Frustration with new-age communication being ignored *whinge*
I had to come here to post this and have a good old Aussie whinge, as it is fast becoming one of my main frustrations in business and communicating between clients and ourselves. But with the responses we have been getting when confronting the problem, the responses we get are making us feel like perhaps we are from another planet on this issue.
In this day and age of instant, simple communication such as email or SMS messaging between mobile phones (cellphones), I get so frustrated when particular clients or contacts (and it seems to be the same ones all the time) refuse to respond to a question or a message containing information regarding a project we are working on for them. Or even just messages between business associates.
I have never liked the telephone for conversations that could be dealt with in a simple "yes", "no", or "could we change the meeting to 12 instead of 11.30?". The conversations always blow-out into peripheral matters that could be dealt with another time.
I might be wrong, but ignoring these messages really gets under my skin.
I have one friend who constantly refuses to reply to questions via email and sometimes via SMS. I always have to then ring to see if he got the message. "yes, I did, sorry I didn't respond".
One of our main clients has one person who, when you send video updates for approval, refuses to acknowledge receipt of them, even if you attach a message saying "Hi there xxxx, here are the latest updates, please acknowledge receipt so I am not under the impression you have received it when in fact you haven't", or words to that effect.
I just don't get it. We are all busy making a living and getting things done, and yet this easy, fast and very simple form of communication is ignored.
I think it's, strange, rude and disrespectful - especially when you have asked a question or require a response.
My wife thinks it is funny and says I should just use the phone with those people because I know what they are like, which is probably true - but I try to educate them anyway. :-) Mind you, she is a phone-lover and I am sure would sleep talking on the phone if she could. :-)
Have a great day!
The way my clients tell me to look at it is, "if you don't hear from me about it, it's a good thing". We're all at the mercy of the people that give us money.
David, I experience the "sent an e-mail, no response for days at a time" syndrome frequently.
However, as with a co-worker or friend who seems to be in a bad mood or is also non-communicative, I always have to remind myself of the following possibilities:
1. Your client has other stuff going on at work, like planning for a big sales meeting.
2. Your client may have stuff going on outside work, like a sick child, spouse or other emergency. The last thing they are going to do is e-mail you.
3. The client is, in reality, extremely busy. You know the guy who, while talking face to face with you, is checking his Blackberry every 15 seconds because he's drowning in e-mail, and much of it is time sensitive. Your email, alas, is less time sensitive.
4. The client got the message, but accidentally deleted it, and moved on to something else, forgetting about your project for a few days until you e-mail him again.
5. The client got your message, viewed the video or whatever, but then got distracted by his kid spilling paint on the cocker spaniel, and had to put the iPhone down for the evening.
6. The client got the e-mail, viewed the video or whatever, made some notes, but wanted to show it to some colleagues before getting back to you. One would think the client could shoot you and e-mail saying as much, but the guy has a lot of stuff going on so it is not as urgent to him as it is to you.
7. The client asked for the video or whatever by a certain day/time, such as before a trip or vacation. One would think this would mean that he would look at the video and then get back to you before the big trip. Not likely. You held up your end of the bargain, but that was not contingent upon getting feedback in teh same manner.
Alas, clients are busy people. That's why they have hired you to execute their dreams better and easier that they could accomplish. But they have a lot on their plates. Is it frustrating? It can be.
By the same token, build some breathing room into your projects and workflow. If I don't hear from a client for a few days, I cannot assume that something is wrong. Something is actually good, because I can use that time to work on some other tasks.
If feeling anxious, you could:
1. Send a follow up email saying, simply, "Dave, please confirm receipt of my last e-mail re: 4th video edit."
2. E-mail or call the admin and ask "Can you check if Dave received my e-mail about the video? It's no rush but I want to make sure my message went through."
E-mail is a useful tool, but it is a tool.
If there is a string of back and forth questions, sometimes it is easier to pick up the phone. Set a timer if you are worried about it getting out of hand. Ask the client "do you have a few minutes?" If not, either setup a time, or send an e-mail that they are on the lookout for.
Yeah, agreed. Just a pain when you are expecting answers (or needing them, more importantly) and the message(s) get ignored. I always thought email/sms would be less intrusive in their day than having to take phonecalls all the time.
I understand everyone is busy - so am I - but ignoring specific questions (on a regular basis, I am talking about) is anti-productive and painful.
Looks like I should learn to love the phone more, I guess.
