Why Text-Only Communication Fails?

The Limits With Chat Box, Texting, And Emails That Even Emojis Won’t Fix

Companies are adding a chat box or chatbot to their customer service offerings by popular demand. They are great tools to get in touch with a company and receive some personalized answers to quick questions. But text-based communication has some shortcomings and pitfalls that must be addressed within a company’s customer communication strategy.

Texting and instant messaging are so prevalent in our personal lives now. It is easy to see why many customers prefer to message a company instead of calling or an in-person visit. Whole conversations with friends and family can be made with texts and emojis, so customers expect the same with businesses. Some prefer text-based communications forgoing other types of communications, but is this the best for them?

What Is Text-Only Communication & Its 5 Pros?

Conversing solely through written words while using a mobile device or other types of technology is known as text-only communication. It covers communications via SMS, chat boxes, and email. There are clear benefits of text-only communication, including:

  1. Speed – Without waiting for the next available agent, an email or chat message can already be thought out, written, and sent. It is a straightforward way to make comments, share feedback, and suggest actions with the speed of a customer’s thoughts and typing.  
  2. Save Costs – Compared to other forms of communication, text-only is the more economical option. Most people can access emails or a website at almost no cost. There is no worry about the phone bill or how much this additional service will cost them. In addition, text-only communication is cheaper for a business than having an army of agents answering phone calls or conducting face-to-face meetings in the field.
  3. Convenience – Customers can choose when and where it is best to reach out to a company. There are no office hours to keep in mind, nor unique technology they need to send a communication. 
  4. Universal – Some customers with limited spoken language ability or strong accents can find it less discriminatory to make text-based communications. There is less room for discrimination in how someone sounds or how they look from only words on a screen. 
  5. Encourage Clear-Cut Communication – A further benefit of text-only communication is it promotes concise communication. When texting, you are compelled to keep your conversations on topic without extravagant words or sentences because your aim is usually business-related.
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6 Cons of Text-Only Communication

Text-only communication isn’t without its pitfalls. For some businesses, these hurdles are deal-breakers that make text-only communication unfavorable. They include:

  1. Ineffective Communication – Communication is more effective when personalized, especially with customers. Although digital tools make communication easier for customers and businesses, some offer a different level of personalization than the more conventional face-to-face meeting does.
  2. Lack of Non-Verbals – Text-based communication lacks non-verbal cues like body language, tone, and others that people rely on to complete an exchange successfully. The likelihood of misunderstanding rises when these components are absent. 
  3. Footprint – Text-based communication leaves digital traces behind; some people are known to be cautious about being on record. Because everything is written down, some people are careful and reserved in how they engage in free-form chatting or text replying. 
  4. Misinterpretations – When text messages are delivered, the recipient can understand them differently from what the sender intended. Since the sender cannot fully express their intention through texting, messages are easily misinterpreted or taken out of context.
  5. Action Reluctance – Some company representatives might need to take text-only communication seriously. In a digital-first environment, people might reject text message requests or take their time responding as no immediate feedback is required, like in face-to-face meetings or phone calls. 
  6. General Preference Conflict – Text-only communication highlights the differences in how different generations use different communication methods. While older generations may enjoy face-to-face interactions, Millennials and members of Generation Z typically prefer sending or receiving text messages. As a result, communication flows may be hampered by preference discrepancy.

2 Tips to Make Text-Only Communication Better

  1. Avoid Assuming Things – When texting, there’s a tendency to misinterpret the sender’s intention based on the words and style of writing. Never assume anything negative is being implied, and double-check with the sender if there was an intended emotional reaction they were trying to get across. 
  2. Double-check your message – Do not rush to hit “send” before carefully reviewing your message. It’s very easy to overlook minor faults in your writing, so be sure to spend some time checking and fixing them. It takes longer to fix issues brought on by a poorly worded SMS, chat, or email than it takes to do it correctly the first time.

The Only Real Fix 

Do you know the ideal channel for communication? To get the most out of a communication exchange, conversing in an actual live in-person meeting is best. Both the customer and business representative can benefit from interpreting each other’s body language, facial expressions, emotions, vocal cues, and receive verbal and nonverbal feedback. This is basically a summary of what text communication absolutely misses.

Although we all currently suffer from virtual meeting fatigue, when an in-person meeting is not ideal, video chats at least let you see people’s faces and interpret their body language on the screen. This is the second-best alternative to face-to-face communications. 

Text-based communication has its place, like when the communication is simple and does not offer room for misinterpretation. Or, when both parties can’t afford the time and cost of a virtual or in-person meeting. But if the communication is complicated, if emotions are involved, or if the core message is important, pick up the phone and make a call. If extremely important, then go for a face-to-face and avoid all the trouble text-based communication might get you into.

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