Make 84% more users happy simply by using emoticons.  It sounds stupid, right? Why should a silly little face make any difference in a support ticket? o_0

But the fact is: it does. Research by UserVoice, has shown that support tickets featuring emoticons are more likely to get kudos from users. Don’t think of it as a goofy affectation – think of it as a communication tool. Before you get frustrated and make a D:< face, keep reading.  Emoticons are really like body language so therefore a little 🙂 starts to make sense…

Emoticons are the new body language

Created by scientists to delineate the difference between a theoretical joke and an actual safety-hazard situation, the emoticon has become the best way to get over the challenges of communicating on the internet.

“55 percent of the meaning in any message comes from the visual body language,” says James Borg, author of Body Language: 7 Easy Lessons to Master the Silent Language (pg 17). When you think about all the little movements we make during conversation, this makes sense…as does the excruciating number of awkward, misinterpreted messages on the internet (“I don’t care where we eat dinner.” “Why are you so mad?!”).

An emoticon, however, can make an amazing difference in textual communication, especially in customer service. It’s just as, if not more, powerful than body language. Users approach customer service with trepidation; they’ve had terrible experiences with other companies, and they expect to have them again. When you say something factual, they can interpret this – with that prior expectation – as negative or uncaring. A 🙂 at the end of a sentence tells you very clearly that the customer service rep they’re speaking to is feeling positive or being cheeky. “I wish I could get our team to build that, too” goes from unpleasant pessimism to empathetic understanding with “I wish I could get our team to build that, too :)”.

Proof is in the data

When looking at the UserVoice  customer support tickets responded to in 2012 so far, 9.6% of responses including emoticons got Kudos from customers, while only 5.2% of emoticon-less ticket responses got Kudos. That’s 84.6% more Kudos when you use an emoticon.

Some people think emoticons are stupid or unprofessional, but the fact of the matter is: nobody will get mad if you use one…but plenty of people may get mad if they think you’re being cranky with them (when you’re really not). So get comfortable overusing emoticons if it makes communication clearer and users happier.

😎  … yes, I wear glasses

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