Communicating through Emoji

If I’ve learned one thing during the 8 months I’ve spent following HelpDocs, it’s that this company is truly unique.

The people here are even more so.

If I was to go into detail about everything that makes them unique, I’d have a book. Probably multiple books. 📚 So, let’s just focus on one aspect—communication. Specifically, using emoji to communicate.

I first discovered HelpDocs in August of 2018. They had a position open
for a Customer Success Manager. As I read the job posting, I felt a tug in my
gut. I had to apply.

So, I did.

The application process was a great experience. I got rejected. In
fact, I didn’t even make it to the second interview phase.

The reason was simple: I wasn’t a good fit. While writing this post, I
read through my rejection letter from Jake and the subsequent emails.

Back then, I’d thought it was my emoji use (or lack thereof). 🤦‍♀️

I was wrong, but, not completely. Emoji are essential to communication
here at HelpDocs. You’ll find them sprinkled in blog posts, support tickets,
job postings, and internal Slack channels.

Well, the internal conversations can turn into all mostly sprinkles, but that’s beside the point. 🍨 (Who doesn’t love sprinkles?!)

The most common use of emoji that I’ve seen here is following a sentence. For visual learners, this can turn good written content into great written content.

Emphasizing a point with a visual element drives it home in a way that words alone can’t.

(Matt does a fantastic job of this in his blog posts)

Emoji also allow for a clearer tone.

Words are great and all, but how many times have you misunderstood someone’s tone when reading what they said?


I know I’ve done it a lot.

While not a perfect substitute, emoji capture body language in written form. In the past, this tool has been limited to casual conversations.


Professional or Personable?

If you’ve ever reached out to HelpDocs for support, you probably got one or more emoji in the response.

During my latest interview for their Customer Education position, Matt was going through some mock support tickets with me. In one of them, we ended up replacing a 14-word sentence I’d written with a single emoji.


Replacing words or sentences with a tiny image is definitely not my first instinct or even my second.

I’ve spent my entire career honing “professional communication” skills. In some cases, that looked more like robotic communication.

Professional communication in its 🤖 form forgets one crucial thing. People. Especially in the context of customer service or education.

I’m beginning to learn that I have a strong inner robot. I doubt I’m alone. Truth is, it’s easier for me to stick to a scripted sentence than it is to be personable.

When you reach out to support, it might not be to rave about a product (though, everyone loves hearing positive feedback 👍).

Being bombarded with canned responses about your very real questions or concerns can be extremely frustrating.

As I read Matt’s changes to my ticket responses, I was struck with how much more personable they were. And clean.

Why use a sentence when a tiny picture will communicate just as effectively? (Also, who can be angry at an upside-down smiley face?)


Professional and personable communication don’t need to be separate categories. In fact, they shouldn’t be.

Matt’s written about customer happiness on multiple occasions. By embracing emoji as tools for communication in their work, HelpDocs shows it is a forward-thinking company that cares deeply about its customers.

Be Thoughtful

Emoji don’t work in all situations, though. They need to emphasize or complement the tone you’re going for. In serious conversations, make sure you’re especially considerate about if/when to use them.

No one wants to hear bad news with smiling faces staring into their soul from a screen—these are not the emoji you’re looking for.

(Bad joke, I know. I couldn’t resist. 🤷‍♀️)

Use them correctly and emoji can be powerful tools that help you communicate professionally, personably, and effectively.

Boost your customers’ happiness and cast out your inner robot.

My second application process with HelpDocs resulted in this blog post and a more solidified friendship with the team. 🤝

If you value a culture of openness, banter, honesty, and kindness, check out their job postings. Even if you’re not hired, it’s an opportunity for you to get to know some amazing people, grow as a person, and use lots of emoji.