Cattle Dog Digital

The SMS Communication Imperative

by Sarah Harkness 

May 5, 2020

I am from an era, I hate to admit, that did not ‘grow up’ with mobile phones. My first ‘mobilised phone’ was a literal brick, had a 3x3cm size screen and only allowed me to make calls. A year later I got an upgraded brick which to most of us 80s babies, involved the best selling point, a useless and frustrating game called ‘snake’. This time, you could text message people on demand. Which usually meant: “mum, I’ll be home late” or something to that effect given my age and the era. 

There was no expectation that an SMS be ‘returned’ to you, was typically only used to get a one way message across and involved no emoji’s except the following 🙂 which was seen at the time to be very forward thinking. 

Fast Forward

20 years later and as you know, the mobile landscape is vastly different. Models compete with models and even the operating systems are still warring. Whether you choose a Microsoft, Android or Apple has even become social stereotyping or conversation starters. We are not in Nokia territory anymore people. But along with the advancement of technology what’s also changed is our reliance on it. I remember the first year that I was able to access emails from my phone, it was around 2006-2007 and all of a sudden I found my workload exponentially triple along with my inability to not check my emails. 

Great Expectations 

Then came expectations. Customers would expect at least a 24hour reply. Now, I find that if only a few hours passed without a response to an SMS people start to worry about you! What this means is that organisations, B2B and B2C now have to carry these expectations from their customers. This means if you haven’t already adopted the technology to support communication with customers on their terms i.e text, then customers already are making judgements about your availability for them, reliability to them etc. It’s now an expectation of an immediate response. 

So now there is an imperative to respond, companies are adopting more and more technology to support the way their customers want to interact with them. Those who are further down the digital divide are already experiencing two-way communication via text with customers for sales or support and others just thinking about how it applies, just think about everytime you book a doctors appointment and you’re reminded to confirm automatically your appointment, it’s using a technology that enables you to respond with an action that then sets off their next action (confirm with your doctor you will be there). 

The Future is Now

Long gone are the days where just having outbound text capability cuts it with customers. Now they expect to be able to interact with you, like their mum to tell them you’re running late with your appointments and to come a little later. That difference in expectation is the difference in service level you receive or provide and that is now the imperative for change. 

If your organisation hasn’t already thought of ways to adopt multiple-channels for communication with your clients you will be left behind. Especially now we are living in a post-personal environment where the only ways we can interact are often digital now. This opens up opportunities for organisations to create new channels of communication but it also opens up the need to understand more about your client, the way they want to engage with you and the expectations. A text now can be considered ‘in writing’ and is considered a formal mode of communication, direct but formal. So think about that the next time you send one and just how far we’ve come when you get that immediate reply…. Snake game not included. 


Interested in learning how to best utilise SMS in the B2B or B2C space? Check out our webinar! Pendula’s Head of Alliances Dean Moon, and Cattle Dog Digital’s Co-founder and Director, Sarah Harkness discuss how to use SMS as a tool for personalisation to drive better connections with customers, increase engagement and boost sales. [Watch Now]