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Customer support via SMS is about to get a lot easier, courtesy of Zendesk

TechCrunch TechCrunch 10/05/2016 Haje Jan Kamps

Customer support powerhouse Zendesk announced today it is broadening its ever-expanding number of support channels, as the company launches a new native channel for customer service via text message.

SMS may be 20-year-old technology, but in a world where email is too clunky and where waiting on hold for 20 minutes to have a simple query resolved sucks too hard to contemplate, there’s a lot to be said for short bursts of asynchronous exchange of information.

Zendesk already had SMS integration for notifying help desk staff using SMS, configurable to send messages under certain criteria. Typical use cases would be if a particularly urgent support request comes in, or if a request arrives from a particularly valuable customer. The current launch extends the SMS capabilities to the customer-facing side of the business.

“The rise of on-demand services and an increasingly mobile customer base makes this channel important for businesses,” said Ryan Nichols, general manager of Zendesk Voice. “SMS lets businesses connect with their customers wherever they are in an extremely personal way.”

The beauty for the 75,000 or so businesses who already use Zendesk, of course, is that the customer information can be tied to their accounts, and the customer can use the channel they want to ensure they get the help they need in a timescale that makes the most sense to them.

SMS especially clicks into place in the matrix of customer service channels in instances where email isn’t fast enough, for example in the on-demand industry. In situations where a delivery may be waiting on your doorstep or a service technician is on its way to a customer, waiting for 20 minutes for someone to check their email isn’t going to fly.

“Our customers and Runners prefer to interact via SMS,” said Evan Aldrich, head of customer support at delivery business Favor. “Using Zendesk to provide SMS support is easy to set up and fits perfectly into our existing workflows.”

SMS support follows Zendesk’s Voice support launched a few years ago; both are powered by Twilio behind the scenes.

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