Many businesses now offer customer support via text. And why shouldn’t they? It’s fast, convenient and efficient for both parties. With texting support technology improving every day, communicating with your clients via text is easier than ever.
Although texting is easy, it’s easy to send the wrong message, have your message lost in translation or worse, annoy your clients. Before jumping on the business texting bandwagon, here are tips, tricks, and best practices to keep your texting professional, considerate and friendly.
1 – Get their texting consent
Before you start texting your clients either make sure you get their permission or they reach out to you first.
Since we’re talking about customer support, it’s likely your client messaged you first asking for assistance. Nonetheless, it’s never an invitation to start sending them marketing texts, ads, or messages outside of their customer support concerns. Laws around text spam for businesses are strict and can cost you thousands of dollars for each unsolicited text you send.
2 – Remain professional
Personalize your message
You don’t want to sound like an automated robot. Use the name of the person you’re talking to. Simple enough, right?
According to a study at Michigan State University, “using someone’s name can be an effective way of breaking into the conversation.” Break the ice and set an approachable tone by addressing your clients by their first name.
Use the right tone
You don’t want to treat your customers like they’re your best friends. But a part of being professional is being friendly. You can kick the formalities out the door and go with something a little less stuffy while still keeping your business rapport intact.
For example – “Hey there, thanks for reaching out to us! How can I help?” is much better than “Thank you for your text today. How may I assist you?”. It communicates the same message, is professional but also easy-going.
Professionalism also means avoiding too many exclamation marks or emojis.
What not to do: “Thanks so much for your feedback today! 😃We are soooo glad you are enjoying the service! Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions! 😃”
The message is friendly, but offputting and unprofessional due to each sentence ending with an exclamation point and too many emojis.
What to do: “Thanks so much for your feedback. We are so glad you are enjoying the service. Please feel free to reach out to us whenever you have any more feedback or questions you may have! We are happy to help. 😊”
We said the same thing here but scaled it back a bit with the emojis and exclamations. Still friendly, but professional.
3 – Don’t be sloppy
Beware of autocorrect.
Autocorrect can be your best friend when sending personal texts. For business, however, not so much. That’s because autocorrect changes aren’t always correct and are easy to miss. Especially when the glaring “red underline” isn’t there to catch your attention. Because businesses have their own unique acronyms and spelling for a few words, autocorrect can miss these.
Don’t use abbreviations.
You can still come off as easy-going without using jargon and abbreviations. Avoid lol’s, brb’s, using abbreviations such as tmr instead of tomorrow. You get the idea.
Abbreviations usually aren’t detected by spell check because they are so common to use via text message.
You should be checking for them with every text because oftentimes we use them instinctually with our friends and family, who we could be messaging between business communications. Avoid the possible mix-up!
This goes right along with being professional. A text full of spelling and grammar mistakes makes you look careless and rushed.
This is where services like Grammarly are super useful for businesses. Grammarly is free of charge and helps not only with spelling but also with wording for better readability. Grammarly is a Chrome extension, so texting from your computer is the best bet. (Here’s how to text from your computer)
A long explanation doesn’t make it look like you know what you’re talking about. In fact, it does the opposite. You should be able to take complex information and simplify it for your customers. You only get 140 characters – use them wisely. Avoid long-winded explanations and unnecessary words.
If the answer requires a longer response, shooting off 1-3 shorter text messages instead of one long one is a better bet. A long paragraph could end up getting cut off at the end and lost in translation. Also, longer paragraphs have lower readability and can often be confusing for the reader.
If you find your reply getting to be longer than 2-3 short messages, it may require a call or an email response. A customer doesn’t want to spend all day talking to you, if you know the answer is long-winded, let them know and arrange a call or email.
4 – Text customers at the right time
Stay within business hours.
Do you appreciate getting a text at 3 AM when you are trying to get an adequate amount of rest for a big workday? We don’t think so. Treat your customers the same.
If you were unable to get to their message within business hours, that’s okay! They will appreciate getting a reply from you at 8 AM rather than in the middle of the night.
This may be tricky if your customers are spread across different time zones. So the time your customer receives your text may be out of your control.
With that being said, if you mostly serve local consumers, stay respectively within their timezone when sending a text.
Speaking of timing, don’t wait more than 24 hours to respond. If the matter is urgent, a quick response is necessary. The purpose of text support is to get quick help, so make sure you meet that standard with your clients too.
However, not all texts require an immediate response. If they did, you’d be spending most of your time texting! Learning to differentiate what is pertinent and what can wait is key.
Don’t have an answer for your customer right away? That’s ok! Just be sure to let your customer know with a quick reply: “That’s a great question! I’m looking into this right now for you.”
Sometimes, we get sidetracked with a lot of work. If you took longer to respond than you planned to or lost track of time, you can say:
“Hey Stephanie, sorry about the late reply. It’s been crazy over here! Yes, we can certainly do that. Mind providing more details so I can let the team know? Thanks.”
Don’t expect a response right away. After all, your customer is as busy as you. Try not to dominate the conversation by blowing up your client’s phone with text messages. If you do require a timely response, be friendly.
For example: “Hey Stephanie, we noticed you haven’t responded to our last message. Did you still require assistance? If not, that’s great! Let us know if you have any more questions.”
5 – Follow through
Say what you mean and do what you say.
If you say you’re going to do something – do it. Many times, we respond to tell the customer that we will have an answer for them soon. This is a reason many messages can fall through the cracks – we read and responded to the message, so we instinctively think the work is done or that we are waiting to hear back from the customer.
To avoid this, simply marking a message as “unread” can serve as a reminder to respond back to a client later. This way, you will remember to promptly follow-up and not have your client thinking you’re ignoring or not prioritizing them – nobody likes to be forgotten!
The end of your conversation is just as important as the start. Don’t forget to sign out of the conversation tastefully after you’ve successfully helped your client.
A simple “Thank you for reaching out to us and have a delightful day,” is an example of a way to gracefully end the text exchange.
However you choose to communicate, always remember to be empathic and helpful towards your clients. That’s what all great businesses thrive on – making the experience with your clients a delightful one!
Ready to get your business number and start offering text support to your customers? Get OpenPhone today.