Texting is a standard, accepted, and very common method of communication these days, even for those who’ve spent most of their lives making calls on a landline. It’s easy to see the advantages of text messaging: it produces fast responses to urgent questions and sends notifications directly to your pocket. 

There’s no denying that texting is everywhere, but when you’re dealing directly with customers, you probably have one question on your mind: is texting actually appropriate for businesses? 

As direct messaging becomes the preferred way to communicate, more and more businesses are using text messages to contact clients. In fact, almost 40% of businesses now use SMS as part of their customer service strategy. 

Texting between businesses and clients offers plenty of benefits such as faster response times, better customer support and increased efficiency. However, there are also many dangers to be aware of – texting isn’t appropriate for all customer relationships, and if something is urgent or sensitive, it’s best to call and talk the old-fashioned way. 

To avoid any traps of miscommunication, it’s important to understand the barriers and boundaries of texting with clients. So before you jump on the business texting bandwagon, continue reading this article to learn the best business texting etiquette. 

Do Customers Prefer Texting Over Talking in 2021? 

The biggest reason many customers might choose to text over speaking is convenience. They like being able to respond immediately while they’re out and about. Since text messages are unobtrusive, it means you don’t have to interrupt a client’s day, work hours or family time to speak with them. 

However, there will always be people who want to chat instead of sending texts. If you are discussing more complex issues, then clients may prefer to talk over the phone than send and read lengthy and complicated text messages. Demographics and age can also play a big factor in whether your customers will appreciate texting. 

Texting can be an alternative way of communicating with your customer base if you don’t have time to speak face-to-face. It’s also a convenient way to send small updates or check in with them if you can’t reach them by phone. 

If you’re going to use text messaging in business communications, make sure you know how to appropriately respond to incoming texts from clients. If you take too long to check and answer texts, make sure your customers know they should call for an urgent response, rather than assuming SMS will be faster. 

And if you’re just not comfortable texting for work, it never hurts to let customers know upfront. Some may be put off if they can’t communicate the way they’d prefer, but it’s better to clarify things at the start than to do a bad job of text messaging. 

Is It Unprofessional to Text Clients? 

What is considered ‘professional’ for a business will differ among industries and can even depend on your branding. You should consider the niche, topic and customer demographics before deciding if it is professional to text your clients or not.  

Texting can cause issues when a particular point gets lost in translation. What is said via text is not always read and understood as we intend it, and that can be a real problem when you’re trying to keep a customer happy.

Usually, this happens because our tone of voice isn’t heard over text, which can affect the whole meaning of what is being said. Misinterpretation and misunderstanding are two of the biggest risks associated when texting with clients. Therefore, texting may not be the most professional option unless what you are saying is very straightforward or clear in its meaning. 

However, if you decide texting is an appropriate way to communicate for your business, then make sure to avoid the following mistakes:

 

  • Don’t assume anything. If you ask an important question or give someone critical information via text, it’s not always safe to assume they’ve seen it. If you don’t hear back, ask your clients directly if they got your message. 
  • Be clear. Make sure you write in short sentences and include punctuation. Use simple words and phrases. Avoid slang terms and be concise. When texting can be seen as a more casual format, it can take some extra effort to come across as professional.
  • Avoid jargon. Keep technical language to a minimum, since you’ll need to be brief and it’s harder for clients to ask questions. If you’re not sure if they’ll understand something, get on the phone so two-way communication is easier. 

Don’t underestimate how important the choice between making a phone call and sending a text can be for the image of your business. So before sending texts to clients, ask yourself this question:

  • Is sending a text message better for this client relationship than a phone call?
  • Or is this a time when convenience is a benefit our brand can offer? 

How to Text Customers Professionally: 9 Text Etiquette Tips 

After deciding that texting is a practical means of communicating with your clients, you must understand how to do this professionally. The following points will highlight how to go about texting with clients and still make a great impression. 

1. Ask Customers if It Is Okay to Text Them 

As a first step, you should only consider texting clients with whom you have already established a business relationship. When you first connect with a client, this is a great time to discuss their preferred mode of communication. 

