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Text Messaging and Customer Service

116197232_e32763bee0_m_3 Recently, I had the chance to stay at the W Hotel in Times Square – and they had an interesting new text messaging service designed to inform guests about anything from a fax coming in, to confirmation of a dinner reservation.  Just text "W Insider" to a special number to get set up.  It got me thinking how underutilized text messaging is – as a way to help people avoid wasting time waiting in line.  Here is my list of the top situations I’d love to see text messaging used:

  1. Government Services – When it comes to the DMV, or immigration office – they are day long events, wasting hours of everyone’s life.  Text alerts would save hours, as people could check in, leave for a few hours, and come back within 30 minutes of being alerted by text message.
  2. Restaurants – In Sydney, restaurants don’t take down your name or give you a pager … they just take your mobile number and send you an SMS when your table is ready.  Surely this is cheaper than getting all those nifty pagers? 
  3. Automotive Repair – Waiting to get your car fixed or serviced is the worst, especially when you know they are working on it, but never quite sure when they will finish.  Imagine registering for Jiffy Lube alerts on a particular day, and getting an alert when there is no wait so you can take your car there right away.
  4. Checkout Timing – Checkout lines in megastores like Costco or Home Depot move in cycles … either everyone wants to leave at the same time, or no one does.  I would love to register when I go in a megastore, then send them a message when I am almost ready to leave and have them respond to tell me when to checkout.
  5. Cable TV Installation – This single event is the bane of nearly every new homeowner’s existence.  With their innane 6 hour windows (12-6) for installation, consumers spend hours of their life waiting for the cable guy.  Text messaging could shrink the window to a hour or two – enabling people to do close to home errands or at least narrow down their waiting time.

Travel updates by SMS are relatively prevalent in the travel industry, with hotels now starting to get into the game as well with innovative ideas like W Hotel’s Insider program.  It’s about time companies in other industries started to explore this underused channel.

Photo Credit: W Hotel picture is taken from missdju’s New York Photo Collection on Flickr.

4 thoughts on “Text Messaging and Customer Service”

  1. Pingback: Cell Phone Blog
  2. Now here’s a great example of a very relevant and simle SMS application. I think too often apps and content are simply “mobilized” rather than creating content that is relevant to the device.

  3. I am not sure I can agree with any of your applications. Text messaging just isn’t practical and in some of the situations you mentioned – I don’t see it actually working.

    The cable guy has a time window because he is unsure of when the prior job will be completed. Add text messaging into the equation and you will have the cable guy waiting for you to return from your errands – it adds another variable into the equation and will apply additional cost to coordinate. Cable companies want to control their own bottom line and not be beholden to the customers schedule.

    While it would be nice to make the cable guy wait for for you – customer service for cable giants isn’t a top priority.

    So where is the value? I had a conversation with my colleague the other week on the value of text messaging where I argued the only value it offers was in a hostage situation.

    You are trapped. Your captor doesn’t realize you have a cell phone – you text for help. You are saved.

  4. I agree with 2/3 at least.

    Government services is a no-brainer. There is no place you wait more.

    Restaurants. I saw the first ‘pager thingy’ last week and it was quite strange indeed. SMS has the potential to be a lot easier for the person and 10c off a $20 meal is nothing.


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