In praise of face to face communication

I am working in a sunny porch, enjoying the benefits of technology, but thinking about the value of face to face communication.

I hope you are having a great weekend (celebrating Easter, if you are so inclined). I am visiting family, which is always both challenging and reassuring.

In the past week, I received the news that I had 2 papers accepted for the Academy of Marketing conference, taking place in Southampton later in the year. The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Marketing: catching the technology wave’, which dove tails very nicely with some of my current research activities.

One of the papers I shall be presenting reports on the early findings from a study looking at Social Media users’ perceptions of, and attitudes towards, organisations interacting with them online. This paper focuses on the use of Social Media platforms for customer service and is entitled ‘Customer service 140 characters at a time – the users’ perspective’. The other paper is of a conceptual nature. It outlines a framework that I am working on with a colleague to help researchers decide when and how to use Social Media data for customer profiling. The title (a bit of mouthful) is: ‘A Conceptual Investigation of the Value of Social Media Data as a Source of Customer Insight’.

I was chuffed to get the news that both papers had been accepted. First, because both projects are at an early stage and, thus, it felt great to get encouraging feedback from my peers. Second, and most significantly, because I always come back from this conference feeling reenergised. Listening to the presentations, meeting or catching up with colleagues in the coffee breaks, and spending 2-3 days focused on research, means that I come back home with my head buzzing with ideas.

This was very timely as, just a few days ago, I read a post about the importance of face to face contact in market research, despite the advent of phone surveys and other technology-enabled data collection tools. You can read the post here.

When we talk with each other, a very big part of what we ‘say’ is communicated by the tone, the smile, the fidgeting… Non-verbal communication says as much as the words we speak, if not more.

Technology saves a lot of time and money. It allows me to pick on the brains of fascinating people spread all over the world. It enables us to work from anywhere, anytime – for instance, this is the view from my ‘office’, today 🙂

But, every now and then, I really need to engage with my peers, face to face. And, so, I’m looking forward to this conference.

Do you find yourself engineering opportunities to meet someone, face to face, even if using technology might be more effective in the short term?

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