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Outbound vs Inbound SMS: What contact center manager needs to know?

  • Sweta Chakraborty
  • 07 September 2021


SMS or Texting has been the there from the dawn of mobile communications. With the emergence of social media there has been plethora of communication platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Viber, WhatsApp, WeChat and many more.

However, in many regions SMS is still a more reliable way of communication and more acceptable form of communication with brands.

While, phone calls still remain the most preferred way to reach to brands (especially if the issue is of high priority), modern customers prefer getting issues resolved or queries answered over non voice interfaces. Receiving SMS or sending one is fairly common in the BFSI segment, however the value of it stays same in all industries. Be it inbound SMS or outbound SMS, customers engage with messages every day.

From receiving discount messages to sending out queries to check account balance, SMS is a part of our daily life. SMS is a common way of communicating with your customers, daily. SMS is the best way to send out mass notifications and informing your customers on any new developments.


  • Types of SMS use by the contact center
  • Benefits of SMS in contact center
  • How SMS works for contact center
  • Inbound and Outbound SMS Campaigns


Two types of SMS use by the contact center

Contact center use SMS (Text Messages) to reach out to high-volume of customers. There are two types of SMS that are used:

Person-to-person (P2P):

As the name suggests, it is meant for one-on-one communication between an agent and the customer. These are customer interest specific conversations and doesn’t need to be sent out in bulk. For example, if it’s time for a customer to pay their bill or renew their subscription, then the particular SMS will only be sent to them.

Application-to-person (A2P):

Unlike P2P, application-to-person SMS messages are sent when a high volume text needs to be circulated. The business can inform all their customers at once about their new offers, discounts, product launch or other information. There is no space for one-on-one conversations in an A2P text chain.

According to Callhub, 95% of people between 18-29, text, whereas only 90% are on social media. For ages between 30-49, 91% actively texts, whereas only 82% utilize social media.


Benefits of SMS in contact centers

Text messages are a thing of yesteryear. However, they are still important as they inform the customers about their queries at the moment. This includes different kinds of information that helps a customer to proceed ahead in their journey.

  • One-time passwords for customer’s identity authentication
  • Customer surveys after any interaction.
  • Product/Delivery notifications
  • Two-factor authentication messages.
  • Marketing messages for branding.
  • Debt collection notifications.
  • Financial reminders

These are the common listed reasons for which a contact center must resort to sending SMS messages. However, the reasons do vary from industry to industry. In the education sector, SMS is sent out for exam notifications or admission notifications. Similarly, in healthcare it is sent out for appointment confirmation and more. With smartphones becoming a regularly commodity of our lives, customers find it easy to notice such information via SMS very easily.

From contact center perspective, SMS is integrated with workflow. For example, a customer called in to register a concern. Post the call and issue is registered an automated SMS is dispatched to the caller with the Service or Docket number. These are template messages which are preapproved and configured within the CRM.

However, with 2-way messaging configured the customer can reply to the SMS which can be received by the agent and the agent can resolve the issue and if required engage into a conversation. This is less expensive and can be less time consuming for both the customers and service reps. SMS can also be used for call deflection and the interaction can be fully automated or even agent assisted.

Main benefits of using SMS for your contact centers:

  • It will lower your costs

Usually a SMS based interaction can be less than one third the cost of interacting over a phone call. Moreover, with automation and integration with service CRM it saves the agent time and lowers the cost even more.

  • Improves Customer Experience

Customers want the issues to be resolved quickly without them being held up. Sometimes the issue can be simple can be easily managed over an SMS. It saves their time and they can get back whenever they have time. So, giving something what your customer wants is going to improve their experience.

  • Maintain better SLA

Customers usually revert back to SMS quicker than over an email. So the agents usually get a faster response which help them in closing the ticket in less time and maintain better SLAs. Also, sometimes the issue raised by the customer are simple queries that can be handled by automation and saves time and cost of your contact center.

How it works for contact center:

Brands can publish a short code and keyword for customer support requests.


SMS Support <Space> “Type your issue” and send to 54321

When a customer sends an SMS with keyword and issue detail, the Omnichannel platform of a contact center can automatically create a ticket / service case and inform the customer with the ticket number via a text message. The text to ticket is a quick and efficient way to manage the customer support.

Internally, the ticket gets assigned to relevant agent who can then work on the reported issue. The agent can use the same channel (here SMS) to communicate with the customer while resolving her issue.

In an omnichannel platform it is easy for any agent to follow up with the previous conversations even after a shift change or the customer communicates at a later time.

Besides, text messaging is asynchronous and the agents can handle multiple customer queries at the same time. This makes the agent far more productive for the time spent in the contact centers.

Inbound and Outbound SMS Campaigns for contact center

There are two types of marketing campaigns i.e. inbound and outbound in contact center. In an inbound SMS marketing campaign, customers will be texting your agents. Some of these inbound campaigns can be fully automated where the customer can send out a specific text message indicating their preferences. The system can register the interest and take necessary action, like calling back or sending out a promotion coupon etc.

In an outbound campaign for contact center, you send out high volume messages for generating prospects. A smart interplay of both always bears the best results.

To run an inbound campaign, you must have a number to which customers can reply back. These messages should be viewed on an omnichannel platform for agents to understand the customer’s journey and respond accordingly.

During an outbound campaign, a customer doesn’t need to respond back. It is mainly run for promotional purpose. However, customers should be provided with an option to not receive these notifications.

In conclusion, both forms of marketing are essential to stay relevant to your contact list. One is for interacting with your customers whereas the other reminds them of your organisation.


Author Bio:  Sweta is a passionate technical writer with an experience in digital marketing. Outside work, she is a devoted Esports advocate.

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