Whether you’re an emailing whizz or despise the thought of typing something you could say, there are both advantages and disadvantages for using email to keep in touch with clients, customers or even your own colleagues.
Even though people rave about the benefits of a phone call over email, 86% of professionals prefer to use email when communicating for business purposes. I know I’m not alone in thinking that! Sometimes it’s difficult to catch someone, especially if you’re on different schedules, to pin them down for a phone call, meaning email can be an easier and quicker alternative.
There are various scenarios when email can actually be the better medium, allowing you to strengthen your professional relationships with clear, detailed communication.
Gives the Conversation Direction
If you have a client or customer that easily goes off on a tangent, a phone call may turn into more of catch-up or a heart-to-heart than a business discussion. We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with that - you should be building a rapport with your business contacts but not when that time can be better spent on more important tasks. Time is money, after all.
By sending a clear email, you can steer the conversation in the right direction, especially if you just have a simple, straightforward question. This avoids the situation of rushing the conversation along on the phone, which can come across as rude.
Provides a Digital Record
An email thread is a definite, hard copy of the conversation between you and someone else. Talking over the phone can cause issues as things may get lost in translation or you might misinterpret certain information. You can go back to an email at any time, and even follow up without appearing too aggressive or pushy as opposed to repeatedly calling someone’s place of work or mobile phone.
Time to Prepare
If you’ve got an enquiry or issue that you’re not sure how to conquer, you might want to reach for the phone. However, by sending an email instead you allow people time to prepare an answer as they might not immediately know how to respond. You don’t want to catch people off guard especially if it’s about something that you’ve never discussed before.
Convenient for All
Whether you’re out at a meeting or having your lunch, the chances are that you’ll never be available to speak with someone at all times. On the other hand, you’ll most likely have access to your work emails wherever you go, and this is the case for the majority of business professionals meaning you can reach anyone in an instant.
Encourage a Response
Struggling to get an answer from someone? You might have called someone’s reception team several times a day and still haven’t been able to get through to their department. With email, you can utilise the ‘Cc:’ and ‘Bcc:’ (‘carbon copy’ and ‘blind carbon copy’) feature to copy a manager or colleagues into the conversation. As more people are aware that you’re waiting for a response, that person will feel a natural pressure to get back in touch as the ball will be in their court.
Overcoming the Struggles of Email
Some people prefer making calls as you will instantly know how the other person is feeling through the tone in their voice. Are they happy? Angry? It’s a lot easier to understand over the phone than email. To avoid being ambiguous, you should focus on the type of language and tone you use in your emails to ensure your intentions and emotions are clear.
While you may prefer to send emails, you should take into account the other person’s communication preference too. Do they take ages to reply? Can you easily get in touch on the phone? Then you should consider making a call in this scenario but make sure to have some talking points jotted down beforehand to keep the conversation moving along.
Also, don’t be scared to use both emails and phone calls together to be even more effective at communicating with your contacts. If you tend to email, give them a call every once in a while to touch base and chase up anything still left unanswered. Alternatively, if you’re always picking up the phone, try sending an email over to clarify the details of the conversation you’ve just had and use it as an opportunity to reiterate any key points.