The Lost Art of Talking to Customers

According to the Q1 2018 Nielsen Total Audience Report U.S. adults, on average, are spending 11 hours a day connected to linear and digital media, watching movies and videos or looking at social media. Another study highlights that although everyone is now using their smartphones for almost everything, around 43% of American households were still using landline telephones in December 2017. So although smartphones and digital devices are now dominant, many people continue to value their good old telephones!

When offered the choice between sending an email (or maybe a text message) or picking up the phone and speaking with a real person it’s understandable that people often go for the text-based option. Composing an email message allows time for consideration and possibly amendment whereas talking to someone, live, on the telephone, can sometimes cause anxiety. As a result the telephone is not always the favored customer communications channel and these days there are many other text-based communication options including social media, web-based forms and an increasing number of online chatbots.

It has been suggested that one of the reasons telephones are not favored is conflict avoidance. People want to avoid potentially difficult conversations and will instead opt for a text-based customer exchange.

But great customer service, customer support and customer care are all about providing excellent and easy customer communications. While it is essential to offer all of the digital communication pathways people expect, depending entirely on email and other text-based mediums means that there is a lot of potentially valuable information that may be lost. Also, every customer interaction is a valuable opportunity to build the relationship and develop customer rapport. Telephone communication can be far more effective than most digital channels.

Talking to Customers on the Telephone

Every time you interact with your customers you want them to feel entirely positive about the exchange. Speaking directly with them on the telephone enables you to convey positivity and demonstrate that you are genuinely pleased to be talking to them. Your tone of voice, your welcome message, the manner in which you converse and the interest you show in them and their issues – all these important factors contribute to their customer experience.

By attentively listening to your customers, the language they choose to use, their tone of voice and how their mood evolves throughout a telephone conversation, you will gain valuable insight which goes way beyond their reported customer service or support issue. This can be enormously valuable information that will help you retain customers who would otherwise consider going elsewhere. Your customer may be unhappy with an issue with their product or service, but if they have a great experience when dealing with the issue they are far more likely to remain a valuable customer.

Also, telephone calls can be recorded, which is very valuable. By listening back to calls, team leaders can identify agents who would benefit from additional training and others who have exemplary telephone skills that they can share.

Examples of Great Telephone Customer Support

To illustrate the obvious benefits of telephone based customer communications here are a couple of notable examples.


Rackspace provide a comprehensive portfolio of managed, digital services including cloud based infrastructure, applications, data and security. They wrap all of their services in what they call Fanatical Experience by providing Fanatical Support which is their proactive, results-obsessed approach to serving customers.

Telephone based support is at the heart of their Fanatical Support offering. A story from Fred Reichheld, a Fellow at the management consultancy firm Bain & Company, highlights the benefit of telephone customer communications.

One of my favorite examples of this happened at Rackspace, the managed hosting and cloud computing company. An employee on the phone with a customer during a marathon troubleshooting session heard the customer tell someone in the background that they were getting hungry.

As she tells it, ‘So I put them on hold, and I ordered them a pizza. About 30 minutes later we were still on the phone, and there was a knock on their door. I told them to go answer it because it was pizza! They were so excited.’

This is an example of great customer support that will have made a significant and memorable impression on the client and would not have been possible via text-based communication channels.


Zappos describes itself as:

“a service company that just happens to sell all the nifty shoes, clothing, accessories and whatnot found on”

Customer service from Zappos is famously amazing! Their Customer Loyalty Team are ready to engage with customers via telephone, chat or email and importantly – customer service calls at Zappos take as long as they need to. The Zappos Customer Loyalty Team are all friendly, solution oriented representatives who will do whatever is required to help their customers. This led to one of their highly focused service agents remaining on one client call for an incredible 10 hours and 43 minutes, making certain they were perfectly happy.

If telephone support is an important part of your business, you can use Customer Thermometer to check if customers are happy after their call with you. Check out how Gigmasters does it.

Give Customer Thermometer a try in your customer programmes. Send yourself an example here:

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