Are we hiding behind emails and forgetting the real value of conversation? It has long been my belief that as we develop as humans our mouths will seal up and our digits will grow and assume an increased purpose as we forget the importance of speaking with our customers and colleagues in favour of the eternal email trail.
Email has long since become the default mode of communication for many businesses. As a mode of communications it is quick, cost effective and provides an ability to connect with more than one person at a time, but more than that; it now provides that fail safe trail of proof. It’s an increasing sign of the times that many feel the need to have the security that they can prove that an action has been undertaken, a record of a conversation (all be it written) or simply the mentality of covering yourself should the need arise.
As I agonised over what to write about and composed and rewrote this piece, it reminded me of those really difficult emails that can take ages to compose to ensure the correct terminology and tone. How much quicker and more effective to pick up the phone and deal with those complicated issues in person? There is an instant response, two way conversation and an ability to gain a feeling as to the other person’s reaction through tone of voice, and language.
This art of conversation, if not nurtured will become an obsolete skill to be replaced by the lifeless substitute of emails. More important still is the value placed by customers in the interaction gained from talking by phone or face to face. Business transactions become personal relationships engendering trust and mutual respect.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against emails. They are quick, delivered instantly even, but how quickly they are responded to is another matter. Consider your own email habits, how quickly do you reply when an email comes in? Does it depend on if it’s the boss? If it’s a complicated query do you flag it for deeper attention later? Or is it simply lost in the recesses of an overfull inbox? A ringing phone, however, cannot be ignored. Once answered your full attention is on the matter in hand and the person on the other end.
As a business I have been pressing for a return to phone conversations for a while. When checking service levels or reaction to a proposal I find emails are a poor substitute for discussing one to one. The instant action and reaction and nuances of the conversation give a far better result. Building relationships in business is key and I find emails come across as distant and impersonal.
On many occasions the tone of an email is misread or the message lost in complicated jargon. How much better to use a conversation to learn about your client, the person behind the business and so strengthen working relationships and demonstrate a real interest in the person and not just the need to “do business”.
So I urge you next time you take out your laptop to fire across another email, take a second and ask yourself – ‘am I hiding behind an email when picking up the phone would
be a better way to engage?’
You will be surprised at the results and the warmth with which a phone call is received.