The phone call was once the standard in business communication. Over the decades, business communication has evolved from just phone calls, to phone calls and emails combined, and now texting has entered as another business channel.
Today, about 96% of Americans own cell phones, meaning they have access to phone calls, emails, and texts all in their palm at nearly any time. Plus, 89% of consumers want to be able to use messaging to communicate with businesses. So it only makes sense for companies to use a combination of all three channels to communicate with their customers on a daily basis.
So when is it best to use business text messaging vs. emailing, vs. making phone calls? We’ll walk you through the various use cases and when to consider each option.
Business communication: It’s not one size fits all
Ask any business owner and they’ll tell you that each interaction they have with customers and employees is a little different depending on a variety of factors like the individual, case, and need. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that with every different business interaction, a different channel for communication might work better in some cases than in others.
The evolution of business communication
No matter which channel you’re using for your business communication, you’re always using it to reach some sort of business goal. That goal might be to get higher response rates, convert more leads, improve the customer experience, or offer more convenient channels for your customers to communicate with you.
Business communication has evolved over time, so it’s no wonder that businesses have had to adapt. But if you’re not quite sure which channel to use when, you’re not alone. We’re going to go over the pros and cons of business texting, emailing, and making phone calls, along with examples of when you might use each of these forms of communication.
Business texting pros and cons
First, let’s take a look at business texting and the pros and cons of using it to communicate with your customers or employees. Business texting gives you the opportunity to reach out to customers in a personal and convenient way for them. Some of the pros and cons of using business texting are as follows:
- High open and response rates
- More scalable than phone calls
- Limited character count
- Can seem intrusive if used improperly
- Difficult to convey voice
Emailing pros and cons
While texting offers a personal touch, email is the most scalable channel and allows you to include further information that you probably can’t fit in a single text message.
- Searchable and good for record keeping
- Can be scalable while still more in-depth
- Unrestricted timing
- Low cost
- Can get lost in spam
- Not quite instant
- Relatively low open and response rates
Phone call pros and cons
Phone calls are the ultimate personal form of communication for many people, but they’re not always totally necessary or even the most effective use of your time. For instance, if you have a quick question, or you need to share a link with someone, you likely wouldn’t choose a phone call as your form of communication.
- Highly personal
- Easiest way to explain more complex topics
- Immediate back and forth once you’ve got the customer on the line
- Customer needs to be available in real time
- Most time-consuming option for your customer and call center
- Easy to ignore
When to text vs. call vs. email: Use cases and examples
With those pros and cons of each type of communication in mind, let’s go over the use cases and examples of when you might use the three kinds of communication.
There are times when you simply need to get in touch with a customer, ideally as soon as possible. This covers essentially any instance in which a customer’s reached out to you first and can include sales, support, and even account management communication depending on the situation.
When you’re deciding which channel would be best to use to respond to a customer there are a few things to think through. First and foremost, you should consider how they contacted you in the first place. If it’s clear they have a communication channel they favor, that could be a good place to start.
You should also consider what information you’re responding back with as well. If you’re simply sharing a receipt or order confirmation a customer asked for, that’s something your customer would likely want to be able to keep on record, meaning an email might be best. For something mission critical, like coming up with a new strategy on the fly, then a phone call might be a better option. While a text message might be the best option for confirming billing information or sending photos back and forth about a broken item or the wrong item.
Another way to think about responding is what the urgency of the situation is, as well as the depth of the customer’s request or what you’ll need to discuss with them. Remember, you can always start with one channel and then use another in addition to that to keep the communication flowing.
If you’re responding to an inbound lead, time can quite literally mean money. Ideally, your team is able to respond to leads within five minutes if possible. You can see 10 times the success in responding in the first five minutes.
