Today’s consumers spend almost a third of their waking time on their smartphones and for them, connectivity is not an option: it’s a necessity. While the average wireless customer in the U.S. consumes 1.8 GB of cellular data per month, Cisco Systems expects this traffic to increase eightfold by 2018. That’s a whole lot of data flying through the air and for users who don’t have unlimited data plans, this can pose a potential problem: (queue the doomsday soundtrack) they may run out.

Running out of data is like running out of gas for a user who is out and about. To add insult to injury, customers can’t get more data because they can’t reach the service provider who capped the data in the first place through rapid service channels like social.

Two factors are at play in a situation like this— first, time is of the essence. Your customers typically discover that they’re out of data while they’re in the process of using data, which means that they’ve been interrupted, and that’s a poor customer experience. The last thing they want to hear is, “Your call is important to us, please continue to hold.”

Second, this connection is increasingly their lifeline to the world. Mobile phones are consumers’ access to commerce, navigation, transportation, information, and even human connection. One might liken it to losing a limb. To boot, over one-in-ten American adults are “smartphone-only” internet users, so without cellular data, they’re completely high and dry.

In this situation, savvy telecom providers would do well to offer a customer service solution that’s entirely multi-channel and if need be, can circumvent the use of data with SMS text support. SMS possesses many of the desirable, immediate features of live chat or social support and can be automated to act as an instant life preserver when that connection goes down.

Not only is SMS the intuitive solution for the user (most people actually prefer text message to other forms of communication) but it’s a preferable channel for customer service as well. According to a study published by eWeek, 89 percent of consumers said it was important to be able to use different channels for customer support, including SMS. Furthermore, 64 percent of customers choose SMS over voice if the choice is presented to them, according to recent Harris Poll.

“SMS is a valuable channel for any business striving to shift contact volumes into text based channels, enabling complete, real time, personal coverage for every customer. 8.3 trillion text messages were sent last year worldwide with SMS holding a 98% open rate in the US alone.” – Joshua March, Conversocial CEO

With social customer service platforms like Conversocial, agents gain a single view of the customer – including their social handles, email address, and phone number – allowing them to seamlessly provide SMS support as a fallback. Data-thirsty consumers can still get routed to a helping hand via text message and a 2-way SMS chat integration.

As user appetites for data continue to skyrocket, SMS will be an important, integrated, fallback channel for social customer care.