Mar 31, 2009

"Lack of time" classic example with the email at workplace

Considering the negative effects that some written messages can have on productivity in the workplace, we could say that communication through e-mail can sometimes be rather "non-communicational".

In one of my consulting jobs on the strategic management of communication in customer care, I mentioned an alternative to be more proactive in the recurrent crisis that occurred when a massive technological service stopped working.

The technical support team could detect the technical shortcoming before clients did. So I told them to send an e-mail to those affected, warning them about the inconvenience, and informing them about the actions they would take to solve the situation.

In this way they could avoid surprises and clients wouldn't be annoyed by the service interruption and wouldn’t call to find out what was happening.

Although they fully agreed with our recommendation, and confirmed they could implement it, they didn’t. Sending that anticipated e-mail helped them avoid a lot of additional pressure caused by angry clients. However, they didn’t send it for a very simple reason: They didn't have the time to do it.

These were very smart and technically skilled people, so I had a hard time understanding why they didn’t take the initiative to send such a strategically important mail.

I continued investigating their daily activities, and found something that was surprising at the time, but later I realized it happened in many cases in this and almost all companies.

Being a mass consumption service company, it wasn't strange for them to receive some e-mails from angry clients who were dissatisfied by the quality of the technical support or attention they received.

Many of these messages were written in critical, demanding or "harsh" language (commonly used by clients complaining because they are disappointed with the attention they receive).

However, the source of this "lack of time" began when the recipients of those written complaints unconsciously added emotions that made feel offended by the client's message and took those criticisms and demands personally.

As a result, they ended up investing considerable amounts of time to respond to what they assumed was an offense, to "put the client in his/her place"... And... Guess how much time they used to do that?

This is a very common situation at the workplace. Therefore, a lot of personal time is unproductive and wasted.

So, if you want more time you need to improve your professional managment of email. See my survival guide.

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