I guess I'd also make a habit of noting timelines and when messages were sent. We once had a project that came in considerably beyond deadline and the client started pressing us for a discount...
When we ran the email record and the notes from our phone conversations, it was evident that non-responses and responses that were weeks past the date promised from their end added far more time to the timeline than the amount we were late...
Client blushes and writes check...
People in business only respond when they need something from you or want a healthy relationship with you to get something from you later. It's friends that respond to be polite. When I get igbired by a boss or client, I take it as the good news that it is.
I think the good old telephone is still a fine tool to get answers and is often WAY faster and WAY more clear than exhanging emails and certainly infinitely more accurate than exchanging texts. For me, texting is just plain cumbersome.
I use email a lot, but I frankly get annoyed by people who rely on it for everything, especially "yes or no" type questions. I believe email should be for longer, more detailed issues that need to be in writing for reference and referral.
I'm probably in the minority on this issue as I don't think most people read past the first sentence of most emails. Especially since I can ask three brief, numbered questions in an email that's less than 50 words long, and about half the people that respond will answer 1 of the questions (if I'm lucky), 40% won't answer any of them, and 10% answer all.
Not to mention the confusion that results from people's varying writing and communication skills. We have one client that sends emails and the entire office has to convene to try to decipher them. It's actually gotten to be something of a fun activity...and while we love this client, they can't write a complete, coherent sentence much less an entire email.
We once had an employee that absolutely refused to pick up the phone to confirm things with clients. She would often say, "I emailed them this morning and haven't heard back." To which I would say, "WELL PICK UP THE PHONE AND CALL THEM!"
9 times out of 10 she'd call, get the client on the first try, and get an answer to the question in less than a minute. I agree with the poster that detailed the reasons for people not responding to email. It's usually unintentional and few people consciously avoid responding or are being rude about it. They're just overwhelmed, or unorganized or preoccupied.
Funny story, but I have a former client that once emailed me 28 times in one day about a project. That's an email every 17 minutes during an 8 hour day!
He had other email explosions totally 26, 24 and 22, all in one day. Now THAT'S rude and unnecessary.
Magnetic Image, Inc.
[David See] "In this day and age of instant, simple communication such as email or SMS messaging between mobile phones (cellphones), I get so frustrated when particular clients or contacts (and it seems to be the same ones all the time) refuse to respond to a question or a message containing information regarding a project we are working on for them. Or even just messages between business associates."
Let me play Devil's Advocate on this one: Whereas many probably feel the way you do, I don't. There is nothing "instant" about email or SMS to me. I am VERY busy and I do my best to answer people. But if I answered every email that I get as I get them, I'd be doing little else.
Just because someone writes or texts me, does not mean that I am automatically obligated to drop everything and answer them.
Right now, today, I have 817 unopened emails. NONE are older than a few days. I hope to get to them this weekend when things slow down. Will I answer them all? Hardly. In fact, I will only answer a few.
Some are from clients and they will get an answer. Some are from people who I know and work with here in the COW and they will get an answer. But those who wrote me asking questions that they don't want to ask on the forums because it will make them look stupid (in their opinion), they can expect neither an answer or the courtesy of me telling them why I am ignoring them.
The ones who do not bother with a salutation nor an ending comment of thanks or to even bother using their name, they will get nothing from me. Those that write me by name and at least thank me, will get an explanation as to why I point them to the forums and will not answer privately.
Like Chris Blair stated, I too have had people email me every few minutes demanding an answer. These ones will learn that after they do that, I will NOT answer and will likely use caller ID to send them to answering machine limbo.
I cannot think of anyone who pays me enough to make my life stressful and a nightmare. I also cannot think of anyone who is entitled to write or call me demanding an answer and not using such magic words as please and thank you. If they think they are so damned important that they needn't bother with such cursory and unnecessary niceties as simple courtesy, they will find out quicklyt that I do not place their bloated sense of self-importance high on my list of priorities.
When people write me and are courteous and congenial, they are the ones I bother with -- as I have time.
An email in my inbox or to my cellphone does not automatically obligate me to drop everything to answer you.
You may work differently. I am not about to. Not with the huge amount of business that we do, and the exorbitant amount of mail we get.
My friends and clients know that the best way to contact me is to pick up the phone. That is way faster and gets more done than emails back and forth, again and again, getting issues finaled and resolved. No thanks, I have better things to do.
