With the popularity of cell phones and other gadgets, it’s no surprise some of that technology pervades our lives and changes social interactions. An example is the use of text messaging. Text messaging (or texting) is when users send short typed messages using a mobile device, usually a type of cell phone. In just a few years, the rate Americans send text messages have increased drastically. One billion text messages were sent in the first quarter of 2005, and now the monthly average is 26 billion messages a month, according to Verizon Wireless. Between the second and third quarter of 2008, the number of messages sent each month increased by 70 billion. Now data services (where text messaging lies, along with games, ringtones, and music downloads) account for 25% of Verizon Wireless revenues.
Teens are large contributors to the presence of text messaging in society. Nielson Mobile reports that teens send and receive, on average, more than 1,700 texts a month. Just this year, one American teen logged over 6,000 text messages in one month. The most ardent texters are usually between 13 and 17 years old.
As a result of this abundance of text messaging, parents and educators are wondering about the immediate and long term affects of constant text messaging.
One question parents have about text messaging is the affect is has on a teen’s interpersonal skills. While it’s too early for researchers to know the long term effects, many have formed conflicting theories on how text messaging is changing the development of teens.
One researcher at the University of California at Irvine believes that text messaging can have a positive effect on teens. Teens these days are extremely busy with school and activities, and text messaging gives them plenty of time and opportunities to interact with friends, which is necessary in the healthy development of their socialization skills.
Additionally, the ability to send text messages gives teens and parents the convenience of simple communication. Teens can easily text message a change of plans, arrange for rides, or ask a simple question, while parents are able to keep up to date of their teen’s activities and whereabouts. Text messaging may also come in handy during emergencies.
Some researchers also speculate that the ability to juggle text messaging with doing other tasks (like homework and watching television) gives teens an advantage in the workplace, where multitasking is praised and, oftentimes, necessary.
On the flipside, however, others believe that this multitasking is harming a teen’s ability to concentrate and believe that the attention span of today’s youth is shrinking and will become even smaller when they get older. Additionally, some think a great deal of text messaging will have a negative impact on face to face relationships. This school of thought believes that a texter is never fully present in a situation and is usually more focused on the person they are messaging than the person sitting next to them.
Another text messaging related concern among parents is the relatively new phenomenon known as sex-ting. Sex-ting is when someone sends another person (or multiple people) a provocative message or nude or semi-nude pictures, usually of themselves. A poll on CosmoGirl.com, along with the Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, reveals just how common this practice has become: roughly 20% of teens admit to sex-ting, with a slightly higher number of boys admitting to it than girls.
Many teens who participate in sex-ting intend the recipient to be the only person who sees the content of the messages; however, that is not usually the case. One fourth of girls poll and one third of boys polled have seen pictures that were sent to (and intended for) other people. The teens who were polled also said that sending racy pictures and text messages make them feel more confident and resulted in a more aggressive personality in person, which could lead to a higher sense of sexual aggression.
This practice of sex-ting is even bordering on criminal. Young teens that practice sex-ting have the potential to be involved in legal troubles. In Pennsylvania, three teenage girls, ages14 -15, allegedly sent nude pictures to three boys, ages 16-17). Now all parties involved are facing child pornography charges.
Driving while Texting
Perhaps the most physically dangerous result of avid text messaging is texting while driving. A 2006 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 80% of crashes in America are caused by distracted drivers. NHTSA defines a distraction as “anything that takes your eyes off the road (visual distraction), your mind off the road (cognitive distraction), or your hands off the wheel (manual distraction).” A person who is text messaging while driving is susceptible to all three types of distractions at once. The Administration, along with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, also found that 80% of auto accidents occur within three seconds of a distraction. For the average user, even typing a short text message reply takes more than three seconds. And a 2007 American Automobile Association (AAA) study found that 46% of teens admit to being distracted by text messages while driving.
Some examples of the dangers of text messaging while driving include, a 17 year old driver who was text messaging and collided with a tractor trailer, resulting in five deaths; a Los Angeles teen died in a solo-car accident while texting; and an Indiana teen was driving too fast while texting and wrapped his car around a utility poll. All three examples occurred within the past year.
In hopes to reduce the number of auto accidents involving teens, Illinois has a graduated driver licensing system, which prohibits anyone under the age of 19 to use a cell phone while driving, except in cases of emergencies. The law bans all uses of a cell phone while driving, even sending or receiving a text message. While this law is a great way to reduce the number of teens who text while driving, an AAA study found that 46% of teens still drive and text at the same time. With numbers like that, it can be deduced that some Illinois teens are still texting while behind the wheel.
Mobile smartphones have become an evermore important part of our lives since their introduction a tad over ten years ago. One of the most convenient things about today’s phones is the simplicity of texting. Obvious advantages include fast and direct communication, but texting does have disadvantages. Below I will touch on some of the good, the bad and ugly when using texting as a business communication tool.
Advantages of texting:
1. High open rate
Getting your message seen and responded to is of the utmost importance when using text in business. Texting gets things done fast. When you text your client, you can expect an immediate answer because the 6 billion daily text messages in the United States have an average response time of three minutes. Voice calls are often not answered due to inconvenience and even more often avoided on purpose; email response times are even slower (or never) and lost in the wonderful world of spam in between 73 other emails from no one. SMS is poignant, simple and almost impossible to miss as it seems every phone’s little chime sends its owner’s endorphins running to see what little surprise awaits.
For our dealership client’s fixed operations this means faster repair order cycle times, more cars on a hoist, and better communications resulting in higher CSI scores.
