When the first text messages were sent back in the early 1990s, no one could have predicted how quickly the mobile short message service (SMS) would catch on and become such a core part of our daily interactions.
Today, Americans send around 26 billion text messages a day. At the same time, according to Ofcom, last year 76% of UK mobile phone users sent texts on a daily basis. With the number of people globally sending and receiving text messages predicted to rise to almost 6 billion by 2025, it’s clear that SMS usage isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
As SMS continues to reign supreme as the top activity performed by smartphone users, texting has proved a low cost, efficient and addictive communication channel for a variety of customer-facing interactions—everything from scheduling and confirming service appointments to providing updates on delivery times for purchases.
With 71% of consumers saying that using text messages to communicate with a business is an effective way of interacting without the need to speak, the implications for organisations are clear. The ease, speed and clarity of text messaging holds a strong appeal for today’s time-pressed consumers.
It’s no surprise then that the ability to offer a simple, yet secure, pay-by-text option is proving a compelling proposition for organisations looking to improve the payment experience for customers.
Smooth Operator – Exploring the Benefits of Pay-by-Text
By making it easy for customers to pay their bills on time and in a more convenient way, businesses like consumer finance, insurance and utilities companies that have to deal with regular recurring payments are utilising SMS payment solutions to achieve big savings in collection costs, while reducing late payments.
Sending out payment notifications with a click-to-pay option automates the entire process for consumers, who simply opt into a text messaging service that helps them keep on track with bill due dates. There’s no need to remember passwords or usernames and they get instant confirmation for every transaction completed.
Similarly, organisations that deploy SMS marketing campaigns to keep customers engaged with personalised promotions or vouchers are finding that conversion rates escalate when they include a mobile-friendly click to pay option. According to EZ Texting, open rates on text messages are extremely high – over 90% of all SMS are read within 90 seconds.
Finally, the simplicity and ease of SMS payments are particular popular with European consumers purchasing one-off services such as parking, public transport, and even take-away food and beverage deliveries.
For organisations that want to offer customers an SMS payment option, here are our top tips for getting started.
- Prepare your contact centre personnel
Call centre agents will need to be fully informed about when SMS campaigns will be broadcast and when and how to handle two-way customer communication, should any predefined triggers apply that might require agent intervention. This may include issue management and responding to SMS requests from customers for further information.
- Give customers options
Allowing customers to contact you if they encounter problems or difficulties when making a payment or simply need to request additional information is important. Alongside enabling automated SMS replies that allow customers to both respond and request information, consider providing an option that enables customers to switch to another channel, such as voice or email, so they can get in contact with agents should the need arise.
- Implement reporting
Measuring the effectiveness of your campaigns means you’ll need to have meaningful KPIs in place. A robust closed-loop reporting process should provide you with data on SMS delivery, open and response times. This enables you to evaluate and tweak the best time of the day or day of the week to send out messages, or which wording format works best when it comes to prompting a response. It can even help you monitor how many texts are successfully sent and analyse live delivery statistics and open times. You’ll also need to ensure your solution provides confirmation on when payments are successful and how many unsuccessful payment attempts were made.
- Ensure end-to-end PCI DSS compliance
Customers need to be confident that their payment will be safe and secure, and your organisation needs to be certain it’s taking payment in a PCI DSS compliant manner. Ideally, that means eliminating the need for your organisation to store, process or transmit cardholder data. Instead, ensure you use a secure payment link solution that routes your customer’s sensitive payment data directly to your payment service provider (PSP) and retires unused links after a certain length of time.
- Integrate for streamlined flexibility
Select an SMS payment platform that makes integration into your chosen technologies and PSPs easy and simple to achieve. You’ll also need to ensure that payment evidence can be linked to customer records and CRM systems in real-time. Similarly, you need to be confident that contact centre agents have timely access to payment records should customers call in to check they’re up to date with a one-time or recurring payment. The ability to manage both custom and standard payments through a single operational infrastructure that gives you a log of every interaction and event should also be a top commercial priority.
With consumers nominating SMS as their customer service channel of choice, the opportunities for organisations that want to use SMS payments to make it easy for customers to buy goods or services, make deposits, and send remittances are clear to see. Growing numbers of organisations are taking advantage of SMS payment options and making it easier for people to pay via a message sent to their mobile phone in a quick and safe way.