The growing popularity of texting makes it necessary to learn the rules of professional etiquette in this area. Else, you’ll be portraying a bad image for yourself and your business.
There’s more to sending professional SMS than avoiding the usual textual language. Professional texts are different from the typical “hellos and how are yous” that you can randomly send to friends and family. They are business-oriented texts, and the sole purpose of these texts is to generate leads and sales.
To guide you in the world of SMS, we present you with some texting etiquette intended for customers, partners, and employees. We’ll also walk you through some of the instances where you can use those sets of rules.
Rules of Professional Texting
Get permission first
First, ask your recipient for permission before you text them. You should know that not everyone checks their texts frequently. Asking them for permission will guarantee that your messages will be read and attended to.
However, that’s not the only reason to seek permission. It is outright rude and unprofessional to send an unsolicited business text. This serious legal offence could land you a hefty fine from the TCPA. These unpermitted texts are legally considered a violation and an intrusion on the recipient.
You could ask them for permission physically or in written form (so you have tangible proof for the TCPA). Ensure that they consent to opt into your service before texting them. We really do not want you to fall victim to the TCPA.
That’s not all. You must provide your customers with easy access to opt out of your service. And stop texting them immediately, if they ask you to. If you persist, you’ll attract a $1500 fine from the TCPA.
Introduce yourself always
If it’s your first time texting, it would be ridiculous to assume your customers already have your contact saved or let them guess who’s texting. Always ensure to include your business name in each text. Identify your brand in the first line of text, so the customers know it’s you. You can skip this if you’re using a dedicated short code.
We recommend getting a signature catchphrase that you begin each text with. But this works best if you’re a business owner texting the customers. If you’re texting a boss or a colleague, you’re better off without the catchphrase.
Introducing yourself is polite. But you should also include a greeting that lets the recipient know you’re courteous. Greet them like you’re conversing with them. Addressing them by their first name rather than ma/sir is a better way to retain their attention.
If you’re mass texting, you might worry about the time and energy it would consume to tailor each text to give every recipient a sense of personalization. No, you don’t have to go through that. Just addressing them by their first name is enough. And luckily, some messaging platforms allow you to automatically include the customer’s name in the text.
Only text at appropriate times
Not only is it rude to send a business text outside business hours, but such an action can also warrant a contract termination if the recipient is an extremely strict individual.
So before you hit send on that text you’re crafting at 10 pm, imagine yourself as the recipient, seated at a family dinner, then getting an unexpected ring only to check and discover that it’s a text from an employee asking for the weekend off. Of course, if you were in that position, you wouldn’t replay that text, right? Well, do not expect a response either.
Even if you’re texting a spouse or best friend, you must be courteous as long as it’s a professional text. Keep the text simple and precise. Go straight to the point when you text without wasting time.
Ensure that it’s not too formal and not too informal. For example, you cannot begin a text to an employer with a “hey buddy”, and you’re better off without the wanna, gonna, lol, and other abbreviations that you use in a regular conversation. You’re not looking to upset your boss, are you?
And, let’s face it, most older folks expect more respect than younger people. So, you should be especially careful when sending a text to an older recipient. If you’re mass texting, it would not be easy to group recipients into age grades and tailor appropriate messages to them. The best solution here is to send a text that falls between formal and informal.
Always respond promptly
You shouldn’t leave your customers waiting for more than 90 seconds, especially if it’s a two-way messaging system. A prompt response will encourage future engagement. Get an autoresponder to respond to all incoming texts even in your absence. Some text messaging platforms have text management systems. If you can afford this option, opt for it instead.
Further reading: What is Speed to Lead?
Do not spam endlessly
You may access your customers’ phone numbers, email addresses, and social media accounts easily, but that’s not a warranty to send a single reminder multiple times. At that rate, you would get multiple opt-outs because nobody likes being violated like that. Though no strategic rules govern texting frequency, you should always see yourself as a customer and text like you want to be texted.
Imagine yourself as a customer, and think of getting a text asking you to opt into a caller tune service. You probably ignored it, then proceeded to your mail to find the exact text, and you ignored it again. Then, you log into a social media account to see a message from the same service provider. At this point, you’ll probably be annoyed and decline the opt-in option.
Even if you’re texting customers via a single channel, refrain from texting them multiple times. This has the same effect as texting them through multiple channels at once.
Recheck your texts for errors always
Autocorrect is one feature that has put some of us in trouble at some point. Unfortunately, we cannot entirely avoid this, so the best way to handle this is to proofread your text thoroughly. Check for grammar errors and any other mistakes that eluded you while typing. Before you hit send, make sure that the text is flawless.
It isn’t just the grammar errors that you cross-check for. Make sure you get your facts straight and also ensure that you capture every important information in exact terms. Make sure your tone is in order, remove all abbreviations and informal slang, and if you’re offering a service, don’t forget to include the opt-out option.
Don’t send critical information over text
The major drawback with text messages is that there are still many people who don’t check their texts frequently. So, you should not send a critical message over text. Phone calls would be a better means of communication in this case.
Imagine sending a message over text to reschedule or ask to be absent from a board meeting, and the recipient fails to read it. Of course, the result would be disastrous. So, only send messages that can afford to wait for a response over text.
Sign out appropriately
You don’t have to send the last message in the text. Allow the conversation to die down naturally.
Imagine a thread like this:
You: That sounds great. I await feedback
Recipient: Alright, I’ll get back to you as soon as possible
You: Alright, thanks.
All of this is unnecessary. It’s okay to end the conversation once the message has been conveyed.
Professional texting Examples
Now that you have a good understanding of professional texting etiquette, let’s take a look at some sample messages in various industries. These examples are intended to demonstrate the tone, length, and language that can be found in a professional SMS text dialogue.
- Professional SMS in Sales / Transaction: Hi Tom! With your lease being renewed, we want to offer you one month’s rent free in the event of your resignation. Do not hesitate to come to the rental office for any questions.
- Recruitment SMS: Jerry, thank you for connecting to LinkedIn. I have an opportunity in IT that matches what you are looking for. Do you want to set up an interview? – Jean Charles
- Professional SMS in Finance: Payment for invoice 2028, dated 5/5/22, has not been received. Please make payment before June 5, 2022, to avoid late payment. – Your financial advisor.
- SMS for a Professional Interview: Mark. Your interview at KP & P will take place tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. at 143, My Street, Kingston, New York 12401e. Please bring a copy of your ID for security – KP & P recruitment team.
- Professional confirmation text: Hi Mary! Your massage session is scheduled for April 27, 2022, at noon. Please plan to arrive 15 minutes in advance. Answer “Yes” to confirm.
- Professional Staff Communication SMS: Hello Marketing Team! For the team picnic tomorrow, please respond with what you will bring. A: Dessert / B: Salad / C: Drinks
As you can see, it is easy to create clean and professional texts in less than 160 characters. Of course, if you need a little more space, you can always use MMS. But somehow, as long as you follow the etiquette listed in this article, you will be able to legally and successfully text your clients and employees.