By Jason Grills

Emojis are a staple in informal communication, given that they express a range of emotions such as joy, anger and fear. It would be safe to say that many people give more weightage to emojis during informal chats rather than words. But, do emojis have a market in formal business communication?

There have been studies that state that occasionally throwing in an emoji smile makes the whole process lot easier for the complaining customers and helps them trust the customer representative more. But are they a viable choice for communication within business environment? Let’s find out.

Emoticons in business communication

While a study revealed that using Emojis implied incompetence, another one in Missouri stated that smiley faces entering work is not a big deal and completely acceptable.  In the Missouri study, researchers checked how people perceived emoticons (smiley faces) in professional settings and sent out two types of email messages. These messages were delivered to a specified group and one message was of flirtatious nature and the other one extended a job interview request. Both of them contained emoticons at end. The researchers found that the smiley Emojis made recipient develop likeness for the sender more and feel the same from the sender side. Even in the other mail, using Emojis didn’t influence sender’s credibility at all.

When used in customer interactions, Emojis allow customers to immediately connect with the support agent and build a trustworthy relationship. When used in business settings, Emojis have other benefits too such as:

Emojis, customer relations and social media

Recently, a research showed that positive emoticons are great for marking social media status and a total of 31 million tweets and half a million facebook posts were analyzed to conclude it.   Simo Tchokni with her colleagues at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory conducted a research including numerous metrics like followers details, Klout score to check attributes of influential social media sharers and emoticons turned out to be a big contributing factor. The study stated that emoticon features received improved performance, hinting a strong connection between emoticons usage with social power.

Emoticons resemble human face

A lot of people prefer face to face interaction. And why not? It’s straightforward, powerful and easily the best of communicating. As it turns out, emoticons are close to getting the face to face reaction. According to scientists, certain parts of the brain are activated when we look at a smiley face emoticon. These parts of the brain are the same parts that get activated when we see a real human face. Using emoticons is particularly great since it ignites that similar, active kind of response from a reader that they give when speak with a person face to face. Moreover, it is quite a decent way of grabbing attention.

An incredibly necessary ingredient of quality customer interaction is friendliness and ability to build a rapport with the customer. There may be numerous delays or other issues in troubleshooting which is why the customer representative needs to build a bond with the customer and keep them updated about the process. In simpler words, as a good customer representative, you need to be able to interact with your customer well and this need of communication translates into using effective ways of interaction to tread through the complaint. Making communication effective may include the use of multitude of strategies like using emoticons or going verbal.

Soften the conversation

Emojis psychologically influence a reader and build an instant emotional connection while reflecting warmth. Most of all, they soften the effect of a critique or rejection. When you include Emojis in your message, the critique or rejection becomes softened.

For instance, as a customer support operative, you may have to decline certain requests and this may not come off well among customers. You can include Emojis in your conversation to maintain a smooth, friendly customer interaction when you decline a certain request or reject a query/complaint. However, remember not to overdo it with contrasting Emojis like using a smiley face emoticon with a statement that says “we are sorry to announce but we can’t of more help to you” is in bad taste. If you are using live support chat or even email and writing back and forth to your customer then you can resort to using emoticons.

Refusing to deal with a complaint or declining a request without using friendly language may sound cold or devoid of feelings. Customers want to be cared for and they appreciate urgency in solutions. So, add Emojis to your conversation to reflect warmth and show respect to customers.

Emoticons reflect the tone of your voice

We have established that using Emojis carries quite an informal tone. When you are using live chat or emails, it is hard reflecting the tone of your voice. But adding in some Emojis or throwing a smiley emoticon here and there adds warmth to your message. If you don’t feel like replying or are too busy to reply, you can just send an emoji and send yourself time.

If you are not in the mood but don’t feel like showing it through your messages, you can resort to using Emojis and do the job. They are quick, easy to understand and quite interesting.

Customer interactions depend on maintaining smooth interaction with your customers and this means using new and advanced ways of communicating. If you are dedicated to providing world-class customer service, you must move ahead with new trends and inculcate use of Emojis as an active practice in your team’s communication with customers.

Use Emojis Sparingly During Chats

The biggest advantage of using Emojis is that they save space. There are arguments against and in favor of use of Emojis in business interaction but a majority of people recommend moving ahead with trends and embracing them. However, it also depends on the age and attitude of customers. For instance, a company that sells products especially for the middle aged or older may not reap the same amount of benefits on using Emojis that a company connecting with younger generation can. Moreover, the decision of using suitable Emojis and language lies with agent in action. Context also defines the need to include emojis in communication with clients and customers as it influences the tone of the interaction. Based on the aggressive or friendly tone of the customer, an agent can choose to use or not use an emoji. A great advice would be to avoid using one in case of an aggrieved and frustrated customer as it might further pester them and seem rude and incompetent on the part of the agent. As a conclusion, it is safe to say that demeanor and tone of the customer influences an agent’s choice of using an emoji in customer interaction.

Jason Grills is a technical writer currently associated with ProProfs Chat. He enjoys writing about emerging customer support products, trends in customer support industry and the financial impacts of using such tools. In his spare time, Jason likes traveling extensively to learn about new cultures and traditions.