Let's relate this to Creative Cow. A guy (many guys at many forums)
asks a question like this "oh my God, nothing is working, I have to get this job out in 1 hour, can someone PLEASE help me" - and a barrage of responses are sent to him, everyone asking "ok, let me know if that worked" - or - "if it doesn't work, tell me exactly what you see".
And you hear nothing back.
Sounds like you're anxious about this stuff. That's reasonable and fair.
But fundamentally, it's YOUR issue.
Be proactive to do something in order to take care of your anxiety.
Try posting your low rez draft "approval" videos to a server - with email links behind a COUNTER that tells you if the recipient has looked at the file and/or passed the link to others for comment?
If the counter doesn't rachet in a couple of days, resend them a message about the link. Simple email, no big deal.
If they don't respond within 48 hours again, total the bill to that point and send it out as a "progress payment" PDF and put the project on hold and turn your attention to something else.
If you don't hear from them for a while after that, the project goes "INACTIVE" and let them know you won't bring it back again until they pay the current bill in full.
That might be one way to put the proper responsibility on the CLIENT for the necessary communication in order to keep projects alive - and give you verifiable progress touch points to quell the anxiety.
Yeah, I guess I am somewhat anxious, but the anxiety comes from the fact that we have at our disposal on an everyday basis, forms of INSTANT communication that will not divert us for very long. ESPECIALLY if a project is time-sensitive.
Technology allows us to be efficient, if we allow it to, that is.
Plus, a non-response could perhaps reflect that your effort/opinion/request is just not worth responding to.
I am very busy too, but out of courtesy, respect and so the sender knows I have received the message, I always have/make time to type "ok, thanks for that".
It takes ten seconds and they know I have the info.
The guy who wrote the 4-hour Work Week only answers email once a week.
I can't quite do that and run my shop, but like Ron, I only respond in an appropriate time based on the client or vendor and the project at hand. Most times responses can wait. Sometimes I need to do reviews with others; you never want to look too available; good time management doesn't allow you to do email unless necessary; etc.
Like all the discussions about contracts, you establish the means and rules for communication up front. Some rush jobs require the client to sit in or be available for immediate feedback - let them know up front. Goes back to plain old good communication in the beginning... and that's face to face in most cases for new clients, via phone and follow-up email with existing.
All this lightning-fast communication I think gets people in trouble. Not enough time is spent thinking before hitting send. That's why I don't have a PDA, I don't want to be that connected nor available. I'll never set meetings when at a meeting. Give's me time to think about everything on the way home that may impact what needs to get done in the meantime.
We used to have a lot of issues with emailing clients low rez spots for approval, including the day and time we have to hear back from them to make changes (if any) to meet their air date, and we'd hear nothing in return.
The counter this, we've taken to sending the spot via email or uploading it to our server and sending a link, then calling a few hours later to ensure the file went through and remind the client that if they don't watch it and get back to us we'll have to push their schedule back and their spot won't run when it's supposed to. Almost every time they stop what their doing and watch it while we're on the phone with them. This works great for two reasons--we know they watched it, and the can tell us the changes immediately rather than type it. Or give us an approval over the phone.
I like email, but if something is time sensitive it's a phone call every time. Plus I've found a client's response may warrant more questions and it's easier to just ask them those questions while on the phone rather than playing email tag all day.
I'll be working late.
"Steve Kownacki wrote: you never want to look too available"
The one place I'd disagree with this is when a current or potential client calls wanting information about a quote or project. I'll give you an example. I was getting quotes for renting a P+S Technik Lens adaptor and lenses for a project.
I called and/or emailed about 5 places to get quotes. I got 1 back within minutes with detailed information and exact answers to my questions along with a quote. I got another within 30 minutes with good but incomplete info and a cheaper quote. The other three took anywhere from 4 hours to 3 days to get back to me with either information or a quote.
The guy that responded first followed up later that day with a phone call to make sure I got the email and if the quote was what I needed.
Nobody else followed up. The first guy's quote was the second most expensive of the 5. Guess who I rented from? The guy who responded first and with the best information and followed up on his response to make sure I had what I needed. He was about $300 more expensive than the next quote and almost $500 more than the lowest quote. But I KNEW I was going to get what I needed for the equipment to work because it was clear he knew what he was talking about. Some of the other people had never even heard of the camera we use (Panasonic SDX900), which is kind of scary. It requires a special plate to attach the P+S Technik adaptor. Some of the rental houses didn't know what I was talking about when I mentioned it.
