Do You Know How Your Customers Want to Communicate?

This week I received a phone call from a vendor that wanted to set up a sales demo with me. Now I don’t like to schedule things, or even get approached initially, over the phone by vendors. I much prefer an email first, so I can digest the info on my schedule, at my pace, without being interrupted. So I asked this gal to please send me the info, and then I would get back to her about scheduling something if I was interested. I told her that I only scheduled meetings like this through email.

So imagine my surprise when I received a phone call this morning, interrupting something I was doing, from the same vendor, asking when we could schedule the meeting. Now just to put this in perspective, I was in an all-day meeting when she called the first time. I’ve been working on deadlines since I got back, and have had several meetings. Since vendor meetings are not at the top of my priority list, I hadn’t gotten back to her yet. Yet it was flagged for my review in my inbox. I had told this vendor I preferred email. Wouldn’t it have made sense for her to follow up with an email?

I admit, it annoyed me. I told her to remove my phone number from her contact list, and that I wasn’t interested. And it’s a shame. Because I might have been interested if she had respected the communication boundaries I had asked for. But I’m not interested in working with someone that doesn’t listen to me.

And it got me to thinking about the ways direct sellers communicate. Do you ask people how they prefer to be contacted? Because not everyone wants to be interrupted with a sales call. Sometimes people prefer to be contacted via email, or through Facebook. You could be alienating customers by not respecting their communication styles. It’s not that you should never call someone. Obviously that’s important sometimes. But when someone tells you that they’d prefer to hear from you via email, for example, make sure that that’s the primary method that you use.

We’ve discussed the differences in communication styles of various generations. (And if you haven’t read that post, you should.) By understanding these differences, and respecting them, you will achieve better results.

Do you know what kind of communication your customers prefer? How do you find out? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

image credit: meddygarnet

9 Responses to Do You Know How Your Customers Want to Communicate?
  1. Belinda
    August 17, 2011 | 7:13 pm

    Jen –

    Thank you so much for this timely article! As I am “finishing up my busy season” I want to be able to communicate with my customers effectively without being overwhelming.
    I really like “Yapha’s” suggestion of putting a section on her contact form for preferred method of contact.
    Do you have any other suggestions?

    Thank you again!

  2. Winona
    August 17, 2011 | 4:55 pm

    Jennifer – I really don’t want to get calls on my cell phone, but I list it on my catalogs and my email signature. I’ve found that people tend to call it before they try my office phone or email, which are best for me because all my information and my calendar are on the computer.

    Am I in the dark ages in not wanting cell calls and not using a Smart Phone?

    I don’t want to be “on call” 24/7; I need to be able to walk away from it all and relax a bit. Otherwise, I get overwhelmed.

    • Tanya Johnson
      August 17, 2011 | 9:53 pm

      Hi Winona!

      I’m the opposite to you! I prefer people to call me on my mobile, and have it listed everywhere so my customers know how to get in touch with me (and yes, I do have a smart phone! hehe). I’d prefer people to have my mobile rather than my home number for a bit of privacy, even though we don’t use our home phone much.

      Having said that, I do understand where you’re coming from and would like to suggest perhaps taking your mobile number off your email and catalogues. Do you have to have it listed? I know consultants who list their landlines instead of their mobiles, probably for similar reasons.

      I prefer my mobile as it means I can do business from anywhere! And if I’m in a place where I can’t or don’t want to do business, I let the call go to voicemail and pick it up from there later, when I can call them back in my own time. But, as this post has pointed out, we all prefer communicating in different ways! I hope you find a solution!

      Tanya Johnson recently posted..Colour Charts

  3. Dawn Beardsley - Gold Canyon Candles
    August 17, 2011 | 3:32 pm

    Hi Jen,

    Thank you for this post. I have found this to be true when communicating with my downline but never thought to apply it to my customers.

    Can I share this post with my team members?

    • Jennifer Fong
      August 17, 2011 | 4:02 pm

      Of course! 🙂

  4. Yapha
    August 17, 2011 | 10:11 am

    In light of this article and the last one about different generation’s communication styles, I think I will add a section to my door prize form, asking how people prefer to be contacted. Great ideas!
    Yapha recently posted..Fun Fall Downloads

  5. Barbara Holm
    August 17, 2011 | 2:26 am

    I really look forward to reading your blog entries but I don’t always know when you have posted a new one. It seems like sometimes I run into something else you posted on facebook but didn’t see it anywhere else! I don’t want to miss any of your postings since they are so practical and helpful! Do I need to sign up for something else as well? Thanks…

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