The most common form of first response to a lead is an email, and when those emails are personalized, marketers see an average of 20 percent more sales. Another popular way to respond to leads is via phone call. But only about 29 percent of leads are first responded to with a phone call even though phone calls are statistically more successful than emails. Maybe the best way to follow up with a lead is business texting though. It’s a fast and scalable way to schedule a phone call and texts have a 45 percent response rate.
But, if you’re in sales or account management you know that it can take several calls, sometimes as many as six, to get through to a customer. So a combination of communication channels might be exactly what you need. An initial phone call, followed by a text explaining why you called, might go a long way in getting your potential customer engaged.
While emails and phone calls both have their place in the account management and sales realm, there’s also room for text messaging to be added. An initial quick text message to get a lead’s company name and contact info, if you don’t already have it, can be extremely useful. As mentioned above, using texting to follow up after a missed call or unopened email could help increase your response rate and fit in well to your current communication channels.
You might choose to incorporate texting into a sequence of other communication channels you use as well.
Example communication sequence:
Example communication sequence:
You can use texting to set up a time to chat with the customer in the coming days, something that might help you get through to them more easily than simply cold calling when they might not be available. The same goes for account management if a customer contacts you with an issue regarding their account, you can either quickly solve it in text form, or set up a time for a call to help solve it for them if necessary.
Next, we’ll cover a situation in which you want to share information with a customer, this can come in the form of customer support or service and can go a long way in making your customers feel considered. Start by thinking about how you would want to receive this information if you were in your customer’s shoes with convenience at the top of mind.
When you’re looking to share information with a customer, again you can take a look and see if they’ve previously contacted you and how they went about doing that. A customer's preferences can help you intuit which channel to use when reaching out to them.
Your relationship with the customer also influences this choice. If you have a personal relationship with them and they know you or your business well, a text or a call might be appropriate. Quick texts can be familiar and comfortable, but a phone call might also be warranted depending on what you’re sharing. If you’re sharing information about their recent order potentially being interrupted, a personal phone call might be good for highly valued customers. You could accompany the call with an email followup that shares new shipping information. Reading a shipping confirmation number over the phone would be quite an inconvenient way to share it, and your customer would probably prefer an email or text they can refer back to instead of a one time phone call.
For less personal relationships, a phone call might not even end up being successful if they don’t answer or don’t listen to a voicemail. If it’s not a personal relationship the customer might not recognize your number, resulting in the call being ignored. Think about a situation in which you’re sharing that you’ve restocked an item. You could use text messaging, emailing, or a phone call to do this, all three would help you successfully get your message across, but you’re looking for the best option.
Texting offers you the right level of personalization, keeps the message nice and short, and has a 45 percent response rate. Overall, you’re more likely to get your point across, and get your message read if you text instead of emailing.
The final use case we’ll cover in which you’ll need to decide when to use texting vs. emailing vs. a phone call is any situation in which you want to check in with a customer. In this situation you might not necessarily have information you’re ready to share with a customer, but want to check in with them anyway. This covers many proactive communications and can be a great way to help retain customers. Think checking in to see if a customer needs to order more supplies with a text or a phone call, or calling to let them know you’ve run out of a product but have a similar replacement.
An example of an outbound proactive message is messaging a customer on their birthday with well wishes. Again, a phone call likely wouldn’t be the best method for this. While a birthday phone call might be nice, it might feel a little intrusive.
Phone might be your best option for those customers who you haven’t spoken with in some time. You can use the call to help build the relationship and check in around general concerns or issues. You can also use it just for checking in, like saying “Happy birthday!”
Email is the best option for sending regular updates like new product catalogs that don't require a response
Texting also offers relationship building opportunities but in a less intrusive way. With texting you can easily message customers frequently, proactively check in on re-orders, and expect a response from customers too.
The bottom line
When it comes down to it, communication for your business isn’t one-size-fits all so you need to consider all of the various communication options you have for contacting your customers. Sometimes business texting will be your best communication option but other times it might be a phone call or an email. That’s exactly why it’s important to know the pros and cons each has to offer, and which one works best for various scenarios.