I am the first to admit that I have a tendency to avoid the phone. Of course, this is ironic considering I’ve built a career around talking on one, but in an age where I can email, instant message, text message, and Google, I often pride myself in finding clever new ways to avoid picking up the receiver. I’m not sure what it is exactly that can make a phone call seem daunting at times — perhaps an unfortunate past experience – but I don’t believe I’m alone in this feeling (see a recent post by my colleague relating to disheartening customer service). I’ve overheard people pondering on more than one occasion: How did anyone get any business done before the internet? We’ve become so conditioned by having the World Wide Web at our fingertips 24 hours a day that we can’t even conceive of a time before it existed.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am certainly a huge fan of the internet and all of the convenience it provides; I’d merely like to point out that there are some limitations. Who can’t relate to the frustration of the never-ending email chain where it seems that every question asked is misinterpreted, and every change in tone is misread? Slowly you begin to realize that when you send your words off into cyberspace, you have no good way to prevent them from being misconstrued. This is most notable in a customer support situation when getting clear cut answers can be critical. Who wants to be left scratching their head right when they need answers the most?
As much as I can be a phone avoidist, oftentimes when I do finally suck it up and make a call, the experience is not nearly as bad as I thought it might be. Questions that may have sent you surfing the internet for an hour are answered quickly and plesantly and suddenly you find yourself wondering what the big deal was. When did calling a help line become the new age equivalent of the Big Bad Wolf? Of course, the best case scenario isn’t going to play out 100% of the time. This is by no means a guarantee that your experience in calling any customer support hotline is going to be a good one – Just don’t let those bad experiences scare you away. Instead, let them help you to appreciate the companies that get it right. Companies that understand that a staff of friendly, helpful people who really care about client satisfaction and believe in the product they work with are the best asset a business can have, because they are an asset to the customer.
So, the next time you find yourself trying to decide whether you can figure something out on your own or if you should pick up the phone and make a call, give the phone a shot. You might just be surprised by what you get on the other end.