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Text, Call or Email: Customers' Preferred Contact Method Revealed

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How do customers want to get in touch with your company? Are phone numbers obsolete? What about email, chat, text, and social?

There is a growing trend towards embracing alternative forms of communication, and as technology continues to evolve, businesses try to adopt every new channel.

This blog discusses whether that's a good idea and reveals if this practice matches customers' preferred contact method.

Survey: Most Preferred method

In today's digital age, businesses are constantly exploring new avenues to connect with their customers and provide efficient customer service. While there is a growing trend towards alternative forms of communication such as email, chat, and social media, a recent survey suggests that phone calls remain the preferred contact method for resolving customer service issues among customers in the United States.

The survey revealed that an impressive 42 percent of respondents expressed a preference for phone calls when it comes to resolving their concerns. This finding highlights the enduring significance of phone conversations in customer service, even amidst the rapid advancements in technology.

While businesses strive to embrace various communication channels, it is crucial not to forget older channels that still align with customer preferences, ensuring you provide a seamless and satisfactory experience for their valued customers.

Pie chart showing customers' preferred contact method

The case for self-service

While many customers say they prefer calling, a live agent doesn't have to answer right away. According to Harvard Business Review, 81% of customers across industries attempt to take care of matters themselves before reaching out to a live representative.

This statistic highlights the increasing demand for self-service options in customer service. Businesses must not only embrace new communication channels but also invest in self-service solutions that empower customers to find solutions on their own.

Over the phone, the standard for self-service has long been IVR. With the introduction of AI, intelligent virtual agents (IVA) are now the best choice for empowering self-service in the most popular channel.

Don't forget other channels

Although phone came out on top, more than half of customers prefer to use other channels. The preferred contact method often depends on what the customers needs to accomplish. A customer may prefer text for two-factor authentication but prefer phone for complex issues. Below, we describe the differences between various channels and when you should consider using each.

Call or Email

The best way to communicate with customers depends on the specific situation. Here are some general guidelines for when to use email vs. phone call:

Use a phone call when:

  • Having a conversation that requires two-way communication.
  • You need to get information from the customer quickly, such as their credit card number or shipping address.
  • Building rapport with the customer, such as during a sales call.
  • You must deliver bad news, such as a cancellation or a delay.

Use email when:

  • Sending a message that is not time-sensitive, such as a confirmation or a thank-you note.
  • You need to send a message that is long or complex, such as a policy or a contract.
  • Contacting multiple people, such as a newsletter or a marketing campaign.
  • You must keep a record of the conversation, such as for legal or compliance purposes.

Call or Text

When talking to their friends, coworkers, and other acquaintances, many people prefer text messaging over phone calls in most cases. It's a convenient and effective form of communication.

Those same people sometimes prefer texting with their favorite brands too, but it depends on the situation. Here are some situations when you should choose texting vs. calling.

Use texting to:

  • Answer a quick question about a product or service.
  • Offer a confirmation or a shipping update.
  • Notify customers of a sale or promotion.
  • Send a reminder about an appointment.

Use a phone call to:

Text Or Email

Customers prefer text messaging over email in many cases. Customers can send a text message from anywhere, at any time. They don't have to worry about checking their email or being put on hold. They can expect a response to their text message within minutes, faster than most email replies. Text messaging also feels more natural and personal.

However, there are some cases where customers may prefer email over text messaging. For example, if the customer needs to provide a lot of information, such as their order number or a detailed description of their problem, email may be the better option. It's also best for formal communication. Here are some examples when you should choose texting vs. emailing:

Use texting to:

  • Answer a quick question about a product or service.
  • Offer a confirmation or a shipping update.
  • Notify customers of a sale or promotion.
  • Send a reminder about an appointment.

Use email to:

  • Send a detailed product description.
  • Request feedback on a product or service.
  • Remind a customer to place an order.
  • Share a copy of a contract or agreement.

Chart showing when to use call vs. text vs. email

Preferred Contact Method: It Depends

Ultimately, the best way to communicate with customers is the way that they prefer. By offering multiple ways for customers to contact you, you can ensure that they can get the help they need when they need it.

Here are some additional factors to consider when choosing between a phone call, text and email:

  • The urgency of the matter: If the matter is urgent, such as a customer issue that needs to be resolved immediately, a phone call is the best option.
  • The complexity of the matter: If the matter is complex, such as a customer request for a refund, an email may be the best option. This will give the customer time to read and understand the information.
  • The customer's preferences: Some customers prefer to communicate via phone, while others prefer text. It is important to respect the customer's preference.
  • The company's resources: Text and email likely use fewer company resources than phone calls. IVAs make this point less of an issue.

By considering all of these factors, you can choose the best way to communicate with customers and ensure that they receive the help they need. But even after identifying when a phone call is the right option, there's more work to be done. Read our tips on creating a voice technology strategy to make resources spent on phone calls aren't wasted.