Phone or Email: Is There a Better Way to Communicate with Clients?

Communication is essential in business. This is especially true when you’re in a line of work where you take on individual clients.

Regardless of the type of work that you do, your clients will have certain expectations that you need to meet. If you’re not able to effectively communicate with them, you might miss the mark entirely and either have to redo your work or lose the client completely.

The big question is, what’s the best way to keep in touch with your clients? Some purists believe that the tried-and-true telephone is still by far the best option, while others insist that email has stolen the phone’s throne. Is one really better than the other?

Let’s compare the two and find out.

Benefits of Phone Communication

There are several benefits to talking to clients over the phone.

  • Phone communication is instantaneous, so you don’t have to wait until your clients get around the checking their email to get back to you.
  • Because both of you can hear inflection and other vocal cues, you don’t have to worry about subtleties of language and context being lost as sometimes happens with written communication.
  • There’s also a personal touch to talking over the phone that’s hard to replicate via most other forms of contact.
  • Back-and-forth conversation can also help bring up topics that might otherwise be forgotten, a process that can take much longer over email.

Phone Drawbacks

  • Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys talking over the phone.
  • It can also be hard to schedule phone calls, especially during the workday when your clients may be at their own jobs or otherwise busy.
  • Effective phone conversation also relies on a good connection, which may be hindered if you or your client has poor service or a poorly-maintained landline connection.
  • Phone conversations can also be difficult for clients who are hard-of-hearing or have other disabilities.

Benefits of Email Communication

  • While email was once considered a novelty, it is now a major form of communication.
  • Email delivery is almost instantaneous, and many people have the ability to check their email on the go from a smartphone, tablet or other device.
  • You can send contracts, photos or other digital attachments easily via email, something that you can’t do with a phone conversation.
  • Email also creates a record of exactly what was said by both parties, letting both you and your clients look back on specific details with ease if needed.

Email Drawbacks

  • While email access is common, not everyone has access to their email at all times.
  • Some people only check email one or two times per day if that, so there may be significant delays before the client gets back to you about the question you asked or plans that you sent.
  • Emails sometimes get filtered into junk mail as well, something that could really throw off your communications with your clients; this is especially true for early emails that contain attachments or keywords that are often used in spam.
  • While your emails are legitimate, aggressive spam filters may not know that and could very well treat your email like just another piece of digital trash.
  • There’s also the fact that more old-fashioned clients may simply prefer other means of communication over the “new” trend of email communication that has taken prominence in the last two decades.

A Note on Texting

Some are starting to consider texting as a happy medium between email and phone conversations, combining the instant access of using the phone with the text-based advantages that email conveys.

Texts are more likely to be checked quickly than emails, and they still allow you to add attachments of various types for your clients to see. You should always establish that it’s okay for you to text a client before doing so, however, as many still see texting for business purposes a bit of a faux pas. In addition, texting is considered casual and relatively personal, so texting clients without permission could make you seem unprofessional and could even upset some people.

Which Is the Better Option?

In the end, the better option depends on you, your client and exactly what it is that you’re trying to get across to that client or contact.

There are definite advantages to both phone conversations and email conversations, but each form of communication has its own drawbacks as well. In the end, it really comes down to you and your clients. Go with what works best for you and what your clients are most comfortable with and you’ll find that whatever your choice is just so happens to be the best option for you.