There’s no denying it: hitting “reply” on an email instead of picking up the phone is more often than not the route you want to take, especially on, say, a Monday morning. It’s fast, it’s easy, and quite frankly, dealing with every single issue that came across your desk with a phone call would get annoying very quickly. There are a lot of situations, however, where the personalized and conversational nature of a phone call is the better way to get your point across. Identifying when and how to best communicate over the phone is the key to optimized communication.
The communication disconnect
Email and texting are undoubtedly convenient. For brief exchanges in a busy day, they’re essential tools. However, these quick solutions could be costing you elsewhere. In the never-ending search for time savings, we frequently overlook a simple fact: a few minutes invested into an actual conversation can often save you countless hours of frustration. We’ve all been there: You quickly type up an email or text. You give it one more glance before sending it off—looks great—only to find later on that you didn’t quite convey what you wanted to say. This results in miscommunications, confusion, and wasted time which could’ve been avoided with a brief phone call.
By some accounts, as much as 84% of the meaning in verbal conversation is expressed not by the words we say but by the way we say them. Conveying tone and emotion is much more challenging in an email, and if you get it wrong, that disconnect can lead to miscommunications neither you or your clients have time for. The point is this: if executed correctly and under the appropriate circumstances, a phone call can communicate your message more quickly and effectively than an email. So, which are the appropriate circumstances?
When is a phone call more appropriate?
Communication preferences vary drastically among age ranges, demographics, and industries, so it’s essential to understand the customer and what best suits their needs in the context of your business. A customer in their mid-twenties might prefer to avoid making a phone call for all but the most sensitive issues. His sixty-year-old father, on the other hand, is likely not quite as tech-savvy. For him, a phone call is the only way to get in touch with a business. They both have the potential to be loyal customers if engaged correctly, and it’s up to the business to recognize that and act on it. Here are some situations which are often best handled over the phone:
The client is older: though not always the case, an older client will prefer to handle service issues over the phone. It’s where they’re most comfortable, and playing on their court will eliminate room for miscommunication.
The information is time-sensitive: An email in an inbox is much easier to ignore than a ringing phone. If the message is urgent, give them a call along with the email—even if they don’t answer, they’ll appreciate you showing urgency.
You’re trying to win their trust: if this is the case, the phone is almost always your best bet. The reason is simple: over the phone, it’s impossible to forget that you’re a real person. Like we said before, It’s much easier to convey a certain tone and intention with your voice.
Why the phone keeps you competitive:
Consider these statistics:
- A study performed by Google in 2013 found that the majority of respondents prefer calling a business to communicating online. The reasons for doing so vary, with 59 percent cite seeking a quick answer and 57 percent cite wanting to talk to a real person.
- Calls to businesses are 10-15 times more likely to lead to a sale or other type of follow-up activity than submitting a form digitally. This means that phone calls more effectively generate revenue.
- This is the big one: Almost 90 percent of companies surveyed compete mainly on the basis of customer experience.
If providing an ideal experience to the customer is what sets you apart, and evidence suggests customers prefer talking on the phone, it’s a disservice to both your business and your clients to continually send emails rather than making phone calls.
A well-executed phone call reminds customers that you’re a real person who values their business and their time and that personalization will make an impression. Even if they don’t have the time to talk, they’ll remember the representative who called them and showed genuine interest in helping them, and that’s what makes the difference. We know you’re busy, but when it comes to communication with customers, your search for convenience should take a back seat to delivering them the most effortless experience possible. Whether that takes place on the phone, online, or elsewhere, is up to you.