Hello, is anyone there? What business texting should never look like.

Author: Phil Gordon

Commuting into the office last week, I heard an ad on the radio for Warby Parker. They are a retailer offering both sunglasses and prescription glasses online and in about 100 stores, mostly in the United States with some in Canada. Their website states that you can try 5 frames at home for free, and prices start at $95 per pair. 

The ad encouraged listeners to text in to receive an exclusive mobile offer, so naturally I had to try it. Like most text message conversations, it started with a keyword, “Clear” and an opt-in message. After responding “yes”, I received their “exclusive” offer–try 5 frames at home for free. Well, maybe it wasn’t all that exclusive. 

Here’s where it got frustrating. As someone needing corrective lenses, I naturally have a prescription. That’s one of the first things I would imagine that Warby Parker would need to know. Apparently, they were not interested because I didn’t receive a response to my question about that. Or any of the next two messages I sent. Evidently, this was an excuse to get their “deal” in front of me, rather than a genuine attempt to create a customer relationship. 

At this point, it would take a great deal of soothsaying on Warby Parker’s part to get me to consider them again. At a minimum, someone in their customer service organization should spend some time with me, so I can help them create real conversations with customers rather than leading them down what is effectively a dead end. 

This is just one example of how many companies are doing SMS only halfway, or more specifically only one direction. This is such a missed opportunity!

Despite the prevalence of texting in our daily lives, too many companies try to make SMS an extension of email–purely for outbound communication–instead of leveraging the instant and efficient nature of texting to have brief but impactful conversations that help customers get what they need in the fastest way possible. 

SMS messaging with customers should never primarily be about marketing, but about creating relationships and driving customer affinity. In that regard, it’s much more like web chat than email. 

This week our Chief Revenue Officer, Brad Epker and I will be at the Twilio Signal conference in San Francisco (booth M8) to chat with folks about the power of bi-directional messaging with customers. If your organization has implemented texting for purely outbound communications, we would love to show you the real power that bi-directional SMS has to better inform, engage, and delight your customers. 

Or you could just text us.

Phil Gordon: Multi-time entrepreneur. Computer Scientist specializing in AI and linguistics. First employee at Netsys Technologies (sold to Cisco systems for $95m in 1997, backed by Sequoia and Bessemer). Best known as former professional poker player, author and host of Bravo’s Celebrity Poker Showdown. Featured keynote speaker and host for hundreds of corporate and charity events worldwide.

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