As new technologies emerge, older ones are threatened by critics’ potential death sentence…we’ve seen it time and time again. When we, as a society, became more familiar with text messaging, for example, critics suggested that people would no longer communicate via email in the near future.
As social media took off, there were critics that suggested that email marketing was going to die. As instant messaging became a big thing back in the day, there were those suggesting that people would turn to instant messaging over email, and email would soon be a thing of the past.
A recent article discusses the death of email and why it’s such a bad thing for businesses. The author refers to it as the “Pony Express”, which, given our increasingly rapid fire communication tools available, makes a little sense.
Wait…as I’m reading the examples above, it seems as though poor email has really taken a beating over the years! It has managed to survive despite the doomsday predictions, but we are again faced with another death sentence for email, this time related to companies and service levels.
I came across this article that talks about the benefits of doing away with email for business. The author shares four ways doing away with email will improve customer service:
1. More time to talk with customers: at first, I thought this was leading toward face to face conversations. However, the author shares that options such as live chat, can go a long way in assisting customers quickly and efficiently. I will agree with this one – I much prefer live chat for a quick issue over email.
2. Better collaboration: it can be challenging to schedule meetings, share ideas, and collaborate with groups of people over email. Moving to a more traditional boardroom, in person setting is suggested as being more efficient.
On this point, I agree that these types of tasks are rather difficult to handle in email. However, because of the way business has evolved, with more and more employees working remotely or trying to collaborate over vast geographical distance, time zones, and the like, I think getting rid of email all together just won’t work. However, using an email to point a group to a Google Doc, online meeting room, or similar venue is an efficient way to manage collaboration.
3. Service with personality: customer service is about building relationships, so things need to get personal. The author suggests that doing away with email for customer service, which can consist of canned responses to inquiries, can improve the relationship building.
This may be true, but maybe look at other ways to provide personality and relationship building in email correspondence is better. Emails, texts, and other written communication is tricky at best, as people can come off in a tone that’s not intended, and things can get easily misunderstood. However, possibly guiding employees to be more personal and less “canned” in responses will go a long way to improve service levels. Couple that with a quick response time and email is still efficient and useful in the workplace.
4. A sympathetic ear: customers want to be heard and feel that they are cared about when they have issues. Similar to the point above, tweaking email communication and ensuring response rates are as quick as possible will address these concerns and make email communication better in customer service issues.
Essentially, while the premise of doing away with email sounds like it may be beneficial, I think companies are better served by incorporating new communication tools (such as online chat, social media engagement, etc) while keeping the more traditional tools. Customers still want to communicate with companies in the way they’re most comfortable, and this will mean different things to different people – having multiple channels of communication available, as long as they are providing strong service, is the best way to go.