Emails and LinkedIn messages are effective and essential forms of communication that make doing business a lot easier. But like any form of communication, they come with a downside.
Firstly, around 320 billion emails are sent and received each day globally. Every message we send competes with many emails pinging into inboxes, LinkedIn messages, etc., making them easy to miss or deliberately ignore.
Then there’s the tone thing. We recently experienced the downside to email communication when a blunt reply had us second-guessing the status and success of a project.
We’d been working on LinkedIn content for a client, and when sharing the first draft, we had a few standard questions: What are your thoughts at this point? Is there anything else you need to be included? Are there any changes you need?
‘It is good enough.’
While we’ve since come to use the phrase with fondness, it caused confusion and concern at the time.
So how did we handle it? We got onto the phone to have a chat with the client.
It took less than a minute to dispel any confusion when our client shared how happy they were with the newsletter. ‘It is good enough’ simply meant they didn’t need any changes.
Thanks to that single phone call, we now have a stronger relationship with that client and have a better sense of their communication style.
For us, it was proof that phone calls are still a valuable communication tool for any business in our digital world. The answer to any debate over which method is superior in this day and age may be as simple as combining both to communicate with your clients effectively.
So, when is a phone call the best form of communication?
When you’re beginning a relationship with a client – It pays to listen to how your client talks to build a sense of their identity and communication styles. You’ll get an understanding of their tone, emotions, and even their sense of humour. These things go a long way to explaining the meaning behind what people say. Because it’s not just about what people say but how and why they say it.
When you want your client to feel like a priority – Chances are your client is as busy as you and will appreciate the time it takes to make a phone call as opposed to email. It feels more personal and lets your client know you care enough to spend valuable time on them.
When you need to simplify a complex situation – Asking questions in real-time gives you answers in real-time. You also take away chances of misinterpretation because while you may think your emails are clear and detailed, one thing can mean something different to someone else.
When time isn’t on your side – It’s far harder to ignore a phone call than it is to miss an email. If something requires a quick turnaround time, a phone call will always be the most effective way to get instant advice, answers or guidance.
When you want to get more personalised details – It’s a lot easier to open up when you’re having a chat with someone than it is to type it out. Things you say will remind you of other items to discuss, and it’s easier to get into a natural flow of storytelling. We find it particularly useful to chat to our clients about their businesses either in-person or via the phone before starting their project to understand better who they are and what they want. We usually record the conversation and use the transcription as actual content.
And when is emailing a client most effective?
When you’re following up on a phone call– putting a summary of your chat into an email keeps everyone on the same page and helps to spark your memory down the track.
When you’re sharing specific or technical details– there’s nothing quite like having facts and figures written down to reference for complete accuracy.
When you need to refer to attached documents– When seeing is believing, visual communication will always be a valuable tool to stay on the same page as your clients. In these cases, perhaps a phone after first emailing is the most effective way to get through to your clients or customers.
It has become second nature in the digital age to go for modern, quick and convenient communication solutions, but the value of a phone call is hard to deny. Next time you’re looking to take your client relationship to the next level, pick up the phone and realise the difference for yourself.