You’ve probably noticed in your personal life that text messages can get lost in translation. Whether you’re texting friends or family, sometimes they misinterpret your tone or full meaning. This can be especially problematic when it comes to business SMS.
These miscommunications aren’t entirely your fault; there are many reasons that texts are confused by recipients. In fact, 58% of communication is done through body language, 35% through vocal tone, pitch, and emphasis, and only 7% through content of messages. When you interact through words alone, you’re leaving out a lot of the other important aspects of communication.
However, by implementing some proven strategies, you’ll find that avoiding miscommunications with business SMS is easier than you thought.
Business SMS Tip #1: Practice Selective Messaging
While many messages are appropriate for business texting, some are not. Separating the situations that call for a text and those that call for an email or phone call is key to avoiding miscommunications.
Any short, straightforward interaction can be conducted through business SMS. Texts work well for sending or receiving pictures of products, relaying time-sensitive information like an order status, or completing brief transactions like appointment scheduling. However, you’ll want to email or call customers for tasks like:
- Complaint resolution
- Detailed troubleshooting
- In-depth conversations
These items require the utmost delicacy, which will be best communicated through channels that support longer-form interactions, like email (or phone calls).
Business SMS Tip #2: Be Concise
Texts are valued for their brevity, in part because they are delivered on small screens. Long messages can be difficult to scroll through on phones and other mobile devices.
In addition, lengthy messages tend to get to the point more slowly, which can lead to the possibility of your meaning being missed altogether. (Plus, the average person loses his or her concentration after a mere 8 seconds.)
Shorter messages, on the other hand, can be read quickly and easily, leaving little room for misinterpretation.
Business SMS Tip #3: Use Straightforward Language
As well as writing short messages, use straightforward language, too. Try to use:
- Short words
- Few adverbs
- Plain punctuation
- Simple sentence structures
Brief, straightforward language will ensure that recipients read your messages without confusion.
Business SMS Tip #4: Avoid Acronyms
While you may enjoy txting v much w/ur BFF, there is no way to tell whether the customer you are texting with understands or likes to use acronyms.
Avoid using acronyms at all costs, unless, for example, your business specifically targets a young or hip crowd, like millennials. Even in those cases, use acronyms that are common to your audience, but still professional.
Business SMS Tip #5: Write With Proper Grammar And Spelling
It is rare that someone misunderstands proper grammar and spelling, but possible that a customer might be confused by a misspelling, misused word, or incorrect grammar. Therefore, it’s best to use the most correct form of English possible.
While using straightforward sentences will make it less likely that you make grammatical or spelling mistakes, it can also help to step back and proofread your text after a minute-long break.
Business SMS Tip #6: Write Complete Sentences
Don’t forget what your middle school teacher said: write in complete sentences. In other words, you need to include a verb, a noun, and some form of punctuation in each text.
There are exceptions to the verb-noun rule that are grammatically acceptable. They include:
- Thank you!
For the sake of brevity, these short statements are even encouraged in business text messaging.
Business SMS Tip #7: Add Emojis And GIFs
When you are navigating a business text conversation, be sure to insert emojis and even GIFs to clarify that your response has a positive tone.
While these tools should be used sparingly, they can make the difference between a surly reply and a neutral one. For an example, look at the two responses below:
Question: Is your store open today?
Answer 1: Yes.
Answer 2: Yes.😀
The emoji makes the customer service agent’s reply seem welcoming.
Business SMS Tip #8: Include Polite Phrases
Every text message you send should include polite phrases, especially those accompanying short answers. These phrases include:
- Thank you!
- You’re welcome!
- My pleasure.
- Sure thing.
These polite (and cheerful) phrases can brighten up any business text messaging conversation.
Business SMS Tip #9: Recap Conversations
At the end of chats, especially detailed chats, it can help both you and your customers if you recap the conversation and resolution.
For example, a recap could look like this:
Thanks for texting in today! To confirm, after your appointment reschedule request, I sent you a confirmation email including the new address (235 Post Street) and which forms to bring. Please let me know if you have any questions.
This kind of message ensures that everyone is on the same page—and that you have the paper trail to prove it.
Business SMS Tip #10: Ask If Further Explanation Is Needed
Finally, at the end of any business text messaging conversation, you will want to ask if any more assistance or explanation is needed. For example:
Thanks, Caroline! Do you need any more help with this or another question today?
Similarly to recapping the conversation, this tactic ensures that you have offered your customer plenty of opportunities to express confusion or dissatisfaction with your texted conversation, cutting down on the potential for miscommunication.
Interested in more business texting tips? Check out our blog.