With the changing times, the ways we communicate are changing too. Web messaging apps are all the rage now. While they are just what the doctor ordered for casual communication with friends and family, are they also suitable for business-related communication? No, is what we think.
Quite often we have customers sending us messages on WhatsApp about what changes are required in their current project or their review confirmation. We always request them to email their input to our support staff and our clients always oblige. While it is undisputed that it is most convenient for any person to quicky pick up the mobile and send an instant message, business functions need some work, out of the comfort zone, for common good.
Here are a few reasons why we encourage business communication through email than via WhatsApp or any other IM.
- Archival/Retrieval/Search issues: A lot of our official work involves around tracking the past communication. With emails, we have separate folders for clients and a robust search mechanism. We take backup of our emails from the email client and hence it is secure. On the other hand, saving/searching messages, photos etc. is tedious on WhatsApp. We have different subjects for emails; but there is no such mechanism on IMs. Emails provide organization of messages and attachments according to sender, date etc., which makes searching easier.
- Colours on WhatsApp can be misleading: In the creative media business, we exchange images/graphics more often than any other industry does. Infact, ~30% of our emails have pictures as attachments. Some customers request us to send the graphics on WhatsApp for review purposes, if they don’t have their email on their phone. But we again request them to check the photos on their emails as well before suggesting any changes about colours/contrast of the graphic. The reason is simple. Colours in graphics are rendered differently by different electronic devices. The way colours are rendered on mobile devices, especially when sent over IM, is significantly different from the way they are rendered on standard Windows computer screens or Mac. Such variations in appearance may have adverse effects on the final output, and lead to an output that that has a large deviation from the output that you expected.
- Loss of picture quality: A similar issue bothers us when photos are sent to use via IM for updating the website or Social Media. WhatsApp’s image compression algorithm leads to loss of quality of the image. These inferior quality images cannot be used for work. Since we want to ensure high quality pictures for our clients marketing, we recommend images to be sent over email.
- Email offers more security: Mobile devices are more vulnerable to adversaries (can be broken into) than email accounts. Remember every time we install an app, we agree to share a lot of information stored on our mobile and other apps used on the mobile. Exposing business-related communication to such threats is a bad idea.
- Better to keep business & personal apart: Since WhatsApp is largely used for communication of a personal and casual nature with friends and family, using WhatsApp for business-related communication also can at times end you in bloopers. Imagine you have sent a casual forwarded joke message to a client who never expected that from you.
- Multiple threads not easy to track: Say if you have one part of the communication through email and another over WhatsApp, how do you refer to both? When you are using email all the time, you have an option to refer to an old email and even send another email as an attachment. It is counter productive to have one communication thread running on WhatsApp and another on Email. Additionally, the longevity of WhatsApp archival & recovery is not proven.
- Phone memory problem: All the attachments that you receive via WhatsApp are stored in your phone’s internal memory. When the memory is full and you need to flush out the unwanted contents, if you are not careful then you run the risk of deleting your business-related contents. Even if you are careful, the task of filtering business-related contents from others can be tedious one.
- Device gone, access gone: If you happen to lose your phone, then until you get a duplicate SIM card, your WhatsApp account becomes inaccessible. Laptops and computers rarely have such risks.
- Cannot CC: Having to send a message or attachment to multiple parties is a routine affair for every business. WhatsApp does not give you the CC facility that emails provide.
- Cannot Print from Whatsapp: Printing an email for record purposes is a simple and common procedure across the globe. What to do when we have some parts of communication in email and some over Whatsapp? We have to send the Whatsapp chat via email and then take a print out. Not a productive thing to do for hundreds of clients, isnt it?
Whatsapp can be a good tool for Sales teams to keep in touch with customers and prospects and for follow ups with other internal teams. But as far as communication with customers is concerned, Emails still are the best mode of communication.