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How to Know if You Should Pick-up the Phone or Send an email


According to a Forbes article written by Larry Alton, Millennials prefer text and email over phone calls. Millennials as a whole are less formal, and this spills into the work environment. Especially when 53.5 million workers in the workplace are millennials (Pew Research Center 2015). Also, Millennials as a general rule use whichever form of communication to complete the task at hand the quickest. This can pose a real problem in service based industries, such as SAAS (Software as a service), among others.

Why is this a problem? Most likely because the quickest form of communication is digital. Not all business owners are savvy enough to decipher a quick IM, chat, or text message as an answer to their question.

Millennials tend to prefer text, email and chat over phone calls

A few rules to consider when deciding whether to communicate digitally or when it’s time to pick up the phone…

  1. Know your customers!

    If you work with your customers on a daily basis, take the time to ask how they prefer to be communicated with. Digital communication is integral to a millennial, however, a baby boomer it is an acquired skill. If your client has a question, a good rule of thumb is to respond to them in the way they originally reached out to you. If it was a phone call, call them back, an email or IM – return the communication with the same method. Most people will reach out the way they prefer to receive communication.

  2. Recognize when your customer is frustrated!

    Know when your customers are frustrated

    When you respond to a customer question (via email) and you receive a response that says something like “I don’t understand”, or “Can you explain that again?”, or “Where do I find that answer?”, it’s a good indication it is time to pick up the phone. These statements convey they are still confused or frustrated even though you’ve responded with the answer. Over the 20+ years I’ve worked in customer service, I’ve found the quickest way to diffuse anger or frustration is to call your customer. Or send a quick email that says: Maybe it would be better if we spoke over the phone, I apologize for any confusion, when is a good time to reach you? The customer will be RELIEVED you called them to handle their questions/issues.

What if you only provide online/chat support? Great question!

Most software, or SAAS (Software as a service) companies provide their main support through this avenue. The best way (as my company provides service through a chat forum) to know when to pick up the phone is to pay attention and read carefully! It’s the same as email – when you recognize a phrase that indicates any slight frustration or misunderstanding, or not understanding at all, pick up the phone and call the client. It lets them know you care enough to take the time to ensure their success and understanding of the product they purchased.

Last rule of thumb – don’t be afraid to call!! You’ll be amazed at how many customers will appreciate it! Yes….even the millennials! Keep doing what you’re doing – providing a wow experience for everyone you come in contact with! This creates relationships, and they are the glue to retention and longevity!


Sarah Green is the Client Success Manager for Agency Revolution. She has worked at Agency Revolution for nearly 8 years. Sarah works with our clients to help them see their business from the top and create a solid path and plan for their agency or brokerage.

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