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For small businesses looking for a more convenient way to communicate with clients and more efficiently manage call-based interactions there are limited platforms to help.
Entering the scene is Urge, a new customer-to-business texting platform developed by Australian start-up Productify which allows consumers to text businesses to make enquiries, place orders and reservations, and book appointments.
“As we are all used to messaging our family and friends, the same theory should apply to a business. On a daily basis, people pick up the phone to speak to a business, get placed on hold, have to spell out their name and mobile number to book an appointment or make a reservation, but now they can simply open Urge, type in the business name and message them directly,” explained Dean Steingold, co-founder of Urge.
For customers, using the app is as simple as typing in the name of the business to find them in the directory and then texting them whatever they want. Users can enable location settings to have the directory show them businesses nearby, and of course can call rather than text the business if they need to.
But it’s on the business side that the important features and details must come in. As a business owner you may be dubious to the idea thinking that texting back and forth to get information off a customer could be harder than a quick phone call, for example, and it is also unproductive to have staff texting all day. Also, if they are booking appointments and reservations through texts the system must be integrated with a calendar or other scheduling software, otherwise the messages may get lost.
But a paid version of Urge currently in the works will include more features including that all-important management portal. Soon to be included will be a payments system to allow users to pay directly through the app.
The app currently makes businesses aware of pending messages through visual and aural reminders, falling back to automated phone calls. Auto replies for the more mundane questions such as opening hours can be added to the app, as well as automated booking responses. For instances in larger businesses where questions can’t be answered by the staffer manning the app at the time, they can be forwarded to another person.
“Making sure businesses respond to customers in a timely manner is our number one focus,” Steingold said.
The greatest advantage of the app is its simplicity, Steingold said. While there are an endless amount of apps and platforms on the market that allow for customers to interact with businesses and book services, he believes Urge is the easiest to use because it doesn’t require users to change their existing habits and learn new ones; rather it lets users communicate in a way that is already natural for them.
Developed predominately for service businesses where customers have to pick up the phone to order a book a service, Steingold said that the Urge team is now looking to expand its marketing to appeal to all businesses that have a landline phone.
It also has great potential for the hard of hearing community and deaf customers as a business has already discovered.
“One of our most exciting and heartwarming sign ups came from a company in South Africa that sells hearing aids. Upon speaking to the manager and asking how they heard about Urge, she said that one of her customers had come in to pick up their hearing aid and explained that they needed to download Urge because the majority of their customers are unable to call to find out when their hearing aid is ready or to make a booking,” Steingold said.
“It then dawned on us that for anyone who suffers from a hearing disability, the ability to now be able to text businesses could be a life changer and give further independence to those with this disability.”
With the app currently free, many small businesses have been quick to jump on board, said Steingold, as they are eager to have another sales channel.
Over the next few months Steingold said the team will be looking to increase its presence in Sydney and expand into Melbourne.