The easiest way to decide whether texting a client is appropriate is to ask them. By asking for their consent to communicate via text, not only are you being polite, but you are covering your legal bases.

2. Know the Appropriate Time to Text – And When to Pick Up the Phone 

While texting is convenient and efficient, there are certain circumstances in which communication via text simply isn’t appropriate. Always ask yourself: Is SMS the right choice for this situation? To help you out, here are some general guidelines to follow: 

The number one rule of texting is never to send bad news via text. Conversations that may disappoint someone – such as errors or project delays – are always better discussed over the phone or face to face, and texting can seem very impersonal. 

In terms of doing business, texting is not the best option if topics like job scopes or project outlines are being discussed at length. Anything complicated is better discussed on the phone or in person, giving everyone a chance to clarify things. 

Ideally, texting with customers should be used to provide quick answers to questions or reminders. Texting is not the platform for lengthy messages, complex conversations or confidential information – If this needs to be discussed, you should dial the phone instead. However, short prompts or messages that need to be relayed quickly are acceptable via text. 

3. Text at the Right Times – And Call When It’s Time-Sensitive 

It can come across as rude or unprofessional to text clients at certain times of the day. 

Ideally, you should always limit your text messages to work/business hours. This means you should avoid any early morning or late-night messages unless there is something extremely urgent to discuss, or you have an early appointment set. As a general rule, if you wouldn’t make a business call at that time, you shouldn’t text a client at that time either.

It’s true that an SMS message is less disruptive than a call, but nobody appreciates getting a non-urgent text at 11pm or in the middle of Christmas dinner. If it’s not going to be received well, set a reminder on your phone or calendar to text them during business hours instead. 

If you decide to incorporate texting into your business, don’t forget that calling is still always an option. If you have a time-sensitive message to relay, such as a change in meeting time at the last minute, you should always call to ensure the client gets the information promptly. 

4. Always Start With a Polite Greeting – And Let Them Know Who You Are 

Nobody likes to receive an abrupt and abrasive message. To avoid coming off cold or too direct, make sure to include a polite greeting and pay attention to manners within your message. A short but sweet greeting and a ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ will go a long way in making a good impression. 

We are so used to texting our friends and family that it can be easy to forget that not everybody has your number saved in their phone. It is possible that even if you are dealing with a previous client, they may not have added your details – or they have six different Davids already saved in their contacts.

To avoid confusion about whether you’re Mark the plumber or Mark the electrician, it’s always best to identify yourself (and the business you’re from) at the beginning or end of your text. 

When you’re writing a business text, you can choose to begin with a simple ‘Good morning, this is …’ as a polite introduction. Alternatively, you can include an auto-signature at the bottom of your message that you can simply attach to each text. 

5. Stick To a Professional Tone – And Be Careful About Spelling

It is extra important to think about your tone whenever you are engaging in business texting. When you can’t hear the tone of someone’s voice, it can be challenging to interpret what they are saying. 

That is why it is so important to keep a very clear professional tone when texting with clients. Since text messaging leans towards ‘casual’, you’ll need to lean in the other direction to balance that out – and this means erring on the side of caution when it comes to using slang or emojis. 

To suit the professional tone of your text message, it is important to use correct spelling and punctuation. That can be easier said than done, but if you find mistakes tend to turn up in your texts, it can be worth using a spell check app before sending a message. 

Always proofread a message before you send it, and pay particular attention to autocorrect and voice-to-text functions. Both can prove to be unreliable, and create some hilarious (and embarrassing) misunderstandings. 

6. Be Cautious of Short Replies or Ambiguous Messages

Short replies can often risk rubbing people up the wrong way, even if it’s far from what you intended. Of course, we’ve said earlier that you need to be concise – but not too concise, either!

Research suggests that two-word replies (like ‘great job’) are read as sarcastic more than half the time. Unfortunately, this is where the issue with tone comes into play, yet again. 

To play it safe, you should always write in complete sentences to avoid sounding abrupt or harsh. Make every attempt to craft your message with no room for ambiguity or misinterpretation. 

For instance, replying with “Ok” or “Yeah” can come across as abrupt or displeased, whereas “Great idea, I’ll look into that and get back to you.” is harder to misinterpret. 

