Reading the iPaper's piece by @RhiannonJudithW today about the rise of Slack I had to raise a small smile; the diminishing value and relevance of email has long been something of a cause célèbre when advising clients on their ongoing Comms strategy.
It's a tricky subject for a lot of our clients, most of whom are understandably wedded to the historical methodology of emails (as indeed are their staff both personally and professionally), but one that is becoming increasingly important to address.
This article rather disingenuously refers to email as the "cockroach of the Internet", reasoning that it's difficult to kill off (though many have tried). My own perspective is a little more appreciative I hope in so much as I feel sure that it will likely always have a place in a business' Comms arsenal, but increasingly we find ourselves advising clients to do their very best to employ alternative methods wherever feasible - especially when communicating internally and / or with existing client.
The issues with email are legion and keen to avoid including what would probably be an in-exhaustive list of the problems here I tend to simply tell clients, "If you actually want anything done, don't email us!"
Specifically referencing this article we should declare that as an agency we are huge fans of Slack and use their extraordinary platform all day every day. We came to it via Google Hangouts and MSN Messenger before that - always doing our very best to bend the tools to our will and invariably exposing weaknesses in them. To date we have yet to find an internal communications platform so well suited to our needs and without reservation recommend this tool to anyone who cares to listen.
In terms of external client communications I utter one word: "Helpdesk!" The advantages offered by a truly "linear" and collaborative thread of messages and assets relating to tasks, queries and mini-projects is limitless, suffice it to say that, again, if a client "actually wants anything done" there is simply no other way to manage them. For the record we use the extraordinary ZenDesk platform and have developed our own environment to track effort against agreed block of hours, links to and from our JIRA Project Management tool as well as feeding task and communications straight into our bespoke Client Portal and management Dashboard.
All of the features mentioned above would be quite impossible if we still relied on email for our external and internal communications.
So what good is email..? To be fair Google does provide a peerless spam filter to sift out truly unwanted and unsolicited emails, as well as providing a neat and robust communications channel for client prospects... but other than that, we hardly look at it, which is liberating and empowering. Join us!
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