Canadian Underwriter

Customers want you to text them. So why aren’t you?

December 6, 2019   by Adam Malik

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Nearly seven in 10 customers want to be able to contact a business via text message but just 13% of small and medium businesses are actually using the medium to communicate with their customers, according to a recent study.

While stats aren’t available as to how many brokers text back and forth with their client, one broker said the industry better get on the ball.

“Hands down, brokers better figure it out. You’re not playing with a full deck of cards if you’re not using those modern tools,” said Adam Mitchell, president of Mitchell & Whale, a brokerage in Whitby, Ont. “It’s got its challenges in being able to document and export all the texts, but I think it’s here to stay. Ignoring it would be really silly.”

Beyond being able to communicate with their customers more often, the study by EZ Texting, a texting software company, found that small businesses are missing out on opportunities like promoting products, generating leads and making sales – all of which would help grow their business.

Texting is just the newest tool available, Mitchell stressed. It’s not meant to replace emails or phone calls, but it acts in addition to those with has some helpful advantages.

“Your cell phone doesn’t have a spam bucket; it’s not currently inundated with a lot of other spam,” he told Canadian Underwriter. “People are paying way more attention to SMS (short message service, the technical term for text messaging) than they are to their email. I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep up with my email. But I text most everyone back and certainly read most everything [that is texted to me].”

Greg Kruk, a partner at Toronto-area brokerage Sentinel Risk Insurance Group, agreed. “People want text because they might only get a dozen texts in a day, so they’re not going to miss one.”

To Mitchell and Kruk’s points, texts are read nearly 100% of the time, with half of all texts being read within three minutes, according to the study. A text is also 134% more likely to be read than an email. Even 86% of businesses using text messaging find a higher engagement than email.

That’s likely due to the intimate nature of a text message, Kruk said. “There’s more of a personal touch with text. If you’re on a text relationship with your broker or insurance company, it seems to be a bit more intimate than email,” he said, adding that clients are less likely to get a mass text compared to a mass email. “It’s usually a one-on-one communication over text.”

And this isn’t a younger generation trend. The study found that people of all ages prefer the method, as those aged 45-60 will check their phone just as often as someone aged 18-29 at seven times an hour.

Text messaging still dominates over other messaging options like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, the study found. A phone’s native texting app is used 11 times more than other apps.

While calling is the preferred way to contact customer service (70%) and schedule appointments (83%), customers do prefer a text when it comes to appointment reminders (83%), getting service notifications (66%) and hearing about promotions (54%).

“As authenticity and personalized conversations continue to set high-performing businesses apart, two-way texting will be a crucial tool for organizations looking to define themselves as customer-centric,” the report said.

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