Texting for business… it’s so fast… so convenient… so rude! It seems texting is adored and reviled in equal parts, but it is definitely here to stay. Here are six rules for texting to help you reap its rewards without offending your valued customers:
For the purposes of this article, “texting” refers to written communication composed on and sent from your cell phone or mobile device, whether it is delivered as a text message or email.
#1 Don’t text unless you have to. Texting is the most informal form of written communication. As such, it lacks professionalism and simply isn’t ideal for communicating with customers. However, there are situations in which urgency outweighs the downside of texting. As a general rule, never send a text if you can send an email, or if the information can wait until you are able to email.
#2 All the rules of written communication apply to text messages, including grammar and punctuation. Do not use text lingo and shorthand. It’s unprofessional and invites confusion if the recipient is not fluent in texting language.
#3 Identify yourself. Always sign your text messages. Don’t assume the recipient has your cell number programmed into their phone.
#4 Keep it brief. If your message is more than 160 characters, it means you are texting when you should be emailing (see rule #1).
#5 Mind the time. A text message will likely reach customers when an email would not, so be aware of the activities (family time, meals) you might be interrupting. Don’t text after normal business hours unless you have been specifically asked to do so by your customer.
#6 Be considerate of those around you. The single biggest complaint related to texting has nothing to do with the quality of messages sent. It has to do with the time and place individuals choose to text. Texting while you are supposed to be engaged with others is as rude as getting up and walking out of the room in the middle of a conversation. Do not text during meetings. Do not text during meals. Do not text any time you are supposed to be focused on or engaged with others. When you are with customers, you should be focused on them, so turning your phone off is the surest way to avoid interruption or insult.
Texting is to customer communications what your spare tire is to your car. When you really need it, it is a life saver. But on a daily basis, your normal tires (email and phone) are far superior in their form and function.