Designing an E-Mail Prototype to Enhance Effective Communication and Task Management: A Case Study
Keywords:Computer-Mediated-Communication (CMC), Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), E-mail Design, Communication Breakdowns, Miscommunication, Contextualization, Mutual Understanding
This paper deals with communicational breakdowns and misunderstandings in computer mediated communication (CMC) and ways to recover from them or to prevent them. The paper describes a case study of CMC conducted in a company named Artigiani. We observed communication and conducted content analysis of e-mail messages, focusing on message exchanges between customer service representatives (CSRs) and their contacts. In addition to task management difficulties, we identified communication breakdowns that result from differences between perspectives, and from the lack of contextual information, mainly technical background and professional jargon at the customers’ side. We examined possible ways to enhance CMC and accordingly designed a prototype for an e-mail user interface that emphasizes a communicational strategy called contextualization as a central component for obtaining effective communication and for supporting effective management and control of organizational activities, especially handling orders, price quoting, and monitoring the supply and installation of products.