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Tag Archives: telephone communication

When email is not the best choice …

For the last few weeks, off-and-on, I’ve been blogging about the things people do when they send email that negatively impacts both their credibility and effectiveness.  My last post was on how it’s critical to offer your phone number as an alternate way for your email recipients to contact you.  Today I thought I’d make one final point that’s been at the back of my mind ever since we started on this subject.

NoEmailIn my opinion, the biggest blunder that people make with email is sending one when they shouldn’t!  There are times when picking up the telephone or walking down the hall to talk to the person is a far better alternative than sending an email.  Sure, email may seem easier at first blush, but if your message is likely to escalate emotions, then email should never be your first choice, or for that matter, any choice.  In fact, email in such situations is more likely to deteriorate into what I call “email warfare” – a rapid-fire exchange of emails, each one more emotionally-charged than the last, and usually cc’d to additional people in each round.  Never a recipe for a positive outcome!  As powerful as the written word can be, it simply cannot reflect the nuances that exist in facial expressions, body posture, tone, pace, pitch and volume of voice.  Which means that emails can be easily misunderstood, particularly when the topic being discussed is emotionally-charged.  The alternative: talk to the person face-to-face, or if that’s not possible, pick up the phone.  Even a voice mail is preferable to an email in such circumstances.

Well, have you observed situations of “email warfare” gone horribly wrong?  Do tell.

Even with email, make it easy for people to phone you

TelephoneSince we’ve been talking about email effectiveness here on the blog for the last little while (getting the subject line right, not sending FYI emails, and the importance of grammar and spell check), here’s one more.  Make it easy for your addressee to get a hold of you.  Make sure your signature line has at least one alternate way to contact you.  You want people to act on what you say, right?  So make it simple.  Sometimes, the other person will realize that a back-and-forth email exchange is not the best way to resolve whatever it is you’re discussing.  Give them easy access to your phone number so that they can pick up the telephone and get things dealt with.  Don’t make them hunt for this information, make it effortless for them.  Here’s the odd thing about this – people may not notice that you’re offering up this alternate way to contact them.  But they sure as heck will notice if you don’t.  Do you really want to be remembered because you irritated them?  Yeah, didn’t think so.  So make sure that you have your phone number or other easy way for people to contact you right there in your email signature line.

Next blog post I’ll have one final idea in this series.  But in the meantime, what else do you have to add to the list of how people (unknowingly) sabotage their credibility through their email communication?  Tell us, so that we can all be warned!

Why it’s so important to return phone calls

Recently, a colleague suggested I contact a specific company because she’d been made aware that they were seeking leadership development training for their people.  Given what I do, it seemed like a perfect fit.  While my colleague couldn’t direct me to a specific person, she was quite familiar with the company and so was able to direct me to the right department.  I called and spoke to their receptionist, who promptly transferred me to the appropriate manager, who I’ll call Kara Close.  I left a voice mail for Kara, explaining who I was and why I was calling.  I acknowledged that she may not be the right contact for this particular matter, or the company may have already met their requirements through alternate means, but asked her to call me back to let me know or to direct me elsewhere.  I also gave her my email address.  That was two weeks ago.  I’m still waiting for a response.

Now I know all the likely reasons Kara Close didn’t call me back – she probably gets hundreds of phone calls from potential vendors, the company doesn’t need my services, I called the wrong person, she is too busy.  But here’s why she SHOULD have responded to me.  This company is a well-known corporation in the cruise industry.  And so I am not only a potential vendor, but I am ALSO a prospective customer.  Kara Close’s lack of response to me as a possible vendor is ALSO a very visible indicator of what kind of customer service I might expect from this organization as a consumer.  The cruise industry is fiercely competitive with many top-notch lines aggressively battling to get vacation dollars.  So, the next time I plan a cruise holiday, how high on my list do you think this company is going to be?

Kara Close may not have the words “Customer Service” in her job title, but she is definitely (not) a customer relationship ambassador.  It doesn’t matter what jobs your employees do, they are always representing your company, your brand and your organization’s values.  By not responding to my call, Kara Close gave me an unexpected insight into this organization’s values and culture, and in the process, did her company a great disservice.

So what do you think?  Am I right?  Or am I being too sensitive?

Voicemail IS a productivity tool IF used appropriately

Voice mail can and should help improve your productivity, not worsen it.  It is just like any other business tool: if used appropriately, it CAN enhance your efficiency AND that of others calling you.  The key word here of course is “appropriately”.  In the latest May-June issue of CGA Magazine, I outline specific changes you can make to both the greeting that callers hear when they phone you as well as the messages you leave for others.  Read the article – Voicemail etiquette: Taking productivity from mediocre to masterful.

And of course, as always, I’d love to hear your opinions.  How do you feel about voicemail – friend or foe?  What approaches have you take to make it work for you?