GUI Bytes

Talk to Me!

companies that don't use e-mail and the Internet are at a competitive disadvantage to those who do

part 1

part 2

part 3


Last year marked a milestone event in the electronic life of the Mpls.-St. Paul Chapter: For the first time, the entire board of directors and all committee chairs had e-mail. We've fallen back a bit this year, and there is always the problem of getting people to use it, but it appears that e-mail has finally become a part of life for the chapter.

Many specifiers, suppliers, and contractors now use e-mail in their daily business. It has become one more communication tool, along with the telephone and fax. The Internet is also coming on strong as another way to communicate. I use it daily to find product information and standards, and to download guide specifications from manufacturers' web sites.

Unfortunately - for them - some companies haven't seen the light. They either don't have e-mail, or they have it and don't use it. Many still don't have web sites; some of those who do apparently let a graphic designer and the junior vice president design the site. When a potential client asks for information and doesn't get it, the likely result is loss of that business. You may have the best product in the world, but if I can't get all of the information I need, I probably won't specify it.

"Why do I need e-mail or an Internet presence?" The analogies are obvious. Why do you need a telephone? Mail can deliver any information to any location in just a couple of days. Why do you read your mail? You'll probably talk to all of your clients sooner or later, anyway. Why should you send product binders to specifiers? They can always call. Why should you send your specs to product reps? They stop in regularly to tell you what's new. Companies that don't use e-mail and the Internet are at a competitive disadvantage to those who do.

But I do read my e-mail, and we do have web site - is that enough?

I see evidence of successful use of these services every day. Many times I have sent a request for information by e-mail and received a response the same day. This is more than I expect; when I use e-mail I count on an answer within one or two days. If I need the information now, I use the telephone - and often end up playing phone tag for a day or so.

If you read your e-mail and respond promptly, and if your web site has useful information (which includes downloadable guide specifications) that is easy to find, you are probably making good use of them. With a little thought, you can see the best use for all of the tools you have, and use each to its best advantage. The telephone, fax, US Mail, delivery services, couriers, office calls, and the business lunch all remain valuable methods of communication.

1999 Sheldon Wolfe, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA, 
on the web at 
September 1999

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