I realize that I am about to write something that might make me sound 1) old 2) whiney 3) arrogant 4) maybe all of the above but …….oh well. I might even offend a few folks. I am willing to take that risk. I tend to write about things that I am experiencing and I can tell you that this is a live one.
Working in the internet marketing industry there is an opportunity to see a lot of things. One of the most interesting is the techniques that are called communication either personally or on the business side. Here are some thoughts on a few (not all by any means) of the most commonly used (or underused) techniques.
Instant Messaging (IM) – This can be an incredibly effective tool when used properly. Some excellent applications are for sales and sales support to “talk” to each other and solve problems for the prospect on the fly. It’s great to catch up with friends etc in a quick and informal way. Chat support is OK but it’s very limited. What it’s not, however, is a true customer service tool. Account managers should not be providing service and support via IM. Too many chances for issues. Because of the “on demand” nature of it there can be misperceptions about getting timely assistance. What if you are online at night and your client is too and they decide that they need your help with business right then. There HAS to be a break. Not to mention the emotion that can be read into an IM that simply isn’t there.
Oh, I almost forgot……if you spell poorly you look less intelligent. By the way, there is a huge difference between their and there as well as your and you’re. R U OK if you look uneducated?
E-mail – Relied on WAY TOO heavily in this current marketplace. Its best use is in the form of CYA (Cover Your “You Know What”) because at least there is a written record of a statement whether it’s internal or external communication. The flip side is that what you put in an e-mail in a time of anger or some other emotion is now a permanent record that may not read as good a month later as it did when you were venting. Exercise the 24 hour rule with heated e-mails. Write it in a Word doc, wait 24 hours, read it again and see if it still “works”. If yes, then copy, paste and send. If not, delete it. You will delete more than you send.
One thing e-mail should never be is a way to push responsibility to someone else. What I mean is that if you send an e-mail to set an appointment and if the other party doesn’t reply it doesn’t mean they were at fault. It actually means you are not really trying to get the desired result. Just because you sent an e-mail does not mean you communicated. Ever thought about how many e-mails that you didn’t get a response from were simply never read or were caught in spam filters?
Oh and please remember, if you don’t write or spell well you run the risk of looking unprofessional and foolish in your e-mails. There are a lot of folks who should really consider this as a problem.
Phone calls – Ah yes. A golden oldie. A standard, if you will. Definitely a lost art particularly amongst those who have only known chat rooms, IM, e-mail and other modern forms of communication. I was speaking with a friend the other day who said that she has gone back to calling on the phone because it’s more direct, efficient and it actually builds a relationship. She said that the impersonal nature of almost all electronic forms of “communication” allows for everyone to be less accountable, less truthful and simply less in touch. Simply said, I agree. There are few ways that are more effective in getting things done efficiently with good results than a phone call. Especially these days it’s a lot harder to blow someone off on the phone. With e-mails and IM’s it’s like the old “cup of courage” situation. People may not say certain things unless they have gone over their limit with the cocktails. Same thing with e-mails and IM. People get “electronic courage” and can play a lot tougher than they are. Get that same person on the phone and chances are the result will be quite a bit different.
Well as with everything. There is more to say but that’s enough for now. Next time we’ll talk about a real scary one: face to face communication. Remember that? Get away from your computer and talk to someone …… in person.
SMB Takeaway – Don’t confuse information with communication. Passing information in an impersonal manner (most electronic forms of communication are very impersonal regardless of what the experts say) is just that, passing information. Use some “old school” techniques like the phone to get things done quickly, efficiently and honestly. Sure sometimes it’s painful but there is always growth on the other side of pain.
Have a great day!