Who knew a punctuation mark could be so controversial? Yet, the simple period has sparked much discussion in contact centers. What’s all the buzz about?
As contact centers use SMS and web chat more frequently to connect with customers, agents must take care to craft messages that fit their company’s style and tone. However, new communication channels are often open to misinterpretation. So, even grammar can be an issue.
Case in point: The period, which has been the subject of some debate. Some argue that in text messages and chat sessions, this simple punctuation mark presents a cold, aggressive tone. Using it at the end of casual text messages is perceived as insincere and communicates a sense of finality, as in: “this conversation is over.” For many grammar diehards, however, the period is a staple of propriety and excluding it is simply, well, incorrect.
So how do you set the right standards for the text and chat conversations your contact center reps have with customers? It depends. The decision hinges on three factors: your brand personality, your audience and your product.
Match your personality
Is your brand more casual and relaxed? Then match it. There’s no need to have your contact center agents use periods when they are crafting messages to customers. Conversely, if your brand image connotes a more formal or serious attitude, then your customer service should match this formality — all the way down to the embrace of periods.
Know your target audience
Younger generations — especially Generation Y — tend to view the period as formal and even angry, while Baby Boomers are more likely to adhere to a more traditional and formal writing style. Since younger customers have communicated via text and instant message just as much — if not more — than they have via formal writing, this makes sense. As a company, your best bet is to match the style and expectations of your target audience and customer. If you cater to a younger clientele, omitting the period is the safer choice. But if most of your customers are Generation X or Baby Boomers, then keep the period as part of proper punctuation.
What and how are you selling?
When deciding whether to use the period, it makes a difference if you’re a B2B or a B2C business. B2B customers are more likely to expect a professional tone, so it’s best to adhere to strict grammar rules with those customers. B2C businesses, however, have more leeway. Referring to your brand personality and target audience will help you make the right call over this prickly punctuation mark.
The decision to use the period with customer texts and instant messages runs a bit deeper than you’d first think. With a thorough analysis of your brand, customer base and product market, you can confidently make the right decision. Period.