A few weeks ago I was trying to locate the phone number of a company’s corporate headquarters. I searched everywhere online and even emailed the customer service team, but never found a way to call them. Actually it was kind of off-putting. I mean, what if I were a customer?
Maybe that’s why companies don’t list their phone numbers anymore? Maybe it’s because they don’t want to get customer calls, but I honestly think it’s more than that. I think they don’t want any “noise” from the outside. I think this company prefers to operate at their own speed and figures emails, texts and tweets are enough. They’ll get back to us when they have the time.
To me, a human voice or a face-to-face meeting still means something in business, and I hate to see that connection disappear. In a world filled with blue lighted screens and social media blitzes, I’d like to think we still have a way to connect with each other on a more personal level.
When I was breaking into the film business way before the internet, phones were the main form of connecting with a new production house. I found myself leaving messages for producers in hopes they’d call me back for work and realized my voicemail was one of many they had to listen thru (if they actually played them). I wanted to stand out, so instead of calling them, I sent each producer a beautiful postcard with my name and number on it and a brief note about my experience.
OK, I’m not THAT old! It’s not as if mail was just invented, but I figured taking a step back and using an older form of communication would be the one way I could stand out… and guess what? Each producer actually had to hold the card and look at it, which made them see my name. Amazingly, this method worked and I found myself turning down work because I got thru to so many of them.
So here we are, back to the written word, but instead of it being a unique postcard written by hand, it’s a mass produced message about losing our hair or our next door neighbor losing their hamster (not technically my next door neighbor but someone who lives within a 6 mile radius… I digress…) Thing is, it’s harder to stand out and if you’re trying to get noticed, it’s close to impossible.
A few weeks ago, my daughter had an issue with her university. She kept emailing them to find out why she hadn’t received her diploma (um, yes, she graduated…not the reason) so I suggested she call the admissions office to find out who’s responsible for processing them. “Mom! I already emailed them. I’m sure they’ll get back to me,” was her answer, but I had a feeling no one actually did get her email and if they did, they didn’t feel the urgency to get it to her now (or she’d lose the job she secured last fall and was already working at). So, under much duress, she phoned the office… and guess what? The guy responsible for sending out the diplomas was out of the office on an extended vacay and someone else was covering for him. No one got her urgent emails and if she had waited for this guy to respond, she’d be out of a job right now.
My point? Sometimes “old” ways of communication are still the best way to operate. When we were re-designing our web site, I insisted on keeping our phone number on our contact page even when the younger peeps in our office felt it was a bit, well outdated. Yeah, we have a “Chat” box on our site for visitors to connect with us while shopping and we have all our emails listed too, but I’m a firm believer that supplying the public with our office number is one of the best ways to keep our business connected to the public and more on a personal level.
A mere answering of the phone by a human being is becoming the “unique” way for customers to connect with a business.
Sure, listing our phone number sets us up for annoying robo calls, but we don’t miss out on customer calls and each one brings us closer to the people we sell to. We hear their concerns, their compliments and may even learn all about their dog barking in the background but we wouldn’t trade that for the world.
Customer input makes us better and sometimes going back to the old ways of doing business can be the best new thing for it.
So give us a ring, with a familiar “Hello!” We’d love to hear from you!
– Germaine Caprio, Company Owner & Designer
TO HEAR FROM YOU
What’s your favorite form of customer service communication?
Please share your own thoughts with us – let’s get a conversation started in the comments below! Your comment may even win you a free MAJAMAS garment this week!