By now, many heating, cooling, and refrigeration companies are utilizing text messages to connect with customers, and rightfully so. Data has proven over and over again that text messages are an effective and appreciated form of communication. Research from Gartner, for example, indicates about 90% of people read text messages within three minutes of receipt.
Now that text messaging has become more popular in the HVAC and refrigeration industries, it’s time to hone in on ways to be more strategic about texting. One particular way for these companies to better utilize text messages is to set a dedicated phone number specifically for text messaging. There are many benefits to utilizing a single, dedicated phone number.
- A local feel: Not every texting software allows companies to use a local area code for their texting needs. As a result, people may feel unsure about answering the text message that comes in on behalf of a local company but isn't coming from a local number. For companies that serve multiple communities, it will make sense to have multiple dedicated numbers — one for each service area — so the phone number appears local in each city and will be perceived as less of a spam risk.
Saved in their contacts: If your customer management software doesn’t provide dedicated phone numbers, messages will be sent from randomly-chosen phone numbers. Initially, you can likely receive replies, but only for a limited time (often 60 to 90 days). If a customer replies after the initial time frame, the message will not reach your company.
A dedicated number ensures customer connections won’t be lost over time. Customers are able to save the number as one of their contacts and be able to easily reach out to you when they need your services. Also, if a customer were to call a dedicated texting phone number, companies could have it auto-forwarded to a receptionist, ensuring the outreach effort isn’t lost.
- Two-way texting: Two-way texting, which means someone is able to respond back-and-forth with the person who sent the original text message, can be a meaningful addition to a texting strategy. Having a dedicated phone number for texting enables this ongoing communication because the number will remain consistent over time. While companies likely won’t want service technicians texting with customers about problems with their systems (save that for the in-person appointments), it is a convenient way to discuss appointment changes and expectations, share directions, or provide promotional information.
- Employee privacy: A major benefit of having a dedicated number for texting is providing privacy and security for employees. Company employees should not be texting from their private numbers. Alternatively, a dedicated phone number can be set up to be used from their private cell phones, while shielding their personal phone numbers.
- Company security: Along with employee privacy, the dedicated number also provides your company additional security. If your employee were to leave or be terminated, the dedicated number can immediately be turned off or assigned to another employee. Assigning the number to another employee allows for consistency in your customer service and continual customer familiarity with your number.
- Marketing efforts maximized: With texting being a preferred method of communication, give new or prospective customers the opportunity to connect with you that way. Dedicated numbers are safe to publish on social media, your company website, business cards, or for use in any of your marketing efforts with peace of mind knowing it won’t change.
Dedicated numbers for texting have all of these benefits, but businesses must be responsible and compliant with texting. This includes making sure text messages are not deemed as spam. U.S. mobile carriers have set some regulations — called 10DLC — to help with this.
Your dedicated texting number looks just like a standard U.S. 10-digit phone number (in the texting world, it’s called a 10-digit long code, hence the name 10DLC). These numbers are sanctioned by the carriers to be used to send texts from businesses with an application/software and then through their networks.
These new 10DLC texting regulations were implemented within the past year in an effort to weed out spam texts. The carriers are requiring businesses to register their numbers and provide real-life examples of business messages to better inform the carriers of what’s being sent through their networks. Most SMS providers should be able to assist with this registration. Carriers then give reputable businesses higher importance for message delivery and speed over the not-so-reputable companies, in the hopes of blocking more and more spam and unwanted messages. If this registration and compliance isn’t met, the carrier could block messages or even apply hefty fines. Along with registration, HVAC and refrigeration companies should also follow anti-spam best practices, like including opt-out info like, “Text STOP to unsubscribe” in each message, to help stay off the 10DLC naughty list.
While keeping messages 10DLC compliant may seem like jumping through hoops, the rules are ultimately a good thing. They make sure text messages remain as relevant to the recipients as ever, bolstering the already-strong value of sending text messages for business use.Text messaging has proven to be a relevant, effective tool for HVAC and refrigeration companies. By utilizing a dedicated number for texting that remains the same over time, avoids the utilization of employees’ personal phones, and enables two-way communication, companies can strengthen their texting strategy to generate brand loyalty and better serve their customers.