If you find yourself in a crowded room, subway, at a meeting, or even at the cinema, getting an SMS will not disturb the people around you – as a regular phone call would. Even with the sound on your mobile off you can feel the vibration (of the incoming text) and read discreetly. Unfortunately, this allows business to be conducted outside the office as well as in the office.
Our dealership’s service advisors texting app allows an advisor to use a personal device or phone to communicate without ever exposing their personal phone number. This is of significant value to the dealership as advisors should never use personal devices to communicate unless they are accessing a dealership’s app.
3. Written proof
When you correspond via text messages, you have a written proof of who said what. Unlike phone calls, one can forget what was agreed upon or even lose notes taken during a call, with texts you can view the conversation anytime.
For our dealership clients, the written text communication provides the necessary authorization trail required by law. Best of all the communication data is always safe and accessible.
4. Shock absorber
In business, especially with car dealerships, the chance that a call from a service advisor to a client is good is rather small. Most calls are to inform a client of an unexpected problem. Imagine you receive a call and are confronted with approving four shock absorbers on your vehicle for $724.00. You now need to make a real-time decision with an imbalance of information — is this common problem, is this a fair price? AdvantageTec data shows texting clients with additional service work requests has significantly higher approval rates. This makes sense; a customer can quickly Google common issues, communicate with their spouse and or look up competitive prices. The text message, in essence, acts as a shock absorber.
5. Used by all
In its earliest developmental years, and about a decade ago, texting was used largely among the youngsters. Teenagers, however, are no longer the only age group which uses this communication method. In fact, the most recent research proves that everyone uses it – all ages from teens to seniors – no matter the gender or social group. Therefore, if your car dealership customer is a 20-something, 30-something, an adult or a senior – you can honestly expect them to return your message without a fuss of having to explain to them how the system works. A piece of cake! The actual data of customers opting out of AdvantageTec’s texting solution is less than 1%. So for every 1000 clients coming through a dealership’s service drive less than ten customers will “Stop” the text correspondence.
6. Used on any device – no internet required
Before smartphones and all those texting apps, there were regular cell phones which could all receive and send text messages. If you use texting to communicate with your customers, you need not worry about providing them with an app – every cell phone will receive an SMS. And, what is best is that you also do not have to worry about Internet coverage (Wi-Fi signal). An SMS will be delivered without cellular data or Wi-Fi. Sending short messages is the safest and most convenient way of reaching your customers directly.
Disadvantages of texting:
1. Narrowing your attention when driving
Sending text messages back and forth demands a lot of attention, which is why it should never be done while driving. In fact, texting is considered a 21st-century epidemic! In the past decade, a lot of research dedicated to road dangers of texting proved that it is one of the biggest threats in traffic, standing side by side with driving under the influence. Once again, we remind you not to text and drive – save your and someone else’s life!
2. Non-standard vocabulary
Originally used by the younger generations, texting lead to the usage of a rather non-standard vocabulary and many criticize it for it, saying that writing shortened words which may not be so transparent can lead to confusion and even misunderstanding. Linguistically, we can observe this phenomenon from a different perspective: as John McWhorter states – it is not killing language. One can view it as a creative usage of language which leads to the development of new sociolects and in pragmatics as a positive side of language economy and even a positive outcome of language evolution. It is not so bad after all if you think of all those languages which use ideograms and pictograms which represent ideas instead of whole words.
3. Limited space
In the past, SMS used to be limited to only 160 characters (with spaces) due to a protocol it used. Today’s younger generations may not remember this period, but you can compare it to Twitter’s 140-character restriction. Luckily, SMS no longer has this limitation, but one still does not write messages as long as emails because texts are used for shorter and immediate responses that do not demand complicated explanations.
Another big issue the criticizers of texting highlight is the danger of sexting. Indeed, sexting – or sending sexually explicit text messages – has become a widespread social phenomenon of both the younger generations as well as among adults. Naturally, there is no place for sexting in business, so if you plan to employ texting with your customers, you need to set some ground rules. Educate your employees to send straightforward messages (without ambiguities) and NEVER allow them to use customers’ private phone numbers. For this, you would need an FCC-approved and TCPA-compliant texting app. As obvious as this sounds there are numerous lawsuits regarding this matter, the newest involving Facebook.
Despite the above disadvantages, businesses must embrace the use of texting solutions. Texting improves communication among industry partners (dealerships and clients), it saves time and gets things done faster than other means of communication, such as phone calls, voicemail, and email. It is discrete, without disturbing anyone, and at the same time practical.
Businesses understand the power of texting
Progressive car dealerships have already started realizing the power of mobile texting. An efficient fixed operations department that does 1500 customer pay repair orders a month should expect to see 5000 text messages monthly. It is often a customers’ preferred means of communication, and a platform both sides like to use – the employees and the customers. No wonder every day a handful of new dealerships embrace texting solutions like AdvantageTec. If you want to schedule a live demonstration of advantage txt. – a patent-pending texting solution developed by AdvantageTec – just give us a ring on 1.877.772.8832 or send us a text: “Demo” to (415)-300-2002.
Msg&Data rates may apply 😉
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Thomas F. Jung
Thomas Jung is the CEO and co-founder of AdvantageTec. He has also served executive management roles as Divisional President at Cars.com, CMO at vAuto and co-founder of Marketdrive Interactive. He started his career as an automotive technician at Dr. Ing. HcF Porsche AG is Stuttgart Germany.