Why Employees Shouldn’t Text Customers from Their Personal Phones

Today, 58% of consumers say that texting is the fastest way for a business to reach them. In response, 70% of businesses now use texting to communicate with their customers or clients (2021 State of Texting).

While these businesses are on the right track for effective customer communication, a majority of them aren’t using the best tool for the job – 66% use either a company-provided or personal cell phone, which means they’re likely texting from their default texting app.

It’s understandable why businesses allow employees to use their personal phones for business texting. When employees can conveniently handle conversations from their phone’s texting app, why use another tool? Businesses save money by not purchasing separate phones and employees can reach their customers or clients faster given that 83% consumers reply to a business’s text in 30 minutes or less. While all this is true, there are other important details to consider.

Suggested reading: The Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers

In a text conversation with customers or clients, personally identifiable information is often exchanged (i.e., date of birth, first and last names, home addresses and email addresses). But if an employee were to leave the company, lose their phone or have it stolen, any sensitive information that was texted from their default messaging app would become inaccessible and left out of the company’s control. In short, it’s easy for our texts to be accessed by unwanted parties.

If your employees are using their personal phones for work by texting from their default messaging app without secure, dedicated software, here are three reasons why you’ll want to adopt a safer approach.

1. Better protect customer privacy

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.

When considering options for texting software or apps, choose a business-texting provider that encrypts texts and customer information in transit and at rest, no matter what device the sender and recipient uses.

Suggested reading: Zipwhip Security Brief

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.

2. Re-gain control of company assets

With dedicated, secure texting software, companies can remotely access sensitive information just as they would with an email hosting service or customer relationship management (CRM) software – something that can’t be done with a phone’s default text messaging app. Centralized, secure software allows your business to remotely recover important information if a device goes missing or a disgruntled employee leaves for a competitor.

And from a business strategy perspective, management essentially gives up control over conversations between their teams and customers when employees text through a medium that isn’t handled by the company. Without that oversight, businesses can’t keep track of everyday operations, including:

  • how customer service is handled
  • what information employees are sharing with customers
  • what teams are doing well; and
  • where teams need improvement

Management monitors every other aspect of day-to-day operations; customer-employee conversations over text shouldn’t be handled any differently.

3. Better follow TCPA compliance best practices

Your business should be following best practices to comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and other laws, whether you’re using texting software or using personal phones for business texting. The TCPA was created in 1991 to protect consumers from robocalls but has since expanded to include unwanted texts.

Suggested reading: A Guide to TCPA Compliance in SMS

Zipwhip’s 2021 State of Texting report found that a majority of businesses don’t know about the legislation or know little about it: 44% are not familiar with the TCPA and 35% said they’re somewhat familiar. Unfortunately, being unaware of the TCPA isn’t an excuse for noncompliance.

Your business may have a legal obligation to gain opt-in consent from customers, even if employees are allowed to continue using their personal phones for work texting (or using any personal apps). Customer consent is needed no matter what device is being used. To opt-in, customers must give their consent in a manner prescribed under the TCPA. Customers also need to have the option to revoke consent (opt-out), which can be done manually or with tools provided by texting software.

Suggested reading: Opt-in Text Messaging: What it Means and Why it’s Important

Having individual employees manually keep track of customer consent isn’t advised, however, 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 your business

You run a higher chance of disclosing information and disrupting customer privacy when using a personal phone for work texting (or using personal apps). Putting your business at risk is not worth the trouble, especially when there are easy steps to take in reducing liability. We suggest looking into the following to keep customer texts and company information safe.

  • Encrypt customer messages. Some texting-for-business software options ensure messages between you and your customers are kept safe from outside parties. When researching, ask providers about their end-to-end encryption technology and what they do to help keep businesses on their platforms 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 two-way texting best practices for business.
  • Adopt a mobile phone policy. Whether employees use their personal phones to text customers through their default messaging app 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 the company.
  • 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. Reconsider using personal apps or using personal phones for work texting. Take the time to review best practices, implement company guidelines and educate your employees about protecting privacy for their prospects and the company.

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