While email is great for lead generation, it can sometimes be a poor substitute for picking up the phone or visiting a customer.
Sure, email is convenient. However, it has long been viewed as an inferior form of communication, and for good reason. A customer simply can't decipher tone, intention, expression or sincerity through an email. So, what are some of the circumstances in which an email reply won't suffice and a call is better?
Upset Customers: Upset customers need to vent. They need to express what it is that has left them feeling unappreciated. Give them that opportunity. Call your customer. Using leading questions will help customers express exactly what they're feeling. A face-to-face visit is even better.
Now, this doesn't mean every problem is followed up by a call and visit. However, what it does mean is that you don't just send an email before leaving at 5:00 pm as a means of pushing the problem to the next day.
After Lead Generation: Let's assume you have a simplified lead capture form on your website. Your conversion rates are high because this form is linked to your landing pages and your internal CRM. Customers don't have to fill in too much information because your form does the rest.
In this case, a brief thank you email after conversion makes sense. However, a call is even better. A call welcomes your customer and gives you an opportunity to answer any questions he or she may have.
Delivery Delays: It's never good to advise a customer of a late delivery by email. Yes, the customer may be upset, and yes, he or she may vent. However, your customer needs to have that opportunity. The customer has earned that right by giving you business. Sending an email about a delivery delay is bad business.
Surcharges: Any additional charges that change a project's scope require a call. Your customers have budget constraints like any company does. They must manage their costs just like you do and they understand that sometimes the unforeseen takes place and costs increase. What they won't understand is an email that outlines a substantial increase in costs without a thorough explanation.
Account Holds: Granted, customers get account statements all the time by email. However, deciding to put an account on hold due to delinquent payments must always occur after a call, not before. Never send a customer an email stating that an account is on hold. Pick up the phone. If the payments are extremely delinquent, then go see your customer in person and work out a payment plan.
Price Negotiations and Involved Proposals: It would be great if businesses could sell as easily by email as they do when using email for lead generation.
However, closing sales is best done in person. Negotiation always involves two present parties. Call your customer before sending that proposal. Advise the customer of what your offer entails and always keep the door open to negotiation.
Lead generation and email marketing go hand-in-hand. However, a call or visit is always best when discussing customer-centric issues. Use email after your call or visit to summarize discussions, but don't use email as your first and only communication method when touching base with customers on complex business issues.