How these six industries are using SMS to strengthen customer relationships

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 10.14.29 AMNexmo sponsored post for Venture Beat

Almost everyone carries their mobile phone with them, which makes SMS a great way to get someone’s attention — wherever they are. We all know how easy it is to reach friends this way, but now brands are also embracing the many benefits of SMS.

Businesses all over the world are using SMS to increase the security of customer accounts, smooth buyer-seller transactions, notify customers of service updates, and more. Let’s look at how different types of companies are using SMS to strengthen customer relationships.

1. Social networks

Social networks, like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter contain a lot of personal information. To tighten security on these platforms, many social networks are turning to SMS.

A technique known as two factor-authorization (2FA) requires that, in addition to entering your password online, you also enter a randomly generated code. The secondary code can be sent directly to your phone via an SMS. This makes it doubly difficult for a hacker to gain access to your account.

When you opt-in to Facebook’s Login Approvals, the platform sends you a six-digit code via SMS whenever you attempt to log in from a new device. Google Plus offers something similar.

And by default, micro-blogging service Tumblr sends 2FA codes to you via SMS whenever you log out and back into your account.

2. Travel and transportation

When it comes to traveling, nobody likes getting hit by unexpected delays or itinerary changes. To avoid that, travel and transportation companies are increasingly relying on SMS to proactively keep customers informed.

If you opt-in for the service, United will send you flight updates and check-in reminders directly to your phone via text message. Similarly, JetBlue and Delta also let you sign up for SMS flight notifications on their websites. This way, if your gate changes while you are rushing to meet a connecting flight, you will know about it in time.

And so you’ll be there waiting when your mother-in-law arrives, many airlines also allow you to sign up for one-time flight arrival notifications in the event you need to pick someone up at the airport. Or, if you are traveling by rail, Amtrak also lets you sign up for SMS alerts on a train’s progress.

And, so you aren’t standing around too long wondering what’s going on, ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft use SMS to tell customers a ride is on its way. The services also communicate via SMS if there are any delays.

3. Consumer Web properties

A consumer Web property is a point of presence on the Web that belongs to you. It could be your personal website, a blog, or even your email account. The last thing you want is someone accessing those accounts pretending to be you.

Similar to social media networks, many consumer Web properties use SMS to verify you are who you say you are. For instance, WordPress gives you the option to use 2FA when you log in from a new computer.

Several email providers, such as Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo, also give you the option to enable 2FA to enhance security. It pays to be safe, because anyone who hacks your email could use it to reset passwords on any number of sites you registered at with that email address.

4. Gaming companies

When it comes to gaming apps, hackers will try to liftusernames and passwords to impersonate users for in-game activities. Stolen money and upset customers are the result.

Many people use simple passwords or they use the same password for several different accounts. This makes static passwords fairly easy to hack. To counter that, gaming apps like Humble Bundle and Origin use 2FA to make sure it’s actually you logging into your account.

Mobile gaming companies also use SMS as a type of social invitation to attract additional users. Players can invite friends to download a game via the contact list in their phone. The invite is sent directly through SMS. This way, the invite doesn’t get lost in the milieu of email or mistaken as spam.

5. Ecommerce and online retail

As any good salesperson knows, if a potential buyer posts a question about an item you are selling online, a prompt response will give you a better chance of making the sale. That is why many online retail sites use SMS to keep you informed the moment that happens.

Amazon allows sellers to sign up for SMS text alerts, so you know right away when you receive an order in your Amazon seller account. Amazon also lets you use SMS to get details of a selected order or request a list of unshipped orders, so you can stay on top of your business.

And, if you are bidding on an auction on eBay, you can opt to get SMS messages telling you an auction you are watching is about to end or if you have been outbid on an item. This way, you always know where you stand.

6. Financial services

Financial services is another area where SMS is growing. Increasingly, financial services firms are using SMS to reduce theft and fraud through 2FA, generate real-time transaction fraud alerts, and to reduce cost-to-serve customers with timely service notifications and payment reminders.

Chase lets you enroll in bank alerts to receive notifications by text or email for low balances, large transactions, account activity, and more. American Express, Bank of America and Wells Fargo all offers similar services that lets you keep a close eye on your accounts.

And next time you are in Nairobi and need to hail a taxi, keep in mind you can pay for that ride with M-PESA. The service lets you transfer money from one mobile phone to another via SMS. M-PESA allows millions of Kenyans without a bank account transfer cash using just their mobile phones.

The list doesn’t end there. Companies in industries all over are tapping into SMS as a reliable way to deliver timely information to customers. One of the benefits of using SMS is that nearly everyone in the world has a mobile phone — and that’s something most businesses can bank on.