Building close relationships with prospects is a top priority for any sales team, and savvy salespeople know the best way to do that is through texting – even if it means doing so through their personal phones.
It’s understandable why businesses allow employees to text from a personal phone. When employees can handle conversations from their messaging apps just fine, why use another texting tool? Businesses save money by not purchasing separate phones and teams can close sales faster because texting is the preferred way that consumers want to communicate with businesses. While all this is true, there’s more to the story that many don’t consider.
Think about the information exchanged in a text conversation throughout the sales cycle: personal details like date of birth, first and last names, home addresses and email addresses. Personal devices are vulnerable to hackers and scammers, and if an employee was to leave the company, lose their phone or have it stolen, access to any sensitive information is now out of the company’s control. In short, it’s easy for our texts to be accessed by unwanted parties.
If your sales team uses their personal phones for business-related texting without secure, dedicated software, here are few reasons why you’ll want to adopt a safer approach.
Your customer privacy is at risk
Consumers care about their privacy, and your business should care about protecting it. Any time private information is exchanged over text – whether it’s through texting software or on a personal phone – the business has an obligation to take appropriate care to safeguard those conversations. One of the safest options is encryption.
Native messaging apps on your phone tend to offer limited encryption protection. To exchange information securely, a better option is to text through a business-texting provider that encrypts SMS texts and customer information in transit and at rest no matter which device the sender and recipient is using.
Protecting text messages from prying eyes is a multi-step process. Keep in mind that encryption doesn’t protect messages from being read if a thief were to unlock the phone and open the messaging app, for example. This leads us to our next point.
You’re losing control of company assets
With dedicated, secure texting software, companies can remotely access sensitive information just as they would with email or a customer relationship management (CRM) software – something that can’t be done with a native text messaging app. So if a device goes missing or a disgruntled employee happens to leave for a competitor, your information can be recovered.
On a business strategy note, when employees text through a medium not controlled by the company, management gives up control over conversations between their teams and customers. Without that oversight, you can’t keep track of how customer service is handled, what information employees are sharing with customers, what teams are doing well and what teams need to improve. Management monitors every other aspect of business operations, so why should customer-employee conversations over text be handled differently?
You may not be following best practices for complying with TCPA
Whether you use texting software or not, if your business exchanges texts with customers from personal phones, your business should be following best practices to comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and other laws. The TCPA was created in 1991 to protect consumers from robocalls but has since expanded to include unwanted texts.
Whether or not you decide to continue allowing your employees to use their personal phones and personal apps to text customers, your business may have a legal obligation to gain opt-in consent. You need it no matter what device you use. To opt-in to receiving texts from businesses, customers must give their consent in a manner prescribed under TCPA. Customers also need to have the option to revoke consent, which can be done manually or with tools provided by select texting software.
Manually keeping track of customer consent isn’t advised as there’s more room for error given the volume of people your business can interact with. When you’re texting from a personal phone number, keeping track of who you can and can’t text can be overwhelming and isn’t realistic for employees to manage on their own.
Don’t risk it: Stay compliant and protect yourself
You run a higher chance of disclosing information and disrupting customer privacy when texting from a personal phone or personal apps. Why put your business at risk? We suggest looking into the following to keep customer texts and company information safe.
- Encrypt customer messages. Some texting-for-business software ensures messages between you and your customers are kept safe from outside parties. When researching options, ask providers about their end-to-end encryption technology and what they do to help businesses on their platforms stay safe.
- Use tools that enable customers to opt-out of unwanted texts. Protect your business from liability with opt-out tools that automatically block employees from texting anyone who no longer wants to receive texts.
- Brush up on TCPA guidelines. We highly recommend that you download and carefully review our TCPA Compliance e-book. It condenses best practices for two-way texting for business.
- Adopt a mobile phone policy. Again, whether employees use their personal phones to text customers or they text through specialized software, your company should have a mobile phone policy that covers how phones should be used for work and details how your business can retrieve sensitive information if an employee leaves.
- Consult legal counsel for personalized help. We highly recommend that you chat with a lawyer about texting best practices for your business. Information found online is always helpful for research purposes but staying compliant and safe will look different for every business.
Texting is a casual medium, but it shouldn’t be treated as such when it’s used for business purposes. Take the time to review best practices, implement company guidelines and educate your employees about protecting privacy for their prospects and the company.