Business-to-consumer texting is the fastest-growing customer engagement channel for businesses, and customers are happy about it. 9 out of 10 Americans report they would rather text a business than call it.
Texting has become most people’s primary means of personal communication. Many prefer it for all types of communication now because it’s usually more convenient than playing phone tag. Thankfully for consumers, more and more small businesses are run off of cell phones as opposed to landlines, meaning B2C texting is becoming more commonplace.
Stay ahead of the trend with Sideline
Sideline is working to make B2C texting even easier. Sideline provides a private second number on your phone from which to send customers texts. And with the help of features like Auto-Reply, it really opens up the text line of communication by sending a text in response to missed calls.
Turning Auto-Reply on converts 22% more of those missed calls from new customers into new business than when it’s not turned on. When people receive an immediate response, they are less likely to call one of your competitors. It also shows existing customers that you’re still there for them even if you’re busy with another client or are temporarily in life mode. Happy customers means retained customers. But, we wanted to even more to help business owners better meet their customer’s communication needs.
When people receive an immediate response, they are less likely to call one of your competitors.
So we’ve been developing and beta testing a new generation of tools (available for all iOS users to try soon!). The Action Panel, Notes, Shortcuts, Outreach, and Broadcast are new features we’re building that will help you save time, provide better customer service, come across more professionally, and ultimately generate more revenue.
Save yourself precious time
Small business owners, like you, are very busy and want to save time wherever possible. Our new features will help make texting less tedious and time-consuming.
The Action Panel and Shortcuts
The Action Panel is a menu of tools that lets you quickly and easily complete repetitive tasks, including sending quick texts using Shortcuts, immediately after a call. Shortcuts let you save and reuse messages you frequently send to customers. Shortcuts can also be accessed from the keyboard within the conversation view for a contact. With a single tap on a Shortcut, you can send commonly requested information, an immediate follow-up message, or anything else that suits your business needs.
No more wasting time repeatedly typing out the same message for different customers, day in and day out. Move onto other important money-making tasks!
Outreach and Broadcast
Outreach is a feature set designed to expand and automate customer engagement. One of the Outreach features that we’re testing first is Broadcast, a messaging tool that makes it easy to send marketing texts, appointment reminders, and business info to separate contacts at one time without using a group message.
Broadcast messages allow you to reach out to multiple customers at once without a lot of time and effort copy and pasting the same text to separate individuals. Customers who receive your Broadcast message won’t see any other recipient and only you will see their reply.
Simply write a message, choose the contacts you want to receive it, and – boom! Effortless customer engagement. You can finally take “Send seasonal promotion” or “Reach out to lapsed customers” off your to-do list!
Texting your customers can help you build and maintain relationships that feel more personal.
Build and maintain relationships
One thing that keeps people coming back to small businesses like yours are the relationships they build with you; something they can’t do with large, faceless corporations. The Action Panel, Shortcuts, and Broadcast can help your customer service stand out.
Use Notes to be more personal
Within the Action Panel and Contacts, there are places for jotting down notes after a customer call. Those notes are saved in Contacts where you can access them at any time. Use the Notes feature to save important information and reminders about your customers to provide a more personalized customer service experience in your text communications.
Send immediate follow-up texts after a call and respond promptly to texts from customers via your saved Shortcuts. A quick tap populates the templated message as a message draft for you to review. You can tap again to immediately send it as is, or edit the message to make it feel even more personal. When customers receive an immediate response, it shows that you value them. Also, excellent customer service helps you stand out from your competitors. Some Shortcut texts you could send a customer include:
- Thank You – Send a friendly note after a call or service.
- Address & Hours – Share important information about your business.
- Appointment – Provide appointment or event information.
- Texting as a Service – Introduce the idea of texting instead of calling.
- Promotion – Let a customer know about a sale or send a coupon code to help close a deal.
Re-engage customers authentically
Outreach and Broadcast messages let you re-engage with lapsed and current customers with the goal of reminding them you’re here for them. These messages can feel more personalized coming via text than via other types of marketing channels, like large email blasts. Some Broadcast messages you could send to all your customers or certain groups of customers include:
- Reminders – Send timely or seasonal nudges to schedule appointments.
- Discounts – Share codes or coupons to encourage repeat business.
- Notices – Announce upcoming events or sales to re-engage customers.
- Tips – Provide food for thought or daily reminders related to your industry to keep your business top of mind.
With Sideline, feel confident that you can convey a very professional persona via text.
Make communications more professional
Do you feel uncomfortable texting customers because it seems less professional than calling? Don’t worry you’re not alone. With Sideline’s existing and upcoming features, feel confident that you can convey a very professional persona via text.
Send branded texts
Impress customers by sending branded text messages that feature your company logo. You can choose to have your logo included in Shortcut templates, Broadcast messages, Auto-Reply messages, and your text signature.
By branding your text messages, it helps remind customers of who you are and assure them you are not a random number spamming them when you reach out to them via text, especially if you do so several months down the line. Branded texts are also another way to differentiate yourself from your competition.
Use templates to sound professional every time
One of the difficult things about business texting is striking a balance between sounding professional and sounding like a person having a genuine conversation. Remember, you should sound like you, not a robot, even if you’re in business mode. Of course, it’s important not to go overboard with jokes, emojis, or anything else that might be seen as unprofessional.
Using templated Shortcuts messages is one way to make sure your customer communication has this balance and that you convey a consistent professional persona with all customers.
You can always modify any templated text saved in Shortcuts before tapping send to ensure the message sounds personalized when relevant. Yet, because the messages are templated, you won’t have to worry about texting mishaps, like typos, abbreviations, incoherently autocorrected words, incomplete or jumbled sentences, or the careless “K” text when you are in a hurry.
With Sideline’s existing and upcoming features, business owners can have the tools they need to join the B2C texting revolution. We’re particularly excited for you to try our new features in the coming months! Sign up to join the beta to experience how the Action Panel, Notes, Shortcuts, Outreach, and Broadcast can make texting your customers that much more efficient and effective.
About the Sideline Pro Beta
We hope you’ll follow along throughout our Project Reach development journey or even contribute your thoughts, ideas, and help us build a product that solves your problems. What’s in it for you? We predict you’ll get more new and repeat customers. With more customers, we predict you’ll be more successful. Sign up below to help prove these theories right.
The beta version of these new tools will only be available on iOS initially. But don’t worry Android users, we’re working on developing this for you also and we’ll keep you updated on our progress. The new features will be free to test out while they are still in beta. Once we’ve perfected the product, we will offer them as a premium tier of service within the Sideline app, at which point you’ll be asked if you would like to choose to upgrade to keep using the new features.