Communication is changing, and small businesses should take notice or risk being left behind. Quickly becoming the preferred method of communication, 70% of internet users are now using mobile messaging as an alternative to phone and email. According to the 2019 Digital Trends Report, 90 per cent of customers express a desire to contact a business via messaging apps, including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and SMS.
Many big businesses have already come up with innovative ways to use instant messaging in their communications. Think of airlines sending flight updates and boarding passes via SMS, healthcare clinics sending appointment reminders through Facebook Messenger, or retailers sending sales receipts via WhatsApp. These companies have seen the opportunity to offer greater convenience to customers, and to achieve better business results in the process.
Here are three reasons why small business owners should begin using messaging apps to connect with their customers sooner rather than later:
Meet your customers where they already are
The average Australian checks their phone more than 35 times a day, so why not meet them where they already spend so much of their time?
With a range of different uses, from sending on-the-go updates on your arrival time to a job site, to sending your invoice via message right when the service is done, messaging can help you reach your customer just at the right time, in the right context, on their app of choice.
Australians are not limiting themselves to just one or two messaging platforms either, so take the time to research which platforms your customers use so you can service as many as possible via messaging.
Speed up customer response times
When you rely only on email to send a job update or more importantly – your invoice – you run the risk of it landing in an overflowing inbox, or one that is rarely checked. It’s far too easy for customers to lose track, creating more work for you when it comes to chasing them up.
Communicating with your customers in real-time means that invoices and other documents will be read and actioned quicker, and in the case of invoices – you’re far more likely to get paid on the spot. Not only will this help you manage cash flow, but it will reduce the amount of time you spend following up on overdue payments. Aligning communication with your customer’s routines will not only help them to keep track of important messages, but will ensure you get a response (and payment) faster.
Personalisation helps you stand out from the rest
As a small business owner, it can be hard to compete with larger players. But one way to win is by offering a more personalised service. Instant messaging, if used in the right way, can feel like a more personal mode of communication. Take note of which messaging platform they prefer for receiving promotions, reminders, or important documents like invoices, and soon you’ll be communicating with them as you would a friend.
One of the benefits of being a small business is the ability to be nimble, flexible and go the extra mile to foster relationship building. You can adapt to your customers’ preferences and come out on top when it comes to customer service.
With the rise of the digital age, businesses of all sizes should be looking to utilise the platforms their customers are using. Creating this sense of familiarity and ease allows for better communication, and can go a long way to winning business and keeping customers loyal.