Texting open the lines of communication

photo via flickr user andrewrennie

While taking a look at FastCompany.com today, I noticed a new article by Naveen Gupta that refers to text messaging as “the great untapped business resource.” Before diving into the text, I was a bit skeptical about this claim. For one, don’t people already use text messaging quite often for business purposes? And what could business-related text messaging really offer that e-mail or a plain old phone call can’t?

As I read further down, it began to make more sense.

The article details various examples of how business text messaging could be used in ways that it currently isn’t, all founded on the assertion that businesses could easily integrate cloud-based telephony systems that include SMS, so that employees would be able to make phone calls, send faxes and text customers and colleagues all from their own work phone number. Based on this assumption, Gupta makes a couple points that resonated with me.

Personal phone numbers aren’t ideal for business communication. “Many employees already communicate regularly via text at work to colleagues and customers,” Gupta writes. “But often, they are using their personal mobile devices to text, which means they must reveal their personal mobile numbers. They also must have their customers’ and colleagues’ personal mobile numbers on their device in order to text them.” As easy as it can be to communicate for business purposes via a personal device, it can sometimes seem like it’s crossing some sort of invisible line between professionalism and non-professionalism that shouldn’t be crossed. The type of technology described in the article would help address that, allowing business and personal identities to be kept separate.

Text messages can have greater impact. The article quotes Adam Fishman, director of Growth and Operations for Lyft, a San Francisco-based ridesharing startup: “When we can’t reach someone by phone, we find that sending them a text results in a greater response rate,” Fishman explains. “Now with text integrated into our phone system, we are able to improve our response rates.” I wasn’t surprised to read this. With most people receiving e-mails in such massive amounts, it’s often difficult to get through to someone via that mode of communication as effectively as it once was. People still seem to pay close attention to their text messages, though. Of course, this makes me wonder how quickly some of that impact might be lost should business texting become more widely used.

Although it remains to be seen just how much of an untapped business resource text messaging really is, this piece definitely got me thinking about the possibilities.

What do you think?

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