Image showing emoji balls

Emojis in Customer Service

Emojis, are you smiling like you mean it?

An emoji, or emoticon, is a visual that helps to describe how we are feeling.  They are generally small digital images that convey the tone of voice, prompting us to understand an emotion and respond accordingly.

Starting out as a group of yellow faces, the emoji has become a regular dweller in digital texts.  Their informal nature allows us to articulate a large range of emotions in a fleeting instant meaning that sometimes it is actually easier to send that dreaded text message, but should they be used as part of your brand’s customer service methods?

Firstly, are emojis right for your brand?

Chances are that when your brand first embarked on its initial innovative adventure the use of emojis didn’t need to be taken into consideration.  If you were having a difficult conversation then it was probably happening face to face, or at least over the phone.  Likewise, if you were elated upon receipt of some good news then the smile that you wore upon your face was very much your own, and it was usually paraded about the office with as much enthusiasm as the gold star slapped to your school bag used to have. Now, however, the digital age has made our emotions visible not only on paper but across those flickering blue screens too.  So, how do we use them to our advantage?

Emojis demonstrate a commonality.

If your customers are approaching you using emojis then we recommend sending them back, but of course this depends on the nature of the intended message.  If you receive a complaint on Twitter that has a corresponding half red angry face attached to it then it’s really not appropriate to send back a face full of tears. Yes, you may think that you’re successfully showing the customer how sad you are that they are displeased with your product or service, but in actual fact your sad face may be taken out of context and then met with the middle finger emoticon being sent right back at you. At best this may slightly offend you, at worst it may severely impact the reputation of your brand.

The use of emojis must be relevant.

By mirroring a customer’s behaviour, you can build rapport.  Communicating with emoticons demonstrates the human side of your digital text, it also offers the immediate response you would expect over the phone.  It is wise to avoid emojis that are irrelevant to the conversation that is taking place, as well as emojis that are not relevant to your brand.

Taking into consideration the platform that a conversation is being held on is important too.  Some social media sites are less formal than others, and the use of an emoji in an email should be kept to a minimum until the tone of the messages have been fully established.

Overall, it’s about common sense.

Giving your emotions a visual representation isn’t an entirely abstract concept.  Your body language subconsciously gives away tell-tale signs about your feelings on a regular basis, but you would know not to laugh or smile if the circumstances didn’t allow for it… the use of an emoji is almost the same thing.

See how we can help you build a strong rapport with your customers, contact us for more information.  Until then, good luck 🙂


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