Text vs Email vs Call: How to Contact Your Customers

Jenna Bunnell
by Jenna Bunnell

Technology has provided us with an array of channels through which to communicate. But this has given rise to a very modern dilemma: which one should you use when contacting your customers?

Today’s customers are hit with a barrage of information on a daily basis.

We all know the feeling of plowing through a bulging inbox each morning. We’re often selective about which to respond to, which to send straight to junk, and which to consign to the ‘do later’ stack.

Inevitably though, those never get done later. By the time you get around to it, there’s another stack of fresh emails to sift through. Sound familiar?

With that in mind, as a business, you must ask yourself whether adding to your customer’s neverending inbox is the optimum way of contacting them.

Maybe a quick call would be better? Or perhaps a text message?

The method of communication you choose could be the difference between a positive customer experience and a negative one.

In fact, a study by McKinsey & Company showed that one organization that redesigned its customer experience culture identified opportunities to improve profits by 15 to 20%.

Choosing the right method of communication plays a key role in creating a positive customer experience. So which one should you choose when contacting your customers?

Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Contacting customers via call or email or text

Business Communication Methods

You might be wondering whether you even need all three types of communication today. In short, the answer is yes.

While methods such as phone calls and text messages may seem outdated, they still have a big part to play in today’s business world, especially when it comes to communicating with your customers.

It’s true that anyone under the age of 20 may snigger at the very idea of email – sarcastically referring to it as ‘snail mail’, perhaps throwing in a comment along the lines of “nobody uses that these days”. But it still plays a leading role in business communications.

Text, emails, and calls all have specific functions and, at least in the short- to medium-term, are here to stay.

The key is to learn when best to use them!

This may feel overwhelming at first. So rather than spending hours stewing over email best practices, let’s take a look at the different options for using each when contacting your customers.

Text vs Email vs Call

When considering the debate of text vs. email vs. call, a good place to start is by taking a close look at the pros and cons of each.

You may realize that there are far more pros than cons with all of these methods of communication. Even if you get things wrong, it’s unlikely that they will be terribly wrong.

Text Pros and Cons

While text messaging may seem unfashionable – something associated with a phone the size of a small car and performed by someone wearing very 1990s attire – you may be surprised to learn that its popularity is actually increasing.

Why? Because of its convenience, high response rates, immediacy, and scalability.

Texts are also fast, easy to reply to, inexpensive, and allow the customer to respond in their own time. Plus, the majority of customers read text messages.

What’s not to like?

Well, the cons include a limited character count, difficulty in conveying voice, and lack of security.

What’s more, it’s tricky gaining a positive reaction from a limited text message, and they can come across as very impersonal, particularly if sent in bulk.

That said, there are ways to overcome this. You may want to consider getting a text messaging service for businesses that can help with how your organization handles this part of your operations.

Email Pros and Cons

As you’ll know from your daily business interactions, email is a huge part of professional communication today.

Emails are excellent for record-keeping, which can be vital as evidence in case of a dispute. They’re also scalable, have unrestricted timing, and are cheap.

If you send out a lot of emails, a good email management software will help your teams collaborate efficiently. This is particularly important for staying on the same page when more than one person may have to contact the same customer.

Missive email app

Missive’s team inbox and chat app allows teams to collaborate around email

But it’s not all a bed of roses. As a consumer, you’ll no doubt have found yourself frustrated by an email. They can be impersonal, get buried in your spam, or arrive at an inappropriate time.

As a business, you may face the same challenges. When contacting customers, you cannot be sure they’ve received the email until they respond. Plus, if you send them too often, many people will stop paying attention.

Call pros and cons

While phone calls may seem like old news, they remain the ultimate form of personalized communication.

Depending on the nature of your business, it’s likely that not all of your customers will be tech-savvy millennials. So maintaining a healthy level of customer contact over the phone remains vital.

