Client Care: When to Call Versus When to Email

Dr. Ryan Giffen

Client care is a vital part of your business.  Having good customer service means having open lines of communication with your clients.  The question is, how should you contact customers?  When is an email better, and when should you make a phone call?  Read on to learn about situations when you should use each of these methods.

Use calls to express care and clarity

It might be quicker to send an email, but calling a customer can hold much more weight, especially today.  According to Pew Research Center, 96 percent of Americans own a cell phone.  With the advances in technology, however, actually talking on the phone is less common than it once was.  In an age of texting and social media, a phone call can be a great way to get a message across to a customer.  It shows that you care about the client and will take the time to speak with them personally.  Here are three situations when you should call instead of email:

1. When you are explaining something complicated

If you need to discuss something with several steps, a phone call is a way to go.  Having instructions verbally explained can be more helpful than having them written out because the client can ask questions along the way.  Unlike email, a phone call is a real-time conversation. This back and forth can help clear up complex topics quicker than a long email thread could. If you anticipate that your customer may be confused, call them.

2. When you need to apologize

It is much easier to sound sincere in person than it is in an email.  Although it might be less awkward to send a quick apology over email, calling a customer when you need to admit a mistake can have a greater positive impact. It will help them see you as a trustworthy business and feel like you care about them. It is good customer service to apologize to customers when needed in general, and making that apology in a phone call takes that another step further.

3. When it’s urgent

This might seem counterintuitive, but hear us out.  The internet is fast, but because people are so used to getting emails, texts, and other messages all day long, they can easily be ignored.  Emails can also be accidentally sorted into spam or deleted before they are even opened.  Since calls are less common, clients are more likely to pick up their phones immediately and hear what you have to say.

Use email to send something easy to everyone

If email is your company’s go-to, that’s fine.  There are many situations where an email is preferred versus a phone call.  Here are two of those:

1. When you need to reach a large group

If you need to tell many or all of your customers the same thing, email is the way to go.  Calling dozens or even hundreds of people to tell them similar things can take more time than your allocated employees have available to spend. 

2. When your message is simple

If what you need to say isn’t likely to generate several questions, email is the way to go.  People can quickly scan an email and understand what they need to know. There is no need to call a customer if your message can be typed out in a few lines of text.

About Dr. Ryan Giffen

With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Ryan Giffen is an expert in human relations and business culture. His career began in hospitality, leading operations and human resource departments for Fortune 500 companies and the like. Not long after, Ryan found his passion for teaching and consulting. He earned a Ph.D. in Hospitality Management with a Human Resources focus from Iowa State University and now works as an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach. For over a decade, he continues to research and speak on organizational culture, relationship intelligence, and leadership effectiveness. Ryan is also the founder of Inospire, a company helping bosses and employees build stronger relationships with one another.  Lastly, Dr. Giffen is producer and host of the Corporate Shadow Podcast. a show helping everyday employees overcome workplace nonsense.