“Can I text you?” is a question that strikes fear into many practitioners. It means either handing out our personal phone number or having to say no. Neither is ideal, so what should we do?
Let’s start with a simple fact: texting has replaced phone calls and emails in relationships that matter. When was the last time you emailed instead of texted friends and family? Messaging is here to stay. The problem is that texting in a business context blurs the boundary between business hours and personal time. And it creates another communication silo, making it easy for employees to walk away with clients. So, we’re put in the difficult position of balancing client service with legitimate business concerns.
Many firms are addressing the problem by strategically building instant messaging into their client experience as a texting alternative. If you’re thinking about following suit, here are some things you need to consider:
- Simplicity: Clients love texting because it’s quick and easy — keep it simple.
- Security: You’ll be exchanging sensitive data.
- Transparency: Communication threads should be searchable with firm-wide visibility.
- Capability: Clients don’t want to hop between systems so give them everything they need in one place.
Once you’ve committed to building a texting alternative into your business, it’s time to weigh your options.
- Add a Phone: Carrying two phones is a quick patch that helps compartmentalize business and personal time. Security, transparency, and capability are still issues.
- VoIP: Most VoIP phone systems offer text messaging capability. If your firm is small and the text volume is low, this is a good solution.
- Chat App: Chat solutions such as Microsoft Teams are safer than VoIP and text messaging, but the lack of organization can be frustrating for firms and clients.
- Client Experience Platform: These platforms, such as Liscio, combine everything a client needs (messaging, files, signatures, etc.) in one place.
How we communicate can be as important as what we communicate. If your clients want to change how they communicate with you, don’t ignore it. If you don’t bother listening, someone else will.