According to a June 1995 Gallup survey of 300 small-business owners, 46% claim to be "cyberphobic," or intimidated by the information superhighway. That explains their continued reliance on traditional methods of communicating with customers. Although modem sales may be mushrooming and electronic-mail addresses are the hippest addition to business cards, small-business owners still aren't playing. Of the 48% of business owners surveyed who have desktops or laptops with modems, only one in 10 uses E-mail to connect with customers, and only one in 11 uses the Internet to do so.

What are the most common ways to keep in touch with customers? Don't retire those phone-tag jokes just yet. The survey, which addressed companies with 20 or fewer employees and was sponsored by MCI, found that the telephone still trumps the computer, with 98% of respondents relying on it. Despite rising postage costs and a bad delivery rap, the U.S. mail runs a close second, at 90%. And while 65% of respondents send faxes to customers, only 58% rely on overnight-delivery services.