By Molly Slater, Sales Engineer
If you’re listening to your customers, you know there’s one channel many of them prefer to use to communicate: texting. But how do you send each of them a personalized message that meets their need?
The expectation is increasingly common, as is the above question. Fortunately, any business can deliver the experience customers crave with the help of a managed SMS provider.
So before crafting your 160-character masterpiece, here are a few things to know about a managed SMS solution that you can’t get with a non-managed service.
What is a managed SMS provider?
An SMS provider helps companies send mass notifications to target audiences using a network operated by a carrier, like Verizon or AT&T.
Each carrier has unique guidelines brands must follow before sending text messages. So partnering one-off with each carrier can get complicated in a hurry. That’s where SMS providers come into play, but there are two types you need to know:
Aggregators act as the middle man between an organization and the carriers. The business tells the aggregator what it wants to say, and the aggregator sends it on the appropriate networks. Aggregators don’t normally provide much more guidance or multi-channel solutions. Instead, the aggregator is simply a vehicle to get to the carrier.
Managed providers, on the other hand, partner with multiple aggregators and offer guidance beyond a one-way notification blast. Like aggregators, managed providers supply the platform to reliably send your texts from Point A to Point B, but they look at a message as the first touchpoint in a much wider customer journey.
Unlike aggregators, a managed SMS provider comes with additional benefits. Some are obvious, like expertise from years of cross-industry experience, ease of implementation and personal service.
But there are a few more benefits that most people don’t think about. So here are three benefits of a managed SMS provider you may not have considered.
1. Guidance to avoid non-compliance
Even after crafting the perfect message, there’s more to consider before pressing “send.” Businesses must comply with government regulations — like those put in place by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) — or risk facing a substantial fine. One such settlement recently reached $280 million, so it’s crucial to stay in compliance.
Before sending a text message, businesses must know four things:
- Who is on the other end
- Whether the recipient is on a cell phone or landline
- If the message is relevant to the recipient
- Whether he or she has given permission to be contacted
A managed SMS provider keeps a compliance team on staff to stay abreast of all laws from the FCC and TCPA, as well as regulations put in place by carriers and trade organizations. Managed providers help businesses collect opt-in information, maintain customer databases, and remain in compliance, which could help avoid a costly slip up down the road.
2. Supplement to current staff
Getting help from a managed SMS provider doesn’t require massive back-room changes. There’s no need to cut staff or revamp job titles. Consider your SMS provider to be a supplement to current staff, not a replacement. This provider will take care of sending text messages, and your employees can focus on more important matters.
Choosing a managed SMS provider is like hiring a team of professionals specializing in:
- Data analytics
- A/B testing
- Optimization based on industry learning and other verticals
- Complete management of shortcode — a five- or six-digit, text-only number — which may take eight to 12 weeks to set up
- Industry innovations and emerging trends
So instead of hiring someone to deal with carriers, aggregators and legal counsel, a managed SMS provider dedicates an entire team to getting messages sent to the right people and helping businesses achieve their specific goals.
3. A connected experience, 24/7
But while a business manager doesn’t need to hire a new employee, he or she can rest easy knowing there is a support team on-call 24/7. With a team of professionals, a managed SMS provider offers a level of support that can’t be matched by an aggregator or a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) option.
With PaaS, businesses must invest in the application development, hardware and software necessary to send their message. Managed providers’ IT professionals maintain relationships with aggregators and carriers, which means they can quickly solve problems, day or night.
And partnering with a managed SMS provider that offers multi-channel solutions, like inbound IVR, creates the unique opportunity to develop a connected customer experience. Expanding this partnership makes it easy to share data across channels. So whether a customer reaches out by phone, text or online, the interaction can be as easy, effective and pleasant as possible.
A few more benefits…
There are plenty more reasons to consider partnering with a managed SMS provider. Check out the differences between managed providers, aggregators and carriers in our whitepaper, Selecting an SMS Provider That Meets Your Business Requirements.
And if you need help deciding what kind of text to send, be sure to read about the five types of SMS conversations. Or feel free to call or text one of our SMS specialists by contacting West Interactive Services at 800.841.9000.
Texting will continue to cement its place as the channel of choice. Make sure you’re creating the best experience and ensuring every message gets sent to the right person.
Molly has more than 10 years of experience helping clients adopt new technology and create innovative engagement strategies. She graduated from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and started working with West in 2008. Over the years, she’s specialized in building client relationships, optimizing business practices and mobile strategy. Molly now provides support to sales teams across the West Interactive Services operation and helps businesses in all industries adopt multi-channel solutions to create exceptional customer experiences.