Lots of businesses have started using text messages to keep customers informed about special deals and to creatively enhance the customer service experience. This article on Inc.com shares the ways businesses can use texting effectively. When implemented with control and purpose, texting can be a boon for business.
But if you’re a solopreneur, incoming texts from customers can be a distraction.
In his blog post, “Another Tax Season Down — 2014 Tax Season Recap,” Jason Dinesen of Dinesen Tax & Accounting, P.C. shared some notable challenges with texting that I suspect other solopreneurs are experiencing, too:
Clients sending excessive texts and clients sending texts when they should be communicating via other means.
I find texts from clients acceptable and helpful when they’re sharing they’re running behind schedule for an appointment or if they want to see if I’m available for a quick, unscheduled call. But texting beyond that can become problematic.
The Issues with Text Messages from Clients:
- Expectations for an immediate response to non-emergency issues – People expect text messages to be answered more instantaneously than email. When we text, we usually do it because we want to communicate quickly. We text when we’re running late for an appointment. We text while we’re at the grocery store to ask whether our kid wants original or Cool Ranch Doritos (Important, right?). As a solopreneur, you can’t always respond to texts of a non-emergent nature immediately. That could disappoint or even anger clients.
- They’re disruptive – Think about it, if all of your clients start texting you about this or that throughout the course of the day, you’re getting pulled away from your real work every time you hear that ding or buzz from your phone calling out to you. And then there will be the texts that arrive during dinnertime with the family, at midnight, or some other obscene hour of the day when you need some much-deserved time away from your business.
- Important info could slip through the cracks – If clients send you important information via text, it’s not as easy for you to save and file it with all the rest of the details about their account and projects. I’d be less than thrilled if a client were to send me notes about the key points they want included in a new brochure or on their website via a text message. With texts, the details live on your phone and are separated from the rest of what you have on file about your client. Although apps that enable you to send text messages to email (Google Play’s Email My Texts App for $4.90 and iPhone’s Messages app), you’re still stuck doing extra work to keep your act together.
How do you set text messaging boundaries with clients?
If you present clients with a service agreement that lists your policies and procedures, you might consider adding verbiage to address text messaging. If you don’t have such an agreement in place, you can try explaining to clients that you’d prefer them to contact you by email (or call or whatever you prefer).
Another option: ignore the text initially. Don’t text back. Pretend that the text was actually an email, and then send an email (not a text) with the subject: “Following up on your text message.” Make sure that the timing of the email response is in line with how long it would have typically taken you to respond to your client had she sent an email in the first place. Then, of course, mention corresponding by email works best and ensures no important information will get overlooked while you’re working together.
You’re in control
You might find it challenging to keep texting with clients under control, but ultimately your actions will set the precedent for how you communicate with your clients. The key is to be clear about how you want to communicate, and stay consistent in how you communicate and how you respond (or don’t respond) to clients’ text messages.
Your turn! What’s your take on accepting text messages from clients?
By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post
Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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