I had a meeting with a client this week who told me he had recently calculated how much time his company actually spent speaking with their customers. They’ve 18 employees working on average 35 hours a week so they’ve approximately 630 working hours each week and he’d calculated that they spend less than one of those hours actually talking to their customers. It’s a staggering figure. That hour includes all face-to-face and telephone conversations. It doesn’t include emails though where most of their communication takes place.

As my meeting with him took 2 hours I felt quite smug knowing that we had at least double the hours they did. But it was an interesting exercise to try and calculate it all the same. Of course there are many variables; B2B or B2C, the cost of what you sell, is it a one off or repeat purchase, FMCG or a service etc but it is still worthwhile trying to work it out. I imagine that for many businesses, no matter the variables or the sector, the answer is ‘not enough’.

Communication channels have changed so hugely in the last 10 or so years. We’ve never had more ways of communicating than we do now and many of us use them, some well too. Yet for every status update, Tweet, email or indeed blog post I wonder if a call or even a face-to-face meeting is being sacrificed at the altar of modernity.

This isn’t intended as a hark back to the so called good old days or a luddites charter, far from it, simply the observation that all forms of communication are effective, some just more so than others. A big part of communication is listening, and that can be hard to do well if you’ve stopped having a conversation. If you don’t listen you won’t learn, and as we all like talking we’ll eventually find an audience elsewhere.