With texting as a viable communication option in today's business world, it's critical to follow simple protocols to avoid miscommunications and potentially losing customers and clients. Here are 3 things to avoid and simple ways to improve your workplace texting savvy.
Just as in personal life, texting miscommunications happen in business all of the time... except now the effects are multiplied. An employee that sends bad or inappropriate texts to clients, customers, or colleagues (even unintentionally) can tarnish the entire company's reputation, potentially lose customers, and negatively impact revenue.
While researching for the "Effective Business Writing" book, I interviewed and surveyed many businesses to pinpoint the most critical texting problems faced, and learned of lawsuits, lost business, and worse... all because of a single text. Below are 3 of the most common workplace texting problems and easy fixes that can instantly improve your business communications.
The Rule of Three Texting, just like any other form of communication, is a tool that should be used at certain times and not at other times. You wouldn't use a hammer to screw in a nail, right? Think of it like that. Texting in business situations should be brief interactions to confirm meetings, follow ups (see #2. DNUA), and to schedule future chats. Texting in business situations should *not* be used for longer, complex, or involved conversations... things involving more than 3 topics, 3 questions or 3 of anything. In those circumstances, switch to an email with a bulleted list, or a phone call. Good text examples: - Hi Jim, I'm confirming we're still on for 1pm tomorrow? Looking forward to our meeting. - Hi Melissa, the project deadline is Friday. Can you finalize any last questions and send those over? Happy to answer them before then. - Hi Frances. Do we have everything needed for the client presentation? Let me know if you need anything. - Hi Beth, I wanted to follow up with you. When is a good time to discuss your thoughts? Remember to think in terms of the "Rule of 3", which is more clearly defined in the Effective Business Writing book.
DNUA (Do NOT use acronyms!) There once was a salesperson who thanked a customer with a text. That sounds good right? Well, unfortunately that text read "Thanks for the FU John." and the customer misunderstood the meaning of FU. The customer thought the salesperson was angry because he didn't buy the latest product. The customer then tried to get the salesperson fired and is still leery about doing business with the whole company, even after the salesperson explained that the FU meant "Follow Up". Think about that though... one simple text with a two-letter acronym caused this huge misunderstanding and someone nearly lost their job, the company's reputation was tarnished, and their bottom line was affected. How many employees send texts on behalf of your business every day? How many of them contain acronyms? I'll say it again for the people in the back, DNUA! This is such an easy fix... spell out words to avoid any ambiguity. Ambiguity that could also cause lawsuits in the wrong industries (think medical especially). Please spell your words out... please.
Keep a limit on emojis Those little smiley faces are so cute right? Sure thing, just use one. Using more than one has been shown to take away from your professionalism and the years of experience and education you've used to climb that corporate ladder.
Also be aware that even emojis can have different meanings between cultural groups, based on location or ethnicity. The hands symbol on the left for example can mean thank you in many cultures. It can also be interpreted as praying hands or a high-five. So imagine for a moment in a business situation, if a client had to cancel a meeting at the last minute and revealed a tragic situation, and you responded with an emoji they perceived to be a high-five.
You want to go emoji crazy? Do it with people that you've built a solid foundation with a friendship, relationship, etc... because they'll be familiar with and know you're sharp business acumen behind all of those emojis. If they do have questions, they'll also be more likely to ask clarifying questions about texts that are confusing to them.
So those are some of the top issues faced in business texting, but there are more. Luckily there are also many simple communication fixes for texts and emails in the business world to help avoid ambiguity and misunderstandings... and they are all compiled in the book Effective Business Writing. The EBW book also contains hands-on lessons and gives plenty of examples that will help your business texting savvy, including a whole chapter about the $5 million dollar comma!! I sure hope you're using this comma in your business materials.
Remember to subscribe for more tips on writing and consider the EBW Workshop for employee professional development.
With that... signing off. As always stay safe and stay healthy my friends!!