E-mail communication with customers can be efficient and easy, but it is easy to fall into a bad habit of only using e-mail to handle customer inquiries. If your goal is to build better relationships with your customers, the telephone may be a better tool.
While talking on the phone can be can be stressful or distasteful in some instances, I find that most of the time you end up doing a better job helping the customer. A by-product of this personal contact is a more evolved relationship which can be more satisfying for provider and customer.
My auto mechanic, Earl, runs a busy shop. Yet, he always finds the time to call me about the status of my car when it is in his shop. His friendly call comforts me that the job is getting done. I count Earl as one my friends and refer him to many of my friends since I know that he will treat them equally well.
An opposite example is my relationship with Google. I recently had a problem with my Google Adwords account which had been infected with malware (corrupt software from an internet pirate). I have had 30 e-mail messages back and forth with the help desk at Google and still have not resolved my problem. I am not happy. I wonder how easily this could have been resolved by a simple phone call. Trust me; at this point I have lost all confidence in Google to solve my problem.
The moral of this story is simple: call your customer whenever possible. It will make you feel better.
John Bradley Jackson
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