Monday, September 27, 2010

Should I Call or E-mail?

After a recent e-mail webinar, I received a question from Tom Mello of Liberty Mutual Insurance Co in Boston, Massachusetts, about striking a balance between using e-mail and the phone. My response, in part, appears below.

The question of phone vs. e-mail will always come down to the relationship between the sender and receiver. For instance, most of my clients return my phone calls with e-mails. I infer from their choice that I should reply in kind. Some clients have not spoken on the phone with me in years. Our only means of communication, except for face to face, is by e-mail. My attitude about this situation is simple: They’re the boss, so they dictate the rules of engagement.

Here are three points I keep in mind when selecting the means of communication:
  1. Respond to my audience in the mode they initiated.
  2. Initiate by e-mail when I need a record.
  3. Initiate by phone when dealing with a complex or urgent issue that could be resolved quicker by phone.

Thanks, Mr. Mello, for having the wisdom and confidence to ask a question that occurs at work to most people without their resolving it. I welcome all questions on writing at WORDS ON THE LINE.

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