For about the fifth time over the last couple of months, I found myself having to deal with telephone service limbo while waiting for someone in India to answer my technical questions about a product. I’m not angry about the fact that the person answering my call is in India, by the way – those folk are earning a living and are genuinely helpful – my issue is that I’m never really sure if my call will be answered on time. Sometimes, I feel like my appliances would explode and burn down my new home before an actual human being manages answer the phone.
I may be talking in hyperbole here, but my point still stands: sometimes, calling a company in an attempt to resolve any problems you may have with their product or service hardly seems worth it anymore.
This is still a really big issue
I can’t believe we still need to talk about this, but given my recent experiences, it’s clear that it’s an issue that’s not going to die down anytime soon. For many people who have urgent matters to discuss, making a phone call is the logical thing to do. Unlike email or texting, phone calls allow both parties to contribute to the conversation at the same time, in real time. You’d think that this effective means of communication is something that people will find convenient. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.
At some point in the evolution of office telephony advanced business phone systems designed to make communication efficient were used to AVOID and discourage phone calls. Sure, it’s still considered efficient for operations. It helps to have phones for internal communication. But outsiders are out of luck. Whether we’d like to admit it or not, this is causing some tension between businesses and consumers.
Why big businesses are doing this
Here’s the thing: phone calls really can be a bit of a hassle sometimes. Imagine getting into the groove of a task and then suddenly being interrupted by the persistent ringtone of your mobile phone. Or, if you’re not expected to handle any sort of customer support, imagine having to pay for an entire team of people dedicated to answering calls and handling customer queries. Opening up to customers via phone lines doesn’t sound much like good business when it risks disrupting or bankrupting you. This is why a growing number of businesses insist that customers get support from email, forums, and the like.
If you have millions of customers but still operate on a modest scale (as many successful companies today do), wouldn’t you find it more efficient to serve people through email, social media, and the like?
Why people still call businesses
As was mentioned before, picking up the phone and calling someone means that something needs to be dealt with urgently. It also means that, in their own way, people still trust businesses to help them fix their problems. People call businesses because they still believe in their ability to make things better. I believe that when people stop making urgent calls, it means they have become apathetic to a person or an organization. And if businesses don’t think that it matters, then they’re in trouble.
The fact of the matter is that every business commits to being a service provider the moment it’s set up. Much of the customers’ faith in an enterprise is based on the organization’s efforts towards the convenience of the people they serve. If they don’t ensure that the people buying their products and services able to conveniently reach them, then they can’t expect any sort of loyalty from those people.
Someone picked up my call, eventually. I got the help I needed. But it took so long that I basically stopped caring about the thing I wanted fixed. What I want to do now is to buy something from the competition. And it’s all because no one wanted to talk to me.