There’s a war underway in the communications sphere. There are at least three sides: Pro phone calls. Pro voice notes. And pro ‘anything that doesn’t involve voice’.
Some people are fine with voice calls but hate voice notes. For others it’s the opposite. Millennials and Gen Z famously hate phone calls and avoid them entirely. Generation Mute, as they're being dubbed, much prefer text-based channels.
This is important for businesses because if you want to reach people, you need to do it using a channel they are comfortable with. Businesses that are tied to PBXs with landlines, using old-fashioned ‘call them until they answer’ approaches are out of luck in an era of Truecaller and call screening (or outright avoidance).
Beyond knowing what channels to use to reach people, it’s also important to brush up on the etiquette, as any business that has made a faux pas on Twitter will tell you, says Euphoria Telecom CEO John Woollam. Below, he outlines some of the etiquette businesses need to keep in mind to ensure their communications hit the mark, and they’re not alienating possible customers forever.
Ambush calling is out - Calling someone who isn’t expecting your call is something of a no-no for younger generations, which is why it’s been dubbed ‘ambush calling’. While Generation X and above might be happy to hear from you (and then with Gen X it could go either way), Gen Y and onwards certainly won’t. Text or email first to find out when it suits them to have a phone call, otherwise just default to their text-based channel of choice and save everyone a bit of stress and aggravation.
KISS - Permission is key, for calls and voice notes. Find out first if the person is amenable to voice notes (some people hate them passionately). If they are, keep it short and simple (KISS). If what you need to say takes you more than 30 seconds you should possibly send it in an email or ask if they’re free for a brief call. Make the voice note easy to find later by sending a message before the voice note, saying: “Regarding our meeting on 23 September”, for example - your future self will thank you. Also find out their channel of choice; you can send voice notes via most major social media platforms these days, and everyone has their preferred one for communications from businesses.
Choices, choices - For every Gen Zer that prefers text because it leaves them free to reply at their leisure and multitask on their phones, there’s likely another one who values the personal touch of a phone call. And while older generations have a rep for preferring voice calls, many keep their earphones permanently on silent so they can ignore calls in peace. Ultimately, it boils down to individual preference and personal choice.
Businesses looking to communicate with all of the diverse economically active generations need to change their approach from one-size-fits-all industrial era thinking, and start tailoring their approaches down to a factor of one. In the digital era personalisation and excellent customer experience are key. Your sales targets will thank you for it.