Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Why not use phone in business communications

People are well-organized and sophisticated animals, where reflexes and habits (in opposite to thinking) play the major role. One of those habits is to talk, not to think. This approach is convenient for everyday communications, but when it comes to business negotiations or to technical questions, phone is not a productive option. And here's why.

The first delusion is seemingly fast resolution of the problem. Yes, a phone call is a fast method to make somebody do something in your favor (possibly the things which have been postponed or overlooked before). That's fine. However, if the problem needs time to work on, then the benefit of the phone call becomes void immediately. Moreover, distracting the specialist from his work brings nothing but frustration to both sides.

The second delusion is effectiveness in obtaining the information. Easy comes easy goes, it is. When you get some information, you ask for more details, and unless you write them all down immediately (and what was the sense for calling then if you need to write or type what you hear?), it's forgotten. When you have a written (typed) communication transcript, you can always get back to that transcript and clarify the things which were not clear. Moreover, the other party can do the same, so what you have agreed on is not forgotten by either party.

The last but not the least factor is possibility to think. Fast resolution of anything is almost never very effective. And while in everyday life a suitable but faster solution is preferred to the most effective but late one, in business it's different. By saving 5 minutes on typing you can lose hundreds of dollars on ineffective solution. So it's all simple math.

There exists one more factor, that acts in cases of various support and assistance channels. Written communication makes support personnel more accurate and attentive, because they know that the transcript can always be inspected and reviewed by management of both parties. Also if there's any debate initiated by either side, both parties can review the history of communications and work out the mutually satisfactory position.

To summarize the above, phone communication can save you 5-10 minutes but the long-term benefits of written communication outweigh that seemingly saved time significantly.