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Phone tag in an online world

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Wednesday September 24, 2008 )

Never before has technology made us so inefficient in some ways, such as the case of the phone.

While voicemail can make the phone a more useful tool it can also lead to many incidents like this:

“Hi Michael, we’d like to discuss a partnership with you, call me back on XXXXXXXX”

“Hi Jim, just returning your call – it would probably be best to email me with the details please”

“Hi Michael, sorry I missed your call; give me a call when you have a minute”

“Jim, just leaving another voicemail after your voicemail about my voicemail concerning your voicemail.”

.. and it goes on.

VoIP is a wonderful tool in online business, but ultra cheap phone calls to anywhere in the world has made us somewhat inefficient and a little lazy at times.

Some think that a phone call is a more “human” touch and I guess there’s some truth to that, but for many working the online world a phone call is a complete pain in the butt for non-customer stuff as:

a) It demands our immediate attention
b) It doesn’t allow for a considered response
c) It’s a distraction from whatever we were working on at the time
d) It doesn’t leave a record to refer back to
e) Some folks just don’t know how to convert time zones
f) The phone always tends to ring at the worst possible moments
g) People tend to be late for phone appointments or miss them altogether.

I’ve found many times that after playing phone tag for a while and finally getting hold of the person or them getting hold of me, it simply wasn’t worth the effort when there’s this old, but really wonderful tool that would have sufficed and gets around all the issues I mentioned above – it’s called email. Heck, even IM is marginally better.

One of the reasons that so many in the online industry still rely heavily on the phone is due to a lack of typing ability. When I learned touch typing back in the early 90’s, some of my colleagues thought I was a little odd (well, even more odd than usual). It was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done.

Those times of learning touch typing not being a “boy” thing to do are well and truly over, so if you can’t touch type, I thoroughly recommend taking the time to learn it.


Email etiquette
Instant messaging and live chat etiquette


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