Texting Etiquette for Professionals
The notion that texting is a way teenagers carry on “conversations” about last night’s date, this weekend’s plans or the horrible outfit worn to the dance is a dated stereotype. Forget about LOLs and OMGs. Texting has proven to be a legitimate and very valuable business tool.
From a marketing standpoint, we all read text messages, and because our smartphones are rarely more than an arm’s length away, we read them immediately. Various studies have shown a 97 percent or higher open rate for text marketing messages, and 90 percent are read within three minutes. This allows organizations to develop cost-effective, time-sensitive campaigns and connect with customers in a very personal, intimate setting. (Just be careful not to run afoul of legal requirements – you can only send marketing texts to customers who have affirmatively opted in.)
The immediacy and brevity of text messaging also enhances customer service. Texting allows you to notify customers with important information right away without interrupting them. Need to send a document to a customer right now? Take a photo of the document with your smartphone and instantly text it. Texting is also commonly used to send product alerts, reminders and confirmations of service.
Texting is becoming an important component of unified communications. With the emergence of the bring-your-own-device culture, and smartphones and tablets becoming the hub of communication, texting is playing a more prominent role in cultivating relationships and moving business forward. Instead of playing phone tag, organizations are texting to communicate on a more personal level and get business done. It’s simple, direct and efficient.
In order to fully leverage the business benefits of texting, there are six rules of texting etiquette that should be followed.
1) Know your boundaries. Some people don’t like to be contacted after certain times or on the weekend. Get permission before texting people outside of business hours. Also, you may think you and the person you’re texting are best buddies, but they may think differently. Keep personal messages to a minimum.
2) Respect the environment. Texting during a meeting, a meal or right in the middle of a conversation can be considered rude and disrespectful. If it’s that important, excuse yourself and text privately.
3) Abbreviate with caution. Spell out entire words and phrases, especially if you’re texting with someone for the first time, whether it’s your boss, a co-worker or a customer. Abbreviations could be interpreted as unprofessional shortcuts, so only abbreviate after you’ve established a relationship with an individual and they find abbreviating acceptable.
4) Check for autocorrect mistakes. Conduct an online search for “autocorrect mistakes” and you’ll see how autocorrect can lead to messages that are inaccurate, embarrassing or even offensive. Always proofread texts before sending.
5) Be conscious of tone. Just like emails can be misinterpreted as abrasive, harsh, rude or insensitive, texting creates an even higher risk because we often text on the go or while we’re doing other things. Full sentences and proper word choices can go a long way towards avoiding hard feelings.
6) Place a call when the news is bad or urgent. Whether you’re running late for a meeting, a major deal fell through, or the answer you’re giving a client isn’t the one they wanted, give the person the courtesy of a phone call. This enables you to smooth things over without the perceived abruptness of a text.