Let’s say you’re an Anexinet salesperson who wants to make a couple of loyal customers aware of our new products. Have you recently asked yourself, “When was the last time I spoke to Bob or Karen? They should be back from vacation…why aren’t they returning my emails?”
When that happens, I’ll often pick up the phone and call my customers (whether new or existing). When I do, I’m usually surprised by how much more I learn about their business and about how they’re doing. In fact, over the years, this practice has dramatically improved our business relationships in every instance.
As technology has changed throughout my career, the way I communicate with customers has also evolved. Today, the vast majority of my communication is via email, along with the occasional phone call. Whether Millennial, Baby Boomer, or Generations X & Y, folks all rely on the communication methods they are most comfortable with. Millennials tend to resort to digital methods of communications, while older generations veer towards more interactive conversational avenues.
Here then, is a look at some of the pros and cons of today’s communication tools:
Email, IM and Texts
- Can be sent to multiple people at once
- Allows recipients to reply at their leisure
- Ideal for sending simple messages
- Maintains a paper trail of what was discussed
- Easier to ignore than a phone call
- Tone of voice is lost
- Back-and-forth emails can consume valuable time
Phone Calls or Face to Face meetings
- Personality and tone of voice easier to showcase
- Ideal for relationship-building and building rapport with the client
- Enables explanation of complex ideas, and ensures client’s understanding
- Establishes two-way communication
- Potentially disrupts the client’s workflow or schedule
- Requires more effort than email
- Requires quiet space to conduct conversation
- Must be followed-up with documentation of the conversation
Bottom line: what are you trying to accomplish?
When we send an email, IM, text message, or make a phone call; we do so with a goal in mind. That goal varies depending on the situation. Most likely, the goal involves sharing or requesting information. Beyond the exchange of ideas, the means by which we choose to communicate these thoughts is critical. Emails are great for sharing quick bits of information that may not demand a response. If things become unclear, however, you will have wasted more time composing and sending emails than you would have if you had just called in the first place.
Phone calls are great for filling the void left by email/text alone. A person’s tone of voice helps lead the course of the conversation. Phone calls also allow for quicker responses and opportunities for clarification. Phone calls, however, present the greatest risk for disrupting your customer’s work day. Whenever you call, you risk breaking his or her concentration on a task to answer the phone, potentially leaving the customer feeling resentful about your company. Both methods are acceptable, but be sure to take the time to think about which is the best way to deliver your message. Some situations require both! Start with an email to allow your recipient time to review documents, edit, formulate questions, and prepare themselves for a dialog with an actual phone call.
Are today’s communication tools better than those created by Edison over a hundred years ago? Nope! You still need both, Watson! Lastly, if your organization need any help expanding or refining its methods of customer engagement, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our expert consultants would love to help you out.
Service Delivery Lead
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