In the last edition of our blog series on The Art of Communication for Customer Success, we explored “listening to understand,” perhaps the most underrated yet important communication tool at work (and in life). This week we are looking at the importance of delivery, and choosing the right method for the message and the recipient. A common problem stemming from the plethora of communication choices—email, Slack, Zoom, texting, phone calls—is that people choose the wrong one for important requests or other critical communications.

In a world more reliant upon virtual communication than ever before, a phone call can sometimes feel out-dated. However, when it comes to handling sensitive information, a “person-to-person” conversation is an important courtesy. If a request is complex or sensitive, a relationship is new, or trust is low, it’s always best to initiate a voice conversation, either via phone call or video conference. A good rule of thumb is to think about how YOU would want to receive the request or information.

Here’s a little quiz on when to Slack and when to pick up the phone:

Scenario 1: You have to tell a team member that they weren’t chosen to attend an annual conference they usually go to.

  1. Slack
    B. Phone Call

Answer = B
How would you feel if you received this information via Slack? This is a great example of something that would feel better when shared in a more personal and formal manner, which Slack is not.

Scenario 2: It’s Friday at 3pm and you need a member of your team to write a complex report over the weekend. 

  1. Slack
    B. Phone Call

Answer = B
Professional boundaries and respect are important. We would suggest that you pick up the phone for this one. Better yet, if you’re in the same office, get up and walk over to talk in person. (If you call and they don’t pick up, don’t leave a VM. Instead, shoot a quick Slack or text message asking them to get back to you about an urgent request.) Depending on your relationship, the request could be handled via email, but because it’s urgent, we’d suggest sending the person a quick Slack or text message asking them to check their inbox and to call you if questions. And remember, until the person responds, the request is in your court.

Scenario 3: You need to inform an important client that you are raising their prices by 10%.

A. Slack
B. Phone Call

Answer = B
We hope this was a “no duh!” for you. As we are sure you guessed, this is the kind of information that is important to share in a person-to-person conversation. This helps convey the right tone and shows integrity and respect for your history and relationship. (After you talk, best to follow up by email confirming the details of your conversation.)

Personal exchanges afford you the opportunity to convey the right tone and cadence–small details with significant consequences. Verbal expression allows for a more nuanced approach to a person’s overall message than text, which is key to building or maintaining trust. This ability to express an emotion or empathy helps us forge closer, more meaningful relationships, and support clearer connections to others. To learn more about the art of communication in business and in life,  check out our latest eBook.

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