When millennials become your customers, emojis are acceptable

24 July 2018

Kathy Robertson, Associate Director, BDO Australia |

WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat. Using them in our personal lives has become a matter of course - we wouldn't bat an eyelid if a friend said to us "I'll WhatsApp you about it." But what about if we heard that from a work colleague?

Millennials are shaking the workforce up

With millennials set to make up 75 per cent of the global workforce by 2025, the use of non-traditional forms of communication is becoming more and more prevalent. Additionally, cloud-based collaboration tools are also taking hold in business, with 3 million companies paying for the G-suite (including Google Drive) in 2017, according to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

We've noticed it ourselves at BDO. I recently had to work out a legal matter with an overseas solicitor. Different time zones and international phone charges meant WhatsApp was the communication medium of choice for the project. Likewise, when working on an international IPO project, WeChat was chosen for its easy collaboration and project update features.

What are the advantages of using non-traditional communication in business?

So what is it about these tools that make them so effective in a business context? Firstly, they make communication easy and instantaneous because they let you know when someone is online and when they've read your message - allowing for speedier delivery of projects. Many people can be included in conversations much more easily than for instance with email, where long email chains can quickly become cumbersome.

Cloud-based tools also allow for more collaboration. This is especially useful when people on the same project are spread overseas, as several people can comment and add to the same document at once. Clients can see projects as they happen and give their own input, which again speeds up projects significantly.

Want to remain relevant? Use WhatsApp.

What's more, these are the mediums of choice for our millennial workforce. Both clients and employees will be using these tools more frequently in the coming years, and put simply, businesses will have to start using them in order to remain relevant.

So while the older managers at your company might balk at the thought of using social media in business, they need to understand that it is an essential means of making the organisation viable in the future.

In order to do this, it's important to show the financial impact of using these technologies. How will it affect the bottom line if projects can be finished quicker, or clients are happier and generate repeat business more often?

Likewise, show the effect it will have on your workforce if you are able to recruit the best young talent because of the way you do business.

While the use of emojis to celebrate company wins might not become widespread any time soon, these types of technologies are here to stay, and within a few years they will be deeply ingrained into the way we do business. This means it's up to us to become early adopters, or risk falling behind.