Communication Preferences: Slack and Email and Chat, Oh My!

multi-generational people talking; communication preferences

What are your communication preferences? Slack or Teams? How about texting? Email? Chat? An old-school phone call? What about Zoom? Or, here’s something novel. How about a face-to-face meeting? Or, you could go really old school and send a handwritten note or letter.

How do you choose which communication channel to use?

What’s the Type of Communication?

Start by considering the type of communication. If it’s a quick query, choose texting or social media. If there’s lots of detail, Slack, Teams, or email could be your best choice. If there are likely many questions, consider Zoom, a phone call, or even a face-to-face convo. Same thing if there’s likely to be a lot of back-and-forth collaboration. For tech support, chat works great, but so do other channels, depending on the preferences of the people you support. What about in a one-to-many scenario where you need to communicate with a group of people? What’s the best choice in that setting? Could be email, but it could also be Slack. And then, there’s the question of when do you switch channels, say from texting to a phone call. I usually think about texting being appropriate for short communication, but once the communication turns into a longer back-and-forth, I switch to a phone call.

What about a customer portal on your website? Increasingly, customers are expressing a preference for no human contact, especially on routine issues. A customer portal can address that need.

What about communicating sensitive information? Avoid public channels such as social media, Slack or Teams, or traditional email. Choose a phone call or private messaging.

Consider asking your customers for their communication preferences. Then, design a communication strategy based on the information you get back.

How Urgent is the Communication?

Consider the urgency of the communication. If it’s really urgent, make a phone call or an in-person visit. Live chat or text can be a good solution for moderately urgent communication. For low-urgency communication, consider email or social media.

Customer Communication Preferences

Aside from the practical considerations of choosing a communication channel based on the type of communication, also consider the communication preferences of the people communicating. For example, suppose you prefer text, but your customer prefers a phone call. In this case, because they’re your customer, your communication choice should be a phone call. Look at who needs the communication. Is it the person originating the communication or the person receiving it? What if you’re the CEO and you need to communicate with all of your employees? Consider an omnichannel approach using video, email, and perhaps Slack or Teams.

Keep your ego and personal preferences at bay. Instead, consider the preferences of the person or people you want to receive your message. What’s the best way to get through to them? Know your audience. Meet them where they are, and you’ll increase the chances of your message getting through.

Also, be careful about making assumptions about the other person’s communication preferences based on their age. Just because they’re older doesn’t necessarily mean they prefer a phone call, nor should you automatically assume millennials or Gen Z people prefer Slack. Stereotypes aren’t always true.

Wanna get your message across? Consider the type of communication, the need for security, how urgent it is, and the communication preferences of the other people in the communication.

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