I’ve written a bit about utilizing social media to the advantage of your business; but, I want to take it a little more necessary, slightly more direct, a bit more old school though with definitely continued relevance: to email.
Using email for business within your company as well as for communications with consumers, clients, et cetera is a definite necessity and robust resource no matter what type of business you’re in. Email enables almost instantaneous communication with almost anyone almost anywhere in the world.
Without the need for excessive paper resources, postage and phone costs, for the price of an Internet connection at the minimum you can connect with your customers, your suppliers, and your investors, partners, employees and more instantaneously. Even basics like receipt paper can be eliminated from your stocking costs, not to mention any paper you might need for newsletters, event notices or invoices.
Email means that you can send in an inventory order and almost immediately send a correction if you see a missing or incorrect product on order. You don’t have to rely on snail-male or unreliable voicemails and phone lines. Email as a time saver is particularly important in the beginning stages of building a business or when big things are happening, like opening a new store or rebranding. You can communicate quickly multiple times a day without having to have the same schedule to everyone involved; an email is sent instantaneously and can be read at the convenience of the receiver. This means that even if you couldn’t schedule a meeting with all of your investors for a particular day, you can all be in communication from wherever you are.
Email is also significantly faster than taking phone orders, for example. At the shop I work at, we only have one phone line, so if more than one customer simultaneously wants to place an order for merchandise to be delivered, the ability to communicate that via email is business-saving. Even the capacity to ask and answer questions without needing to catch someone at just the right time, especially if the question doesn’t need to be replied to at the moment but definitely shouldn’t be put off for days, can be vital to your customer service and overall business efficiency.
Email provides some security features that physical mail simply cannot. It is more difficult for an outsider, for example, to open an encrypted, password protected email message. Ripping open a letter is a simple as, well, ripping the paper. That being said, hackers are getting more and more sophisticated with each passing day, so make sure that you keep track of the latest threats and security updates/recommendations to maximize your email and device security. Two-factor authentication, for example, is an excellent way to minimize threats to hacks; this is where you have safety issues and a password, or fingerprints, and so forth to ensure that someone hasn’t just figured out your password and that it’s really an authorized person accessing the email/device in question. Use technology, but use it smartly.
Email is also a great resource for filing and tracking relevant business information and documents. This goes for you and your business associates, managers, et cetera as well as for your customers. Email minimizes the physical space required for filing and storing documents, as well as reducing fire hazards. Organizing correspondence into digital folders can also be vital for keeping track of information in specificity and detail. For customers, emailing event notifications makes it easier for them to tie those events to their digital calendars, keep the monitor and find them again with ease, and share them with their friends and other potential customers or clients for your business.
Emailing receipts is also an excellent way to help your customers track their spending for taxes and so forth. It is also relatively simple to set up a system for rewards and instant customer feedback via digital receipts. Each time a customer at my shop receives an emailed (or texted) receipt, they get the option to rate their experience and comment on it directly to the business. They also get information about our social media, email mailing list, and a connection to our website, which are all absolutely flexible ways at reinforcing the brand.
Emails provide convenience. Whether that satisfaction exists because, as mentioned above, not everyone you need can be in the same room at the same time, or because you need to send a correspondence after the post office has closed or after most people have gone to bed, there’s no denying the immense convenience of email. They can also be sent to more than one person, so you could, as also alluded to above, have an entire business meeting from various locations around the world. It’s, of course, not the same as the instant communication of face-to-face meetings, but if your business partner is traveling or lives abroad or is sick or whatever may be the case, you can still communicate as quickly as someone can open an email and type a response. You can share documents quickly and expeditiously without having to use a copier or fax machine, and you can easily resend documents or other information if someone loses it (by accidentally deleting it, say). If you’re relying on hard-copy, replacing documents or communications is not nearly that easy.
These days, as most of the world moves toward owning some sort of smartphone or internet-capable device, email grows increasingly convenient and time-efficient.
Written communication gives people a better chance to provide the entirety of their input in a way verbal conversations may not be able to. There’s always flow to the conversation that inevitably leaves out some people’s ideas; whereas, having to organize and articulate ideas, responses, et cetera before sending them to the necessary parties allows for more extensive communication in certain ways. Granted, there is little in the way of replacing the energy and synergy that can come from a face-to-face exchange; but, for much of the other stuff, email is an excellent, powerful resource!