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How SMS Can Improve Customer Experience

Premium brands such as Ocado are using SMS communications to improve customer experience and I think they are doing a fantastic job.

I don’t say this just because I work with brands to improve their SMS strategy; I say this because they deserve a pat on the back for doing it right.

The main reason I love Ocado’s SMS updates is because I’m a busy mum who appreciates the reminders and if they solely contacted me through email, it would probably get lost in my inbox. How many unread emails do you have right now? And how many SMS messages?

I love online shopping quite simply because I can do it in the evenings whilst I’m watching TV and my daughter’s asleep. As a working mum, this means that I don’t have the dreaded weekly shop to contend with at the weekend. I can avoid the stress, queues and instead use this as an opportunity to spend more quality time with my daughter, which is far more beneficial for both of us.

The most important thing for me is that the SMS updates I receive from Ocado are opted in, relevant and useful. Here are a few examples of my first hand experience of Ocado’s SMS communications:


Benefits to me:  I know exactly what to expect which means I am less likely to feel disappointed if any of the items I ordered aren’t delivered, which would be annoying if they were an essential ingredient for a recipe I was making. Also, I will have a higher propensity to repeat purchases from them.

Benefits to Ocado: Reduces the number of returned goods and improves the customer experience.


Benefits to me: I won’t forget that they are coming and I have the opportunity to make last minute additions, which could help me out if I have forgotten anything.

Benefits to Ocado: Reduces the number of failed deliveries because consumers aren’t at home, could increase the order value and also ensures the customer receives confirmation that their order is on its way (and in this case complete) which again improves the customer experience.

One of the main reasons for writing this blog was to show how effective SMS communications are to improving the customer experience. Competition is rife in the retail sector and if a consumer doesn’t have a great experience they may well go elsewhere. That’s how Ocado got my business in the first place, my previous supermarket were rubbish!

In addition to this, I spoke to a company this week based in the entertainment sector who declared that SMS isn’t for them because they are a premium brand and suggested that consumers of premium brands don’t like SMS. This is really disappointing to hear and sadly all they are achieving with this point of view is helping their competitors succeed where they have given up.

Key takeaways:

  • If your consumers own a phone, then you need to consider how you can use this to communicate with them.
  • Don’t just use SMS for selling, it’s multi-functional and works just as effectively for retention and for most businesses, retention is far more cost effective than acquisition.
  • Give consumers the opportunity to opt-in to your SMS channel; they will engage with you far better this way.
  • If a consumer opts-out /unsubscribes, that’s fine, better they do this than develop a negative association to your brand.
  • Relevance is essential for an effective SMS campaign – what would be the point otherwise?
  • SMS works well to strengthen and improve your customer experience, which increases loyalty by reaffirming that you value your consumers.

Points to consider if you aren’t sure:

  • Don’t assume that your consumers don’t want to receive SMS, if you really aren’t sure, create a focus group and ask.
  • Work with a provider that will help you with your strategy. There are many providers out there that offer a self-service SMS solution, but how will this help you if it’s new territory?  Far better to have an account manager who will work with you and help you to understand your results and suggest ways in which you can improve.


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