All of us busy. We know that. Still, it’s a wonder why some people even have cell phones since every call made to them seems to go to voice mail. Is this just because we are the ones calling? Likely not. It’s probably not selective.
The first rule of being in business is to be available to serve the public during reasonable business hours. We don’t expect someone to answer their phone before 7:00 in the morning although some might do this, and we don’t expect people to be available at night. Weekends and normal holidays are iffy as to whether someone will or won’t take a call from someone or a number they don’t know or don’t recognize.
That said, people are learning that it is rare to get a callback – again people are busy – so they just hang up and don’t leave a message. We might have the best of intentions to return call, but sometimes it doesn’t get done – we get busy. Also, how is someone contacting us for the first time supposed to know whether we are the type of person who always returns messages, usually does this, sometimes does, seldom does so, or never or hardly ever does this?
The result is that many people who would like to talk with us never do because they can’t reach us and just give up trying. Some are quite persistent and will keep calling hoping to eventually reach us. Gold stars for them! It’s just it should never come to this, and it should not be that difficult to reach us. Yes, we might be on a job, in a meeting, or driving and don’t hear the call or can’t take it at the moment, but cell phones have great memories and will display the number (if not the person’s name) and the time called. If they did leave a message, it will be there also – a reminder as well as the message. Great resource – that call log.
Sometimes we will decide to leave a message just to make sure that we communicated something – not necessarily needing a response – only to hear that either their voice mailbox is full or that it has yet to be set up. Either way, there is no way to leave our message. If we face this as professionals, how does the consumer feel when they are trying to get information about a project that they are considering or that they need to have completed urgently? Generally, it seems to mean that they will call someone else.
Emails aren’t much different although not everyone uses email. People get so much email that it is an ardent task just to sort through it and determine which ones could be beneficial and which ones are just clutter – and it’s getting worse. The amount of spam and phishing emails is rapidly increasing, and we are getting emails from merchants that we just happened to visit online. Even we never purchased anything, they still are going to pursue us.
Back to cell phone dilemma. We have cell phones so that we can take our work with us – so that the consumer can reach us when we aren’t;t in the office. However, so many people don’t hear their phone ringing, keep it on silent, or intentionally let it go to voice mail as to not be interrupted from whatever they are doing. Those of us who don’t maintain a physical office that people can visit or don’t have a receptionist to greet the public and take message have just our cell phone as the way that people can contact us during the day when they have a question about something we can provide, something they need or want to do, or are ready to place an order.
When we don’t respond to our cell phones, we are doing the public and ourselves and our businesses a huge disservice. People who want us to do an assessment for them to determine what needs to be done, put in grab bars that they have determined they want or need, renovate their kitchen or bathroom and require our insight, modify their entrance after they learn their options, or perform other aging in place projects are not going to wait indefinitely until they can get hold of us. They are going to move on. Additionally, people talk. Do we really want the reputation that we can’t be reached by phone and that we don’t call back either?
Cell phones are a great convenience, but we must answer them to get the true benefit of them. Yes, there are spam calls, spurious sales calls, and robocalls, but there are many more calls that we should be taking.