Can’t I Just Email Them? Why User Adoption cannot occur remotely.


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Do you remember when there was no email system? When you had only two choices of either meeting by phone or in person to conduct business?

As amazing as technology is – along with its conveniences – it also has the potential to take away value that we otherwise would get from more direct means of communication.

Consultants especially lose value when they interact with their clients primarily through email. Not only can a consultant lose time awaiting client responses, that consultant does not get the opportunity to explore a more accurate assessment of a client’s current state, in order to provide the best recommended solution.


Generally, a consultant’s success can be measured in three main categories:

1. How accurately the consultant has assessed the client’s current situation.

2. How much trust the consultant has built with the client to accept the consultant’s recommendations.

3. How well and quickly the consultant can execute all aspects of the contract (assessment, recommendations, development, delivery, etc.).

For this article, we shall focus on categories 1 & 2.

Category 1: Assessment

Email correspondences provide a very narrow perspective of the client situation. A good consultant assesses a client’s current situation through a variety of mechanisms, in order to form a complete understanding of what the client will ultimately need for the consultant to help them.

This variety of data gathering mechanisms (known as triangulation) includes surveys, interviews with client members, project team meetings, review of client documentation, among others. As emails may only share the perspective of a couple client members, the alternative/additional mechanisms gather insight from multiple client members; a truer picture of the client situation is revealed.

Category 2: Trust in Recommendations

Once the consultant has a better understanding of the client’s true needs, the consultant can propose a more specific recommendation(s) unique to that client.

However, what is to assure the client will agree to such recommendations? This is where trust is key.

Have you ever formed a relationship – rooted in trust – via email? Of course not, the basis of all relationships occur through repeated conversations and in a variety of venues – mainly in person. The same is true when forming trust with clients. Working with clients more directly and in person allows the consultant a chance to learn about the client; but it also provides the client to learn about the consultant. The more the client understands the consultant’s intentions and feels the consultant understands their situation, the more likely the client will accept the consultant’s recommendations. The goal is achieved!


As you think about your daily consulting practice – particularly when you are assessing a client’s situation or are developing particular client recommendations:

1. How much time passes between the back-and-forth emails that could be quickly resolved by a phone call or meeting?

2. What level of insight are you getting about your client’s situation through email correspondences vs. alternate means of communication?

3. Note the level of acceptance to your recommendations vs. “push-back” you receive from your clients when interacting face-to-face vs. email. What is the ratio difference?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jason Whitehead
Jason Whitehead is CEO of Tri Tuns, LLC, an organizational effectiveness consultancy specializing in driving and sustaining effective user adoption of IT systems. He works at the intersection of technology, process, culture and people to help clients actually achieved measurable business benefits from their technology investments.


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