Texting is now as much of a business communication tool as the phone and email. And just like those, you must follow the same etiquette for the people you are communicating with. The problem is, users, think it is different, and the same rules don’t apply.
A new report from Carphonewarehouse proves this very point. In the survey, 73% of the respondents feel it is OK to text clients after business hours. This is driven by the casual nature of texting, which makes people wrongly assume they can chat whenever they want. While it may be OK in your personal life, it can have unintended consequences in business.
The report says, “Once you’ve got your boss/colleague/client/customer’s number in your phone, you’re only one bad text away from potentially railroading your entire career.”
Adding, “So, where’s the line when it comes to texting in business?”
Where is the Line?
This is a great question. And this line is greatly determined based on the relationship you have with the person you deal with.
If they are a new client, colleague, or business connection, it is important to err on the side of caution and be polite. This means observing all of the rules which apply when you talk to someone on the phone or in person.
As you get more acquainted with them, you can ask them how they feel about having a more relaxed conversation. This will let you know exactly how to move forward. Never assume you can because you have been talking for a certain amount of time.
According to the survey, even if you have a long-standing relationship, there are some things you shouldn’t communicate via text in business.
Business Text Etiquette: Don’ts
The first one on the list is firing someone. In the survey, 65% of the respondents say it is inappropriate texting behavior. This was followed by 60% who say it is also just as bad to discipline an employee using text.
Making formal complaints, (55%), contacting colleagues after hours (27%), and calling in sick (33%) are also inappropriate.
It goes without saying, carrying out all of these actions using text is indeed inappropriate. But it also leaves you vulnerable to legal action.
The text you send is archived, and it can be retrieved by the recipient if there is any discrepancy. And if you made a mistake or don’t remember the facts as they actually happened, it will come back to bite you.
2019 Business Text Etiquette
Texting is just like any other communication tool. If you keep that in mind, you can avoid some of the gaffes people make.
- Introduce yourself properly and include an auto signature at the end of your message. If they don’t know who you are, there is a big chance they won’t read or respond.
- Personalize your message. This is just like the first recommendation. The more information you add about yourself the better.
- Keep it short. Texting is designed for this very reason.
- Keep it clear. Deliver your message without unnecessary information or anecdotes.
- Spell check. Apply this to all written communication. But the negative impact can be greater in texting. After all it is only a couple of sentences. The recipient might think, “If they can’t get this right…”
- Be aware of the time of day. Don’t send the text at inappropriate times.
Additional Survey Results
Some of the other results from the survey include annoying behaviors that break business text etiquette.
Coming in on top at 42% is when someone leaves you on ‘read’. This is when people read your text but they don’t reply. And the second annoying behavior also addresses replying to a text. For 35% of the respondents, not replying to a text within 24 hours is just as annoying.
Some of the other behaviors are using abbreviations (33%), replying with ‘K’ or ‘LOL’ (30%), and adding someone to a group without permission (14%).
When it comes to dating don’t break up with a serious partner, propose, or say ‘I love you’ for the first time.
The survey was carried out by Censuswide between 05/20/2019 – 05/22/2019 for CarphoneWarehouse in the UK. A total of 1,000 respondents took part in the survey addressing text related behaviors in their personal and business lives.