Emails were good in the year of 2003. But today, emails are no longer good for anything that does not need to go through a formal standardized email process.
Some firms have such standardized email processes. These standardized email processes often stem from the times when there was an incoming mail desk which opened letters and sent out letters, and later was in control of the fax machine.
Whenever someone uses a different way – not snail mail or email – for officially communicating with a firm, problems can arise: communications get overlooked, deadlines are missed because they are not docketed, and more.
Today, in the age of the electronic file, these are no longer good reasons for not using smartphone instant messenger apps.
I will show you why and how this is so.
Instant Messenger Apps Have Taken Over Because Instant Messages Are Shorter Than Emails
This is because today almost everyone has a smartphone, and email is so cumbersome to use on smartphones.
A smartphone display is too small for reading emails because emails carry too much redundant information. Because of the nature of email communication over the Internet, each email comes with a long header that has all sorts of information, such as sender name, sender nickname, sending date and time, etc.
Here is an example of an email header:
From: Media Temple user (email@example.com)
Subject: article: How to Trace a Email
Date: January 25, 2011 3:30:58 PM PDT
Delivery-Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2011 15:31:01 -0700
Received: from po-out-1718.google.com ([220.127.116.11]:54907) by cl35.gs01.gridserver.com with esmtp (Exim 4.63) (envelope-from <firstname.lastname@example.org>) id 1KDoNH-0000f0-RL for email@example.com; Tue, 25 Jan 2011 15:31:01 -0700
Received: by po-out-1718.google.com with SMTP id y22so795146pof.4 for <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Tue, 25 Jan 2011 15:30:58 -0700 (PDT)
Received: by 10.141.116.17 with SMTP id t17mr3929916rvm.251.1214951458741; Tue, 25 Jan 2011 15:30:58 -0700 (PDT)
Received: by 10.140.188.3 with HTTP; Tue, 25 Jan 2011 15:30:58 -0700 (PDT)
Dkim-Signature: v=1; a=rsa-sha256; c=relaxed/relaxed; d=gmail.com; s=gamma; h=domainkey-signature:received:received:message-id:date:from:to :subject:mime-version:content-type; bh=+JqkmVt+sHDFIGX5jKp3oP18LQf10VQjAmZAKl1lspY=; b=F87jySDZnMayyitVxLdHcQNL073DytKRyrRh84GNsI24IRNakn0oOfrC2luliNvdea LGTk3adIrzt+N96GyMseWz8T9xE6O/sAI16db48q4Iqkd7uOiDvFsvS3CUQlNhybNw8m CH/o8eELTN0zbSbn5Trp0dkRYXhMX8FTAwrH0=
Domainkey-Signature: a=rsa-sha1; c=nofws; d=gmail.com; s=gamma; h=message-id:date:from:to:subject:mime-version:content-type; b=wkbBj0M8NCUlboI6idKooejg0sL2ms7fDPe1tHUkR9Ht0qr5lAJX4q9PMVJeyjWalH 36n4qGLtC2euBJY070bVra8IBB9FeDEW9C35BC1vuPT5XyucCm0hulbE86+uiUTXCkaB 6ykquzQGCer7xPAcMJqVfXDkHo3H61HM9oCQM=
Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary=”—-=_Part_3927_12044027.1214951458678″
X-Spam-Status: score=3.7 tests=DNS_FROM_RFC_POST, HTML_00_10, HTML_MESSAGE, HTML_SHORT_LENGTH version=3.1.7
Message Body: This is a KnowledgeBase article that provides information on how to find email headers and use the data to trace a email.
An explanation of this email header is found here https://mediatemple.net/community/products/dv/204643950/understanding-an-email-header
Typical email clients will hide large parts of these long email headers, but many parts of the email header are still displayed.
A messenger comes without such headers because messengers use a point-to-point connection between two smartphones, often – but not always – based on the phone numbers of the users of the two smartphones that are communicating with each other.
This means that an entire thread of ongoing communication between two users is much neater when done via messenger app. The texts of each sender have its own unique color, and they are often arranged in a special graphical manner that makes it easier to determine who has said what and when.
Email clients try to emulate this behavior of messenger apps but email is never as easy as a messenger app.
Group Email Chats Are Even Worse Than Peer-to-Peer Emails
Things become even worse if groups of people are communicating about the same thing.
I have a group of Germans ex-fraternity students in Singapore, about 25 people. And every other month they try to find a common time slot for having a beer or two. Some of them refuse to use an Instant Messenger, so we use emails with the “reply all” button. In average, each one of them contributes one email. After reading about 25 emails we find out that one specific evening would work. After that we would need another 15 emails in total for finding an appropriate location, but we always decide to meet again where it was last time.
Group email communications require a lot of transmission discipline from each participant of the group communication: the “reply all” button is a powerful tool, but it works both ways. Things can become messy if one of the group members wants to reply to one thought of one participant in the email thread, but he uses the “reply all” button.
Things become extra-messy when one of the email addresses that are involved in a group chat is an email list. An email list is a set of email addresses that is hidden behind one single email recipient. The result of that is called “email storm” and there is even a Wikipedia entry for this phenomenon, here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Email_storm
Even if no email storm is created, a group chat over email becomes complicated if a group member decides to not reply to the latest – or youngest – instance of the ongoing email thread. That creates two different email threads. And so on.