If you need to explain complex issues, nothing beats a phone call. Once you have the customer on the phone, you can have an immediate back-and-forth to ensure all details have been fully understood.

Phone calls are also less intimidating as they’re more like ‘real-world’ conversations. They’re also safer; you can verify exactly who is receiving the message.

But as with everything, calls do have their downside. They’re not scalable, are time-consuming, and are easy to ignore. Plus, the customer must be available and will have to stop what they’re doing to take the call.

With that in mind, if you’re a bigger organization that handles large volumes of calls, a strong VoIP for enterprise phone system is essential.

When to Use Each Type of Communication

A large part of deciding which type of communication to use is selecting the one that is most appropriate for each circumstance.

Let’s take a look at when (and when not) to use each method.

Quick and Concise

As mentioned earlier, business texting is actually increasing in use. It’s brief, to the point, and crystal-clear. It’s unlikely that a text message has left you scratching your head, right?

This ease of use means texting is most appropriate for short communications, such as sending out passcodes or informing a customer their online payment has been received.

Contacting customers via calls

When considering whether to send a text, determine if the message requires a response. If your answer is no, a text is probably your best bet. If the message requires a simple yes or no response, then texting is also appropriate.

Texting is best avoided when contacting new customers as it’s impersonal. Keep in mind as well that due to the lack of security, texting is inappropriate for sending confidential or sensitive information.

Elaborating on a Message

Emailing is such a big part of our daily business communications that we barely give a second thought as to whether it’s appropriate or not in any given situation.

So what is the ideal situation? Emails are great when you don’t need an immediate response. For this reason, many customers favor them as they can reply in their own time.

Emails also give you a chance to showcase your brand. You could even create a dynamic email signature to create a clear and memorable brand identity.

Emails are also appropriate if you need to send links or attach files. They are far more detailed than texts and will leave a lasting record that both you and your customers can refer back to.

So you could consider using emails to send documents, engage with leads or provide customers with delivery updates.

On the flip side, if your communication requires an urgent response, an email shouldn’t be your first port of call.

Additionally, if the communication is confidential or your previous emails have gone unanswered, consider a call instead.

Making it Personal

In the high-tech modern environment with its plethora of communication channels, it may seem surprising that an old-fashioned phone call is still in vogue.

But sometimes people just need to hear another human voice. As a result, those old-fashioned phone communications remain relevant in the age of multimedia.

In the business world, phone calls are still the optimum method of communication for when you need an immediate answer or to convey an urgent message. For example, if you need to change or even cancel an appointment, phone calls are your friend.

Contacting customers via texts

There’s no limit to a phone call and you can more clearly convey your message. For that reason, calls are great for clarifying points that your email communication has failed to get across or following up on unanswered emails.

Given their personal nature, phone calls are also the optimum way for conveying confidential information, taking customer feedback, or persuading leads to take that vital next step.

However, calls can also be inconvenient, particularly if they come out of the blue. So be sure to call people at appropriate times of the day and keep calls concise to avoid wasting customers’ time.

Contact Your Customers the Right Way

When deciding which type of communication to use for a given scenario, it comes down to a three-pronged attack.

  1. Evaluate the pros and cons of each method.
  2. Consider which is the most appropriate for each scenario.
  3. Confirm your communication method based on the findings of your appraisal.

Maintaining contact with your customers is an integral part of any business. By choosing the best method for each individual situation, you can ensure a positive customer experience.

Taking Advantage of Emails, Texts, & Calls in One PlaceThere's no need to juggle multiple communication apps when you can take advantage of emails, texts, and calls all in one place. With Missive and the Dialpad integration, you can take advantage of Missive's intuitive UI and the powerful Team Inboxes to manage and collaborate on all your communications without having to constantly switch between different apps.

Being able to easily keep track of all your conversations and messages in one place and collaborate with team members on customer communication is a major productivity boost.

Interested in seeing how can Missive help your teams collaborate better and be more productive? Book a demo today!

Jenna Bunnell

Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system.
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