Is texting from a personal mobile phone for business a good idea?

Smartphone owners use their phone for everything, take it everywhere and love texting. It is no surprise that people have started using text messaging for business purposes as it gives excellent results with efficient interaction and quick feedback from people messages are sent to.

Businesses saw the opportunity of adding text messaging to their toolboxes when it comes to engaging and communicating with their customers. However, not all businesses are ready to start texting. Some will need more time. Yet, some employees may have jumped the gun and already started texting using their personal mobile phones with text messages to customers. Is it a good practice? Should businesses let their employees text from their personal mobile phones with their customers?

We will address this question and bring concrete answers in this blog post.

There are two sides to every coin. It is important to strike a balance with employees and the businesses they work for. Let’s answer our question from each of their perspectives.

What are the impacts for employees?

When a business’ employees use their phones to text with customers, they may not realize the issues that may arise. Indeed, by using their personal mobile phones for business texting, employees will make their phone number available to the public. Not only will it affect and impact their data usage but it may also have an unforeseen impact on their wallets.

Nowadays, mobile providers offer their customers more plans with unlimited data for texting; the financial impact on employees’ pockets may be limited for some. However, would you change your service plan to be able to text with your employer’s customers? We rest our case.

The impacts of employees using their personal mobile phones are even broader. By sharing their personal information with customers, their numbers aren’t confidential anymore. The day when employees change jobs, their numbers will remain in the hands of their previous employers’ customers.

Who would like to be texted by customers who are no longer his or her responsibility? How could employees know who has their phone numbers and prevent incoming SMS text messages? To prevent this, there is no other way than only keeping the personal cell number for personal usage.

However, problems don’t only occur when employees leave the companies they work for; issues arise also when they are absent from work. Whether they are on vacation, on leave, sick or outside regular work hours, they will keep on receiving text messages related to their work. In these situations, some may consider incoming SMS text messages to be intrusions into their private lives. They will no longer control when the workday ends as customers will keep texting or calling. Receiving text messages related to their work will prevent them from striking a sane work-life balance. It will deeply affect their time off and will cut into their personal relationships.

Let’s take the example of a professional in a communications agency. We all know how demanding customers can be in such a business. By giving their personal cell numbers to their customers, these professionals will not be able to differentiate work from their private lives. If they don’t want to carry two devices, business texting solutions are the best choice to sanely maintain their lives at work and at home.

We can conclude that employees should keep their personal phone numbers confidential and turn to their employers for the appropriate text messaging solution for their day-to-day activities.

What is the impact?

Beyond the impact on employees work-life balance, which may affect the workplace atmosphere and staff retention, employees texting from their personal cell phone for business purposes have significant implications for the company itself.

From a branding standpoint, sending text messages from one employee’s personal mobile phone is a lost opportunity for the business to engage in a more compelling manner. Which text message will you, as a customer, trust the most?

  • First is a text message from “Joe Doe.” You may not be able to relate to Joe because you do not recall his business or any of its employees. How could you even know the value of the brand at this point?
  • Second is a message from “Joe @ Your Favorite Shop,” where you love shopping at. The sales guy is nice but you don’t recall his name. However, you can relate to Joe; he is an excellent employee who works at Your Favorite Shop.

Having more than one employee texting with a customer would make things even more complicated. Let’s imagine Jane Roe, who works during a different shift than Joe, Joe texts Jane to let her know that an order is ready for pick-up. There is widespread confusion as there is not one unique number for the customer to call. Indeed, the use of personal cell phones doesn’t allow team collaboration. There is no way to transfer a conversation to another employee or add notes to a conversation to share with either a co-worker or a manager.

Talking about management: how could a manager supervise the work and conversations the employee has with one of the business’ customers? It is impossible.

What does happen when an employee takes some time off or the workday is over? What if an employee is sick, on leave, on vacation or just on a break and the customer texts him or her for inquiries, for an emergency, to approve a service or confirm an appointment?

The apparent result is that no one answers the customer. What’s more, no auto-reply messages are sent. Who is responsible for the follow-ups if nobody knows what is going on. This results ultimately results in poor customer experience.

Without over-dramatizing the situation, the impact is felt even more intensely when employees quit. When they leave, customer data goes with them. How could any business access, view and preserve employee texts in the same manner that they do with emails? Unlike emails, texts typically reside on the phones on which they are sent and received. When employees are gone, all is lost.

There are always two sides to a coin. On the one hand, the business needs to communicate with customers. On the other hand, employees need to respect their boundaries and centralize information. We also have to consider who is at the heart of every business: the customer. Are there any impacts on customers when employees text from their personal mobile phones for business purposes?

You may have heard about the story of this smart woman who shot down a car maintenance and services company’s employee who texted her from his personal phone to compliment her. In case you don’t recall that event, you can read the story here.

First of all, the employee made a terrible mistake by communicating with this woman for a purpose outside of the business relationship using information that belongs to his employer. He broke the confidence between his employer and upset a customer.

Second, the business itself was in big trouble as the information it held on customers was supposed to be strictly used for the business relationship and no other intention. The confidence was lost. It was a terrible customer experience for this woman and in the end, the business lost a customer and received bad press because of it.

In sum, is texting from a personal mobile phone for business a good idea? Without a doubt, no.

It is no surprise that some businesses already added text messaging to their marketing and customer service strategies. By using a text messaging platform to engage with their customers, businesses offer a better customer experience and improve their images because they look professional and opt for a channel used by 97% of North American adults1. With the use of text messaging for businesses, companies and brands are given the visibility they need in all their communications with their customers.

Furthermore, while protecting their employees’ personal mobile phone numbers, businesses using a communication platform via text messages make themselves available to anyone who wants to reach out to them—all while engaging with their customers the smart way.

These types of platforms give organizations the opportunity to store and preserve the conversations they have with their customers, add notes, or transfer a discussion to another employee. They also give companies the option to connect to their customer service management (CSM) systems and synchronize both conversations and customer information held by different business departments.
That is a recipe for success.

Learn more on easily integrating text message conversations to your communication strategy.

  1. PewResearchCenter - US Smartphone Use in 2015


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