Telephone vs. Email: How to Know Which to Use

With many of us now working from home due to social distancing, employees have had to rely on different mediums in order to communicate with their coworkers. These communication tacts range from video chats, emails, and in some cases phone conversations. However, talking on the phone is a skill that way too many of us have lost. While it may be easier sometimes to use digital forms of communication to contact someone, there are still plenty of benefits to making phone calls. Phone calls give the ability for a more personalized message, lower the risk of misunderstandings, and build trust between the two parties. But that doesn’t mean everyone on your team should rush to pick up the nearest phone and do all of their business that way.

There are still situations when email is the best form of communication, which can make it intimidating for your employees to know which channel is appropriate to use. This leads to employees getting too reliant on digital communication and losing their phone capabilities. Now that the coronavirus has rendered everyone to their homes, it’s more important than ever that all employees have efficient phone skills, and that they are confident about the mediums they choose to use. Below are some tips on when you should call versus send an email to help your team feel more comfortable picking up the phone.

Use the Phone for Personal Messages

If emotion is important to convey your message, then phone calls are the way to go. It’s a lot easier to express feelings— whether that be excitement, sympathy, or worry— when you can use your voice. You should deliver messages like giving someone a promotion, ending a client relationship, or addressing a mild to severe concern, over the phone.

Use Email When Sending Rules, Guidelines, or a Detailed Explanation

Emails are best when you’re sending the receiver a specific and/or long set of instructions. This way both you and the receiver have a written log of what needs to be done. Be sure that the instructions you send are clear, easy to read, and ask for confirmation that the receiver understood them. That way everyone is on the same page on what needs to be done and both parties can refer back to the email if needed.

Use the Phone When Trying to Build a Relationship

If you’re working to either build a relationship with a client or strengthen a relationship with an employee, then phone calls are the best way to go. It’s easier for people to trust you when they’re familiar with your voice, and when they know they can easily reach you for any problems— all of which can be proven by talking over the phone. New technologies, like Voice over IP phone services, keep your employees available by connecting their business phone numbers to any internet-connected mobile device. Now clients, customers, and co-workers can trust that their calls will never go unanswered, and you’ll prove to be a reliable source of information.

Use Email for Quick Questions and Follow-ups

For questions that won’t take much time to be answered, a quick email is the best way to get your answer. However, this only works if your question is not time-sensitive— in which case a phone call would be better. Now it’s fair to point out that a lot of modern offices may use chat services to make fast communication a little easier. However, there are instances where you might want to send an email instead of a chat. As a good rule of thumb, send an email if you’re following up after a meeting or you have a question that needs their full, undivided attention.

Use the Phone When It’s Easier for Them

Although these tips are great principles, none of it matters if the person you’re contacting has specified how they want to be contacted. If you’re genuinely not sure whether or not you should send an email or use a phone call, then ask them how they prefer to be contacted and respect their wishes. Companies can take it a step farther by providing analytics of how people in the office like to be contacted. Software, like an email tracking tool, can be used to collect data on how much attention people give the messages in their inbox so employees can get a better idea of whether or not an email will be effective or not. The best form of communication is always the one that works best for the people involved, so make sure that everyone is confident in the medium they’re using.

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