For most people, texting is their primary vehicle for personal communication. It’s also the fastest-growing customer engagement channel for businesses. In fact, 9 out of 10 Americans would rather text a business than call. But before sending clients any LOL- or emoji-clad messages, use these business texting etiquette rules to ensure you sound like a pro.
1) Establish a relationship
Texting is personal. So be sure you’ve initiated a professional relationship either in person, over the phone, or via email before starting a text conversation. A text should rarely be your first contact with a customer.
2) Respect their preferences
Asking customers how they prefer to communicate is a great way to introduce them to the idea of business texting. Try sending them a message such as, “We use SMS to provide better customer service. If you’d rather stick to calls, just let me know.” Most customers love texting. Others, not so much. Asking shows you respect their phone number and lets them tell you how to proceed.
3) Introduce and reintroduce yourself
Unlike your friends, most of your customers won’t save your business number in their contacts. So even after your first message, be sure to remind them who you are when you text them in the future.
4) Be authentic
It’s okay to sound like you, even if you’re in business mode. You don’t want your messages to feel too bland, canned, or corporate. Use the same tone you would when having a meaningful text conversation with a friend. Do be careful not to go overboard with humor, inside jokes, emoji, or anything else that could be misinterpreted as unprofessional. But be yourself.
5) Auto-Reply to missed calls
Instead of starting a game of phone tag, use Sideline’s Auto-Reply feature to start a text conversation. Auto-Reply sends an immediate text message to your customers anytime you miss a call. It helps them feel heard, gets their questions answered faster, and turns a missed opportunity into a delightful customer interaction.
6) Make it relevant
Make sure whatever you send your customers has a clear purpose and is relevant to the relationship you established in rule #1. Do you have an update on a project you discussed? Do they need an appointment reminder? Did you tell them you’d follow up with them later? When your message is beneficial to your customer, it’s sure to be well received.
7) Know your boundaries
Unless it’s urgent or expected, only text customers during reasonable hours when you’re not likely to interrupt something. As a rule of thumb, try to avoid dusk, dawn, and meal times. That makes mid-morning (9:30-11:30 am) or mid-afternoon (1-4 pm) a safer bet.
8) Know when to call
Texting is great when it’s short, informative, and to the point. It’s not so great when you’re trying to articulate something complex or need to discuss something like payment details. If you expect any back and forth, use a text to schedule a phone call instead. That will save you both time and set up a productive conversation later on.
9) Sign off
Text conversations with friends and family can be a constant thread. But as a business, it’s important to let your customers know what to expect next. If the conversation is over, say goodbye. If you plan to follow up next week, say so. If you’ve completed a transaction, thank them for their business.
10) Text from a business number
When you mix business and personal conversations in the same inbox, it’s easy for important messages to slip through the cracks. Texting from a dedicated business number is the easiest way to stay organized, separate your inboxes, and build a more professional reputation.