Emails and text messaging are not a replacement for phone calls and personal visits! Your reliance on electronic communication is killing your chance of creating success.
Businesses and individuals are becoming overly dependent upon emails and text messaging, incorrectly replacing phone calls and personal visits with emails, texting and communications sent over social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace,Twitter, and others. The internet, emails, texting and social networking are great tools for making information easily available to others and an intelligent way to disseminate but are becoming a way for people to hide from actually engaging their clients. People are becoming overly reliant and falsely dependent upon emails, texting and the internet as a primary means of communicating. 183,000,000 emails and over 1 billion text messages are sent out daily of which some estimate as many as 70% are spam. It is a rule in my office that all email communications must be followed up with personal phone calls to ensure that the electronic communication was received and understood.
The internet may be a great place to meet your next spouse but you can't consummate the relationship without meeting the individual! Except for the promises made by Russian mail order sites most of us will have to find our spouse the old-fashion way. Relationships require you to actually make contact with a human being, meet the person, get to know one another and then hopefully grow it from there. This is even more important in acquiring business and maintaining the customer relationship. Unless you are a gun dealer or trade in espionage you will most likely be required to engage your client in order to keep the client. No communication by a machine can ever replace personal follow up, phone calls and human service and this reality is hyper-magnified during periods of economic contraction. Businesses and the individuals are relying too much on emails and text messaging and deluded to believe that emailing and texting is communication!
Baby boomers, remember when you were introduced to calculators and within a decade most of us could no longer add, subtract, divide and multiply without them. Remember when you could remember family, friends and even clients' phone numbers? Today you can no longer do so is because cell phones started automating names and numbers making it unnecessary for you to remember anything. Not long from now because of the navigation system in your car you will no longer be able to find your way home because again everything is programmed. While the calculator, address memory and navigation systems are incredible advancements they have also created deficiencies in your abilities.
A similar deficiency is being created with communicating to your clients. The dependency upon electronic communication is reaching a point where businesses are no longer actually in communication with their clients. Assume that all electronic communication that is not verified as received, understood and responded to is not in fact communication. If I tell a story and no one was there to hear it, did I communicate? Sending an email or a text that is not clearly understood and that you don't get feedback on should be treated like no communication! In business you should never use email or texting as a sole way to communicate. Consider this:
1) Your email or text could have gone to spam or junk.
2) Your email or text could have gone to an incorrect email address.
3) Receiver of emails and text may have been inundated with other emails and not paid the proper attention to your email.
4) Recipient may hit junk accidentally.
5) Recipient may have started to read your communication and gotten distracted with the intention of responding to it but forgot.
6) You are unable to get a sense of how the email was received.
None of the above can happen when you are making personal contact. Never, never, never send an email or mail without a follow up phone call or personal visit. With each email be sure you end by saying. "I will follow you up with a phone call or personal visit to answer any of your questions." This allows you to confirm the email was received, go over the content of the email and handle any questions your recipient may have.
This past weekend I was at a party and a guy asked me, "do you know how to reply to an email?" He was railing on me because I had not responded to his email. The reality is I don't even remember receiving his email. All he had to do was pick up the phone and call me immediately after he hit send on his computer to ensure I received the communication. Instead he sat at his computer and wondered why I never responded.
Let your competition rely on machines, emails, texting, the internet and social networking and I assure you they will become more dependent and progressively more ineffective. The more mechanical the world becomes the more effective and impressive the personal touch is valued. Your job is to get in front of people, touch people, get them to communicate with you, assist and be of service to them.
Before the entire internet world labels me a caveman understand this tip in not to suggest that emails, texting, the internet, and social networking are not important -- they are! I use all them in mass quantities on a daily basis but none of them replace me picking up the phone and contacting a customer or making a personal visit.