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Emily Johnson

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To Fax or Not to Fax?

Fax vs Bike

After four years’ experience as an NCM client services and meeting coordinator, I’ve become a strong advocate of “out with the old, in with the new.” While I don’t consider myself a millennial, I am firmly planted somewhere between the generations currently active in the workforce. This position allows me to appreciate the ways of my predecessors, while also eagerly staying on the lookout for new and exciting improvements to technology, business practices, and social strategies.

It then comes as no surprise that I have some opinions about the fax machine and the role it plays in the modern workplace. And here’s my position: If you haven’t already, now is a good time to begin phasing out your company fax machine.

Lost in translation

Coordinators request specific information from clients for their 20 Group meetings, and that information frequently gets lost in translation when the fax is utilized, simply because of the technology.

The biggest issue is that faxed documents are usually handwritten in some capacity. Once these documents pass through dated machinery, over phone lines, and print out on the other side, they often end up a blurry, illegible mess. As a result, clients spend valuable time corresponding with coordinators to confirm faxed data, something that could have been avoided by using a typed, legible email.

The story of Joe

One coordinator—let’s call her Megan—shared a story with me about a client—we’ll call him Joe—whose meeting was derailed because of the fax machine. (Just to be clear, I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent!)

Joe thought he had faxed his 20 Group meeting registration form to Megan but had instead “faxed” it to Megan’s phone number. Megan hadn’t even included a fax number on the meeting registration form! Joe received a reminder email from Megan and didn’t see his name on the meeting attendance roster. He immediately called Megan and was very upset because he had faxed his forms, but wasn’t on the list. He thought he had done what he needed to do, but Megan had no idea Joe was even planning on attending the meeting.

To make matters worse, Joe had to book a room at a nearby hotel, not the hotel where the meeting was held. By the time Megan realized he needed a room, the hotel was completely sold out, and the group’s block of hotel rooms was full. This cost Joe valuable time and additional money, all because a fax was sent but never received.

Need for speed

NCM gets its faxes on a machine that integrates faxing, printing, and copying. So, how does this affect our ability to get your faxes? When you send a fax, it gets mixed in with all the other materials in this machine’s output tray. It’s not unusual for faxes to be temporarily misplaced, and it’s common that a fax never reaches the coordinator.

If a coordinator knows about a fax, she can go searching for it, but if she doesn’t, it could be a while before she receives the fax in hand (or never receives it, like Megan). In comparison, an email arrives in the coordinator’s inbox in an instant, and she can respond immediately. The speed of delivery is increased dramatically. Even if you choose not to switch to a scanned document or PDF file, I highly recommend that you at least email your coordinator every time you send a fax so she can watch for it.

Be sure to look for emailed reservation forms and other documents from your coordinator. Scan and email those forms back to NCM, or fax them (to a verified fax number–don’t be like Joe) and immediately call your coordinator to let her know to watch for it. If your document includes sensitive information, like a credit card number, go ahead and call NCM to give it to us over the phone. Or, for a safer email option, check out this free system for sending secure emails that’s been hailed in Forbes as the most difficult to “hack.”

Overall, when you switch to email, your NCM coordinator will be able to help you faster, enter your data more accurately, and provide a better customer experience. And you won’t end up at La Quinta instead of the Four Seasons, taking an Uber to your meeting like Joe.

About the author

Emily Johnson

Emily Johnson

Emily Johnson began her career with NCM Associates in February 2013. A graduate of the University of Central Missouri, she earned a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Technical Theatre with a Minor in Business Management in May 2007. Three years later, Emily received a Secondary Speech & Drama Teaching Certification from Avila University in Kansas City. Emily has previously been employed in the non-profit sector as an executive assistant and in a medical office as a records clerk. Prior to joining the NCM Marketing team, Emily focused her skills on helping NCM 20 Group members have successful, productive meetings in her role as Client Services and Meeting Coordinator. Today, Emily enjoys her exciting position as Marketing Coordinator at NCM.

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  1. Earl Stewart

    I don’t believe that you mentioned one of the benefits of a fax over email is faxes are less vulnerable to hacking. Many banks still require faxing because of this.

    1. Emily Johnson
      Emily Johnson

      Certainly! I completely agree that all businesses may not be able to fully retire the fax machine if their only option to send secure information is fax, particularly to non-NCM contacts. My goal is to encourage our NCM clients to use email and/or phone to communicate with NCM staff. It leads to a much faster and accurate interaction. Thank you for the comment!

  2. Eve Knudtsen

    Why doesn’t NCM use its travel division to make the 20 Group reservation based on its members on the roster? If a member needs to cancel or add another participant, they would need to contact NCM to cancel or add to the reservation. I belong to another 20 Group that does that for its members and it works quite well, and I never miss a reservation deadline because of it.

    1. Emily Johnson
      Emily Johnson

      That’s a great question Eve! While I can see the benefit to reserving hotel rooms for all 20 Group members ahead of time, NCM has elected to take a passive approach to meeting registration. We negotiate the best hotel contract we can, let the members know what the plans are, and then await their replies. We also follow up frequently with non-responders via email in case they missed our first email or two, or got busy and forgot to book. This approach decreases NCM’s level of financial liability. With over 450 meetings per year, 20 hotel rooms per meeting at an average of $250 per night would get pricey! We assign the financial responsibility to the member and then do our due diligence to get them the best possible deal. Our Travel Solutions department is always available to help any member book their hotel, flight, and/or rental car, but they do so with the members own credit card in a secure setting. Thank you for your comment!

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