Terre Wellington, Senior Vice President of Store Operations, Lamp Plus
One of the biggest challenges for retail store locations is establishing a digital connection to customers. Store employees have a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share, but finding a seamless, cost effective way of linking them to customers can be challenging.
Mobile, however, has opened up new possibilities for connecting customers to local stores. One of the most effective ways to connect with customers is to offer a texting service. This service allows consumers who are seeking information to send questions directly to their local store, where they are connected with an expert store associate to assist them.
The ability for customers to send questions through texting leverages their mobile device’s SMS app without requiring any additional app or software, so it was easy to deploy and get up and running. At each store location, the managers carry a company iPhone during store hours that is dedicated to answering incoming texts.
This Lamps Plus service is supported by our mobile and desktop websites and allows customers to send texts to the local store of their choice. Customers can find the text number of any location on the online store pages, in customer marketing emails, business cards and inside printed catalogs. If they are near a store location, they can tap the Check Store Availability option from every website product page, which leads to a Text Store for Availability or Question prompt initiating an initial SMS message.
For its ability to strengthen brand loyalty and offer a real human connection, texting is sure to be an important component in the future of brick-and-mortar customer service
The questions asked have ranged from item availability to product details, such as product sizes, colors and other design features. Customers can also use the text service to send photos of their home’s interior design for review, or request product photos and videos from the store. They also can reserve products via text for pick-up in store.
Typically, text message conversations last for several exchanges, often resulting in a transition to a phone call or product reservation. Purchases are only made by phone or when the customer visits the store – credit card information is not accepted over SMS messages based on security concerns of that platform.
The advantage of texting rather than similar services, such as live chat that originates in a distant call center, is that texting offers a superior customer experience that connects to the local store level. The customer is connecting with a real person in a nearby store and getting insight about a product that’s in front of the employee responding to the text. If the customer visits the store, they can then interact with the store employee they just texted, another big plus.
We’ve seen incredible benefits from offering customers the ability to send texts to their local store, for example customers are able to build a relationship with a sales associate prior to visiting the store and also they can gain more knowledge about products in the store. Also, unlike phone calls, there’s more flexibility with consumers and employees to respond to texts when their schedule allows rather than immediately during a call.
Customer-to-store texting is a simple, yet powerful and cost effective tool. It is easy for both customers and store employees to use, leveraging skills and technology that are in everyday use and familiar.
Customers have shown that they want the convenience of reaching their local store, and texting is quickly becoming an effective way of answering their questions and concerns. For its ability to strengthen brand loyalty and offer a real human connection, texting is sure to be an important component in the future of brick-and-mortar customer service.