Texting communication is rapidly increasing as we all see every day. Now when I dine out at a restaurant and I am waiting for a table, no longer do I get handed a device that buzzes when my table is ready, now I get a text letting me know to be at the lobby in five minutes to be seated. Which I really like the addition of having five minutes in case I need to pay a beverage tab or use the restroom before going to the table. I also get texts letting me know when a pharmacy prescription is ready or when a prescription needs to be refilled. As well as reminder texts for dentist appointments and payment reminders from my cell phone provider.
It is said that texting is the most prevalent form of communication today and that it deserves a much more prominent and more personal role in business communications. There are times we can send mass texts to guests such as weather disasters, yet we should be handling other communication gently as we do with all relationship focused communications.
It is important to satisfy today’s experience-seeking customer. If you offer a better experience than your competitor, consumers will buy from you. Texting is an easy way to give your customers the experience they are seeking. Are you sending out a text when the home is ready for check-in or are guests expected to call to see when it is ready? Texting is quick and convenient and can easily provide a high service level if done correctly. Often companies are not able to program a specific number that shows who the text is coming from and have a character limitation. Are you stating the company name first, so they know who it is coming from? Are you using templates that are the correct amount of characters and still coming across as warm so that employees can make small changes to customize them? Maybe the notification that a home is ready states, “Hi Smith Family! Your ocean front home is ready at 200 Seaside Lane with a door lock code of 3333. Reminder that your sunset view this evening is 8 pm. Amazing Rentals hopes you enjoy your time.”
Statistics say that 8 trillion texts are sent every year with an open rate of 99% and a typical response time of under 3 minutes, 33% of Americans prefer texting to any other form of communication. It is also the most used form of messaging for American’s under the age of 50. As an industry we have already experienced the huge increase in website bookings, for some companies it has reached up to 70%. Customers are finding your company on their smart phones more than not, when listening to calls often when asked to view the home together, caller’s say they will be able to when they are done with the call because they are on their phones. Consumers are not spending the time to open a computer to view the homes together because they rely on their phones so much for vacation rental searching and booking. I recently had a friend tell me she used Vacation Rental by Owner for her European bookings because it was easy to access on her phone during travels.
Now that we understand how popular texting is and why we should be using it in our businesses, let’s start off with some basic guidelines for how to text in business:
Spelling, Grammar and Respect
Spelling out words instead of abbreviating like you might when texting to a friend or family member. Even if the person you are texting with starts abbreviating, remain the professional service provider and spell out your words as well as use correct spelling and punctuation. Just because they might not capitalize an “i,” doesn’t mean you should do the same. Imagine you are texting a formal individual, that often helps to keep it professional. Part of being humans is that we are often judged, and texting is another line of communication that guests will make judgments on. Keeping in mind The Platinum Rule to treat others how they want to be treated. If I am moving fast when texting as usually we all are, I might misspell or use the incorrect word when texting, yet that doesn’t mean that I am okay if a company does the same when texting me.
Like emailing, it is crucial to watch “tone” in texting so that communication isn’t misinterpreted. Take time before responding so that you don’t come off as flippant or harsh. Entrepreneur.com recommends using polite touches like “please” and “thank you,” as well as re-reading every message before pressing send helping to double check your tone.
When to Text and When to Call
Always keep serious topics for a phone call. If you are talking about cancellations of any kind, finances or what might be interpreted as “bad news,” take the time and pick up the phone.
You can build trust with frequent communication, yet if you over communicate via text, you might annoy someone. I think about the last time I was interviewing a renter for a studio we own, and we were texting about references and details. The renter filled my phone with long detailed texts all the way into 10 pm at night. I finally stopped responding because I live by the quote, “what we allow we encourage,” and I didn’t want this to become a habit moving forward. The next day, he said something about blowing up my phone and I responded with, “yes you did.” We both laughed about it, yet he never did it again.
On an internal business note, take breaks from technology occasionally. I hear about managers who are getting texts on their days off and sometimes even owner relations employees doing the same. I understand we are in the hospitality industry and it is very people pleasing focused, yet I spend a good amount of my coaching time helping people create healthy boundaries, so they don’t get burned out or need to take a month off to rejuvenate. If we are going to give with all of our heart and build healthy relationships in business, we need downtime, so we don’t get snarky or annoyed.
One of the bigger points that I find to be extremely important is to watch when you are sending texts. I recommend 9 am-5 pm for business texts. Now, if you are texting about an update on a maintenance issue that is pressing, I feel it is appropriate to text as late as 7 pm, yet I wouldn’t recommend any later. If you are communicating due to an after-hours call, ask permission on how late you can communicate via text or if they would prefer another form of communication.
Inc.com wrote a great article about why texting increased Dirty Lemon’s revenue by 1400 percent. The first reason was due to personal communication via SMS and how it optimizes the direct-to-consumer experience. I completely agree with this being that I tend to make a good amount of purchases through Facebook Market Place and I like the quick and easy transactions.
It is said that understanding consumers better drives smarter product development. The ability to track what the consumers want and the areas that your company is not delivering, allows for business changes that meets and even exceeds their needs.
Texting speeds up consumer communication and eliminates the lengthy phone calls or email queries that sometimes never get answered or end up in spam.
It is time to embracing the texting communication in business if you haven’t already.
“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” John Maxwell