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Is email or calling the best customer service strategy?

When it comes to customer service, you need to decide which communication method is the most suitable option. Email and phone calls are two of the most popular customer service channels, and for good reason, but how can you decide which one to use?

This article will explore the pros and cons of both methods, when to use them, and how to build an effective communication strategy for your customer service team. 

Customer service emails

Email is a popular customer service tool, with over 98 per cent of customers opting for it when requesting support. If your company is not currently engaging with customers through email, you are likely missing out on valuable opportunities to improve the Customer Experience (CX). 

Customer service emails respond to customer questions, feedback, and complaints in a widely understood format. Email is popular because it is simple, widely available, reliable, and provides a digital copy of the entire conversation. 

When to use emails 

There are several customer service situations when an email is the most suitable communication method to employ. These include when: 

  • Providing documents, rules, or contracts.  
  • Sending data.
  • Sharing confidential information. 
  • You may require a record of what is said to refer to later.
  • Confirming something that was said in person or over the phone.
  • Making a request. 
  • Giving a progress update.
  • Sending directions or detailed guidelines. 

How to write a customer service email 

Customers expect high-quality service across all channels and email is no exception. When using email to communicate with your customers, you need to follow these best practices to ensure the best results: 

  1. Read the customer’s message thoroughly. 
  2. Greet the customer by name. 
  3. Use conversational language. 
  4. Stick to your brand style where possible. 
  5. Maintain a professional manner. 
  6. Be empathetic with the customer. 
  7. Make sure you have all the necessary information to resolve the problem.
  8. Establish what the best solution is and when you will provide it.

One of the most important steps to take when responding to a customer service email request is to ensure you include relevant team members in the communication. We recommend CC-ing them into your email to the customer so that everyone involved knows what they need to do. 

You can also use integrated CRM systems to track who has connected with customers and where their current issues lie. Platforms such as HubSpot make this easy to ensure cloud-based collaboration for teams that need as much information as possible.

Customer service phone calls 

Phone calls are also a popular customer service tool because they’re faster and more personal. By speaking with customers directly, you can pick up on the tone of voice and any emotional responses, making it much easier to empathise with them. 

One of the main issues that can deter customers is having to wait for a response, which is where the speed of a phone call is a great solution. When seeking support from a brand, 90 per cent of customers want an immediate response so don’t make the mistake of delaying a response or dragging the conversation out across multiple days. 

When to use phone calls

A phone call will be the best communication method in numerous customer service scenarios, including when: 

  • You anticipate a lot of questions.
  • There is a time constraint or urgent problem. 
  • The situation is emotionally-charged. 
  • A conversation has escalated over email.  

Essentially, you should use a phone call when it’s the easier option for the customer. Your goal should be to provide an effortless experience for your customers, particularly when they seek your help. This is especially true in scenarios where customers are angry, disappointed, or have been waiting for a long time. 

How to make a customer service phone call 

To ensure your customer service phone calls are helpful and effective, we recommend implementing the following steps:

  1. Answer immediately. 
  2. Greet the person by name.
  3. Listen sincerely and let them explain the situation without any interruptions. 
  4. Repeat what you believe the customer’s request is to ensure you are on the right track. 
  5. Acknowledge the customers’ feelings and concerns. 
  6. Speak clearly and in a straightforward manner. 
  7. Be professional, respectful, and sensitive. 
  8. Establish what the best solution is and when you will provide it.
  9. Follow up the call with an email to confirm what was said and what the next steps are. 
  10. Input all the information you received into your customer database.  

While phone calls are generally faster than email, there are still risks of frustrating delays. In fact, 33 per cent of customers cite waiting on hold as their main irritation. To avoid this, you need to have enough team members actively engaging with customer service calls. 

Customer service and communication 

Multi-channel communication 

A crucial step to providing exceptional customer service is to adopt a diverse approach to communication. Phone calls and emails cater to different situations, meaning your team should be using both rather than choosing one over the other. To provide a well-rounded customer experience, you should be offering a combination of various communication channels, such as email, phone calls, social media, in-store conversations, and live chat. 

Live chat

By incorporating a live chat option into your website or app, you can connect with the 81 per cent of customers who prefer to find support that way. Live chat allows you to talk with customers in real-time, provide prompt resolutions, and therefore increase customer satisfaction. However, while most customers would opt to use a live chat service, only 52 per cent of customer service teams are actively offering one. So, to get an edge over your competition, all you need to do is implement a live chat feature and be more attentive to customer requests.  

Keep your promises

When making assertions to customers on any communication channel, it’s important to follow them up with tangible action. Don’t waste time resolving customer requests, instead, implement proactive workflows as soon as they inform you of a problem and check in regularly until the customer is satisfied. Since 40 percent of customers expect faster resolutions for their problems, this will put you ahead of many other brands. 

Ask for customer service feedback

When improving your customer service, you need to know what is working and what to improve, and the best way to tap into those insights is through customer feedback. For this purpose, emails are the ideal channel because you can easily direct customers to surveys with campaign links. To find out how well a customer's needs were met, customer service representatives can paste a campaign link into an email that directs the customer to the relevant survey. 

For more information about improving your customer service, download our guide to implementing a customer feedback strategy. 

Download our free customer feedback strategy guide