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Customer relationship management is often laser-focused on email and social media. reducing customers’ needs, hopes, and pain points to data points and milestones. These components are obviously crucial, but it’s to easy to overlook one of the most basic means of communication available to us: the telephone. Truly effective CRM utilizes the power of the human voice in direct, real-time communication.

Case in point: my car has been in the shop for over a week now. The nature of the issue required an insurance adjustor to look at the car, and special ordering some parts–each of which contributed to a longer time frame for repair.

Rather than renting a car, the dealership gave me a brand new loaner car to drive in the interim. While this alone would’ve been enough to satisfy me, it’s been the communication that’s made me a customer for the foreseeable future, if not for life.

Every day since they’ve had my car, I have received a phone call around 4:00pm with a complete status update. I have not for one day been left to wonder what’s going on, nor have I had to pester the shop for information. I have been proactively provided with everything I need to know, often before I have had time to think of it.

Of course, I receive regular targeted emails and paper mail offering specials and advising me of new features, sales and events. I also follow two different Twitter feeds related to the brand. These are both helpful and informative, but I know these means of communication originate from the corporate office.

My local dealer knows my name, takes the time to catch up on general life events when I’m in their office, and reminds me through their actions that they value me as an individual. I’m not a target demographic, I’m not an email address with a customizable first name field in a SalesForce database: I’m a person, and I respond to personal attention. And unlike most people, when they say they’ll call they actually mean it and follow up.

The digital realm isn’t the be-all and end-all in CRM. As this anecdote illustrates, humans respond to humans. Your customers, regardless of industry, deserve this type high-end treatment. Even if you are a huge retailer with hundreds of thousands of customers, when a customer service issue arises that person should feel that their patronage is appreciated and their needs are addressed.

So take the time to sit down and talk. Don’t make them wait. Remember to call. Your customers will remember why they became customers in the first place.

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