Hello Mr. Osborn, how are you today….How's the weather there in…Iowa"….Please hold while I look up your information…Sorry sir, my computer is really slow today….Hold on while I go talk to my supervisor…..
Okay, I'm an introvert, I'll admit that, but isn't it time that email is elevated to the status of the phone call? In my opinion an email is simply an asynchronous phone call when it comes to business related conversations. I'm busy throughout the day and I'm sure everyone else is too, but I do have a few minutes of down time here and there when I'm waiting for data to load or a project to build and I utilize that time to get some other tasks done. What I don't have time for during a build process is to sit on hold or wait for a receptionist to look up some information. The weather is either too hot or too cold and I'm sure your kids are great. Oh, you're computer is slow? No, I don't want the credit protection plan. Half the time I am probably going to get someone's voicemail anyways, so why not just send them my questions in an email in the first place. Sure in some cases a phone call can be quicker or the urgency requires a phone call, but in most cases a few emails will suffice and it allows me to space out the time into the random free minutes I have throughout the day. Sure I could just put you on hold every time my build finishes and take you off hold when I am waiting on data to load, but most likely you would find that extremely rude.
The problem I am running into is that apparently other individuals don't consider an email on the same level as a phone call. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect an immediate reply, but there are a few things that I would like to be able to start expecting.
- If you're out of the office for more than a day, I would like to receive an out of office reply.
- If I send you an email before 2pm on a work day, I would at least like to get an email before 5pm saying that you are looking into it and when you will be getting back to me.
- If there's a document you need me to sign, then scan it and email it to me. If I don't have the time to call you then I sure don't have the time to stop by your office.
- Don't send any data like a credit card number or social security number to me in an email unencrypted. If you need that information then you won yourself a phone call (or I'll decide it wasn't that important).
Is that too hard to expect? Obviously there will always be exceptions, but I would say that they are pretty simple to adhere to. The great thing about email is that people don't really want to type very much, which is great because I don't really want to read very much, so they keep their answers as concise as possible. I think most people want that phone call initiated because they feel they are going to have to do a lot of explaining, but it is most likely the case that I'm not going to retain the big long explanation you provide over the phone, so just answer my question via email which I have most likely phrased in the form of a yes or no question and save us both some time.
Seriously, am I way off base here?