Today's gig economy has more self-employed workers and small business service providers than ever. Labor Department data suggests that single-employee businesses and independent contractors have contributed to a 56% jump in FEIN number (business tax ID) applications since 2019.
The accessibility for small business owners is beautiful, but with so much competition in the market, service providers need to build strong client relationships. Adaptability, direct communication, and adequate follow-ups are best practices for fostering lasting professional relationships.
Text or mobile messaging is currently one of the most effective ways to reach most of the adult population in less time, particularly Gen Z'ers and Millennials. An SMS membership product is an excellent option for providers to build systems for customer communication that allow the provider to deliver extended value via text message service. Customer relationships are an essential aspect.
However, if providers don't set boundaries and expectations around SMS communication, texting can quickly become a burden for them—and the client! As well as becoming a revenue leak for the provider.
The Downside of Texting Your Customers—Why You Must Set Client Boundaries
When communicating with businesses via email, reports state that nearly half of all consumers expect a response in less than 4 hours. Many consumers prefer texting to email due to quicker response times and an opportunity for more efficient customer service. As a service provider or small business looking to add SMS to your client, SMS business operations tools make a text membership service an easy sell.
However, it would be best to consider some things before jumping into the SMS world.
It's no secret that clients can sometimes be needier than others, more challenging to manage, or take extra unpaid time outside of the service contract. Time management when it comes to client communications can become a factor if you have clients constantly texting you or requiring your attention outside of your agreement.
Without setting proper boundaries for text communication, providers will undoubtedly find themselves with clients that text outside of business hours, push personal conversations, or constantly try to derive value without amending their current service contract. In addition, service providers often feel that they must respond to all customer text inquiries immediately and with much enthusiasm to appease their clients—don't do this to yourself!
By setting boundaries and expectations ahead of the direct messaging relationship, you can save yourself stress by avoiding the missteps above without offending your clients. Here are some provider tips for setting plain text messaging boundaries that will help your client and you enjoy the benefits of working together.
3 Quick Tips for Setting SMS Boundaries with Your Clients
To set boundaries with your clients, you should be concise and give them a clear understanding of what they can expect from you—and what you expect from them. You should include all details related to your SMS subscription product, such as Content Being Shared, Text Frequency, Text Etiquette, Response Expectations, etc.
Setting these boundaries will help ensure that both parties are on the same page about the relationship and contribute to a more pleasant, successful bulk SMS membership experience.
Here are some tips for setting boundaries with clients:
- Outline your SMS subscription's terms that state all rules and expectations (e.g., how often you plan to send messages). Create a separate document to share with subscribers upon joining your membership. Or, for more simple products, list a short and easy-to-read outline in your product listing page description!
- If specific features are not available as part of your SMS subscription, such as direct responses or conversation - let your subscribers know from the beginning. For any communication or customer service requested beyond the scope of your subscription, you can make it a service option available to your subscribers to opt into or purchase.
- Once subscribed, send SMS messages i.e., SMS reminders, reminding them of essential SMS boundaries such as your "business hours." Inform members of how long it will be until they can expect you to respond to direct texts and what purpose they should use the direct messaging feature for as it pertains to a specific SMS subscription.
6 Examples of Good Boundaries to Have with Your SMS Subscription Product
Sometimes the adage is true—you don't know what you don't know until you do. With client SMS communication and SMS campaigns, that can be as true as ever. However, situations may arise where you must implement additional boundaries into your client communication protocols, and you should immediately do so when that time comes. To get you started, however, here is a list of 5 client boundaries you should consider adding to your terms when launching or optimizing your SMS subscription product.
- Business Hours for Text Communication
If your SMS subscription involves receiving texts from your members, and you don't want to receive texts after 5 PM or on weekends, state this in your terms.
- SHAFT Compliance Guidelines
SHAFT Compliance refers to the standard providers should abide by when texting clients for business purposes. SHAFT refers to what you cannot and should not send in text messages—sex, hate, alcohol, firearms, and tobacco.
- Appropriate Topics of Conversation
Consider what you will and will not address via your text message membership. Topics that include personal information, out-of-scope tasks, or non-service-related questioning are all-time suckers that can weigh on you as the provider.
- What Subscribers Should Expect from You with this SMS Subscription
Be clear about the use cases for texting you regarding an SMS subscription product. If you enable 1:1 communications, let your clients know precisely what this is for: emergencies, service questions, scheduling, etc.
- Clear Subscription Details
Be upfront (and honest) about the type of content you send through text to their cell phone, how frequently you send messages, and what you will not include as part of your text subscription service.
- Response Engagement
Decide early on if your text message subscription service product will include back-and-forth communication between you and your audience. For example, some SMS Subscriptions are meant purely for broadcast to a larger group, while others intend to monetize a close 1:1 communication between provider and client. Please ensure that you and your subscribers know the expectations regarding receiving responses.
Use Subflow to Foster Client Connection through SMS Memberships
If you're experiencing client boundary struggles, an SMS subscription product with Subflow could be the perfect solution. Changing your current client processes will enable you to restate the terms of your engagement or communications without jeopardizing the client relationship.
Subflow SMS subscription products allow providers and businesses to consolidate all of their customer communications while separating business SMS and personal SMS messages with a web-based platform.
Key business text messaging features such as broadcasts for mass communication, audience segments for targeted content, and 1:1 messaging make Subflow an all-encompassing option for professionals. In addition, with a management dashboard and automatic payment collection, Subflow can transform how you communicate with your clients.