The Death of Spontaneity

If you’re not reaching clients or prospects on the phone, don’t take it personally. It’s part of a larger societal shift that is phasing out our relationship with spontaneous phone calls. This was clarified for me recently in a conversation with Jeff Brookhouser, President & Chief Operating Officer at Premiere Suites.

What was Jeff’s comment about today’s phone communication? And what should we learn from it?

As Jeff and I were talking about the challenges of reaching people on the phone, he reminded me of how we used to watch television. Many of you will remember (and some of you won’t) that when there was a program we wanted to watch, we had to be in front of the TV at a specific time. Shows like Seinfeld, West Wing, MASH, Hill Street Blues … when the theme music played, we had to be there or wait for re-runs.

Beginning in the 1970s, VHS arrived and gave us the ability to record shows. While the technology was clunky (it was easy to record the wrong show, run out of tape, forget to program it each day, etc.), it did provide a way to not miss out on an important episode of a favourite show.

Of course, everything is different today. And that’s what Jeff said: “Everything is on my schedule.”

Yes! This is the shift and it impacts how we use the phone. So much of what we do today, we do based on our personal schedule. Television, radio and podcasts we enjoy when we choose. We can even get customer service help 24-hours a day on many websites.

A spontaneous phone call no longer fits in. We are irritated by the interruption and feel justified in ignoring the call. I’m guessing that some people even feel justified ignoring voicemail based on this same logic. After all, they didn’t ask those people to call them.

The solution: Treat your phone calls as meetings. Book them with both customers and prospects so they occur on “my schedule”. For the past two years, we’ve been using the appointment app Calendly and it has substantially increased my ability to reach and have the full attention of both prospects and clients.

There are, of course, other appointment apps available. Choose one that fits in with how you work – and how your clients’ work. It needs to be compatible with everyone’s calendars so that the scheduled call is not forgotten.

Are you already using an appointment app? Which one and what are the benefits? Share your experience in the comment section below.


7 thoughts on “The Death of Spontaneity”

  1. I recently switched to Bookafy which seems to do everything one could want in a booking app. It integrates with Strip and Zoom for prepaid and autoscheduled meetings, which is pretty cool. It is a lifesaver really, to have an app that allows people to book in on their time.

  2. This blog makes it completely clear to me that I must learn to set up and use Calendly or Bookafy if I want to reach my current and potential clients. It makes complete sense, I just have to get over having to cope with the technology.

    • Learning something new is always difficult, as you know. These appointment apps are fairly straightforward and they increase productivity substantially. I know you’ll enjoy using whichever one you choose, Eileen. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Hi Mary Jane

    Another interesting post, which evokes a few thoughts.

    Re TV, we have a cottage up the north shore where we get three Charlottetown stations over the air. No pause, no rewind, dash to the bathroom during the commercials, news at 6 and not a minute later. I said to my wife the other day that it kind of felt refreshing; in a way it makes us less slaves to our television. If we miss an episode of something, too bad, we missed it. Like the sunset; there’ll be another one. We end up watching a lot less TV than when we’re in the city, which I think is a good thing.

    Re the Phone, a couple of thoughts. You are right in that people don’t want to be interrupted by the phone. When mine rings, if it isn’t a number I recognize (and sometimes even if it is) I let it go to voice mail. And I’m a Baby Boomer; imagine if I were a Millennial! Not only the fact of being interrupted, but the fact that 90+% of calls nowadays are nuisance calls, whereas back in the day it’d be more like 10%. People, your customers, for example, generally do business via email. (One company from India doesn’t understand the concept of “do not call,” so now when they do call, I pick up and place the phone down on my desk. I hear them yacking for about a minute or so, then they realize nobody’s listening and they hang up.)

    Here is another problem, from the other side: You can’t send a “cold” email, as that would be in violation of the federal rules. According to the law, you have to have an established relationship before you can email someone, and the only way you can establish a relationship is in person or by phone, or if they’ve registered to your blog or whatever. It’s a bit of a Catch 22. Pretty soon, doing sales will be illegal.

    • Thanks for these comments, Pat. I really appreciate the story about your cottage. We disconnected our television over a year ago and it turns out we read more, sleep better and don’t feel like we’re missing out on anything. If there’s something really important we need to “see”, we can usually find it somewhere on our computers. In terms of cold emails, my understanding of CASL is that you can send one cold email if the person you are contacting has their email address published in a public place, i.e. their website or LinkedIn. Worth investigating.


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