FB Messenger and the death of the telephone

Do you still shudder when a client sends you a work-related message on Facebook? Yeah, us too. It is probably time to come to terms with professional communication happening less on the telephone and more frequently on social media.

As a new generation of workforce leaders emerges and dovetails with social media and tech innovation, exponential change in communication trends is afoot. It is looking more and more like the telephone may go the way of horse and buggy and carrier pigeon.

Large organizations are making big changes as a result. After seeing the data in 2015, JP Morgan Chase eliminated 65% of their employee voicemail accounts (upon request) as part of sweeping money-saving strategies across the enterprise. They saved 3.2M in the process.

How does all of this affect the legal industry? Jordan Schuetzle of FindLaw.com reports in his recent article (Millennials, Boomers and Law Firms – Oh My!):

It’s looking like the era of the telephone is finally coming to an end. Today’s youngest adults show far less affinity for traditional communication channels, preferring Internet/Web Chat and Social Media at twice the level of telephone calls.

This graphic illustrates the generational trends. For a full report on KPCB’s Internet Trends, see Mark Meeker’s full presentation here.










The legal industry will likely be on the tail-end of this change, but certainly not immune. According to the 2015 U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey (FindLaw), the largest segment of clients is comprised of Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation.  Unsurprisingly, they still prefer the good old telephone. The second largest client segment, however, is made up of 18-34 year olds. This group places the telephone squarely at the bottom of their preference list. A shift is coming, and it is advisable for the legal world to open up to post-telephonic communication as clients increasingly become more tech-savvy.

What will largely replace the telephone for primary client communications? Will it be Facebook Messenger, texting, or another existing technology? Perhaps it will be a new technology we have not yet seen. Though the legal industry may still trend behind the curve, the next big thing in communication will certainly be something that warrants attention. Until then, the next time a client messages you on social media for something work-related, take a deep breath. Then pay them a compliment. They are, indeed,  on the front end of the trend.