As ubiquitous as e-commerce has become, there are some industries for which add-to-cart doesn’t always suffice. Airline companies, cruise lines and cable providers all fall into the category of businesses that still rely heavily on customers calling in to book their trip or service. Not even electronics are exempt; Dell prefers to sell you your next laptop over the phone. So while it has become a consumer instinct to jump online for just about any purchase, some transactions still call for human-to-human communication.

Customers need options

Today’s customers expect flexibility and answers that neither a chat bot nor a FAQ page can properly provide. Bottom line: sometimes, it’s just better to talk to someone. With two-way texting so readily available, it’s also just better to text. Similar to web chat on product pages and at the point of sale, text can help customers get answers to their questions pre-purchase. However, the experience with SMS to do this is a much better fit for on-the-go customers.

As such, businesses would be wise to lower the barrier, drop the phone call and join consumers on the channel they’re using the most.

For instance, adding SMS to a company’s product page allows customers to reach out and address general acquisition questions in a timely manner to help close the sale –  such as how a product fits, features & measurements or what’s included in a subscription. Furthermore, putting SMS on the checkout page will decrease shopping cart abandonment if a potential customer has questions about payment, coupon codes or other transaction-related issues.

This rings especially true when marketing to millennials. Representing the largest shopping group in the world, millennials are reshaping the retail space, not to mention the economy. As businesses compete to pique millennials’ interests, it’s as important to look at the messaging channel as it is to craft the message itself.

OpenMarket found that 83% of millennials would prefer to text with a business representative than call a customer service center. Texting boosts reputations, too; 77% of millennials are likely to have a positive perception of a company that offers text capability. By joining millennials on the channel they spend the most time on, businesses can lower the barrier to a sale.

In that vein, it’s crucial to note that millennials aren’t the only group that want to hear from you via text; baby boomers are connected, too. A Pew Research Center survey reported that 92% of smartphone owners age 50+ also embrace text messaging.

Capturing valuable customer insights

As easy and convenient as texting is, many companies across consumer-facing industries are still slow to adopt this table stakes capability. Not only does this create a barrier from company to consumer, but it also prevents the business from capturing valuable data. Countless companies have employees that use their personal phones for calls, meaning the data isn’t stored anywhere. Calls aren’t tracked within a CRM, either. From flight changes to choosing a cable and WiFi package, a two-way text conversation not only satisfies the customer, but brings in important data.

And the value of those numbers speaks volumes. New metrics like Dedicated Time (DT), Dedicated Agent Time (DAT) and Dedicated Customer Time (DCT) allow businesses to measure the effectiveness of text messaging for customer service. These stats prove that two-way texting is no longer just a convenient channel; it’s lowering the barrier to attract and retain sales.