AT&T (NYSE: T) is leveraging its status as one of the largest landline phone providers to make its business customers more responsive by enabling them to send and receive text messages using their landline or toll-free phone number via its AT&T Landline Texting service.
The new service enables existing business numbers to send and receive texts. Similar to how they send and receive texts on their wireless devices, businesses can read messages from customers, send responses, or send new messages via a web browser or an app on a device.
Customers that purchase the service don't have to have any new equipment installed and they can retain their current landline or mobile phone number.
For business customers that don't want to lose business due to not being responsive, the benefit lies in the service's ability to cut down on so-called "phone tag" when a client needs an answer to a simple question.
"Businesses often waste time playing phone tag with customers just to get simple information," said Igor Glubochansky, executive director for AT&T Mobile and Business Solutions, in a blog post. "This service helps companies reduce calls, voicemails, and back-and-forth with clients. They can also manage several text chats at once rather than spending time talking to one person."
Interestingly, consumers prefer to use texting. According to a recent Pew Research study, over 80 percent of wireless phone of users actively send and receive texts, while another 64 percent of consumers prefer businesses that offer texting as a customer channel option.
This text to landline service could come in handy for a car dealership's service department, a type of business that could miss customer requests due to the high call volumes by giving customers the option to text their questions.
Glubochansky said that means "the dealership would be able to send quick, prompt, concise responses" and as a result the "service department could process their customers faster and be more productive."
While AT&T's move is notable given its size, the service provider is hardly alone in delivering a landline texting service.
Frontier Communications began offering a similar service enabling business customers to send and receive text messages using their existing phone numbers via a partnership with Zipwhip in 2014.
Similar to AT&T's service, Frontier allows customers to text or receive a text from a business' existing landline or toll-free number. All of the customers' messages are then pushed simultaneously to the business' Internet-connected devices such as a laptop, desktop, smartphone or tablet.
- see this AT&T blog post
Frontier text-enables landline phone numbers for business customers
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