The Death of the Business Phone Call – and What It Means for You

My phone isn’t ringing. I don’t mean business is slow. In fact, I’m fortunate to get inquiries almost every day–but it’s almost always through email. It’s not just me (or teenagers, who have been busy texting and IMing for the past half-decade). In conversations with dozens of executives, I’m hearing over and over that except for scheduled calls–conference calls and other appointments–the era of the business phone call is over.

I don’t really regret its passing. The phone has never been as good as an in-person meeting, with all its visual cues.  (And with broadband and other web technology like DimDim, we now have the chance to recapture that experience virtually.) Email is infinitely more efficient–even if there is the lurking chance of misconstruing a nuance or making an embarrassing typo. And hey–in the iPhone era, it’s not like we’re without phones or the possibility of calling, since we’re carrying them 24-7, even if their principal function is as a camera, music player, and web browser.

But phones did offer the chance to build relationships, to “chit-chat” about families or hobbies or weekend plans in a way that seems superfluous and forced in a corporate email exchange. And those odd moments and casual exchanges often formed the cement that built long-lasting business connections.

So what do you think we’re losing–or gaining–with the death of the business phone call? Or am I overstating it entirely?

Dorie Clark is a marketing strategy consultant who has worked with clients including Google, Yale University, and the National Park Service. Listen to her podcasts or follow her on Twitter.