If you want to get something done quickly and accurately, there’s still no better business tool than the telephone.
Email is a waiting game. No matter how many times I click the send/receive button, I cannot pull a response through the ether. Text messaging and IM’ing leave too much open to interpretation and, while fast, can’t be relied on for delivering accurate or detailed information.
But then there’s the telephone. Let me give you an example of why this neglected and maligned method deserves a comeback by comparing telephone to email in a standard business exchange.
Blah blah blah intro.
Blah blah blah this is what I need.
Blah blah blah please.
Blah blah blah asap.
I hit send and I wait. I click send-receive again, and again, hoping that that will send a psychic message to my recipient urging her to respond. I futz around on Facebook as I wait for that crucial message that will determine my next steps. I might send out other similar emails and sit in wait for them. That’s a whole lot of waiting.
When I do get a response, it sometimes requires a back and forth of several emails that can take up a good part of my morning, if not my day. Hopefully, before 5 pm, I have sealed the deal. If not, I spend the evening occasionally checking email on my phone to see if I’ll be able to start the next day with the answers I need.
Compare that to the telephone:
I was wondering if you could help me out with insert current crisis.
You can? Can we discuss it now? Great. (Or, what’s a good time? Today at 3? Perfect.)
Hang up phone. Move on to next project (or take a long lunch).
Voicemail. Leave a message. Hi this is Cynthia, this is why I’m calling, I’ll email you more details. Hopefully we can talk later today. Bye.
Most of the time, this phone call with email follow-up routine has a greater success rate than just firing off an email, especially if my name means nothing to a new contact. My highly unscientific yet proven-by-me theory is that once someone hears your voice, realizes you’re a living, breathing human who has a phone and isn’t afraid to use it, the odds of getting a response increase.