With all the collaborative tools available nowadays and thanks to a fast-paced digital industry, we have various choices to communicate. And whether you are in a professional or a personal environment, you can choose one or many of those communication tools.
In corporate, when it is about communicating either with teams, suppliers, brands, media, etc., we can think that e-mail has been one of the most popular ways for exchanging professionally. We send or receive dozen if not hundreds of e-mails a day I am sure.
Yet, there is still the old way of communicating that we do use from time to time. There is the phone; it can be faster or instant for getting an answer rather than waiting for someone to reply to your e-mail. That same phone call has throughout the years evolved with Skype, WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams or Zoom, which itself has seen a tremendous number of its users since the Covid-19 pandemic.
So, with all those tools available, when shall we use one over another? Are you e-mail or call including phone, Zoom, Skype, etc.? Or maybe, do you like the idea of using all of them depending on the situation, like we do at Papis4Business? That is the reason why I will share in this article tips and/or examples for when you could at work use one of those digital tools.
First, depending on the culture of the company, some people will e-mail more than others. And stats show today that there is an increasing number in the usage of e-mails. On top of those e-mails, we can even use internal chats or some social media tools to reach some contacts, including WhatsApp. This social platform is for instance heavily used between professionals in the Middle East, a recent study shows.
Furthermore, some documents or confirmation must be done via e-mail. It is a way to have a proof of a conversation or even a validation of a project. Sometimes, it too is a way to share confidential information. Also, it can enable to communicate the same message with more than two people at a time. This could be an e-mail to your entire organization, your team, some clients or even your management. And because it can be more time efficient to share some information altogether, this might lead you to e-mail a group of people instead of calling each other separately.
On top of the company’s culture, there can be differences within nations. For instance, some countries have more a writing culture than others. And that is where we often see that people will prefer to e-mail rather than give a quick call. I have experienced this living in the United Kingdom since 2013. People do write more than they call, where it is the opposite in Senegal for instance, my native country.
Finally, within the same organization, some functions will prefer to send e-mails. And I have noticed this in big corporations and in start-ups within many brands and markets. From what I have experienced, profiles from IT, Finances or Legal for instance will most of the time prefer to e-mail than to give a call.
However, there can be a limit in e-mailing like the same way there can be a limit in any communication tool. When we send each other too many emails for instance. When for the same topic there are many back and forth. I am sure you all have experienced this. When suddenly you feel drowned by so many e-mails. When you ask yourself why the person does not just call you?
There too can be a misunderstanding in an e-mail, either because we have misinterpreted something or misread the message.
Therefore, sometimes it is easier to call someone. It also can be faster. The call can be via our old landline, mobile phone but as well via collaborative tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, etc.
I like the personal touch, which is probably due to my warm Senegalese culture. So, a call whether be on a phone, on Zoom, Skype, etc. is another way for me to build and strengthen a long-term relationship with the business contact. It suddenly feels less cold to me.
Likewise, if you are a field-based person, sometimes while you are doing your work in a coffee or walking to a client, it can be more convenient to give a call rather than sending an e-mail. It also might happen when you want to share an information or discuss a topic with diverse people based in different cities or countries. So, you prefer to jump on a conference or virtual call with many people at a time for instance.
I remember years ago when I was managing a professional category for a L’Oréal brand for Europe, USA, and Africa. I had to plan weekly or monthly calls to discuss diverse projects. Sometimes it will be by country or occasionally I will add many countries at that call. The main goal was to gather their feedback at the same time. This would enable everyone to give their own opinion on the project during that conference call. Then at the end we would send a summary to each country. That call was needed because those discussions could not fit in an e-mail for instance. That same phone call years ago, would be today way easier and more cost effective with video and audio-conferencing tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Skype. Those kinds of online and digital communication tools that we use every day at Papis4Business.
Furthermore, like I said above, there can be a misunderstanding when we read an e-mail. This could come from many reasons, including lost in translation. For example, English is my third language so I might misread someone in English, or vice versa. It can also happen because we send an e-mail while doing something else. So, the attention to the detail was not enough or we did not put the right form. Again, I am sure many people can relate to this. Reading an e-mail and feeling very frustrated or sometimes even “aggressed”. In that case, instead of e-mailing back in a fire mood, the best thing to do is to call that person. It happened to me few times when because I was between business trips or in meetings, I was not detailed enough in my answer. So, I would call the person later to give more context or to clarify things rather than sending another e-mail.
These are few examples that I am sure many can relate to. We could list thousands more of examples regarding e-mails or calls. I do not think there is nor should be the best answer. However, I think there is ONE answer for every situation. Sometimes you will send an e-mail. Sometimes you will give a call. Sometimes you will do both.
But whatever you choose to do, do not fall into the “all within e-mail” mood, which is necessary but can keep people away of a warmer touch. And that touch can be via a call instead of just an e-mail in my point of view. So, yes e-mail, but call too. Which is even easier nowadays thanks to WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, etc.