Communications—Do You Care Enough to Talk to Me?

 In Operations Management

In today’s modern, technology enhanced, ever-connected world, the ability to have constant digital connectivity is necessary, expected, and a common aspect of our lives.  When did you last see an ad featuring a family at the dinner table, talking (with no cell phones nearby)?  Electronic devices are ubiquitous, stifling opportunities to visit, to talk, and to experience a live interaction.

Go to a restaurant and observe families and couples. Everyone, from the preschooler to Dad and Mom have electronic devices in their hands.  Hard to tell if they are enjoying each other more than what is on their screens. If folks are all on some electronic device, are they paying attention to the other humans in their presence?

The same is true in business environments. Phone calls, more often than not, have recorded voices who state: “I am unable to talk (unavailable, away from my desk, etc. etc. etc.) so please leave a voice mail or send me a text.  I will get back to you at my earliest opportunity.”

Or maybe: “Your call is very important to me—leave me a voice mail, and I will return it as soon as possible.”

Yes, we, too, have answering devices. But when we’re in the office, we try to answer the phone by the second ring, and most of the time we do. People are amazingly appreciative to get a live person. Sure, if we have to be out of the office, in a meeting or on the other line, the call goes to voice mail. And people are getting used to voicemail. But remember, it’s a stand in for a real human.

This is telling us something. Speaking to the real person is the priority. Most people today do want to talk with a live, warm, caring human being when they call a business.  In fact, it can be frustrating for many people, especially baby boomers or older citizens, to have to slog through a voice mail menu, selecting numerical buttons that too often lead to a full voice mailbox.  What message does such a system send your caller? Does the business really care?

As in all relationships, human contact is the most important part of a business interaction.

If a receptionist is within your budget, by all means, hire one.  Your front line contact person, the receptionist who greets guests and answers the phone (by the second ring), is the ‘face’ of your enterprise — a friendly and pleasant company representative who knows how to direct the call. This has become a real treat in today’s world.  Of course, necessarily, businesses today have gone to the automated voice mail systems, ostensibly to save time and reduce cost.

Can we perhaps make voicemail interactions as impactful as possible?  Consider these from duct tape marketing. And remember, keep your mailbox tidy and pick up your messages. Call people back. Or, if you don’t wish to speak to them any further, have the courtesy to tell them so.  You can block robocalls to reduce junk voicemail. And take the extra time as often as you can to have a live conversation. You, and your business’s bottom line, will be glad you did.

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