So long story short...I rented from the place that was the most responsive and most eager to do business with me. It was a good lesson to me to respond quickly when clients email or call about a quote or project. If I wait 2, 3, 5 days...I'm probably going to lose the project. People want to cross stuff off their list. Wait 3 days to respond to a client, you'll get crossed off that list too.
Magnetic Image, Inc.
[David See] "It takes ten seconds and they know I have the info."
This is a FUNDAMENTAL FLAW in your logic. You assume everyone works as you do or is as free in time as you are.
Me, I do email in the morning and at night. The rest of the day, I ignore it for the most part. If I didn't, I'd get little done.
What to you is ten seconds, is to me a major disruption of my workflow (breaking up my day and destroying the focus and rhythm that I achieve when I am in a work groove) and if you worked with me, you'd either get used to morning or evening emails -- or you wouldn't.
But either way, I find the whole concept of ten second expectations almost laughable.
You need to understand that not everyone is waiting around for your emails.
Email and texting are not really instant forms of communication. The essence of them is the recipient can reply at their leisure. Call it laziness, rudeness, mulling it over, delaying til a better time, jerking you around - the ball is in the recipient's court and you must wait for an answer. If you need instant then a phone call is the answer.
I suspect there's a generational divide here. You find phone calls uncomfortable, but texting and emails are natural. I find phone calls direct, warm and immediate.
Some of your clients seem to respond better to phone calls than other forms of communication. Wouldn't it be a better idea to work with their work flow, rather than expecting them to work with yours?
If you mis-read this you're going to find the tone harsh.
It's NOT supposed to be. I'd like it to be more like a good exercise at a high level customer service seminar you've paid a lot of hard earned dollars to attend - and the tone of the presenter is ONLY interested in revealing something that might help you grow your business further and bring you more success....
Look back at your post. Count the number of first person pronouns. Notice how your focus is nearly relentlessly "I", "my", "me", "we", "our", "us." I score it 11 of those to 1 single use of "your."
I'm going to argue that unless you notice and change this. You're going to VASTLY limit your ability to attract quality customers and succeed in the long run.
Business does not grow when the propriator constantly takes care of his or her OWN needs. It grows once they've learned to concentrate on satisfying the needs of their others.
Food for thought from someone who, early in his own career - was as "I" centric as any other young man. But learned better over time.
No I don't find it harsh, I know ehere you are coming from, but I was indeed talking about "our" or "my" experiences - bit hard not to write that way when you are talking about something that affects me/us, personally.
I am completely aware that others have commitments. What I hate is people REGULARLY refusing to respond to direct questions.
I have a friend who does it ALL the time. He rarely responds to DIRECT questions via email or SMS. And he is not a busy man by any shake of the stick. He just does not feel it necessary to answer my questions, which peeves me no end, especially when we are trying to get productions completed between us.
I am not really saying people are WRONG, I just find it annoying and a tad on the disrespectful side, seeing as I/we/anyone else has taken the time to actually ASK the question.
Again, I was talking about my PERSONAL experiences.
[David See] "I am completely aware that others have commitments. What I hate is people REGULARLY refusing to respond to direct questions."
What I hate is people that are too lazy and cheap to pick up a phone.
As I said in my responses, you would hate to correspond with me as I would never respond instantly and your "ten second rule" would die of neglect in my care.
Pick up a phone. You think people like me are lazy and rude? I think that people that think that people are somehow morally obligated to answer an email are drinking their own Kool-Aid.
You don't know what's happening in my day, just as I don't know what's happening in yours.
I answer my own phone for good reason and even though I could have a secretary, I don't use one.
Need an answer? Call.
Send me an email instead? I hope you won't hold your breath waiting for an answer.
Some people love texting and emails. I am not one of them.
As the song said long ago: different strokes, for different folks.
To me, it is simple. Perhaps to others it is not so.
"Ok, thanks for that"
"That will be fine, see you there"
Actually, each of those took me less than ten seconds to write. The whole dealing with the message might have taken me a whole minute compared to maybe 5 or 10 minutes using the phone. Ten of those each day makes a big difference to my productivity.
Then again, if you are not getting responses, it is not productive at all. But the lack of response is the problem.
Anything requiring more complex or time-sensitive responses, I make the call.
