Your customers will choose to communicate with you an a variety of ways, phone, email, instant messaging, twitter, facebook etc.
How they communicate could tell you a lot about how urgent they perceive their issue to be.
If the customer phones you, it means they want action now, whether it is to enquire about a product, or to give some feedback about the service they experienced…they want you to deal with it now.
Same could be said for instant messaging i.e. SMS, BBM, Skype. It is not as important to them, because they never know whether you are in front of your computer, or have your phone in your hand, but they still want you to deal with their request as soon as you get the message.
Email messages are probably another step down on the totem-pole.
When it comes to text-based communication you need to be extremely careful. Emotion cannot be conveyed via text, although I’ve seen some valiant attempts, and whatever you read or reply has a good chance of being misinterpreted.
So if you are dealing with an angry client that fired off an email while being angry, don’t reply to it, rather phone them back.
Chances are they’ve cooled down by the time you phone and probably regret even sending the mail, but if you send back a terse response because you see their mail as a personal attack, then you’ll be adding kindle to the fire, and probably lose the client for life.
That follow-up phone-call, and dealing with the issue, will, on the other hand, probably gain you a client for life.