TouchCommerce Releases TouchSMS

TouchCommerce, a provider of customer engagement technologies, today expanded its tool set with TouchSMS, which leverages text messaging capabilities to connect brands with their customers within a mobile environment.

According to Josefine Fouarge, product marketing manager at TouchCommerce, TouchSMS offers companies the ability to have "live, native conversations with a customer anywhere, at any time." The product aims to address  buyers' demands for personalized mobile interactions, while providing them with the ability to engage with companies in an offline environment. "The always-on consumer wants instant gratification, and to have their questions answered immediately," Fouarge says. 

TouchSMS complements TouchCommerce's other tools, including TouchSocial and TouchMedia, and enables end users to link them to text. For instance, companies advertising on TV or online can display a key word and number that a customer can send a text message to for additional details. Once the customer sends the key word, their phone number is captured by TouchCommerce's system and filtered through their invitation API. TouchCommerce's  RightTouch engine reads the key word as a signal to initiate a chat. The company and customer can then begin communicating throughout the buying journey.

TouchSMS integrates with Salesforce.com, enabling agents to access account information to find out more about a customer's interaction history with the brand. An advantage of TouchSMS, Fouarge adds, is that it runs on the TouchCommerce Agent Interface—the same interface users of the desktop Web chat and mobile Web chat tools TouchCommerce are already familiar with.

For TouchCommerce, the focus on SMS is a no-brainer; Fouarge points out there are many obvious advantages in providing customers with mobile messaging options. "SMS is available on every phone, no matter how smart it is," she says. And practically everyone knows how to send and receive messages. But perhaps less obvious, Fouarge says, is that SMS chat gives consumers  access to multiple conversation histories they can refer to every time they reconnect with a brand. Likewise, brands aren't forced to rely on third party apps, because SMS is native to mobile phones, and the conversations are accessible without a browser or app.

"There are numerous studies out there that show that SMS texting is the communication method of choice on mobile," Fouarge says, citing research from Nuance, RingCentral, Venturebeat, Marketo, and Pew. "SMS is treated like the 'urgent inbox,'" she says. The open rate for SMS is 98 percent compared to 22 percent for emails; 85 percent of U.S. adults prefer texts over voicemails; and while 56 percent of U.S. adults are using two to three messaging apps, 72 percent prefer to communicate through SMS texting. It has sales implications, too, as approximately 50 percent of consumers make purchases after getting a text from the brand.

Brands can use the product to reduce customer care costs with SMS chat, Fouarge says. "They enjoy lower cost per customer contact, and they can improve their current customer satisfaction scores," she says.

"Because [text messages are] sent through a different type of communication channel, they're also more secure than emails which can just be grabbed away from different servers throughout the Internet," Fouarge says.

The solution, Fouarge adds, promises to reduce the number of repeated inquiries that come from customers, thus improving their satisfaction with the brand and preventing churn.

Fouarge points to the financial services vertical, which pioneered SMS messaging: "They see a major impact in customer experience, customer retention and ensuring business continuity."

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