Showing posts from April, 2010

Communications Lessons from Aviation: When "Rogering" People is Good Business Practice

Just a few days ago I ordered some printing work by email. My message was sent but there was never any acknowledgment of the order or notification that the work was done. In the end I had to ask if they had received the file. But suppose it had been urgent and my mail had not been delivered? Acknowledging messages is such an obvious good idea that I used to wonder why some people don’t do it. In some cases it is probably a mix or carelessness and too much work; in other cases there is a cultural element (more about that later). Whatever the reason my advice is that you should confirm receipt of most but not all messages, and that in some cases you need to confirm your understanding by “reading back” the key messages in your own words. These are lessons that I have borrowed from the world of aviation where the consequences of misunderstandings can be fatal, so over the years the authorities have developed some very effective practices. Communications, in particular, are regulated b

Social Media Trend: How Twitter Menaces Call Centers

If you were planning a career in the exciting world of call centers think again. Yesterday's experience rebooking a volcano-delayed flight convinced me that in the future Twitter is going to take a large slice of this business. With rolling cancellations of flights over a period of several days airlines have been faced with thousands of callers trying to rebook their flights. Call centers and website collapsed under the strain. I know because I was trying to rebook a KLM flight. Checking the Twitter account for information I also noticed that they regularly tweeted a message inviting people who had this difficulty to rebook through Twitter. That's right, not just information but also services. The way it worked was very simple. You just tweet to @KLM that you want to rebook and first they follow you, then they invite you to send your details by direct message. A few minutes later you receive another direct message confirming the re-booking. If you think about it this is goo

E-mail Across Borders: Three and a Half Secrets of International Email

Anyone who has worked with other people in other cultures is aware that emails across borders sometimes have unexpected results or even no result. To address this issue people sometimes focus on visible details, like how to begin and end messages, but the real problems are deeper. This means they are less evident but let you predict how people will react in many different situations. The good news is that most problems are all caused by just three basic differences. Understand these concepts and you can make your international email communications more effective. 1. DIFFERENT ATTITUDES TO HIERARCHY: in some cultures hierarchy is very strong, so there tends to be a greater distance between managers and employees. In these cultures you must remember to keep bosses in the loop by copying them on mails and you should not address mails to people in other departments without going through the hierarchy. Breaking these rules can cause offense and maybe low level people will be afraid