text to speech

When Talk Beats Text: How Text to Speech Makes SMS Messaging More Effective

Published August 16, 2017 by Glen Kunene

Imagine you have an urgent message for a family member. You send them a text telling them to call you right back. After 10 minutes without a response, you call them to deliver the news directly. You use a natural escalation of communication channels based on the urgency of your message and how critically you need it delivered.

The situation doesn’t have to be dire for you to apply this approach. Suppose a pair of concert tickets fell in your lap on a random Thursday. The concert is on Friday night and you need to find someone to go with you. You send a group text offering the ticket to friends who are also fans of the performer. A few friends immediately reply with “thanks, but I have plans.” But when Friday morning arrives, most haven’t responded and the concert is only hours away. You start calling the ones you haven’t heard back from and tell them they need to act fast because time is running out on your offer.

Again, you don’t rely on only one channel to get an urgent message through to the recipient. So why allow that limitation in your customer messaging strategy? If you message customers using only SMS, that’s exactly what you’re doing. SMS is effective, of course, but it has limitations:

  • Landlines don’t support it
  • SMS sometimes results in “text message not delivered” failures
  • Customers prefer a call to a text in certain circumstances

SMS alone won’t connect with all the users you want to reach. By adding text to speech (TTS), you provide your customers with an additional channel, voice, by which to interact with your brand. This enhancement not only increases message deliverability but also improves the customer experience (CX) and reduces costs.

Text to speech boosts message deliverability

In certain scenarios, delivering a message and getting a response is critical. Take the aforementioned family emergency and concert ticket situations. Two-factor authentication (2FA) has that same urgency for businesses. In the process of acquiring and onboarding new users, service providers use 2FA to verify the users via their phone numbers. They send a PIN code to a new user’s phone number, which the user then provides to verify his or her identity. Because the code is valid for only a short time, making sure it gets delivered quickly is critical.

Nexmo customers who implement 2FA by using our Verify product enjoy higher conversions due to its integration of SMS and TTS. Verify employs a patented 2FA technology that sends PIN codes via SMS but switches to TTS as a failover mechanism when SMS fails or when it detects that the phone number provided is a landline. In the critical and costly process of acquiring new customers, higher deliverability has a meaningful impact.

Adding text to speech improves CX and reduces cost

Now, what if logistical challenges make message delivery critical? Take a package delivery service in a large city, where leaving a package at the front door is not an option. The driver and customer must complete the package exchange in person. In this scenario, sending a delivery alert and receiving a timely response to confirm a time and place are critical.

A missed delivery results in not only a dissatisfied customer who may never order from that vendor again but also in the increased costs of additional delivery attempts. Having a TTS option in the customer alert will provide the user with a choice and give the message its best chance for delivery.

delivery alert

While on the subject of cost, consider how TTS can ensure you get the most value out of your SMS messaging spend and even offer a more cost-effective alternative in some cases.

Per-message pricing makes SMS an expensive channel, which raises the stakes on messages getting through the first time. Failed delivery of critical SMS messages is costly, as additional attempts are billed on the same cost-per-message basis. In 2FA, for instance, many messaging providers charge for the send, not the conversion. (With Verify, Nexmo charges only for conversions.)

By increasing message deliverability with TTS, you maximize the investment you’ve made in SMS. The more messages delivered on the first attempt, the fewer messages required for your messaging use case, the less money you need to spend to meet your messaging objectives. And if you were to implement TTS with Nexmo, which employs per-second voice pricing, brief outbound TTS messages actually would be a cheaper alternative to SMS for use cases such as broadcast messages. Also, adding TTS to an existing SMS messaging app will be a simple, incremental change for your development team.

The more messages delivered on the first attempt, the fewer messages required for your messaging use case, the less money you need to spend to meet your messaging objectives.

So, how do you get started? You can start driving better results in these messaging use cases today by adding TTS:

And if you do ever find yourself with an extra concert ticket and a bunch of friends clamoring to go with you, choose the one most likely to pick up the bar tab.

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