Who would have thunk it? Nobody is answering the phone anymore. Is the telephone finally dead after 100 years of service?
The telephone has indeed given way to more efficient methods of communication. Emails, texts, direct messages, and social media channels like Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok have become the prime way people communicate one-on-one and with brands.
The phone, arguably the most revolutionary communication device in history, is being abandoned by many – and even feared by some. But does the phone still have a place in business?
The phone is facing fierce competition, and it’s understandable. Why would anyone choose to talk to an underpaid, overworked employee who may mess up their pizza order when you can order your pie from a mistake-free Chatbot? Maybe that’s why chatbots alone look to facilitate $142 billion of retail spend by 2024.
The convergence of all this online communication and commerce is clearly rendering the telephone as an afterthought.
A recent BankMyCell survey of 1,200 millennials revealed that as many as 75 percent of participants are not answering the phone. While the reasons vary, overall, most participants felt phone calls are just too time-consuming. Surprisingly, respondents also admitted that they “most likely” would not take calls from their friends (29 percent) or even a family member (25 percent).
It’s the workplace where the phone is faltering the most. Many businesses don’t even provide a dedicated phone line or voice-only communication options to their employees.
According to the above study, 81 percent of millennials – now the largest living adult population in the U.S. – say they experience some level of anxiety before making a phone call. Four out of five people must prepare themselves for the conversation, anticipating challenges, objections or outright rejection beforehand.
It’s of little surprise that millennials and Gen Z are turning to digital channels as their primary form of personal and business communication.
Younger people’s apprehension towards the phone is becoming apparent even in my home. My son, a center-cut-aged millennial, cheered on digital channels by stating, “[Digital] is easier, faster and less time-consuming.”
Maybe so, but the importance of calling is still relevant in a business environment. For one, they’re primarily one-way communication channels that hinder meaningful dialogue and back-and-forth questions. Personally, I’d hate to try and overcome someone’s objection to my product or service via Facebook Messenger or a LinkedIn exchange from a sales perspective.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “I’m so frustrated because I haven’t heard back from my client or prospect. What should I do?”
To which I ask, “Well, when did you call them?”
The answer, most often, is that they didn’t call anyone; rather, they’re waiting for a response to their email or text… and waiting and waiting. For this reason, people who want to truly connect with clients can’t ignore the importance of making a call.
If you’re feeling anxiety at the thought of picking up the phone, consider these approaches to maximize the business advantages of calling:
I’m not saying the telephone, which just recently celebrated its 100th anniversary of commercial usage in the U.S., is always the correct method of communication. Yet, I would argue that it provides the best opportunity to connect with someone you don’t already know. Once they answer the phone and the dialogue begins, you’ll start to build a relationship. And unlike connecting via email, a connection over the phone is hard to ignore.
It was March 10, 1876, when Alexander Graham Bell first connected with someone over the phone with the now-famous words, “Mr. Watson, come here.”
As convenient as they are, no digital communication has been quite so impactful.
If you want a team of pros to help you create meaningful relationships by communicating effectively, head to our contact page and let us know how we can help make your brand remarkable!