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 they are sent to.

Businesses saw the opportunity of adding text messaging to their toolbox 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 phone to text with customers. Is it a good practice? Should businesses let their employees text from their personal mobile phone with their customers?

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

There are two sides to every coin. On the one side is the employee and on the other side is the business. Let’s answer our question from each of their perspectives.

What are the impacts of these practices for employees?

When a business’ employee uses his phone to text with customers, he may not realize what this entails and the issues he may have. Indeed, by using their personal mobile phone 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 wallet.

Nowadays, mobile providers offer to their customers more plans with unlimited data for texting, so the financial impact on employees’ purse may be limited for some of them. Though, would you change your services plan to be able to text with your employer’s customers? I doubt many would.

The impacts of employees using their personal mobile phone are even broader. By sharing their personal information with customers, their number isn’t confidential anymore. The day when the employee changes job, his number will remain in the hands of his previous employer’s customers.

Who would like to be texted by a customer who is not his any longer? How could the employee know who has his phone number and prevent such incoming SMS text messages? To prevent that, there is no other way than keeping the personal cell number for personal usage.

Though, problems don’t only occur when employees leave the company they work for, but also when they are absent from work. Whether they are on vacations, on leave, sick or outside regular working hours, they will keep on receiving text messages related to their work. In such a situation, some may consider incoming SMS text messages to be intrusions in their private life. They will no longer control when the workday ends as customers will keep texting or calling. Receiving text messages connected to their work will prevent them to “get away from it all.” It will deeply affect their time off and will cut into their personal time.

Let’s take the example of a professional in a communication agency. We all know how demanding customers can be in such a business. By giving their personal cell number to their customers, these professionals will give up the separation of work from private life. If they don’t want to carry two devices, business texting solutions are the best choice to maintain their work-life balance.

So we can conclude that employees should keep their personal phone number confidential and turn to their employer to ask them to provide the appropriate text messaging solution for businesses, for their day-to-day activities.

What about the impact of such practice for businesses?

Beyond the impact on employees life-work balance that may affect the work climate and employees 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 introduce its name. Which text message will you, as a customer, trust the most and for which you will quickly identify the origin?

  • First is a text message from “Joe Doe,” whom by the way you may not relate to a specific business as you don’t recall the name of all the employees of companies and brands you deal with. Anyways, how could you know this text message is on behalf of a business?
  • Second is a message from “Joe @ Your Favorite Shop,” where you love shopping at, and whose sales guy is nice but you don’t recall his name. However now, you can relate that Joe is the excellent employee working 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 is working on a different shift than Joe, is texting a customer to let him know that his order is ready for pick-up. There is widespread confusion as there is not one unique number for all the customers. 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 this 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? He can’t.

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

The apparent result is that no one answers the customer, nor send an out of office message. No one will do the required follow-ups with the customer, the employee is texting with, as no one even knows there is a conversation going on.
This results irremediably in poor customer experience.

Without dramatizing, the impact is felt even more intensely when an employee quits. When he leaves, customer data goes with him. How could the 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 the employee is gone, all is lost.

We saw the two sides of the medal, on the one hand, the business and on the other hand the employee. However, we also have to consider who is at the heart of every business: the customer. Are they any impacts on customers when employees text from their personal mobile phone for business purpose?

You may have heard about the story of this smart lady who shut 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 entering in communication with this woman for a purpose outside of the business relationship using information that belongs to his employer. He broke the confidence link with his employer and upset a customer by misbehaving.

Second, the business itself was in big troubles as the information it holds on customers should strictly be 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 the situation.

So, is texting from a personal mobile phone for business a good idea? We can without a doubt say no.

Hence, it is no surprise that some businesses already added text messaging to their toolbox to implement their marketing and customer service strategies. By using a text messaging platform to engage with their customers, businesses offer better customer experience and improve their image. They look very professional, trendy and modern using the preferred channel used by 97% of North American adults1. With the use of text messaging for businesses, companies or brands are given the visibility they need in all their communications with their customers.

Furthermore, while protecting their employees’ personal mobile phone number, businesses using a communication platform via text messages are making themselves available to anyone who wants to reach them and are engaging with their customers the smart way.

Such a platform not only gives them the opportunity to store and preserve the conversations businesses have with their customers, add notes, or transfer a discussion to another employee but also it gives them the option to connect to their customer service management (CSM) system and synchronize the conversations and the customer information held by the business.
That is a recipe for success.

Learn how Clarkdale Volkswagen, a well-known car dealership in Vancouver uses Kimoby communication platform to improve both their efficiency and customer retention by reading our case study Clarkdale Volkswagen - More time for better customer care.

  1. PewResearchCenter - US Smartphone Use in 2015

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