smb-tech-trendsIs texting replacing talking at your small business? I know I’m not the first person to ask this question, considering how much the Millennial generation seems to prefer sending a text versus calling and leaving a voice message. But it seems the trend has moved beyond Millennials to all age groups. I had to drop off something at someone’s house the other day and the individual asked me to text when I got there. (I guess we won’t need door bells anymore.)

No doubt your team often communicates with each other via text when someone is out of the office on travel or working at home. Even when everyone is in one location, a text can be an easy way to get a quick answer to a question or check someone’s availability.

Today, some companies even are expanding their customer service channels with text options – SMS as well as Facebook and Twitter. For customers frustrated with long wait times before talking to a customer service agent, the trend may be a boon. A recent survey from TalkTo (the company has an app that lets people text business) indicates that 85 percent of people are put on hold every time they call a business.

While texting or tweeting or posting on Facebook might provide a speedier way for a customer to pose a question, ask for help or get something off his or her chest, the real issue is how quickly the company responds. It’s no less frustrating to wait days for a response to a text or Tweet than it is to spend time on hold.

Inc. addresses this issue of talk versus text in “10 Reasons to Pick up the Phone Now. The article describes a number of scenarios in which a live voice is still the best way to communicate whether it’s a personal issue, dealing with one of your small business customers or communicating among your team.

Here are some of them:

VOIPWhen multiple people are involved:  There’s nothing more confusing than email responses from several people crossing out of order.  In this situation, a phone conference to get together to discuss an issue is essential. Nowadays it’s easy to a launch a phone conference no matter where you are from your smartphone, tablet or laptop with a headset to assure call clarity.

When sensitivity is an issue: If the issue is sensitive, a call is the best option. You never know who might see your text or email.

Too much information: After a few paragraphs, people stop reading. If your message is multi-part, has lots of details, or the issue is complex, it might be better to pick up the phone and call to clarify everything and make sure the recipient is on the same page.

An important issue: An important message can get lost in text, even with the addition of quotes, underscores and exclamation points. If the news is important or urgent, and if the likelihood is that the recipient will have questions, make a call.

Potentially emotional message: Have you ever written an email or text and the recipient completely misconstrued it? If there’s any chance the message can be taken the wrong way; call to make sure the issue doesn’t get out of control.

Personal touch helps: Your voice can convey a range of emotions. When you want to make sure you message has that personal touch, make the call.

As we say in our Big Trends report, you have a lot of ways to communicate.  Pick the best one depending on the need or issue at hand.