Over the past few years, businesses have been looking for new ways to modernize consumer communications. Just as email significantly reduced impact of direct mail marketing, new technologies are surpassing email opens rates. SMS is the newest trend in the market – delivering important information, updates and promotions directly to the palm of the consumer’s hand via their smart phone.
SMS stands for Short Messaging Service, and is more commonly known as texting. This channel allows communications directly to consumers in a convenient, non-intrusive way. Many industries have already adopted text into their communications mix, using the method to announce sales, offer exclusive discounts, communicate disruptions in service and share other important information.
Credit unions can not only leverage texting for marketing, it also provides an excellent extension for member service. Consider the typical member transaction. Likely this is taking place during standard business hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. However, if the credit union associate needs additional information or has questions for the member, they are trying to reach them during this time – when the member is likely at work themselves. This can prove difficult to reach a member by phone or through their personal email. Instead, the credit union associate could send a text either requesting a call back or providing a secure link for the member to follow and complete the process.
Automated messaging also makes member service significantly easier – reducing the workload for the credit union associates and improving the user experience. Consider implementing an automated workflow for popular questions such as applying for a loan online, scheduling an appointment, accessing quick references or even making payments. Additionally, some financial institutions have seen great success in incorporating SMS into their collections department.
Before jumping into the world of texting, here are some things to consider:
- Always follow your industry and federal regulations when communicating with members. It is important to understand state and federal regulations around contacting consumers. Anti-Spam laws protect consumers from becoming inundated in solicitations, so it is important to understand and comply with these regulations. Contact the state trade association, BSA Officer or other compliance official for more information on restrictions specific to credit unions as well.
- Always provide an opt out. Many businesses offer additional discounts for enrolling in texting. Often, consumers will forget why they are receiving messages or from whom the messages are coming. As with all communication, it is important to clearly communicate how to opt out from receiving future messages. And more importantly, be respectful of a member’s request to opt out by adding them to a do not contact list.
- Be cautious when using links. Texting can be a great way to provide resources to members. However, when using links, it is important to ensure they are secure, especially when dealing with sensitive information like financial accounts. Avoid using non-branded links, shortened links or links to third party sites where privacy cannot be directly controlled.
- Be respectful of the time of day. As with telemarketing calls, it is important to be respectful of consumers’ time. Avoid early mornings, evenings and late nights when it is inconvenient for members to receive notifications.
- Keep messages focused on information rather than sales. Because texting is so direct and personal it is advised to keep messages short and focused on sharing information rather than selling products. Offering a discount or announcing a sale is acceptable, however direct solicitations are often negatively received and can result in a high volume of opt outs.