When it comes to customer communication, is email still the best communication choice? What about texting? Or chat? Or on the phone? What about Skype or other Internet video calling options? Maybe you should just go see the other person in person? Oh wait, there’s always Snapchat. Or what about Twitter? Facebook Messenger? WhatsApp? Hangouts? Slack? What about an old-school paper letter? How do you choose the best communication option?

Best Customer Communication Choice

With the myriad choices available for communication, how do you choose the best one? As with most questions today, the answer is “It all depends.” It depends on the nature of the communication, the preferences of the parties to the communication (especially the receiver), and the need for privacy.

Texting and Chat?

Texting and messaging applications are always great for short types of communication such as checking on availability for a meeting or to let someone know you’re on your way. Some people, however, are perfectly comfortable with having a lengthy conversation in text. One special caveat with texting: It’s still not 100% reliable. Many of us have had text messages arrive several days after they were sent. (What’s up with that?)

Messaging applications offer a variety of enhancements, depending on the platform, but require that everyone be using a compatible app. Sometimes those apps don’t work as well on traditional computing platforms as they do on mobile devices. The proprietary nature of some messaging apps may be a concern, depending on your circumstances.

Email?

Email works well when the communication is in a longer form, requires more details, or requires an attachment. Email also provides a well-organized history of communication. Text and chat are getting better at that, but email still rules in this area. Additionally, in most organizations, email communication is archived for future reference.

Old-School Paper Letters?

The need for old-school paper communication is rapidly diminishing. There is one area where paper communication still excels and that’s with personal notes. When you really want to have an impact, send a personal thank you note or a handwritten note of congratulations. People never forget a handwritten note.

When to Phone?

What about a phone call? Often, a phone call can resolve an issue much more quickly than an exchange of multiple emails or text messages. If the communication involves answering multiple questions, a quick phone call can be more efficient.

When trying to schedule a meeting with multiple participants, use tools such as Doodle to eliminate the annoying stream of messages looking for universally acceptable meeting times. (Zapier published a list of the 16 best scheduling apps. Here’s a link: zapier.com/blog/best-meeting-scheduler-apps

Face-to-Face Communication

When is it appropriate to have a face-to-face meeting? Face to face meetings regain the human connection which is lost in email, texting, and chat communication. Even with telephone conversations, you don’t have the benefit of noticing subtle cues in body language. Face to face meetings are great at the start of a relationship. Later on, they can be crucial in ironing out problems in the relationship.

How Do You Choose?

The decision about which form of communication to use boils down to one question: What is the most efficient and effective choice? When you’re dealing with a customer, a client, or a boss, it’s also a matter of being flexible and choosing the method they want.

What do you think?

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