or to call a special phone number.
For SMS to be successful, businesses need to make sure they invite customers to sign-up for texts, rather than run the risk of alienating customers by sending spam.
And SMS needs to be part of an overall strategy, not a point solution, says Ovum.
"Enterprises need to know when to contact customers through SMS or whether customers prefer voice or e-mail. That means you are going to have some integration with your customer's contact database."