Last week, I received a text message from the man about to start building a retaining wall at the front of my house. (Yes, he’s building it now; a great wall and I would recommend him). This was the first time I had ever received a text message in a business context, and on top of that I had not received any communication from him before, so his text was his first response to my phone call asking him to do the job.
His message took me by surprise, as texting has — for me — been pretty much limited to two types of message: 1) Arranging social events (times and places). 2) Sending brief frivolous/humorous comments about random activities in my life to people in a small circle of friends who are understanding (if not always appreciative!) of the humour.
So now I’m wondering if texting is a legitimate new form of business communication (and if there are protocols for it); or if a text is simply the new email, which for me is my default mode of communication for all clients, including sending invoices and often making first contacts.
Emails can include links and attachments to make the communication richer. They can be formal or casual. The time it takes to type a text limits its length, context and overall value but they do reach people where-ever they happen to be at any given time, I guess.
They say that for kids email is already over the hill and texting is all that matters and, yes, true, the surprise of receiving a text message from my wall guy has now receded and texting has become our main way of sorting out working issues.
But whether I’ll now disregard texting as simply a way to arrange a beer or send a one-liner, I’m not so sure.