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Becoming Dependent on Technology Can Hinder Client Relationships and Productivity

Technology has improved the quality and efficiency of the business workplace and the way that companies perform their daily duties. In fact, in today’s business world, we heavily rely on emails for communication and on technology programs for solving our professional procedures at work.

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However, becoming dependent on the use of technology can also lead to downsides within operations of a business and relying on technology for business communication can create inefficiencies and weaken client relationships.

An easy email or a personal phone call?

Electronic communication within the workplace has advanced in the past decade and has improved the convenience and efficiency of performing day to day work activities. Although this technology has been a great addition to the way we communicate with clients and co-workers, it creates inefficiencies on a personal level and in regards to productivity. In my opinion, it seems that depending on email as your main source of interaction with clients can cause deadlines to be missed and extend a project’s time if you are waiting on an email response instead of a quick phone call to resolve the issue. A phone call or personal interaction can help quickly resolve a complex or even a simple task within the workplace. For example, explaining a complex item to a client over email can cause one to get lost in the explanation and the open item continues to be unresolved. Instead, it may be better to pick up the phone or have a face to face conversation to explain the situation. Not only does this result in better delivery of important information and receival of a more accurate answer, but the exchange takes place in a timely fashion.

Electronic communication is a great advancement to the workplace if used correctly. We need to step back before relying on emails to communicate and think if it might be beneficial to pick up the phone or have a face-to-face conversation first to eliminate the potential time and energy wasted on waiting for an electronic response.

Misuse of technology and the power of in-person

Another item that is hindered by relying on technology in the business world is strong development of client relationships. Overuse of emails and electronic correspondence can weaken a client’s connection. For example, corresponding with a client through electronic means repeatedly can cause a loss of personal interaction that may further cause the client to leave. Research shows how electronic communication like email has diminished some of the trust and rapport that would previously evolve from face-to-face meetings and phone conversations [1].

Unfortunately, technology is one of the first methods that we gravitate towards to interact with clients. We use emails instead of calling or discussing important business or conflicts in-person—for example, using emails after the project or audit was conducted to clear up questions that should ideally be discussed on-site, in-person or over the phone. When meetings are in-person, the in-person interaction especially tends to help build interpersonal skills and helps us properly read another’s body language and emotional cues. This further builds a professional relationship and allows one to respond in an appropriate matter. Face-to-face interaction or phone calls can also help eliminate the unintentional tone of emails. Because you can’t hear the variations of a client’s voice or see the variations in a client’s body language, the tone in emails can be very hard to interpret. Clients or coworkers can interpret the tone of an email in many different ways and interpretation can also be influenced by the mood of the sender or the receiver [2].

Ultimately, we want to remember that in today’s workforce, it is more important than ever to engage in personal interactions whenever reasonably possible. Doing so helps us ensure that clients and coworkers are happy and that they are given the ability to respond as best as possible.

A fine balancing act

Technology has been a brilliant aspect that has undoubtedly impacted the workplace in numerous positive ways. But the side effect of over-utilizing technology for person-to-person interaction in the workplace can lead to weak interpersonal skills and can cause a decline in the quality of client relationships. It is also important to understand how technology can be an inefficiency in the workplace. If we can communicate on a more direct and personal level with clients and coworkers, then we become more engaged. We can help build successful business relationships and we can encourage more efficient productivity within the workplace.

1. The Adverse Effects of Technology in the Workplace

2. Email vs. Phone vs. In-person: What's Best for Workplace Communication?

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