You should also avoid humour or witty remarks via text message, as these comments often get misinterpreted without appropriate tone or content. Sarcasm is hard to detect in text form, so you’re better off saving the jokes for a face-to-face conversation. 

7. Avoid Texting Acronyms or Abbreviations

Using abbreviations, acronyms, and slang in everyday texting is very common and widely accepted. However, when it comes to texting professionally with business clients, these things should be avoided. 

For one, not all abbreviations and acronyms are well known, so you don’t want to confuse or offend your client by using slang they don’t understand. 

Although many abbreviations are mainstream and well known, such as OMG and LOL, they do not reflect the professional tone you want to portray. The exception may be if your client is using ‘text speak’ themselves, but even then, it never hurts to err on the side of caution. 

8. Emojis: Know When to Use Them and When to Avoid

Emojis have become extremely common as they can now be used on almost any platform (even email). On one hand, they are great at helping set the tone of your message and reduce the ambiguity of your message, so there isn’t any room for misinterpretation. 

However, emojis can also be perceived as unprofessional in a business context. The main guideline is to consider the client you are texting before adding an emoji to the end of your message. If you’re dealing with a younger client, or they use emojis in their own messages, you may get away with a simple smiley to set a positive note. 

While many symbols such as smiley faces and a thumbs up have a clear meaning, less common emojis can also be widely misinterpreted. The rule of thumb here is never automatically add an emoji to your text message with a client  – always consider whether it will help or hurt your communication with this individual. 

9. Don’t Rely Solely on Texting – Or You May Miss Building a Relationship 

Text messaging doesn’t allow for nonverbal communication such as eye contact, body language and facial expressions. These elements traditionally help to build rapport between two people when engaging in conversation. 

The ‘art of the deal’ has always been built on good old face-to-face conversations, and when that wasn’t possible, a phone call or two. Hearing someone’s voice really helps build a relationship, and for this reason, you should never rely solely on text messages.

You should always engage with your client in person as soon as possible – ideally, set a time for a face-to-face appointment or quote when you first speak to them. If that isn’t possible, talking on the phone still helps build rapport above and beyond what SMS can accomplish. 

Once you have created a solid foundation with them, you can consider texting as a continued mode of communication – it’s a great way to make sure you both stay in the loop. However, make sure to change it up every now and then and give them a call to keep your relationship strong. 

Sample Text Messages For Customers 

Below are some examples of text message templates to use when texting clients. Don’t be a

Lead Follow Up Text Template

If a client misses your call, but you want to follow up promptly, try sending the below message:

Hello [CUSTOMER NAME],

This is [NAME] from [BUSINESS NAME]. We recently tried to contact you in regards to [SERVICE]. Please let us know when would be a good time to reach you. We look forward to hearing from you. 

Booking Reminder Text Template

If a client has a booking coming up and you want to send them a reminder of the time and date, try structuring your text like the example below:

Hello [CUSTOMER NAME],

This is a friendly reminder that you have an appointment with [BUSINESS NAME] on [DATE and TIME]. Please reply yes to confirm. Thanks.

Requesting a Review Template

If a client has recently used your business and you would like them to leave you a review, try sending them a message similar to this one:

Hello [CUSTOMER NAME],

Thank you for choosing [BUSINESS NAME] for your recent [SERVICE]. We would love it if you could take one minute to leave us a review of your experience with us. Just follow the link [LINK]. Thanks for your help!

Related Questions 

How Fast Should I Reply to a Customer’s Text Message? 

As a rule of thumb, if you can’t reply to a client straight away, always reply within 24 hours. Either way, never leave your client waiting for days. Your response time indicates your interest, so the sooner you reply to them, the better. 

If someone sends you a message asking about something specific, such as “What does this mean?” or “Can I expect X?”, then good customer service means getting back to them ASAP. This shows that you care enough to help out your clients when needed.

However, you can typically allow yourself until the end of the business day to answer less urgent questions. Remember, if you don’t have the answer straight away, or you need some time to put a reply together, you can still respond acknowledging you’ve received their message and let them know when you’ll get back to them.