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How Utilities Are Using Text Messaging

Good customer service is adaptable, responding to customers' needs as they develop and change. For this reason, companies across industries are incorporating SMS into their customer service as texting rises as a preferred mode of communication, even across age groups. This holds very true in utilities, where communication with customers is essential. Texting can provide utilities with a boost in quality of service and customer satisfaction by pushing it a step further into the 21st century.

Utilities companies need to keep in contact with customers about important information such as billing, and events like deadlines or interruptions in service such as power outages or severe weather. Additionally, customers need a fast and reliable line of contact with utilities providers in the event of a service failure. Texting offers just that.

SMS is a rapid and effective way to communicate, and is accessible to most Americans, with at least 91% of American adults owning cell phones. Increasingly, text messaging is preferred over more traditional phone calls or other modes of communication, such as email. And text messaging is reliable; though texts cannot be sent absolutely anywhere and everywhere, SMS can often still be used under conditions where Internet access or landline use are unavailable, such as severe weather.

Automated text messages are a powerful way for utility companies to reach their customers efficiently with important information and updates. Mass texts are an effective and reliable vehicle for emergency alerts, as well as more everyday content such as bill reminders and deadlines.

Communication between utilities and their customers does not end there; automated texts do not fall on deaf ears. Two-way communication allows customers both to follow up with utilities and to text the company when problems with their services arise. In a 2013 study by iFactor, utility companies sent 5.5 million text messages to customers using iFactor's system, and the companies received an equivalent 5.5 million texts from customers.

Text messaging also allows utilities to make basic functions more convenient and accessible. Functions such as requesting an account balance or information about bills and services are often available online, but Internet access is cutting it less and less today. Many, especially the rising generation of young adults, are inseparable from their phones, but may not have constant access to a computer, where online services are most convenient, or even to the Internet. Additionally, a noteworthy portion of the population does not have reliable access to the Internet outside of a phone, and thus depends a great deal on their phones; for this population and many others, texting is a far more convenient alternative.

For this reason, more and more utility companies are allowing customers to text keywords to a designated number in order to access information one might otherwise access online or by calling their provider. This added level of accessibility and convenience, and the increased breadth of options for customers seeking access to their information, contributes to a greater quality of service and happier customers. With the incorporation of two-way texting into customer service, it seems the only way to go is up.

About the Author -
Sharon Housley is the VP of Marketing for NotePage, Inc. a software company for communication software solutions. http://www.notepage.net

 


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