Two years ago, many tech news sources dubbed 2015 the “year of the emoji.” However, the usage of emoji has continued to increase. This adoption is true for both brands and individuals. Brands have begun using emoji for customer support. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to your brand’s emoji usage on digital messaging channels:

What is an emoji?

An emoji is a digital image used to convey an idea, feeling, or expression. The word comes from the Japanese words “e” (meaning picture) and “moji” (meaning letter or character). Emoji can be used alone or with text. For customer service engagements, a best practice is to include an emoji in a response, but don’t rely on the emoji to tell the whole story.

How are brands already using emoji?

Brands are heavily using emoji to catch their customer’s eye on advertisements. SocialBakers found that emoji usage with brands increased 777% from 2015 to 2016. ¬†These advertisements can spark conversations that include more emoji. Today, it’s commonplace for customer support agents to respond to digital messages with an emoji or two included. This brings the personalization and emotion that customers are used to receiving on the phone to digital interactions.

Why did brands start using emoji?

Many brands initially adopted emoji as a way to get around Twitter’s then 140 character limit (thankfully they’ve doubled this limit to 280). On other channels, they’ve been able to provide context and emotion to messages sent to customers. Regardless of their origin, they’ve made a fairly big impact on how we communicate. Simply including emoji in a response increases the likelihood of a happier customer – 63% of people say they have a positive view of emoji. In an effort to treat customers with the same level of care they expect, brands have made use of emoji in customer service interactions.

When is it appropriate to use emoji in customer support?

When in doubt, go without. If you’re not sure if an emoji is appropriate or adding one doesn’t convey emotion or provide clarity, then leave the emoji out. Remember, when using emoji for customer support it should be used to enhance and enrich the conversation. Insert emoji to add personality. Keep in mind, emoji appearance can differ by device. If you stick to regular smileys, hearts, and thumbs up, you should be safe!

Where should I get started with emoji?

If you’re just getting started using emoji for customer support and want to create a personal, emotional connection take it slow. Don’t overload your customers with emoji right away. Smiling faces are a great place to start. In fact, our emoji analysis at Sparkcentral shows that they are trending! Here are the top five emoji used by leading digital customer care teams:

😊¬†27.03% of responses that included emoji contained “smiling face with smiling eyes”
😄¬†The “smiling face with open mouth and smiling eyes” emoji was added to 13.39% of replies that included emoji
😉¬†These teams can take a joke. The “winking face” emoji took third in emoji replies at 10.65%
😃¬†7.57% of emoji messages contained the “smiling face with open mouth” emoji
😍¬†We’re in love. The “smiling face with heart-shaped eyes” came in fifth place and was included in 2.59% of emoji-containing replies

That’s a lot of smiles. We’d 💙¬†to 🗣 with you about how to best use ☹️😐😊¬†for your customer support interactions. Reach us here or tweet us with your favorite emoji!

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