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Convenience or Complacence?

The other day I had an experience that suggested how it might feel to be on the other side of the consultant-client table.

As it turns out, I recently hired a wedding coordinator. She’s a diligent, experienced professional who is clearly comfortable juggling the 1,000 details necessary for a wedding, but there’s one habit of hers that drives me up a wall: she sends one-line emails that invariably include in the footer “sent from my blackberry”.

Rather than harp on her technology preferences, the thing that strikes me when she sends such messages is that I imagine a world in which she’s running around and shoots off a one-liner to me in the middle of shopping, eating a lovely meal out somewhere, or perhaps while playing croquet with friends. (I have an odd imagination, but you get the idea..) The dashed-off messages tell me that she’s busy doing other things and doesn’t have time to sit down and properly compose an email to me. While, yes, she’s taken the time to send some information, ultimately her focus seems to be elsewhere.

As a fellow mobile addict (in this case an ever-present iPhone), I’m guilty of quick messages to both coworkers and clients as well. I’d imagined, in a conveniently self-centered justification, that such things showed that even while running around in life that person or task was on my mind. Perception is a funny thing.

That got me thinking — when I get messages from mobile devices they rarely contain a salutation or even in some cases any sort of greeting at all. Punctuation is often ignored, spelling is a crap-shoot, and so on. Now before I come across as some sort of Luddite unwilling to embrace the new world of mobile communication, sure, I’m all about brevity, efficiency, immediate responses, and so on. But our behavior has to be considered in the context of the overall relationship.

If my wedding coordinator also sent longer emails and shared perhaps checklists or detailed plans, I think I’d be perfectly happy with her quick mobile one-shots as a supplement to otherwise thorough communication. It’s the exclusive use of these seemingly twitter-esque missives that bugs me. As a client, I think my wedding deserves more than a hundred or so characters dashed off while in a checkout line.

I’ll take this experience as food for thought. We want to meet our clients where they are — many, like I am, are rushed and live on mobile devices — but I do think it’s important to show our clients that we genuinely care and are happy to put much more than just a few mispelled emoticon seconds into a relationship.

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