If you need to send a quick message to a friend, you’ll probably use a text message. But what if you’re dealing with a client? Each day, Americans send more than five billion text messages, according to CTIA. The rise of text messaging has changed the way we communicate. Before you start texting clients, however, it’s important to look at the pros and cons.
The Benefits of Texting Clients
Text messages offer some compelling advantages.
- Texting is nearly ubiquitous. People carry their smartphones with them wherever they go. They send and receive text messages regularly.
- Texting is convenient. When a call comes in, you only have a few seconds to answer. This is a problem if you’re talking to another person, eating, driving or doing absolutely anything else. Text messages can be answered whenever.
- Texting is fast. It doesn’t take long to send or read a text. For short messages, texting really can’t be beat.
- Texting gets a reply. According to Jive Communications, 61 percent of Americans admit that they regularly avoid phone calls. You can leave a message – assuming the voicemail box isn’t full – but there’s no guarantee anyone will listen to it. Email is another option, but many people have tons of unread emails and may take days to reply. People check their text messages frequently, often as they come in, and tend to reply quickly.
- If you take the time to enter your client’s information into your smartphone and they do the same for you, they are more likely to share your contact information with others because it’s fast and easy from a smartphone.
The Drawbacks of Texting
Before you get too excited about texting, it’s important to consider the downsides.
- Texting can be informal. While some people may see this as an advantage, you want to maintain a certain level of professionalism in terms of both content and style when communicating with clients.
- Texting is not quite universal. According to Pew Research Center, 96 percent of U.S. adults have a cell phone. That’s a lot, but it’s not 100 percent. Among people aged 65 and older, only 91 percent have a cell phone. Additionally, some people who have a cell phone may not like text messages.
- Texting is just one of many communications methods. Calls, texts, email and snail mail – the number of communication options can get overwhelming. The more you use, they more you have to keep track of.
How to Text Smart
Now that you understand both the benefits and the risks, you can decide whether you want to send text messages to clients. If you do, keep these points in mind.
- Ask for preferences and get permission. Before you start texting messages to a client, ask about your clients’ communication preferences. Get permission to send text messages and provide an easy way for clients to opt out.
- Keep track of communication preferences and permissions. You’ll need a spreadsheet for this.
- Comply with regulations. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) restricts telemarketing via phone calls and text messages. Also pay attention to any other industry-specific regulations on marketing.
- Keep it professional. Stick to standard grammar and spelling. If you use emojis, do so sparingly.
- Keep a record of all communications. This is important for E&O protection. How exactly you do this will depend on the technology you use, but you’ll want to transfer the text messages to your computer or another system – don’t just leave them on your phone.
- Don’t over rely on texting. Sometimes, you need to pick up the phone or schedule a face-to-face meeting.