Global mobile business messaging traffic increased 10% from 2019 to 2020, when it hit 2.7 trillion. It’s clear that professionals are using texting more and more to connect with everyone from customers to business partners.
But texting on behalf of a business, whether to customers, vendors, or business partners, is inherently different from speaking on the phone, having a video call, or writing an email. Its short form makes it fast and convenient for connecting, but because you’re just relying on written text, it’s important to make sure you’re communicating your ideas effectively and avoiding confusion.
As a representative of your business, you have to follow a specific texting etiquette—a set of rules for communicating with others politely. With these rules under your belt, you can represent your business in a positive way—while maintaining a level of casual authenticity that’s natural to texting.
In this article, we’ll explore texting etiquette for messaging on behalf of businesses, whether you’re writing to customers or business partners. (Looking for tips for messaging loved ones or even colleagues? We’ve created a guide to that too.)
Texting Etiquette for Messaging With Customers
Business text messaging is a fast, convenient, and personalized channel. That’s why 89% of consumers love using it to communicate with brands. But you have to be careful to balance professionalism with the casual language they’ve come to expect over SMS.
Content: What to Text Customers
You probably use SMS to share information with friends and family as well as have fun or thought-provoking chats. But there are a few dos and don’ts for the content you should be sending customers:
- DO: Focus on customer service. Your texts should focus on improving the customer experience. Answer all customer questions sent through SMS. In addition, you can send appointment reminders, order notifications, and other customer-centric content.
- DON’T: Only text customers with coupons or deals. Texting is a more personal channel than email. Customers want to reserve it for person-to-person chats, not one-way advertising. Don’t focus on solely sending messages with coupons or sale information.
- DO: Engage customers. Send content that sparks conversations, like opinion polls and product tips. Be sure to encourage customers to reply and offer value in each message.
- DON’T: Include personal information. Remember that you’re a representative of your business. While you should sound like a real person (more on that below), you should never share personal details, especially opinions about religion or politics.
- DO: Escalate delicate conversations to phone calls. Sometimes, texts can lead to miscommunication. Why? Nearly 60% of our communication happens through body language. Without that, some of the intended meaning becomes lost. If an SMS conversation involves a complex topic, like a complaint, try to move it to a phone call.
- DON’T: Text customers with content they haven’t expressed interest in receiving. For example, if they signed up for your SMS service to learn about your holiday specials, don’t text them about your summertime products. (And make your opt-in information and instructions clear so they know what they’re signing up for!)
A good rule of thumb is that you should only text customers content that you would share with them if you were talking in person, during a one-on-one conversation. Keep it professional and friendly while avoiding sales pitches.
Details: How to Text Customers
Texting is more casual than email. Customers expect to feel like they’re chatting with a real person, not a bot. That means you can add some personality into texts, but keep it professional:
- Use a positive tone. You should text customers with the same tone you would use to text with a new neighbor. Be friendly and welcoming, but still polite.
- Skip the acronyms. Acronyms can confuse older customers who aren’t up-to-date with the latest acronym trends. Avoid using them, unless a customer uses them first.
- Maintain proper grammar and spelling. Incorrect spelling and grammar can make customers suspicious (or worse, make them think you’re spamming them). Use proper language to ensure they know they’re speaking to a representative of a reputable company.
- Add emojis for emphasis. Emojis can be understood by just about anyone. Use them to emphasize the tone of a message. For example, a smiley face after a short statement can ensure customers know you meant it seriously.
The way you present your content is critical to texting etiquette. It can make the difference between a positive or a confusing customer interaction.
Timing: When to Text Customers
This is one of the most simple aspects of texting etiquette for customers. Text customers during your regular customer-facing business hours. These are the typical hours that customers expect you to be operating—and hours that customers will most likely feel comfortable receiving messages.
Response Speed: How Quickly to Respond to Customers
Customers often text businesses because they assume it’ll be a faster channel than email or phone calls. After all, most texts are responded to within 90 seconds.
While that may be a tall order for a business constantly receiving customer messages, you should aim to answer customers within 5-10 minutes. If this speed is far out of your abilities, consider creating an auto-reply to set expectations about wait times.
In addition, don’t respond to customers after hours. Instead, create an after-hours auto reply when your team is off work. You can also automate responses to simple questions based on message keywords, opening up space for your team to answer more complex queries.
Texting Etiquette for Messaging Business Partners
Messaging business partners—like contractors, suppliers, and vendors—is different from messaging customers. It’s closer to messaging your colleagues. However, since you’re acting as a representative of your business, texting etiquette is more strict.
Content: What to Text Business Partners
You should keep these business conversations professional. Text business partners with:
- Coordination information. If you’re working with a business partner, you may need to coordinate a service or meeting. SMS is a fast channel for any kind of scheduling or real-time organization.
- Invoices, bills, and other reminders. SMS is also appropriate for reminders. Text business partners with invoice, bill, or meeting reminders. Send an additional copy (or more information) through email.
- Questions. For fast questions, you can text business partners, too. You’ll get quicker responses than you would through email. Leave this option for simple questions only; for complex questions, you may want to place a call or send an email.
Do not send personal information through SMS to business partners. Remember that you’re representing your company, not yourself.
Details: How to Text Business Partners
How you style the content you send to vendors and business partners is also important. You don’t want to come across as unprofessional:
- Use correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Business conversations should be conducted professionally, even when you’re using a convenient tool like SMS. Text with proper spelling and grammar to show off your business’s best side.
- Skip the emojis. Business partnerships are often more formal than in-team relationships. Skip emojis and GIFs in these texts, unless your business partner uses them first.
- Don’t use acronyms. Acronyms are similar to emojis. While they’re great in casual conversations, they can be confusing. Skip them until your business partner sends them.
Ultimately, you need to keep your presentation professional in business partnerships.
Timing: When to Text Business Partners
This is the simplest tip for texting etiquette with business partners. Text your vendors and partners at the times during which your business is in operation. If your business is open from 9am-5pm on Mondays through Fridays, text them then. If your business is open from 8am-9pm all week, text them (and respond to texts) then.
Response Speed: How Quickly to Respond to Business Partners
You can treat texts from business partners similarly to emails. In other words, don’t rush to answer—especially if it’s a more complex question. Experts believe you should respond within a day or two to texts.
While you should feel free to respond more quickly if your business partner has an urgent question, be sure to take the time to provide an accurate answer. If you respond after a few days, include a brief explanation for your delay.
Key Takeaways: Texting Etiquette for Messaging on Behalf of Businesses
Knowing the etiquette for texting with customers and business partners will help you communicate effectively, saving you time without losing any context. Ultimately, it’s a great way to make the most of your work relationships—and keep customers satisfied.
Want to learn more about texting etiquette? Check out our blog.