'Digital stalking' turns off business

Companies are in danger of driving away business and wasting time on unproductive communications because they are failing to understand customers' different digital personality types when they are dealing through email or other communications channels, according to new research. The study, conducted by BT Business, indicates that nearly a third (30%) of the workers surveyed feel harassed by the sheer number of messages people send them while many also admit that they themselves are never sure of the best way to contact people implying that companies are missing out on the opportunity to unify their communications technology, and on the personal and business benefits that can bring. At the same time, workers appear to be increasingly managing working relationships through social and business networks further adding to the volume of work related communications people send and receive. One in 10 people surveyed have customers and clients as friends on personal social networking sites such as Facebook. This trend is particularly true for younger people, with more than one in six (15 per cent) of the 18 to 24s surveyed saying they use or would use these tools to manage customer relationships, compared to just two per cent of 45s or over. Similarly, six times as many 18 to 24-year-olds use or would use microblogs such as Twitter to manage customer relationships compared to 45s or over. These are some of the key findings of the BT Business research which sought to understand how people are using modern communications tools to build business relationships. The research involved input from one of the UK's leading psychologists Gladeana McMahon. Psychologist Gladeana McMahon explains: "It's important that people recognise the difference between communicating virtually and face-to-face. We often read others' body language to gauge what they are really saying, adapting our response to get a better result. In the virtual world we don't have the same clues to help us modify our behaviour so we must try to identify 'digital personality types' in other ways to ensure business success. Similar to people thinking before they speak, people need to think before they click to avoid inappropriate communications." "It's great to see businesses taking up new technology to build profitable relationships but many are missing out on the opportunity to get rid of the clutter and unify their communications," said Bill Murphy, managing director BT Business. "Unified communications can empower employees to intelligently tune their communications to the preferences and behaviour patterns of different personalities by creating a sense of presence in a virtual world. With three quarters of the UK's small businesses now operating some form of flexible working, to maximise the benefits it's important for businesses to look at how they can help staff to be more productive, while at the same time saving money by eliminating wasteful messaging." The research also revealed a real concern by nearly a third (29 per cent) of managers surveyed** that they would lose customers if they did not get better at using technology to communicate with them, however, 42 per cent said their organisation does not provide guidelines to help employees effectively use the communication tools listed in the survey, such as email. This is despite evidence that suggests some people are using tools such as Twitter and Facebook for work purposes which may be outside corporate policy. Working with McMahon BT has identified a range of digital personality types1 to help employers develop their own policies on the use of modern communication tools and to encourage employees to understand their own behaviour and the communication habits of others better. Open Most likely to embrace new technologies and believe it's a good way to interact with customers and partners Flexible and happy to engage with people over multiple communication channels Most likely to use social networking to manage business relationships and allow people uncensored access to online profiles Conscientious Unlikely to try out new technology until the benefits are demonstrated. May not be comfortable with the speed of communication and the immediacy of new technologies Prefer sending emails that can be drafted and checked before being sent to technologies that enable people to be more impulsive such as micro blogging through Twitter Extravert Will embrace new technologies and the multiple methods of contacting people, often with little or no thoughts of the consequences Most likely to be a regular micro-blogger through Twitter or user of Facebook Agreeable Will use new technologies as they appreciate the benefits that they could bring, but may not maximise the potential as they worry about pestering or disturbing people May find other people's communications concerning, trying to respond to every message believing it to be important, finding filtering and prioritising difficult Neurotic Cynical about new technologies and tend to reject them Unlikely to be comfortable with applying social networking to business relationships Have a tendency to misinterpret digital communications What makes up a person's digital personality - 'Personality V'? Personality V is a reflection of a person's individual character traits and describes how their resulting behaviour translates itself in a digital world. McMahon has also defined a simple guide to help people read someone's 'Personality V' to ensure they maximise business relationships.
  • Accessibility: How open is the person to embracing new communications?
  • Speed: How quick is the person to respond to communications?
  • Emotion: What is their emotional response to receiving communications - written and verbal?
  • Agility: Do they present the capability to multi-task across different forms of communication?
  • Tone and Style: Do they like detail or results orientated communications? What tone of voice do they prefer?

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