Instant Messenger Group Chats are Easy as Pie
When you need to discuss with co-workers and collect their options in a limited time. Instant messenger can do a better job than email. Some instant messengers offer a conversation mode called group chat or conference. You can invite and add members to join the same topic and start a discussion.
In a messenger group chat, contrary to email group chats, everything is clear. There is always one single message thread, and it is always clear when something was said. The instant messages are arranged according to time, and their order is fixed.
The “reply” in a messenger button can only be used for replying to specific single messages in the message thread. That protects messenger chat users from themselves, and it makes things also much easier, as compared with email communication.
Instant Messenger Apps on a Computer
Now, this is a killer application for short emails.
Pair your computer with the messenger app on your smartphone. Every messenger app has that feature.
This is how to do it.
Some instant messengers, such as Viber, require you to install a local app on your computer.
But for WhatsApp, it is extremely easy, as I shall explain in the following.
Pairing Your Smartphone With WhatsApp Desktop
Step 1: Open this link from your desktop computer’s of laptop’s Internet browser https://web.whatsapp.com
You will then see a big QR code on your computer screen.
You need the QR scanner within WhatsApp in order to scan it, and then you are good to go
Step 2: Open the WhatsApp messenger on your smartphone. Then open the WhatsApp QR Scanner.
On Android: in the Chats screen > “More options (top right corner, the symbol with the three dots)” > “WhatsApp Web”
On iPhone: go to “Settings” (lower right corner, the tooth wheel symbol) > “WhatsApp Web”
I have also recorded an explainer video for you, check out this
Once you have paired your smartphone with WhatsApp desktop, you add a huge number of additional options to your WhatsApp messenger.
Messenger Chats in the Official Incoming Mail Process
This is what I do. My firm has a dedicated (old) smartphone for the incoming mail.
Every user who wants a WhatsApp chat to be put into a specific case file can send snapshots of the WhatsApp chat to the incoming mail phone. That incoming mail phone is paired with our incoming mail desktop computer.
From there, it can either be printed (if paper files are still being used), or it can be imported into the paperless file system. That is what we do in my firm. Our paperless file system would perform an OCR on image files and snapshots of WhatsApp chats can then even be full-text searched.
Transfer of Conventional Document Files over WhatsApp
Once WhatsApp is paired with a computer, ordinary Microsoft Office files or pdf files from that computer can be sent via WhatsApp. That makes communication very easy. The receiver can then inspect the document file and decide what to do with it.
There are excellent and safe encrypted instant messengers available. Among others, I am using the Threema messenger which is known for its excellent safety against hacking.
International Use of Instant Messengers
I am using Instant Messengers a lot, and I found out that each country and user group has their preferred Instant Messenger app.
For example, there is this country/messenger pattern:
All other countries are very diverse when it comes to Instant Messenger apps.
The website here https://www.similarweb.com/blog/popular-messaging-apps-by-country seems to suggest that Facebook messenger and WhatsApp are currently used a lot in this World.
My experience is that everyone has good reasons why his own messenger app is the best one. And usually, I am following what our clients prefer.
This is why I am presently using the following Instant Messenger apps (the order of the apps reflects how often I am using them): WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Facebook Messenger, Skype, SMS, Telegram, Wire, Viber, WeChat, Threema, Line, Microsoft Teams, KakaoTalk, QQ, Asana, and Voxer.
Other Advantages of Instant Messengers
Instant messengers such as WhatsApp have a “broadcast” feature. That means that one message is sent out as a single message to many recipients without creating a group. That prevents replies-to-replies-to-replies-etc. to messages that were intended to be one-way only.
There is also much less delay in instant messages, as compared with email. As mentioned before, reading emails on a smartphone can be a pain in the neck, because of the redundant information that emails come with.
Moreover, email inboxes are usually full of spam, while it is always clear from which sender a specific instant message was sent. There is no or much less spam in instant messages. That makes it faster to decide which messages are important and which ones are not.
On your Instant Messenger, you have a view of all users status (who is online, who is offline, busy or away) so you know who is available, and when you can expect to contact him. Or you just send them an offline message, and the recipient can get back to you as soon as he online again. When sent an email, it may be difficult to expect when the recipient will go back to you.
Instant messengers have an excellent advantage in history message tracking. In case you may need a backup of the whole conversation which can be easily browsed or printed, or audit some sensitive discussion, many instant messengers have a built-in feature to store full history message on a dedicated location for this purpose.
In brief, instant messengers are an ideal replacement of email clients and they bring us more creative functions which will improve productivity.
There is no more excuse why WhatsApp cannot be used in a law firm.
Call To Action
Install the WhatsApp messenger on your smartphone.
Then add me as a contact “Martin Patent Trademark Singapore Munich” and my phone number +65/98334062 (if you click on the phone number when you read this article on your smartphone, your Whatsapp will open automatically).
Then send me a WhatsApp message “my name is <first name + surname>. I have seen your WhatsApp article.”.
Then pair your smartphone with WhatsApp Desktop, and send me any pdf document.
I will reply as soon as I can.
Martin “Easy Communication” Schweiger