photo by dalbera
Earlier this week I was reading this post from the Harvard Business Review blog, titled: “How to Fit Into Your Customers’ Multi-Channel Lives“. In it, the writer, Peter Merholz, claims that people have different ways in which they absorb information. Because there are so many channels we can get information these days, we use each medium for different objectives:
“…I’ve done a fair bit of work in financial services, and one of the recurrent themes in my customer research is that people channel-hop – they receive monthly statements in the mail, they call a call center to get certain kinds of information or ask a support question, they go online to research more deeply and to engage in certain transactions, and they go to branch offices for yet other types of transactions. The problem is that each of these channels is developed in isolation, with little regard to what other channels are doing. So every channel tries to do as much as possible, acting as if those other channels don’t exist. I’ve worked with financial services firms that send 20-page monthly statements that no one reads. That’s not what people want from the monthly statement – they want a summary and a sense of progress. If people want more detail, they’re happy to go to the channel that delivers that best – online”
That made me think about two of the concepts I talk about in my e-book, communication and the comparative advantage. With this abundance of communication channels we have today, we need to use each communication channel where it gives the bet results. Merholz talks about the way we communicate with customers and about using the right medium by using its comparative advantage. And today, Karlyn Morissette, in the blog “Dojo Web Strategy“, talks about higher education institutions using email like it was a letter. Literally. Copying the contents of a letter to an e-mail, signature and all. But e-mail and letter are different mediums that should be used differently. Or in my words, according to the comparative advantage.
And I think, this can also teach us a lesson as managers and leaders. There is no doubt that one of the most important things we need to do as managers and leaders is to communicate. But we have so many channels. Just using one of them for all our communications is not enough. We need to create the right mix and to send the right messages using the right tools. We need to remember that some people are listeners and some are readers. We need to remember that some people like to get all the information online (on a computer and all the time) and some prefer to do it offline (not on a computer and postponed to a different time).
This mandates thinking. If communication is such an important part of your role, don’t you want to make the most out of every channel you have?