What I find COMPLETELY aggravating about email as a means of communication is the back-and-forth refining of the thought to get to the same place that I can do in a few minutes on the phone.
I find that many people approach things without much mental "pre-thought" and conceptualization of what they want. The refining process takes too much time.
I work with our web engineer a lot. He and I get on the phone and do in an hour or less what would take us a day or two using email, were we to have to go back and forth kicking the idea until both of us understood exactly what was being said and what was the answer.
Your blind belief in the idea that all communication takes but a single ten second phrase or two makes me scratch my head and wonder what you really achieve or what your standard must be. If that is acceptable to you, so be it. But as for me, ten second quickies were never my style. I'm built for comfort, not for speed.
Oh, and I NEVER write a single sentence if I can help it.
[Bob Zelin] "Let's relate this to Creative Cow. A guy (many guys at many forums) asks a question like this "oh my God, nothing is working, I have to get this job out in 1 hour, can someone PLEASE help me" - and a barrage of responses are sent to him, everyone asking "ok, let me know if that worked" - or - "if it doesn't work, tell me exactly what you see". And you hear nothing back."
What they really wanted was for someone -- likely you, Bob -- to take their private call and hold their hand on the phone and tell them exactly what to do.
It's why when people call me for help, I point them to the forums and do not give them the answer on the phone.
I know leaders that do this and they get call after call and they spend hour upon hour doing it.
To quote Bob Zelin, I think that is too stupid for words.
And a little postscript thought on my reply to Bob Zelin:
As you point out, Bob, when people get answers and do not reply and do not let you know what worked or didn't -- or even say thanks in the slightest -- I don't bother with them next time. It's called "crapping in your own nest."
When you do that, nobody wants to hang around.
Sadly, it is that Human Nature Thingie™ again.
Have fun, Bob.
[Ron Lindeboom] "I don't bother with them next time"
I heartily agree with Ron about that one.
There is one semi-frequent COW poster in particular that poses questions that I often, if not always, have a answer, solution, or at least a suggestion for. It just seems he's often dealing with problems or challenges that I myself have had to tackle before.
Know what though? I never respond to his posts any more.
It might be petty, but all my answers in the past (and everyone else's) never ever garnered any kind of reply whatsoever... never a "Thanks," never a "I'll try that," or even a "That won't work because..."
He even sent me a question in a direct email once, which I took time to come up with a solution for him. I guess he got my reply. I don't know.
I don't need to be thanked and I don't do what I do for any kind of praise... but I think everyone appreciates at least some acknowledgment of the effort, if only to let us know that our answers weren't only to hear the sound of our own typing.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Read all this with great interest.
Some email systems let you set a control to get back a reciept that something was read. But typically both ends of the communication need to be using the same email program for that, I think, and many people are now using web-based email instead of a dedicated email program. Be careful setting read-receipts and "urgent" priority flags; don't use it indescriminately on low-priority messages, or it makes you seem stalkerish or too self-important.
I adore email correspondence because of the paper trail it leaves and the fact it reduces my note taking requirements somewhat. But I too have people that will only respond to the first question of three, so you train yourself to send three emails, each asking just one question, with those types.
Some folks check their inbox like their pleasure center was connected to the refresh button. In some ways, I am like that. But I check the inbox in between times when I'm physically busy; right now I'm waiting on a render or dub to finish, so I can wade thru some things and be, I feel, more productive and responsive that if I only looked at emails at set hours.
I knew some folks that only looked at emails before nine and after four o'clock; they were always a day or two behind the rest of the world, it seemed - treating email like it was physical mail. They have aright, I just think that that is an old-fashioned way of looking at it. Really, these days it's more like voice mail and the telephone but asynchronous.
We knew a guy (this was when email was very new) that wrote a three-page letter on the email system his first week using it and then he erased the mail accidentally without knowing how to recover it, before sending. He was really old-fashioned, wedded to his typwriter. After that one mistake, he insisted on hand-typing everything on his typewriter, then handing the sheet to a secrertary to transacribe intot he email system. Then he'd demand a hard copy print-out of the draft email to correct by hand before he'd authorize the secretary to send it. We use to joke that his CRT screen had white-out marks all over it, and we were not far off.
