Get on the phone…


Communication is and always has been one of the most important elements in a successful business, weather that be internally or with customers.

We communicate to our external audience in a variety of fashions, through marketing and advertising campaigns, the company website and in more recent years and in increasing numbers through a range of social media platforms.

On a day-to-day basis, what method do you most use to have a conversation with your team or your customers? My guess is that it is via email.

The email has replaced the telephone as the main communication tool in business- and even in our personal lives we are as likely to get a text message from a friend or loved one, as we are a telephone call.

This change isn’t new, and hasn’t happened overnight; but it is accelerating, and in my view is having a detrimental effect on our ability to communicate effectively.

I went into a meeting in Leeds on Wednesday afternoon for an hour and a half. When we had finished, I looked at my mobile device (it is much more than a phone these days) and I had just one voicemail – but my inbox showed an incredible 129 emails!

Many of them were crap that I was able to delete fairly quickly. I don’t mean ‘junk’ as in invitations from Eastern European women to ‘make friends’ with them. I mean crap as in emails from colleagues who think it necessary to CC me into stuff in order to have a paper trail that covers their own back.

But also buried in this avalanche of correspondence, there was some important stuff too, including invitations to television debates; a request for an introduction from one of our sponsors and information about forthcoming business support programmes and the next round of ERDF funding.

The challenge I have nowadays is to pick out the important stuff from the crap and then try to respond to it in a timely manner – and it is a challenge I am finding increasingly difficult to deal with.

Of the 129 emails that I received in that 90 minutes on Wednesday, over half of them were unnecessary; another chunk of them were at best for information purposes only; and then there were at least a dozen that would have been far better dealt with by a quick telephone call.

We are losing the art of verbal communication. Even when you walk down the street these days you will walk past someone you know without even noticing as your head is bowed reading the latest barrage of content that has been emailed, tweeted or text to you.

As for using your mobile device to actually phone someone, do you do that as often as you should?

My team don’t. In particular my sales team don’t. After Easter they will, so expect to get an actual telephone call from one of the Downtown team – and have a conversation with them ‘voice to voice’ rather than ‘electronically’.

‘Get on the phone’ will be the new mantra I will be using in our office from now on. The bombardment of email has created a wall of noise that is no longer penetrating your customers. Downtown has taken note. You should too.

Happy Easter!