Texting with Businesses


Talking to a business by phone seems to be on the way out.   Texting is in.


At least that seems to be what a lot of businesses are betting on.  There is a new trend in customer service in which you are given the option to text a business through their website, social media, or app.  In a lot of cases this method of contact seems to be answered faster and without the hold times.


Texting as customer service


Businesses are always looking for ways to cut costs and increase productivity.  This motivation is what drives many people to use text messaging instead of phone calls for communication.  Until recently texting a business has been a niche area that only worked with a few specific locations.


The first change we have seen in this direction is online tools that allow for a “chat” with customer service, sales, and other departments.  Anyone who browses the web has in all probability run into this recently.


Another area that texting is used is for contacting a company through their social media sites.  Through our own use we have discovered a much faster response from companies like Verizon, Dish, and Samsung for example.  You also don’t have to call a number, go through a phone tree, and then be put on endless hold.


Google is betting on texting businesses with a new feature rolling out to users of Google Maps.  In the next release (Android and Apple) there will be a new button to text participating businesses right from the map.


Is Texting More Efficient?


Texting is usually much more efficient than calling.  Let’s say you want to find out what kind of pizza your significant other wants tonight.


By text that conversation would take about 4 seconds.  You would text, “What kind of pizza tonight?” And your significant other would respond, “Pepperoni.”  


By phone this can be much more involved.  “Hello, how are you? I am fine? How Was Your Day?  Etc. etc. etc during which you would ask your question.  Total time would be around three and a half minutes.


Texting lacks the personal touch


The biggest drawback of texting in general is its total and complete lack of the ability to communicate emotion.  What is sent with one attitude may be perceived by the person receiving the text in a completely different way. This is true with customer service.  When on the phone you can usually tell if the representative is really concerned about your issue or if they could care less. Texting lacks this level of communication and is very cold and dry.   This has to be considered by businesses as they move to this method of communication.


With texting of businesses do you have to separate work from personal messages?


The new function on Google Maps as well as business contact tools through their websites do keep the messages separate.  If you do use standard text messaging your business and personal texts will be in the same place on your device.


Depending on your device you can tag messages to categories or contact lists.   This is an additional step and for now, at least, has to be done manually.


Are we going to see texting of businesses in other apps?


Companies like Facebook are also entering this market space.  In fact these features exist in varying ways inside Facebook Messenger and iMessage.  It has also been announced for a future release of WhatsApp.


To add to the confusion these apps don’t necessarily talk to each other.  In other words if you text a business with Google Maps it won’t show up on your text messages in Facebook Messenger and others.    The business also has to participate in messaging in order for the function to work at all.


This is a new technology and still has a few bugs to be worked out.  And to take it a step further companies are experimenting with using an AI to answer your text messages.    While I do think we will see this more and more in the future, I also think it will be awhile before chatting and texting can completely replace a phone call.


William (Bill) Sikkens has been a technology expert for KXL on the Morning Show with Steve and Rebecca since 2014. With an expertise in I.T., cyber security and software design he has had more than 20 years’ experience with advanced technology. Sikkens conceptualizes and designs custom applications for many professional industries from health care to banking and has the ability to explain the details in a way all can understand.  Article edited by Gretchen Winkler.

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Got a technology question or comment for Bill? Follow him on Twitter @sikkensw



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