I love that I can hold a reply until I've looked something up: this is smoother than putting someone on hold or having to break the conversation and call back later. Some people just like voice better, I like text better. I get one extra chance to edit myself in text, instead of projecting with my mouth what all the voices in my head are trying to tell me. :-)
I like that the text I send is unambiguous and the message generally complete. I feel this reduces the chance of a misunderstanding by the client, becasue I can point to where their issue was answered previously.
One other idea: if this person has a cultural problem or psychological issue with email, see what happens if you send a FAX instead. For some reason, certain people will treat a FAX like the Western Union Boy has just ridden up to hand-deliver a telegram. You youngun's may not remember this, but it used to be that at weddings and other Big Events, somebody would stand up and read aloud tot he group all the telegrams sent to the event - like they were Proclamations from the Governor.
See, over time, we change how we weight the value of various media.
I get the same from my clients. Should something not work, I hear about in an instant. Should my show rock balls, I hear nothing.
I now like hearing nothing.
True words of wisdom.
The downside is that when you need feedback, BEFORE the project is complete, hearing nothing or getting repeated e-mails, voice mails, or heaven forbid actual phone conversations, where the client may answer 1 out of 5 questions, is not exactly something I look forward to each time.
Fine Art Drawings | Photography | Compositing | VFX | Titles | Keying | 3D
[Bob Zelin] "I have to get this job out in 1 hour, can someone PLEASE help me"
As a matter of policy, I always click the "next" button when I read those subject lines. You can call me mean, evil or just an ass, but it's my opinion that anyone in that kind of a bind is already beyond help, or maybe just not deserving.
Post production is not an afterthought!
Arnie, having been on both sides of those "Emergency!" requests, and having had my bacon saved by some smart and very patient COW members, I *always* read those posts here, even when I may not know the answer offhand. I may know where to point them to get that answer from someone that knows. This "paying forward" concept of helping out others is fundamental to the COW's success.
[Ron Lindeboom] "Right now, today, I have 817 unopened emails. "
If you're like me, roughly 400-500 of them are offering to enhance your mojo, another 100-200 are from nephews of recently deceased officers of the Nigerian national oil company asking for your assistance in recovering their "inheritance", 50-100 are notifications that you've won a lottery in Holland (or Ireland, for a change of pace), and 20-30 are offering you bigger boobs. Most of the rest are offering you low interest mortgages.
Post production is not an afterthought!
When someone says to me "If you don't hear from me, assume I got it", I can't believe my ears. The other side of the coin would be "If I don't get it, you'll hear from me." Sure I will, you bet.
here is one major issue that happens:
You send a message that says "Approval Needed", they answer back and you answer them except that no one ever changes the subject line. When I go through a back and forth, I change the subject line. Most often, I use my name and the date and sometimes the time or revision number or something. I would look at a subject line and figured that I already read it.
You might add, "If I don't hear from you by XX:XX, I'll be calling you" and then do it. With me, I can read a mail, start to answer and then get distracted. I found three 'drafts' in my mail today that I would have sworn that I sent. Hey, I might get distracted by one of my dogs in a minute and completely forget to hit the send button on this message. It's happened before.
It's a dry heat!
Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .
Here are a few examples from the past week of e-mail use:
The Right Tech for the Job
1. An e-mail sent to a doctor in Hong Kong asking for his approval on a project. I'd have to call him at some odd hour and probably would not reach him anyway. I know it will be a few days before getting a response.
2. A status update sent to a group working on a large multi-year project. The players are in CT, MA, Canada, Los Angeles and New Zealand (no, I'm not working on The Hobbit, rather the surgical equivalent of Return of the King). Could not do this by phone without a day's notice.
3. Confirmed appointments for next week having made them during phone calls.
4. outlook calendar meetings sent or received by Blackberry - straight into the calendar app - that's good use of tech
Maybe, Maybe Not the right Comm Tool
1. A series of jokes, silly animal photos and lewd anecdotes, sent by my dad, and copied to everyone he knows. I love my dad, but would much rather talk on the phone. Lately we've been doing Skype video chat on Friday afternoons when he and my mom are both home. Since I see them in person only a few times a year, that is pretty cool. Skype for business is also a possibility, especially for clients in other countries. We actually had someone do a PPT presentation from India at a conference a while back.
2. Back and forth chain of emails about a number of tasks on a long duration project. These are ok, but the subject line is pretty much the same, so one needs to do a search to find information later. I use Google Desktop which indexes everything on my computer, and is much easier and faster for searching than anything Windows offers. Alas, I make sure to pick up the phone at least once a week and talk about the various tasks on the agenda for long duration projects.
