Blog

Time to Go Retro!

October 27, 2013
Mary Jane Copps

Telephone communication – the how and why we reach and speak to each other – has changed. Even in the past year subtle shifts have taken place that we must embrace or … we’re going to miss out on opportunities – and so will our customers and prospects.

I encourage you to start using a “retro” phone skill.

To illustrate: Those of you of a “certain age” can think back to your first answering machine. I remember mine. It was black, rectangular and held standard-sized audio cassettes – one for the outbound message and the other, with more tape in it, for inbound messages. My memory is a bit hazy but I’m guessing we made the investment (it would have been between $80 and $100), because we had an apartment for rent. The machine was large enough that the phone sat on top of it, still exposing the little flashing red “messages waiting” light. It seemed like magic at the time!

And what did we do before the answering machine? Well, if you were calling a business number there was a receptionist but 0ften, when the day was done, or if you were calling someone who wasn’t at home, the phone rang and rang and rang and rang and … you hung up. If you really wanted to reach them you had to … keep calling!

It wasn’t considered rude. You didn’t keep track of the number of times you called. You didn’t take it personally if you didn’t reach them. You simply kept calling.

Fast forward to today. Basically, we’ve come full circle. We have created a world where there are too many messages and we can’t keep up. From receptionist to blinking red light to voicemail, text, email, computer screen, phone screen and even television screen, messages come at us from every direction 24 hours a day.

Does this mean that speaking on the phone is less valuable? Not at all. It is still a vital tool for both business growth and customer loyalty, but you do have to change your attitude. Here’s why:

Some people receive 100’s of messages each day and yet … you’re sitting there wondering why they’re not returning your call – adding up your messages and passing judgement on their etiquette. Excuse me but … while the topic of your phone call is a priority for you, it isn’t for them. So … it’s time to give up the self-focused attitude and get retro.

If there is someone you really want to reach, someone you know can benefit from your information, go retro my friend and keep calling!

(With my thanks to Sheila Kelly, my colleague in The Lunch Pack, for the reminder about life before answering machines. Much appreciated, Sheila!)

4 COMMENTS

  1. Linda Daley says:

    Funny, I’ve been thinking recently that the phone wasn’t nearly so daunting when I was a teenager! Back then I’d race for it when it rang.

    • The Phone Lady says:

      It’s true, Linda. We loved the intimacy the phone allowed us to create with our friends. And phone calls were so unusual – we didn’t get them constantly – that they felt like a wonderful surprise.

    • Shelley Rose says:

      So true… now in my house we always want someone else to answer it because we are tired from answering the phone all day. But back in the day every time it rang I wanted it to be for me. We need to get back to that mentality and not let it be such a daunting thing. Great post MJ 🙂

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