Business texting etiquette is the set of norms and best practices that govern text communications for professional purposes. Professional texting etiquette can cover your messages’ content, like tone and language, as well as messaging logistics like frequency, send time, and response time.

What is business texting etiquette?

Business texting etiquette can dictate what kind of relationship you have with your customers and also how well they respond to your intended messaging. So, rather than just setting up an SMS strategy and sending whatever messages whenever you want, it’s important to take etiquette into consideration. 

Your business texting etiquette should be consistent with how you want your brand to be perceived, whether that’s fun and light or serious and knowledgeable. It should also account for your customers’ expectations. So, for example, if you’ve never sent business texts to customers before, it would be poor etiquette to suddenly start to text customers every single day. Not only would this be unwelcome, but would reflect poorly on your brand. 

As with other forms of etiquette, like table manners, texting etiquette evolves over time. The rules aren’t set in stone. If you’re launching SMS for the first time, it’s a great idea to re-examine your texting etiquette once agents and customers have had some time to get comfortable with the medium. Then, it might make sense to assess it again every few years, since your brand as well as the norms around text message conversations may have changed.

First, should your contact center be texting?

Eight trillion text messages are sent every year. And every month, people send more than one billion messages to businesses. Despite these incredible statistics, many contact centers still haven’t integrated text and mobile messaging channels into their customer service operations. 

The reason certainly isn’t a lack of customer demand. Many contact centers who text-enable their existing CX suite actually see that their customers have been attempting to message them all along! In fact, in a survey we conducted we found that customer preference for digital channels engagement was cited as the number one reason contact center leaders make the decision to adopt! 

But, how do you know if texting is right for you? A good place to start is by evaluating what types of inbound requests your customers usually contact you with as well as what routine outbound communications you send regularly. 
So, for example, do customers often contact you with password reset requests? You can easily trigger an SMS that contains a link guiding them through the update process. Or, you can save agent time by sending automatic payment reminders via SMS instead of making calls that go directly to voicemail. Bottom line: If you’re communicating with customers, chances are texting is a good fit for you.

HintDO check your website analytics. Is a good portion (40% or more) of your traffic mobile? Then you’re a great candidate for texting!

Before You Begin – Picking a Platform

For contact centers that have a team of engineers and IT professionals available to create and support custom software, a partner like Twilio might be adequate. CRMs like Salesforce and Zendesk offer texting add-ons, but they are lacking in features and consultative support. 

And if one of your digital transformation goals is to eliminate a patchwork of systems in favor of a streamlined, unified model, simply stitching best-of-breed solutions together will ultimately keep you in place. 

For those looking for a fully unified, end-to-end solution with best practices training and white-glove support, a partner like NICE is an obvious choice.

Hint: DO evaluate platforms based on a thorough assessment of your specific customer experience goals and needs.
DO seek out feedback before adopting any new channel from your most important stakeholders: Your customers.
DON’T focus on subjective recommendations.

Continuous Conversations

Now that you’re familiar with the capabilities landscape from a holistic point of view, it’s time to get granular and dive into the actual agent perspective. With most platforms, agents have to go back to the customer’s record to see historical text conversations. While this workflow is normal for ticket-based CRMs, it may not provide the best agent experience, especially in an omnichannel environment where multiple channel histories need to be perused. 

Part of transitioning to a more digital-first model requires a communications platform that’s agent-focused, too. Choosing a platform that is built on a unified data model specifically creates continuous conversation by threading interaction history across channels and connecting it at the account level. 

Continuous conversations provide agents the context of past SMS or other digital channel conversations with a customer, allowing for a better agent and customer experience.

Hint: DO consider the relationship between agent ease of use and the customer experience.
DON’T deploy a new channel without first piloting on a test group if possible. 

How Many Agents Will You Need for Messaging?

While answering this question will involve some trial and error, the best place to start is by looking at your other channels and doing some math. In the beginning, while your customers are still figuring out that you offer text messaging, you can expect a lower volume on the channel, but as traffic is deflected from phone and webchat, you’ll likely need to shuffle agents around. 

