Can’t get a callback? Sent an email, and no one responded? Sent a text, and it is unread? No, I can’t give advice that solves all those situations. I think I can help make you feel the correct way to communicate with a customer. Every form of communication has its purpose. In business, these approaches need to be used in conjunction with each other. I break down the best ways to effectively use the forms of communication that we have at our disposal today.
Some say that the phone is the tool of yesteryear. Before email, text, and social media, the best way to communicate, and one of the only ways, was by phone. I still think the phone is the best communication tool for a salesperson. It is the most personal way to communicate with a customer without being able to visit them. The phone call does a lot for you. First, if they answer, you know they want to talk to you or with you. Nowadays, thanks to caller ID, you can screen and avoid any person you wish to. If someone has an assistant and you got through, you know they want to talk to you. That is an immediate win and getting a chance to connect to a customer knowing that they are interested in what you have to say is a huge win. The other great thing about the phone is the tone of voice and clear verbal communication. A drawback is that you can’t pick up on other forms of communication such as body language, or an eye roll. The ability to hear and get immediate feedback outweighs the non-verbal cues you can’t pick up. Phone calls also offer the sincerest responses from your customers.
The phone has some drawbacks. There is no time to think about what I should say like in other forms of communication. (This is a reminder from the role-playing blog that you can practice phone calls, too.). A drawback of the phone is there is no confirmation of the context of the call. Supposed you finalized a deal or there were numbers used in the discussion, there is no record of that call. That is why a phone call is not always enough, and I always suggest an email follow-up with all the pertinent details. I also want to “call” on Zoom, Teams, or any other video calling device. This has made the phone call even better. Now you can see the body language and easily record all the details; there is also an ability to share ideas and presentations and have chat functions to take away a lot more information for the meeting. Zoom, to me, has elevated to the best way to have any formal phone call.
The phone is the least effective way to communicate when dealing with constituents as a manager. I will use Zoom for all communications with employees rather than the phone if they are not in the facility where I am. if the employees are in the facility, for crying out loud, get up and see them. There is nothing worse than calling someone when they are 30 feet from you.
E-Mail, or as I call it, the communication crutch, in my opinion, is the least effective communication tool to make a connection with the customer. E-mail is a tool for salespeople who don’t want to make a phone call. An E-mail has given someone an excuse to say they have communicated to a customer. E-mail provides no immediate feedback to the message you are trying to send. E-mails also can be misinterpreted; you may think you put together a concise niche statement. However, the customer could have been completely thrown off by the tone of the message, and heaven forbid you to have some punctuation error or a typo that could ruin a customer experience. I think e-mail should be the secondary form of communication. The informative phase is the follow-up or the clear communication. E-mail is a necessary form of communication for business but use it as a confirmation tool for developing and maintaining relationships. Hiding behind e-mails and using that as your voice will never allow you to connect and truly understand your customer.
The same can be said for using e-mail as a manager. E-mail is a great way to reach a vast audience while communicating an informative message. However, if you are using e-mail as your only form of communication, then you are missing the best way to communicate with your teammates. You’re missing out on a great way to communicate. E-mailing your employees has the same issues as a customer; a typo or tone can create some setbacks to the messaging you are trying to send.
Text messaging can be a powerful tool for you and your customers. It shows a level of trust and closeness that you are engaged in a more personal form of communication. The text indicates that you have confidence in the customer’s cell phone. Text can provide an account of the conversation. Texts are typically used as an immediate form of feedback. Like e-mail, it can miss-convey tone or have a typo. However, the text is a more forgiving form of communication, and you can quickly correct your statements. Text is also very accessible as it is a communication form that some check frequently. Some customers may choose to use text to convey information that they don’t want to put on e-mail, indicating a strong relationship.
Texting as a manager is a different story. I think texting employees and them texting you as a manager is becoming more prevalent. Texting employees should be used for various specific reasons. You don’t want to feel like you are invading someone’s time on their device. The text should be used as some extremely pertinent information. I have also used text to reaffirm a positive message, like an “atta boy” congratulations.
If you like what you are reading, please subscribe to the blog. You can follow me on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn. I would also challenge you to pick up the phone and call your customer. Thinking about e-mail ask yourself if it is to inform or to avoid.