I have a confession to make: I am not a phone person. Business or personal, I hate talking on the phone to anyone, for any reason. I actually dread making phone calls. And nothing raises my stress level faster than having to call someone I don’t know.
The age of technology is perfect for someone like me; Between texting and email, I rarely need to make a phone call. Sometimes I worry that the ease of communicating without a phone is actually making my problem worse. Instead of conquering my anxiety with phone calls, technology allows me to avoid the situation more and more. But the truth of the matter is, there are lots of people just like me out there. Whether they share my anxiety in making calls, or simply prefer the speed and convenience of text/email, people are relying less and less on making phone calls.
Most businesses understand the importance of having an online presence. It’s important to make sure your potential customers have quick and easy access to the information they are looking for. Honestly, this is great for an introvert like me. I probably buy more, and interact with more businesses, now that I can interact and shop with them without having to talk to them, whether that be in person or over the phone. So it always surprises me when I contact a business via email, and get a response of little more than “Come in” or “Call me and we’ll discuss”. Obviously I had some reason for not doing so initially, whether it be that your hours aren’t convenient with my schedule, or that I truly hate making phone call, or whatever.
I understand that in traditional sales, it’s best to have the client in front of you, or at the very least, on the phone. It gives you the ability to build a relationship, which in turn helps you steer the person in the direction that you want them to go (i.e., closing the sale). I also understand that there are some situations where volleying back and forth via email can be a pain. But it seems like I encounter a large number of businesses that offer email addresses or websites as a means of communication, but then refuse to communicate that way.
I’ve already mentioned in another post my frustration when purchasing my new car in trying to get information from the dealership via email. I was told that in order to get my discount, I would need to work with the Fleet Sales Person. He only worked Monday-Friday, during “normal” business hours. In other words, while I was at work. I wasn’t about to take off work to go and talk to him. And yet, no matter how specific I tried to be in my communications, he kept coming back to the same response: “You should stop in!”
Earlier this year I encountered similar frustration when selling the Nissan. There was a company that was advertising heavily at the time about their car buying program. They are an internet based company that advertises on the premise of making the car selling experience convenient and easy. They advertised that you simple put your information into the website, they made a preliminary offer, and if you accepted, they’d come to you, make sure the car was in acceptable condition, and give you a check. Easy peasy! Except it wasn’t. I filled out the information online, and almost instantly started getting phone calls. They HAD to talk to me so they could give me a list of information I’d need to collect for them. And they could ONLY talk to me between x and y times, which happened to be when I worked. Um, if there’s a whole list of things I’ll need to collect, wouldn’t it be easier to email me the list, so I could collect them and get back to you? Or, better yet, why wasn’t that part of the online information I submitted? No, no, we HAD to talk. I had multiple people calling and leaving me messages, insisting that they were my representative, and I should only talk to them. The more information I gave them, the more phone calls I got. I finally told them I wasn’t interested in working with them.
This past week, I emailed a Real Estate Agent about my house. I let him know that right now I was just trying to get some information, and was wanting to know if I was likely to be able to sell my house for more than I owed, or if I’m likely upside down, and should wait. I gave him as much information as I could think of, including upgrades that I had made since purchasing the house 7 years ago. I realize that valuing a house isn’t always simple, and that it’s even more difficult to do without seeing the house. I expected to get information about comps in my area, or even just an email saying that he’d need more information. Instead, I got an email back that essentially said “Thanks for contacting me. Feel free to give me a call!”. Really?!? That’s it?!? Believe it or not, given that the phone number was listed on the site, I already had the impression that I could call, without needing emailed permission first.
What irritates me the most is that all of these businesses advertised a more “technology friendly” approach. Each had websites with specialized forms to fill out and surveys to answer. But what’s the point in having a media front, if you’re going to resort to an old technique? If your website screams that you’re email friendly, shouldn’t you actually BE email friendly? The upcoming generation is more media dependent than any other generation. Aren’t businesses shutting themselves out of this upcoming demographic by not adjusting their way of business?
Do you find yourself frustrated with businesses that insist on calling? Am I the only one who hates making calls?
– Cindy W.