July 6, 2010

Unified Communications and Etiquette

Posted By AVAD Business VoIP Editor

All of these new technology tools like Twitter, Facebook, Instant Messaging have made it much easier for humans to communicate. However, we must realize that people are still people and while these tools make communicating easier, it does not mean that the communications using these tools is going to be more effective. In fact, the technology has gotten so good it has actually begun to scare people, which by default makes these types of communications less effective.

For example, Business VoIP technology in a Call Center has made it possible for an agent to identify a caller before that caller has identified themselves (caller ID combined with a screen pop tied to the call center CRM software). Imagine the first time this happened to you, you place a call to a company about some problem or issue and before you can say your name the agent says "hello Mr./Ms So & So, I see you are having a problem with one of our widgets". I don't know about you, but that was a little spooky the first time it happened to me.

While this new technology does not scare or intimidate the average Geek, it can scare and intimidate the average person. The point is, that people and companies new to find a new set of Etiquette's for these new social tools. I think we are in the process of defining those rules, but we are not quite there yet. When I first got instant messaging, my brother, who I love dearly, would send me a chat request every time he noticed that I was on line. This was ok at first, but very quickly it became a problem. I often get up very early and try and get some work done. As soon as I logged on, I would get a chat request from my brother. At first, it was novel. The chats would go something like this "good morning" my reply "good morning" his reply "whats up", my reply "not much". After a couple of back and fourth messages, "I would say, I have to get some work done" his reply, "ok, by" my reply "bye".

Even short conversations like these can take 5-8 minutes. If you do that 20 times a month, that equals 1-hour and 40-minutes to 2-hours and 20-minutes. This is a huge waste of time because we never actually accomplished anything, actually, it prevented me from getting some really important work done. I started setting my status to "Invisible" because I did not want to offend my brother.

The point is that while these technologies give us a new method of communicating, we still need to consider that "people are still people" and that this new technology does not immediately change a persons way of communicating. It takes time, it is happening as we speak. How many of you know what LOL means. In case you don't it means laugh out loud and just about every person under 30 uses those 3 letters while texting.

Businesses have begun to implement some of these tools as well and while management thinks it will be great and help make the company more efficient.  The problem is that not everyone at the company is at the same level of proficiency with these tools or possibly because they feel uncomfortable with some of the features of these tools like "Presence". Presence lets people in your social network know your exact physical location at all time as long as you have an internet ready phone.  When I say your exact physical location, I mean your exact physical location, which also includes places where you should not be).

The point is, technology has provided great tools, but don't forget that people will be using these tools.

Here is a link to an article on the "Unified Communications Strategies Blog that discusses the "Etiquette of Unified Communications".

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