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How to Build an SMS Chatbot Improving Customer Communication
build sms chatbot
Nicole Wang
Content Editor and Customer Support at Textr
Published Sep 17, 2021

An SMS chatbot service has many benefits for businesses of all kinds. Like other chatbot services, it allows you to automate simpler customer service tasks, freeing your employees up for more complicated requests.

Of course, finding the right SMS chatbot builder for your business is key. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of the service and why you should build an SMS chatbot.

How Does an SMS Chatbot Work?

An SMS chatbot service uses automated texting software to receive and respond to customer queries. You can also use it to send mass text messages to contact lists or groups.

But how do you build a text bot? 

  1. You start with an SMS chatbot builder service (we’ll cover these later).
  2. You upload your customer contact lists.
  3. Next, you create your text blasts. These can be order updates, promotional offers, booking confirmations, and more.
  4. You’ll then need to input keywords and phrases for the bot to recognize so it can respond.
  5. Once that’s all done, your SMS chatbot service is ready to go live.
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Sending out booking confirmations and promotional offers is fairly straightforward – it works like any other text messaging service.

But, the customer service response angle is a bit more interesting. Say a customer texts, “Do you have any hair appointments on Thursday?”

The chatbot service will recognize the keywords (hair appointment, Thursday) and send the customer a list of available appointments or a link to a booking page. Simple.

Why Should You Build an SMS Chatbot?

There are numerous reasons why you should build an SMS chatbot. The most important include:

  • It automates simple customer service interactions. This saves you from having to manually queue up text blasts and other marketing information.
  • A chatbot’s efficient communication process easily turns leads into sales, meaning higher conversion with less effort.
  • Text messages go to someone’s personal number, meaning less chance of spam boxes or missed messages.
  • SMS messages have an open rate of 90% compared to email’s 20%.
  • Customers redeem text message coupons up to 10 times more than other types.
  • Similarly, the click-through rate for text messages is 9.18% higher than other digital channels.
  • Automating text message marketing with an SMS chatbot service saves on employee hiring costs – the chatbot doesn’t need wages.
  • Many SMS chatbot builder platforms are super easy to use and don’t require any coding knowledge, making them accessible to everyone.

In short, chatbots of all kinds are the future of customer service. Some areso advanced in their interactions that it’s almost impossible to tell you’re speaking to a robot.

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Top 3 SMS Chatbot Builder Platforms in 2021

Twilio

Twilio is a well-known SMS platform used by numerous large businesses. It allows you to send notifications, promotions, and more, and its dashboard is fairly easy to use.

However, it doesn’t include an SMS chatbot, so you’ll need to add that in yourself. Twilio’s pricing is pay-as-you-go and starts from $0.0075 per text.

ManyChat

ManyChat is a fully automated SMS chatbot service that also works on Instagram and Facebook. This makes it ideal for a business’s multi-channel marketing strategy. It’s easy to use for all marketing needs and costs from $0.001 per text.

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Intercom

Intercom is an SMS chatbot builder that includes machine learning. Importantly, this allows it to recognize old conversations and learn from changes in language and meaning. You can also integrate its bot into other platforms and automatically transfer customers to a real representative. Its pricing starts from $79 a month, but most services require you to contact them directly.

Best Practices for Building an SMS Chatbot

As with any other customer interaction tool, there are some best practices to consider when using an SMS chatbot builder. Make sure you do the following:

Reflect your business’s tone

Sure, text messages can be conversational and include emojis, but does that reflect your business? It’s vital that you align your chatbot’s copy so it feels like customers are speaking to your representative (because they are).

Keep it concise

Some SMS chatbot builders have a character limit. Regardless, you should keep your text responses concise to avoid mistakes on the chatbot’s part. If there’s any ambiguity in its messages, customers might send the wrong response.

Leverage the power of chatbots

An SMS chatbot service is a powerful thing and chatbots can turn cold leads into hot ones. You can set it up to send gentle nudges to customers who haven’t engaged in a while and make use of SMS’s higher open and conversion rates.

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Always be reasonable

That said, it’s no excuse to spam customers. Set a limit on how many times they can be nudged and ensure you never send messages outside of standard business hours. The most successful marketing isn’t pushy (or at least doesn’t appear to be).

Getting Started with Textr

Textr is a great place to get started when dealing with any digital SMS marketing solution. You can use the platform to establish a business number and collaborate with the rest of your team on projects. Each member gets their own number, allowing them to text and call customers and colleagues with ease.

Better yet, Textr also has a free Carrier Lookup Tool. You can use it to find reliable carrier information about any customer’s phone number to obtain accurate and relevant information. These details allow you to make more accurate marketing decisions when setting up your SMS chatbot service.

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Final Thoughts on Using an SMS Chatbot Builder

Deciding to build an SMS chatbot should be easy. There are clear benefits to using an SMS chatbot service regardless of your business’s size. While the upfront cost might be challenging, you save money in the long run by hiring fewer customer service representatives.

But, choosing the right SMS chatbot builder for your business is a bit more challenging. Hopefully, one of the links above is suitable. If not, you should be able to make an informed selection using the best practices and helpful tips.

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