by Gary Beach

Text Messaging at Work

Jun 09, 20092 mins
MobileSmall and Medium Business

Text messaging may drive top-line results, such as improving customer satisfaction.

In my latest road speech, “13 Things CIOs Need to Survive This Recession,” I make the recommendation to keep your selling shoes on—after all, CEOs are demanding more top-line results from IT investments, according to a recent Forrester Research study.

For over a decade, CIOs have invested in top-line technologies like customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning and content management systems. But my conversations with CIOs and chats with friends and family convince me that enterprises are missing out on an effective technology that is beginning to drive top-line results and improve customer satisfaction levels. And what’s this technology? Texting!

Texting, or SMS (for short message service) involves messages of 160 characters or less. Twitter (at 140 characters) is the category’s poster child, but texting is so much more than often-aimless “tweets.” And it is gaining a foothold as a compelling corporate marketing and sales tool.

I attended a Wall Street conference where the presenter showed how an SMS strategy at a major drugstore chain drove customer satisfaction up 10 percentage points. The presentation did not detail top-line gains of the SMS strategy, but most would agree that satisfied customers tend to buy more products than unhappy ones.

In the question and answer portion of the presentation, an analyst asked, “Why didn’t the company simply leverage an e-mail strategy to inform customers?” The reply: A constantly changing pricing strategy drove the firm to SMS. It reasoned that customers surely could be reached by e-mail, but there were two problems with it: Spam filters screened out many of the messages and many customers were not online all day.

But those customers did have cell phones that they constantly carried with them—cell phones that were on 24/7. I’m not encouraging you to create a corporate policy for use of texting—it would never work. But I do recommend setting up a meeting with your key sales and marketing colleagues to frame how your company can reach out to customers with a smart strategy.

Another benefit of embracing text messaging at work? Your kids will think you are really cool! And so will your CEO.