Is it okay to use slang in live chat for business? The internet is divided. Some say you should avoid it at all costs. Others believe it’s the new “business-casual.”
No matter how you feel about slang in the workplace, there’s no denying that SMS language continues to integrate into everyday speech.
Think back to your last email or Slack exchange. You’re a busy person, and you’re undoubtedly keen to save a few keystrokes where possible. It’s much quicker to type “LMK!” than “let me know!”
But where do you draw the line in your web chat communications? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using slang in live chat for business.
✅ Pros of using slang in live chat for business
It makes your business more relatable
When done right, using slang is a great way to showcase your business’ authenticity. It proves there’s a hardworking team of real people behind that fancy logo.
It shows you can speak your customers’ language
This depends entirely on your ideal customer profile. If you’re marketing to millennials or Gen Zers who grew up using text slang, it’s a great way to boost engagement.
But if your customer base is mostly Gen Xers, they might be more confused than anything else.
It’s not always down to a generational divide, though. Preferences are always personal, even if they generally apply to a demographic.
❌ Cons of using slang in live chat for business
It might make your business seem corny or out-of-touch
You’ve probably seen that meme of Steve Buscemi, wearing a hat backward and a “Music Band” t-shirt with a skateboard slung over his shoulder. You know the one: “How do you do, fellow kids?”
That’s exactly what you’ll look like to your customers if you use outdated or corny slang in your live chat conversations.
Skip outdated terms like “groovy” and “rad”. But also steer clear of modern slang like “yeet” and “shook”.
It’s constantly evolving
“Yeet” and other modern slang terms will soon join the likes of early-2000s slang terms like “crunk” and “peace out”.
Every slang term has its 15 seconds of fame. Keeping up with what’s popular right now will take a lot more time and effort than it’s worth.
It could worsen a complaint or customer service issue
Imagine replying “IDK” or “IDC” to a customer who’s approached your business with a complaint.
Do you want bad reviews? Because that’s how you get bad reviews.
Even if your ideal customers are digital natives who use slang regularly, they expect a certain level of decorum. This is particularly important in customer service.
A good rule of thumb for using slang in live chat communications
Generally speaking, it’s probably best to avoid slang altogether in your web chat messages. But if you do decide to use slang, stick to the most popular, appropriate acronyms, like:
BTW (by the way)
LMK (let me know)
ATM (at the moment)
TBD/TBA (to be determined/to be announced)
Remember, less is more. Limit yourself to only a few acronyms, if any, during each conversation. You should also avoid shortening “thank you” to “TY”. This might sound sarcastic and insincere.
Is it okay to use slang in live chat for business? Wrapping up
The answer isn’t straightforward. Ultimately, it depends on your brand, your reputation, and your location, among many other factors.
The choice to use slang also boils down to your audience. Consider your ideal customer profile. How do you think they might react to slang terms in written business communications?
Zoom in even further to each individual conversation. If you’ve got a younger customer in the chat who uses abbreviations and other slang, they probably won’t mind if you use it (sparingly), too.
Similarly, older customers might not know what acronyms stand for. Or they might think shorthand is unprofessional.
That said, it’s not always easy to gauge a user’s age or preferences through live chat. And preferences are always individual, even if they generally apply to a demographic.
But you can (and should!) read the chat room. Emulate your customer’s tone and tailor each chat for that individual.
We don’t have to tell you how to talk to your customers, of course. You’re a professional. You know what you’re doing. But maybe you’re not sure where to draw the line when it comes to slang.
That’s why we wrote this to shed some light on the best practices for using slang in live chat for business. Less is always more. And when in doubt, keep things professional.