If your team is exploring creative ways to connect with your customers and prospective customers, texting might have come up as one channel to explore. Your team might already be sharing their cell phone numbers so that customers can reach out with questions. Or, you might just be seeing that email is too slow, and you are looking for ways to speed up your business processes.
Whatever the reason, we’re here to help identify questions you should be asking while you evaluate texting software options. Let’s get started!
How to Choose an SMS Solution for Salesforce – 5 Questions to Ask
Lots of solutions integrate with Salesforce, but the depth and capabilities of those integrations can vary widely. Some offer pop-ups or buttons to send a one-off text message, while others provide the ability to create or update native Salesforce objects, like Leads or Cases.
It’s important to make sure that the integration works for your business processes in addition to your tech stack. Adding a new software can increase complexity for your team, so before throwing a new tab in the mix, it’s important to figure out exactly what functions can take place from within Salesforce directly.
Can you send messages out from the Objects that you use? Can you receive responses from that same place? These are good questions to ask in evaluating what type of work flow your team will be expected to adopt.
1. Where Will You Start the Conversation?
The first step is to figure out exactly where you expect your text message conversations to originate.
Is your sales team sending a message out with important account updates to a targeted set of customers? Or do you want your customers to receive a text message from your team as soon as they sign up for your service?
Are you going to post your phone number on your website as an invitation for potential leads to learn about your product? Perhaps on a billboard for curious passers-by? Above your booth at a conference? Or will your phone number be sent out to current customers as a way to handle customer support issues?
Better yet, is it all of the above?
One way to use Process Builder to trigger a text message every time a new Lead gets created.
Make sure you have a clear idea of exactly how you want your conversations to get started, as that will help you figure out the right questions to ask.
2. What Salesforce Processes Should Be Triggered?
Once you have identified which entry points you want to optimize, the next step is to figure out exactly which Salesforce processes you want to take place at each stage. For example, if a new customer texts into your phone line for the first time:
- Should that text message create a new Lead in Salesforce?
- Or a new Case for your support team?
- If a Lead already exists, how does that conversation sync with the Lead?
- If your team will be the ones creating the messages from within Salesforce, can they send them all at once, or does it require a manual one-by-one process?
An example of a Lead that has an embedded conversation widget, allowing the Salesforce user to text directly from the record page. The individual messages are also syncing as activity on the Lead object.
Ideally, whatever configuration you decide should be easy to set up with your texting provider.
3. What Happens When Your Customer Responds?
One of the great things about text messaging is its immediacy. By choosing to engage over text, you benefit from faster responses from your customers and prospects.
When they text back, however, they also should benefit from a prompt response from your team. This is why it’s crucial to configure notifications such that the appropriate party can be alerted to the incoming text and respond quickly.
Notifications might be within your browser, or email notifications, or push notifications, or even Slack messages – it is important to find the ones that work best for your team.
Another important factor to consider is that your customers and prospects might send text messages outside of your standard operating hours. In those circumstances, it’s helpful to set expectations with your customers using “Office Hours” features comes to the rescue, to automatically respond and alert them of your availability.
Setting expectations for office hours clearly with your customers will help improve your support experience. Make sure you talk to your texting provider about what functionality they provide to handle inquiries when you’re out of the office.
It’s also crucial to plan for what happens when members of your team are out of the office. If you have assigned account owners, make sure that you have an easy way for them to mark themselves as “Unavailable,” so that their conversations get reassigned appropriately. That way you can ensure that no customer slips through the cracks.
Finally, one of our strongest beliefs is that the best conversations are the ones that are two-way. There’s lots of software that makes it easy to send messages to lots of people at once, but those messages tend to be generic and boring. Instead, we recommend that you prompt your customers and prospects to interact with your team, so it is important to make sure that your texting provider has the tools in place to manage those conversations at scale.
4. Where Do You Track Opt Out?
A critical part of using SMS is making sure that your customers have clearly opted in to receive messages from your team. This is both legally required and certainly a better user experience.
On the flip side, you should also make sure you are respectful of customers who change their mind and opt out of communication with your team. If a customer texts back “Stop” or otherwise tells you that they don’t want to receive messages from you, it is imperative that your team abides by their wishes. A good texting software will help track opt out status, and can sync that information back into Salesforce as well.
It’s also helpful to analyze which customers are opting out so that you can make sure that you are communicating as effectively as possible. If you are sending out messages to many people at once, find a solution that makes it easy to keep track of your customers’ engagement rates for different messages.
5. How Can I Report on SMS Activity?
There’s a pretty good chance that some members of your team are already texting your customers today, but you might not know about it yet. That’s the danger of personal phones moving faster than companies’ technology, and it’s the reason why it’s so important to find a solution that is both easy enough for your sales team to use on their phone, and robust enough to keep track of hundreds or thousands of customers’ communications.
Whatever texting solution you use, you should make sure that you have easy access to the messages that are being sent. Ideally, that information should live as close to your Salesforce data as possible to allow you to easily breakdown by customer segment or other information stored in your CRM. Additionally, if you pull up a record within Salesforce, you should have an easy way to view all of the text message history with that individual without leaving the Salesforce platform.
An example of a report showing the different inbound and outbound SMS activity, broken up by Salesforce user. You could easily overlay this activity on top of other pieces of data about the associated Accounts.
A well-integrated SMS tool will automatically log every message that gets sent or received as an activity for the associated Lead, or Contact or whatever wild custom object your company created, so long as it has a phone number field.
Your whole team will have visibility into the number of messages being exchanged, as well as what’s being said. If a sales representative goes on vacation, or changes teams, or leaves the company to become a trapeze artist, you’ll still have full transparency into all of his or her customer communications.
There are many different types of use cases for texting, and lots ways your texting solution might integrate with Salesforce, and these 5 questions will help you to evaluate each option to find the best fit for your organization’s needs.
If you’re interested in learning more about texting, or have other questions that should be a part of the evaluation, feel free to get in touch with our team.