In popular chat messengers, businesses have to find the golden mean between the formality of a business letter and the teen-like spirit of messenger communication.
Why is this even important? Because due to the changes in customer behaviour and the way brands interact with their customers, you will see an increasing number of users and customers contacting you via messengers than email, phone or other ways.
There are multiple courses that messenger communication can go. We previously mentioned that your business can communicate via popular messenger apps, but you, as an individual, can also approach a company this way. There’s also a third scenario, where businesses interact with each other via social media and messengers (B2B communication).
Now, given that this is something that’s not been around too long, many businesses and business people are quite unclear about how to behave and write on messenger. Should you behave in the same way as you would on your private messenger? Or, should you approach a messenger just like any other email, and keep the same levels of formality throughout the chat?
In this article, we’re clarifying all these confusing dilemmas and giving you all you need to know about business etiquette in messengers.
The introduction is a basic part of business communication across all channels and shouldn’t be neglected in messengers. When you’re contacting someone for the first time, you should always provide a short introduction about yourself (or your business), what you do, why you contacted the company and how you found out about them.
Businesses can use this information to provide you with a tailor-made, completely personalized messenger experience (whether you’re in need of support or sales assistance), which is one of the primary goals of businesses on messengers.
Emojis: Yay or Nay?
One of the pillars of messenger chats is emojis. We’ve all grown so accustomed to them that it’s absolutely normal for someone to send you a “thumbs up” and 😊 after you tell them you’ve nailed that job interview.
However, is it equally acceptable in business communication?
Well, not really. Emojis definitely should be used in the same way we do on our private chats, but it doesn’t mean that there absolutely forbidden. A lot of it depends on how you want to present your business or brand.
For example, many businesses and brands that target young people will have no problem using emojis in their business correspondence. Nevertheless, they will not overuse them and will usually use only the “basic” set of emojis.
Other companies, especially B2B businesses would completely eliminate emojis from business communications, regardless of the fact that it’s on messenger service.
Grammar and Spelling
No matter whether you’re writing in an official letter, email or on a messenger chat, business communication always needs to have impeccable grammar and spelling, without any exceptions.
“One of the main conditions you should look at when hiring community managers and agents who will handle your messenger contact requests is their linguistic proficiency. As a business, you simply cannot afford to make verbal mistakes that will make you appear unprofessional. And this goes for every channel, even messengers”, says Kylie Sullivan, a writer and editor at TrustMyPaper.
To avoid coming across as unprofessional, you should also avoid using trendy acronyms such as BTW, LOL, ROFL and others. This is, unlike emojis, something that’s never acceptable in business correspondence.
Addressing the person you’re writing to, especially if it’s another business, can also be quite tricky on messenger. Generally, we don’t start messages with “Dear X,” or “Sir,” but is it still normal to exclude this from a piece of business communication?
Again, it depends on your business’ communication style and the way you approach your customers and partners. Here are some ways you can address someone who contacts you on messenger, ordered by level of formality (from least to most formal):
- Hello X,
- Dear X,
- /Mrs. Last Name
Fast Response Time
Like it or not, being punctual and responding to requests and messages promptly is also part of business communication etiquette.
Many business owners believe that if they deliberately wait a few days to respond to an email or a message, they will seem more “busy” and hard to reach. In reality, this approach can ruin their chances of landing new clients and increasing their customer base.
Responding to messages promptly means that you respect and value the message you’ve received from a user or a company, which your interlocutor will highly appreciate. Another important fact is that most customers choose messenger for communication with businesses over other channels because they expect a faster response time.
Don’t Be Too Formal
Another important advice regarding business communication etiquette on messenger is that you will have to exclude some of the formal phrases and structures that you use in your emails or other writing.
In the “Addressing Someone” part, for example, we excluded the common To whom it may concern. It’s simply way too formal for messenger communication.
Other examples include business communication jargon such as “per my last message”, “kind regards”, “with regard to” and similar. Think of ways you would phrase the same message in an everyday conversation, but always make sure that your tone remains professional.
Be Respectful and Kind
You might think that this goes without saying, but it’s very easy to forget this rule when you’re communicating with someone on messenger.
Just like any other customer-business communication, there may be situations where you have to deal with an angry or dissatisfied customer. In these situations, regardless of the fact that you’re on messenger, remain composed and keep following these etiquette rules.
Don’t Ignore Questions or Comments
On most messengers, there’s a nifty feature that shows you when a person (in this case business) has “seen” your message. So, when a customer contacts you and you view their message without responding, they might feel that you disrespected them, which can be very harmful to your brand image.
If you want to include messengers in your marketing communication strategy, you have to be prepared to actually do the work and respond to all queries you receive. Otherwise, you might end up disappointing some of your users.
Business etiquette on messengers can be quite tricky: on the one hand, you’re trying to achieve a friendly, personal approach while still maintaining a high degree of professionalism. To do this, you will need to develop standard practices that you use in communication with all users, regardless of their age, background, history with the company and other factors.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the publication