Touch Points of Communications
Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor
Are you aware of all the six touch points of communications? These
are six ways you can enhance or foul up a business or a personal
relationship. You should be familiar with them all. Let’s go over
each point because throughout the day, both in business and our home
life, we all have the ability to “touch” people in a variety of
ways. And with each point, there are pros and cons.
The phone: This doesn’t just pertain to your business or
home phone, it includes your cell phone, too. Telephone Doctor
surveys show that more than 80% of all business transactions
involved a phone call at one point. The telephone is what’s known
as a ‘synchronous’ method of communication. What that means is
you’re in sync with the person you’re communicating with. You can
have a simultaneous two-way exchange of information. Both parties
need to be communicating at the same time for maximum
That doesn’t mean you need to agree with the person you’re talking
with, but more importantly, you both are able to communicate
immediately. The best part of the telephone touch point is the
ability to hear the tone of voice being used. That stimulates the
listener’s imagination, similar to what happens when we listen to
On the phone, we have no sight, just sound. How we perceive those
sounds makes a whole lot of difference. Therefore, tone of voice is
critical with the first touch point. Two people can say the same
thing to one person and yet the listener can hear it differently
All that being said, the telephone is an effective and popular
method of communication (providing you’ve reached your called
party). It gets answers quickly and rapid responses. As you might
imagine, this ‘touch point’ is one of my personal favorites. I
don’t even want caller ID; it takes all the fun out of a phone call!
Email: Ah yes, the beloved email. Well, that’s
“asynchronous.” Meaning you communicate one-way information, one
direction at a time. And you may not get immediate communication
back. With email, you have relinquished interpretation of the tone
of voice to the other person. What you write can be “heard”
whatever way they want to hear it. This can be dangerous.
Remember, email etiquette is new. However, suffice to say when we
email something it needs to be short, sweet, and to the point.
In addition, it needs to be obviously friendly. It’s a delivery
method that has the ability to “sit” for hours – sometimes days
without an answer.
When should you meet rather than use email? A client of ours told
us once, “When there are more than two emails on the same subject
back and forth, it’s time for a face-to-face meeting.” That’s easy
to say for those of us who work in the same area. However, if your
emails are international or even regional, your emails are your
critical “touch point.”
Be careful in your emails. Many hurt feelings have come about due
to insensitive writing. That’s a good place to practice all your
‘pleases and thank yous.’ Short, terse, one-word answers are
perceived as rude.
Voice Mail: Again, this is an “asynchronous” means of
communication. You can leave a voice message for someone and when
you get an answer, if ever, is up to him or her, not you. And it’s
not instantaneous, as is speaking with someone on the telephone. So
here again, your voice mail needs to be special.
As we’ve said many times, there are three types of voice mails:
Poor, average, and great. When you leave a voice mail, make it a
great one. Remember, you get to use your tone of voice. That’s a
real plus. Your listener can hear the laughter, the smile, and the
tone. Use it to your advantage.
Snail Mail: This includes things like letters, brochures,
and samples. These are some of the original forms of business
communication and they continue to be a great method of
communication. As is true with emails, though, the written word can
be miscommunicated easily. Also, email, voice mail, and snail mail
are very similar when communicating. All are “asynchronous.” You
must wait for an answer.
Fax: Remember when this method of communicating came on the
scene? Now, it seems we didn’t know how we operated without it.
Today, it trails sadly behind the other touch points. Yet, it’s
still there and being used, but just not as much or as often. And a
reminder, it too is ‘asynchronous’. It is one-way information,
waiting for an answer.
Face-to-Face: Obviously, this needs little, if any,
explanation. When we communicate in a face-to-face situation, we
have it all. Sight, sound, tone of voice, facial expressions, and
body language – the entire package. It’s the ultimate “synchronous”
Maintaining eye contact is key in this special touch point. Those
that will not make eye contact while communicating with us are
sometimes judged as “suspicious.” We suspect that they may be
Beware, too, in a face-to-face situation that your head doesn’t look
as though it’s on a spindle. Focus on the person, or people, you’re
talking with. They deserve your full attention. Moreover, you’ll
find you soon notice when someone is talking with you if they’re
concentrating on you and the topic or if their eyes are wondering
around looking elsewhere – anywhere but with you.
Yet, with all these touch points and helpful hints, we often still “miscommunicate.”
In our work place, we probably use all six touch points many times a
day. A few simple guidelines can help us focus on which touch point
to use, when to do so, and how to make them work for us and not
Telephone: If you reach your called party, great. That’s
immediate. It’s also good for leaving messages that don’t need
an immediate answer. If you need immediate action, try to reach
another person. The telephone is only ‘synchronous’ when you
have reached the called party.
Voice Mail: That would be ‘asynchronous.’ Leaving messages that
will be returned when the called party decides to return it (if
Email: Again, one-way communication. Keep it short, sweet, and
to the point. Use your manners. Remember, one word answers are
perceived as rude.
Snail Mail: Still a great way to communicate but be careful with
the written word. Keep in mind how possible miscommunications
might occur. More than once, words have come back to haunt the
Fax: For those that still use this method of communication, one
page faxes are appreciated. Again, written correspondence needs
to be checked and double-checked to be sure it won’t be
Face-to-Face: The ultimate method of communication. Immediate
reaction, tone, sight, sound, and body language. Total
“synchronous” communication, and that hug or handshake makes it
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