3. Follow-up with a new client about a pending shoot date. While the person did answer my e-mail, having not heard from him for a week, I quickly placed a call just to make sure things were ok on his end. Turns out he was on vacation for a few days, but hadn't told me. Heck, he is not obligated to tell me when he is taking vacation.
In summary, as others on this thread have repeated, there is a right time and a wrong time to use e-mail. You can, of course use e-mail for any purpose you want, but the recipients may not agree with your motivation or with your sense of urgency.
I've been using one form or another of e-mail since about 1987. It has never been a total replacement for the phone, and as much as computers have evolved, the phone has stayed largely the same as far as its function in society.
That's right, Mike.
As I said in my last message...
I use email when dealing with simple things and the phone for more complex/time-sensitive.
The ignoring of emails - those requiring simple yes/no answers, or answers including minor details - turns them from a simple, effective way of communicating into an ineffective one.
Phonecalls are not always the be-all-and-end-all answer, either. They can be time-consuming and disruptive.
And what if the phone is not answered and the voice mail message left is ignored? Well, that's another story.
In all, I make sure - no matter how busy I am - to respond to every email and SMS that I get when I can. Out of courtesy. So the sender knows I have the information. That saves them ringing me asking if I got the information they sent through. After a while, my clients learn that if I don't respond to their message, even with a simple acknowledgment of its receipt, that something is wrong...perhaps I didn't get it.
Courtesy, etiquette, manners, a sign of respect. Call it what you will.
If I ask a question, I ask it because I need an answer. Not necessarily quickly, but I do need an answer.
Business involves communication. Ignoring business-related communication is bad business.
This has been a great thread. Email vs phone... for the record, I love email. As pointed out, when it's appropriate can be much more effective than a "live" phone call.
Back to the original post. It seems that much of the frustration and angst caused by the "no answer" comes from the notion that "time is money" and by NOT responding the client is spending YOUR time and cutting into YOUR profits. Simple solution. Include a time frame for response into the contract. 24 hrs. 48 hours. Whatever. Anything more than that becomes an "overage" that they will be billed for. Now, the ball's in their court, and you're free to relax on THEIR dime. Trust me. Nothing compels a response like the notion that NO response will cost you money.
Politeness and etiquette aside, if it's a business communication, then place the "cost" of not responding on them, and you'll be amazed at how quick you'll get an answer.
I never said that email could not be more effective than a phone call. There are times it is -- there are also times it isn't, such as in what I described about working with Abraham. If I used email in that case, I'd be spending 8 to 10 times the amount of time and effort to get to the same place. Not productive.
BUT THE REAL ISSUE TO ME is that David See seems to think that everyone works like him and he makes a blanket statement that email takes ten seconds or so to reply to. (If you work as he does, I am sure the answer would be yes. I don't. I don't plan to. You guys have no freakin' idea how much mail some of us get in a day.)
If you think that also, then I have to say that I thought that you had been in business long enough to know better, Mark. I think you may have recontacted your inner-child.
Oh and if you tried to throw some crap on me in an email Mark that cost me some money because I didn't reply to you in some arbitrary amount of time that is to me unrealistic, it would be the last time you did business with me, mon ami.
[David See] "The ignoring of emails - those requiring simple yes/no answers, or answers including minor details - turns them from a simple, effective way of communicating into an ineffective one."
This was not what you said in the beginning, David.
What you said was that it takes ten seconds to answer.
To that I said: Bullshit. (Or a whole bunch of other words that basically said the same thing. Though that word works well to encapsulate all of the retorts that I have used in my vain attempt to try to show a stubborn unlistening unyeilding guy -- whose REAL POINT was that everyone should work as he does, and it's clear at least that you measure it that way -- that not all of us work like you do.)
I use email all the time. I use it well.
I JUST DO NOT USE IT ON YOUR SCHEDULE.
That was your initial and repeated point.
I do not care if you, Mark Raudonis, and ten or twenty other people all stand up, wrap arms, sing Kum Bai Yah together, and all agree that email takes ten seconds.
You better figure out that the world is full of all kinds of people and they do not all work the same.
THAT WAS MY POINT for those too unlistening to discern it.
As I said and you seem unable of comprehending, I get so much email in a day that were I to let it control my day by responding as you do, I would do little else. I wouldn't get anything on my schedule done and I would be perpetually on everyone else's schedule of things they want from me and want answers to, etc., etc.
