I was talking to my daughter the other day about something funny I saw on Facebook. Someone had posted a picture of what used to be on the TV screen when the programming stopped in the early morning hours. Kind of looked like this! It was accompanied by a continuous low beep that lasted until the early morning hours when the shows would start up again. Yes kids; that really used to happen.
Now we’ve come so far since then that my 16 year old daughter didn’t see it as such a laughable relic of olden times because in 2016, her connection to television, especially the broadcast variety is tenuous at best. Most of what she watches these days is on You Tube or Netflix or from links she picks up on social media. Television; the fantastic gadget that tantalized my parents’ generation at the 1939 World’s Fair is now pretty much consigned by the iGens to “whatever” status.
Another story about the “good old days” that I regale her with occasionally concerns the land line telephone. Yes, my child there were obnoxious sounding busy signals which just kept going and going until you hung up. If the line was busy and you had to speak to someone, you just kept calling until you got through. And when my big sister used to speak to her friends, she had to pull the cord and walk part way down the basement stairs and close the door behind her so she had some privacy. This maneuver didn’t deter my grandmother who used to gingerly pick up her extension upstairs and listen in while covering the mouthpiece with her hand.
These days what used to be generational changes are happening within a much smaller timeframe. In the span of the past ten years or so, e mailing, like Facebook, has become more of a middle-aged thing. My mother used to cut out articles she wanted me to read from the newspaper and magazines and send them to me. Now I do the same thing with my kids but via e mail. My older kids – both in their mid-thirties will read and respond. My youngest rarely even opens them. To her, e mails are something you get from school (or your parents!) and should mostly be ignored. If you want to reach her and get a reasonably quick response, you pretty much have to text.
E mail, however, still rules in business – at least in the envelope converting and web printing business. In fact, the sheer number of e mails I get each day has become somewhat burdensome. Now, I’m NEVER going to complain about a customer requesting something via e mail, or a prospect for that matter. Hearing from customers; quoting on jobs, expediting requests and orders, and providing general customer service is the lifeblood of a business. It is something we value and is certainly not a problem.
But reading, considering and responding to those e mails, especially when they require some action on our part, takes up a lot of time. Which leads me to my point (finally!). I think we’ve become too used to e mail to the point where we’ll generate a trail of three, four or many more about a single subject when one simple and shorter phone call would do. Now there is something to be said for typing up a quick note and sending and moving quickly on to the next thing before having to respond. I think we get into a groove with that activity and it gives us the sense that we’re being productive and plowing forward. Trouble is, I’m afraid in many cases we’re wasting time. Why not just give the person a call and review everything in one (hopefully short) phone call? Speaking in real time can resolve questions that might take several e mails back and forth as in; “is THIS what you meant?”, etc. Plus an actual conversation can reinforce any type of relationship business or personal much better than trading notes.
My grandmother, who was all about saving time would approve. Of course she wouldn’t be too interested to listen in on conversations discussing the best way to print an envelope or why web presses are the best option for direct mail printing. My sister’s conversations with her boyfriends were much more interesting!