Why every business should embrace text messages with customers

Sixty-three percent of Americans suffer from digital amnesia, the experience of outsourcing one’s memory to a digital device. This is causing consumers to become more forgetful, and driving increased expectations for how they communicate with businesses with which they do business. And as consumers increasingly report wanting to communicate with businesses via text, businesses should use proactive texts to improve customer experience, generate better business results, and lower operational costs.
Customers may not have the memory of elephants, but businesses can give them a helping hand by providing proactive notifications.

There is an old adage which says, “elephants never forget”. According to researchers, an elephant’s memory is a key part of how they survive in the wild. So it would be hard to match the memory of an elephant under any circumstance. But with the rise of smartphones and other technology, humans have taken an even larger step back.

New research commissioned by Nuance indicates that consumers have developed the habit of depending on technology more than their own memory to remember important information and commitments, leading to what is known as the digital amnesia effect. Internet-enabled devices are the catalyst behind digital amnesia, as U.S. consumers report outsourcing the memory of critical information – such as addresses, phone numbers, passwords, payment deadlines, and appointments – to smart devices.

As consumers become more susceptible to memory lapses as a result of this digital amnesia, companies need to be prepared to bridge the gap; mitigating customer forgetfulness and minimizing the cost and operational impact of increased service volume. By proactively prompting their increasingly forgetful customers to take actions, companies are helping their business – by improving efficiency, reducing payment defaults, increasing revenue – and earning customer loyalty. Nine out of 10 Americans are more likely to do business with companies that send them reminders.

But using the right channels for these proactive communications is critical. Customers expect businesses to meet them on the communication channels of their preference. And the traditional channels such as telephone and postal mail are no longer the methods of choice. Ninety-three percent of consumers say they would prefer businesses to contact them via non-traditional channels, including email, text messages, calls to mobile phones, mobile apps and social media.

But the hidden gem and Holy Grail for businesses is the text message. With virtually everyone owning a smartphone, the desire for business-related outreach via text message has skyrocketed—more than doubling in the last 12 months. Forty-two percent of consumers report a preference for communication via text message, a significant increase over the prior survey fielded in March 2015, when only 16 percent indicated a desire for this channel. It’s not surprising that Millennials are the primary drivers of this trend, with 59 percent preferring customer communication via text. But it’s not only Millennials who are demanding text communication. More than one-quarter of adults age 55 and over also want businesses to reach them via text messages.


But are businesses listening to what their customers want? In short – no. At least, not yet. Only seven percent of consumers report receiving communication from businesses via text, meaning there’s massive opportunity for businesses to improve and reach consumers on the channel they actually want. And to maximize this opportunity, businesses must ensure their communications are relevant, offer the ability to easily reply or take action and are in line with a high quality brand experience.

Your consumers may not have the memories of elephants, but you can give them a helping hand by being more proactive. Digital amnesia is real, but it doesn’t have to hurt your business. Companies can mitigate its effects and improve customer satisfaction at the same time. And it starts with something as simple as a text message.

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The Remind Me Generation

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James Mastan

About James Mastan

James Mastan is Director of Solutions Marketing in the Nuance Enterprise division, and has over twenty years of high-tech marketing experience. Previously, James held various marketing leadership positions at Microsoft and more recently founded and ran a marketing consulting company and a mobile application start-up company.