I will respond to my email in the morning and in the evening and will check it a few times during the day. IF YOU OR YOUR CAUSE ARE IMPORTANT enough to warrant an exception, I may even write you during the day. But don't hold your breath.
Oh, and if you disagree with me. That is quite okay. If you think me rude, that too is quite okay with me. I find your assertion that email takes ten seconds to be so all-inclusive and ignoring of so many other situations that your belief takes me back to Shakespeare who said: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
Sometimes I answer emails in ten seconds or less. But I don't make it my religion as you seem to wish to do.
If I had known I could resort to swearing on this forum, I would have lowered myself to that much earlier.
I thought it was obvious to those reading - especially after my attempt to clarify my point of view in subsequent posts - that I wouldn't expect anyone to RESPOND in ten seconds and that - once they got the message - that it would only take them 10 seconds or so to type a response once they found the time to do so.
I am not that stupid as to entertain the thought that I would get a response from ANY email in ten seconds.
Ok, so if it wasn't obvious to some, my apologies. I need to be able to improve my gesticulation. What I meant was this:
Email is a big part business communication. It is simple to use and fast when you choose to use it. It can - if used wisely and correctly - make our day productive. More productive than interrupting people on the phone all day for something that could be dealt with with a simple "yes/no" via email. Seeing it is so simple and fast, what a shame some people just choose to ignore it, seeing as it could be dealt with in, say, ten seconds. When convenient. When they have time.
People who ignore emails completely - especially business-related emails with direct questions - shit me.
There. That's better.
Wow, I didn't know that bullshit was such an egregious bit of filth. I bought my first car courtesy of it, selling manure from the dairy I grew up on at 5 bags for $1 to all the housing tracts that grew up around us and eventually pushed us out of business. Bought my first house from the money I saved from manure sales, as well. Me and bullshit, as well as cowshit, go back a long way.
The point you missed is that you were feeding bull to the board and weren't listening to anyone else's point but your own.
You may think that the back-pedaling you did is what you were saying but for most of your initial posts, they were all about how easy email is and how it takes no time.
I tried showing you on a few occasions a picture of a workday that was quite unlike your own. You didn't like it and came back with the same point -- that is when I called it bullshit.
If that is more than you can bare, I would get rid of cable TV, quit going to the movies, burn your CDs and music, and get out of this business.
[Mike Cohen] "I've been using one form or another of e-mail since about 1987"
Did they really have computers back then?
Bought my first one in 1985. I remember when a friend of mine, around '87, told me about the coming of e-mail. I wondered what I would ever use it for. Sometimes I still wonder.
It's a dry heat!
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I agree with most others here on the forum about email. I've actually started shutting my Outlook down so I only look at it three times a day. If someone has an urgent message or document for me, they can phone me - so far I've lost no clients on suddenly becoming much more effective in my day-2-day business.
[David See] "One of our main clients has one person who, when you send video updates for approval, refuses to acknowledge receipt of them, even if you attach a message saying "Hi there xxxx, here are the latest updates, please acknowledge receipt so I am not under the impression you have received it when in fact you haven't", or words to that effect."
We use a Yousendit corporate account for sending videos for approval, viewing etc. It is great in that it allows us to track when the client down-loads the video and how many times. And sometimes we even protect it, so if the file is passed around an organisation or a "group" of clients, each individual has to set up a Yousendit account to download it, which gives us even more monitoring facilities. It won't tell you that they've seen the actual video - but you'll know that they've got it.
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Isn't it funny that we can get people to speak with us on the phone these days, but they won't respond to an email? I remember the day when email didn't exist. (No! Say it isn't so!!) And people simply didn't return calls. Of course, that was also the day when only a handful of those people had a 'brick' (cell) in the car. And, then, they wouldn't give out the number, since the cost of taking a call was so prohibitive. But I digress.
Let's all sing a chorus or two of, "I talk to the treeeeees!" That's what I do. I email a voice file to a client who is in desperate need of it. Oh, sure. We're all talky-talky, communicatey-communicatey, when we need something.
"Please confirm receipt." I beg for acknowledgement. Mais, non. I find myself checking the ftp site, looking to see if anyone cares. Has the client downloaded the desperately needed narration? Is there evidence of a visit from an IP that means anything to me? Yes! I've made contact! We have ... a connection!
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