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How Emojis Help Improve Your Client Relationships

24 Nov 2015

Last week, the internet was in an uproar. And for once it didn't start with "K" and end with "ardashian".

Want to know what it was all about?

The Word of the Year is an emoji.


That's right. Oxford University Press, home of the Oxford English Dictionary, choose the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji as the "‘word’ that best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015."

Right now you may be thinking, "Well, there goes the neighborhood." We get it. Change is hard.

But emojis, and smiley emojis in general, are here to stay. And they can actually grow and strengthen the relationships you have with your clients.

Emojis are Nothing New, and They're Good for Business

Regardless of how you feel about emojis and other pictographs replacing words, you have to admit: they're everywhere.

When you look at it historically, this kind of visual communication has been around in some form for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians used hieroglyphics. We just type them on screens instead of carving them into stones.

Of course, the emojis you use don't have to be that complex. They can be as simple as a smiley face.


Here are 3 reasons why incorporating these visual elements helps your marketing, service delivery, and/or client satisfaction measurement efforts:

1. They Save Time

Pictographs do a lot in terms of communicating basic information more quickly than a text-based description. Just think about the care instructions on those little tags in your clothes.

In 2012, the American Association for Public Opinion Research performed a study that analyzed how respondents processed and responded to satisfaction questions. They gave test subjects questions to answer both with and without smiley face visual aids

Know what they found out?

The participants who had the smiley faces responded faster than those who didn't.


This is particularly important when you consider that the human attention span is now 8 seconds, which is 1 second less than a goldfish. Even if your clients have the time to complete a long survey, or read a lengthy marketing email, they probably don't have the attention span for it.

The less time it takes = the more likely someone is to engage with your brand. And since a visual element helps people process things faster, it's an essential piece of the puzzle.

2. They're Inviting

As it turns out, we're not just using emojis: they're having a significant effect on us, and our brains, in turn.

According to an article published in Social Neuroscience, the parts of the brain that are activated when we look at a smiley online are the exact same parts of the brain that respond to a real human face.

Take it from Dr. Owen Churches, a researcher at Flinders University in Adelaide who has been been studying the neuroscience behind face perception for years. He told ABC Science, "Most of us pay more attention to faces than we do to anything else." He adds that, "Human faces are particularly effective attention-grabbing mechanisms."

So not only do smiley face emojis simulate the effect of human facial recognition, they also make people pay attention.


The takeaway: using even basic smiley faces will not only get your client or customer's attention, it will also make him/her feel invited to interact.

3. They Provide Clarification

Why do things like texts or emails get mis-read so often? Because they lack visual cues.

When you're talking to someone face to face, you typically rely on more than just what they're saying to figure out what they actually mean. In an email, Tweet, or other text-based interaction, emojis help provide the missing visuals that clarify the meaning or emotion behind the statement.

A well-placed wink-y face can take a message like "We're not friends anymore," to "We're obviously friends who understand each other's humor."

Studies have also found that when emoji options are available, people almost always choose to use them. Not to mention, the same research concluded that, "The use of emojis also gave participants a greater feeling of satisfaction with their overall experience."

Not only do emojis help people more clearly express their thoughts or feelings, they make them feel better about doing so overall.

Which certainly explains why Domino's campaign to let people order a pizza by simply sending a pizza emoji was so successful.


So there you have it. emojis are great, and can help take your client relationships from :-/ to :-D. How are you going to get started implementing them?


We might be a little biased when it comes to smiley emojis. That's because we use them in our 1-question, 1-click client satisfaction measurement solution, SmileBack. Check out how SmileBack turns your survey results into actionable feedback, and start your free 14-day trial today.