Moving agents from webchat to asynchronous messaging is an easy transition because they go from having to answer questions in real-time to having a few minutes to handle the customer’s issue before responding. You can expect the volume of the voice channel to decrease most dramatically. 

Hint: DO cross-train webchat agents on other digital channels. They require the same skills which will make the transition smoother.
DON’T expect immediate customer adoption, but DO remember that if you build it, they will come. 

How Do You Choose Which Agents to Assign to Text and Mobile Messaging?

Some of your best phone agents might struggle with the written word. While texting is a more informal channel, you want to make sure you avoid spelling and grammatical errors, as they will reflect poorly on your brand and provide a subpar customer experience. You also want to choose personable agents that are capable of matching the conversational tone of your customers and understand when they can be informal and light vs. when they have to be all business and take care of an issue.

For agents who are moving from webchat to text and mobile messaging, you’ll want to make sure they understand the nuances between the two channels. For example, agents don’t need to break up their responses into multiple messages, and they don’t typically need to send interim messages such as “I’ll look into that and get right back to you,” because texters expect a few minutes of lag time. If you’re implementing texting as a new channel, you’ll also want to recruit agents that are capable of rolling with the punches and being adaptable. 

You never know how customers will react to a new communication channel at first, so it’s important to staff it with agents that can give the organization great feedback and suggest solutions to edge cases that may pop up. Usually, contact centers that use veteran agents for the text channel, at least in the beginning, see the best results.

Hint: DO think of text and digital messaging channels as more informal modes of communicating; they’re conversational by nature.
DON’T Train agents to fire off multiple messages in succession for a play-by-play of issue resolution.

Helpful business texting etiquette tips

Be mindful of tone

If you’ve ever texted someone and received a response of merely, ‘k’, you know all too well how difficult it can be to decipher a person’s frame of mind over text message. This is why it’s extra important to be mindful of your tone. Use direct language that doesn’t run the risk of being interpreted in more than one way. When it comes to your world choice, err on the side of being overly pleasant rather than not pleasant enough.

Use abbreviations sparingly

Whenever possible, spell out full words instead of using abbreviations. Again, this keeps things from being misinterpreted or worse, leaving customers scratching their heads with no idea what you’re trying to say. 

Don’t text important or sensitive information

A customer’s personal data, like their full account number or social security number, should never be exchanged via text message. Likewise, avoid sending urgent details, like a change in meeting venue, over text. A voice call is typically best for this kind of information. 

Watch out for tech mishaps

Autocorrect is a fast-fingered texter’s best friend—until it suddenly changes the word ‘duck’ to something R-rated and costs you a client. The same goes for voice-to-text, which can be especially unreliable with names and other proper nouns. To avoid an embarrassing business texting snafu, always proofread messages before hitting ‘send’ or better yet, have them edited by an extra set of eyes.

Ask permission

From a legal perspective, the most important piece of business texting etiquette is to get the customer’s permission before contacting them over text. NICE’s built-in consent management tools make it easy and automatic to capture consent across the customer journey. 

How NICE can help with your business texting needs

NICE helps contact center teams meet their customers on digital channels of choice

With a curated two-way messaging bundle that empowers agents to create digital conversations across SMS, email, and webchat while mitigating risk and creating smooth customer journeys.

Our next-generation contact center platform powers more than 14 billion interactions a year. We seamlessly integrate omnichannel communications, CRM, and WFO capabilities to deliver an exceptional agent and customer experience, while reducing compliance risk. Our reliable, easy-to-use technology enables effective engagement strategies on communication channels of choice to drive performance in your contact center. Our battle-tested risk mitigation and security tools help clients maximize their potential in an ever-changing business environment. With 20 years of pure cloud expertise, NICE is at the forefront of cloud contact center innovation.

Contact us to learn more about digital messaging and business texting etiquette.

Business SMS FAQs

What is business texting etiquette?

Business texting etiquette can dictate what kind of relationship you have with your customers and also how well they respond to your intended messaging. So, rather than just setting up an SMS strategy and sending whatever messages whenever you want, it’s important to take etiquette into consideration.