Why SMS is failing in British Businesses

Posted by Rant & Rave

May 2, 2014


business-smsThe Guardian published a stat last year that claimed mobile phone owners in Britain look at their phone over 200 times per day – that’s roughly every 5 minutes of every waking hour.

If you are my 17 year old son or 19 year old daughter however, I think I would add another zero to that. No other media has ever had this level of addictive behaviour.

But here’s where you and I might disagree. I believe the primary use of a mobile phone is not to make calls or look at apps or websites; it’s STILL to send SMS messages.

The facts do support me by the way. 8X more people send texts than buy a newspaper, and 2.5X more people send texts than own a TV set, PC or credit card!

Gartner have gone as far as to state that SMS remains the single most powerful real-time engagement channel on the planet . Text messages are read and acted upon, fast. A typical email is opened within 48 hours, but texts are read within 4 minutes – that's 720X faster. To draw an analogy that’s the equivalent of crossing the Atlantic by sail ship in 3 weeks or flying by Concorde in 3 hrs.

We know this of course, because when that thing in our pocket beeps, we look at it straight away. We are ‘sort of’ allowed to, because it’s a disconnected way of communicating. It’s changed our culture to the extent that there is an etiquette that allows us to look at our phone to read a text, regardless of whether we’re with friends or in a meeting. Whereas if the phone rang mid-conversation, it would be seen as rude to answer it.

So why do I think SMS is failing in British business? Well, because powerful personal channels like this get abused. Here’s a selection of texts that I have received in the last month that have been completely pointless:

“Get a £20 free bet…..”

“Do you have a private pension? Unlock its potential…”

“We are contacting you about your accident and your PHP claim…”

“Your Payment Protection Insurance policy was mis-sold. We are contacting you to help you get a refund…”

Now for the really frustrating part.

A survey of UK consumers by Textmarketing in October 2012 found that 89% would like to receive parcel delivery notices via SMS, but only 26% in Britain had ever received any. 84% would like appointment reminders from the likes of doctors, hairdressers, dentists etc, but only 29% had ever received any. 68% of British consumers would like to receive offers and discounts from the brands they use, but only 12% had ever received any! What a massive gap between what consumers want, and what UK businesses deliver, in the country where SMS was first enabled ten years ago.

So, the message is clear. Consumers want brands to proactively send them relevant, timely communications straight to their mobile phone – whether it’s a new product offer, bank balance alert, appointment reminder or a confirmation of when a parcel will be delivered.

But what if brands took it further?- Wouldn’t it be nice if straight after events like these, customers were asked what they thought of their experience, giving them the chance to have their say and providing the brand with insight that could be used to improve their service next time?? Now that’s personal engagement. Come on British businesses, get your act together!

Take a look at our Infographic to find out just how powerful mobile can be to your Customer Experience:

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Topics: Mobile Communication, Business SMS, SMS Confirmations

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