Posts Tagged ‘telephone’


Robot vs. Human

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

manvsmachineWhen was the last time that you called up a company for information and were patched directly through to a fellow human? I can’t remember when.

In the past 30 days I’ve been on the phone with a cable company, a cell phone company, a bank, a law firm, two kinds of insurance companies, plus a pet store. The only time I was actually patched in directly to a live person was the later – the pet store – although they weren’t particularly helpful and I should really be adopting from a shelter anyway.

In any case, I submit that few things are more annoying than punching through a handful of phone prompts, listening to hold music, then stumbling through more prompts before realizing what you need isn’t one of the touch tone options and that you’ll have to wait for a human anyway.

Facepalm.

Please allow me to introduce you to Gethuman.com. This is a directory of companies, phone numbers and reviews, compiled by for and of the people, which offers not only a guide on how to bypass phone prompts, but details the best way to get the most out of any listed companies customer service department.

From their site, “The GetHuman™ movement has been created from the voices of millions of consumers who want to be treated with dignity when they contact a company for customer support.”

The GetHuman site was created by Paul English (also the co-founder of Kayak.com, a site that lets you search flights, hotels and cheap travel deals all in one place) in the mid 2000’s and has grown through the hard work and diligence of their team as well as the support and input from readers like you.

Using the recommendations on the site, I rarely get stuck punching through phone prompts anymore. I’ve also gathered a healthy respect for those companies that patch you straight through to a human representative. I hope that as time passes, consumer feedback and experience leads to a friendly sea-change in the service industry.

Robot vs. Human?

Human > Robot.

You Are What You Use…What Does Your Tech-Gadget Say About You?

Monday, November 15th, 2010

by Crystal deGoede*

We all live on planet earth and most of us own or use some sort of tech-gadget(s) that allows us to communicate and interact with each other and the world. It’s hard to believe we survived all those centuries without computers, cell phones, Internet, and social media. I can’t remember what I used to do “back in the day” when something comical happened and I wanted to share it with my friends…maybe we paged each other! 

Most of us are very familiar with the advertising and marketing campaigns used by HTC (Android), iPhone, Mac, PC, iPad, and BlackBerry. They are designed to connect with “you” on a personal level:

Do these campaigns actually affect our perception of what’s best when it comes to purchasing Gadgetsa gadget(s) or do we subconsciously choose based on other factors (e.g., trends, capabilities, ease of use, etc.)?

Retrevo, a consumer electronics review and shopping site, conducted an online survey of 7,500 Retrevo users across all genders, age demographics, and locations between March and July of this year. The Gadget Census Report shows that owners of iPhones, Androids, and BlackBerry’s exhibit different behaviors and characteristics based on which gadget(s) they use.  So I know what I am, but what are you?

If you’re like me, you probably own a Droid. You probably also do not have a landline in your home.  According to Retrevo, 31 percent of Droid owners do not have landlines, compared to iPhone (23 percent) and BlackBerry (23 percent) users. Retrevo did note that one reason for this is because Android owners tend to have more reliable coverage.

Is it true that once you go Mac you never go back? I would say so! If you have a Mac in your household, you are three times more likely to purchase an iPhone and six times more likely to purchase an iPad, according to the survey. 

iPhone Characteristics.
According to the census results, iPhone users act and think differently than Droid and BlackBerry users. They are also usually younger (especially when it comes to BlackBerry users) and have a tendency to adopt technology earlier, like watching TV online. On a surprising twist, iPhone users are not as “Genius Bar” as they might think they are. They are 23 percent more likely to rent a movie from Blockbuster (are they still around?) than their Droid peers, and 22 percent more likely than Droid owners to not know what brand of television they own.

Android Characteristics.
Retrevo reports that Droid users are more tech-savvy, usually owning techier gadgets than their iPhone and BlackBerry friends. They are less likely to own a GPS though. (But if your phone was running Google map software, there would be no need for a Garmin lying around taking up space.) The downfall to being so techy and brilliant, 25 percent of Android owners are more likely to not read books and 20 percent more likely to not care about recycling old gadgets.

BlackBerry Characteristics.
2002 called and they want their BlackBerry back… According to the Gadget census, BlackBerry owners/users are old fashion. In fact, a recent article in Trader Daily discussed BlackBerry losing its “stimulant addiction” for Wall Street, who is considered the early adopters of BlackBerry’s: FierceFinance pointed out this week that some of the major banks, whose employees traditionally dared to touch no cell-phone bearing anything other than a BlackBerry emblem, are beginning to move towards the fancy new options.” When it comes to keeping up with other forms of tech-gadgets, Retrevo found that BlackBerry users are more likely to have a CRT (tube) as their primary television and listen and get their music from terrestrial radio. However, they are 15 percent more likely to recycle old gadgets than Android users.

So based on the results from Retrevo, do you have the characteristics of the gadget(s) you own?  If you own an iPhone are you upset to find out you are not as unique as you might think? Androiders, is it true that you do not read books? And last but not least, BlackBerry users, are you really old school?  What factors played into you choosing your gadget(s)? Do the “you” campaigns play a factor into your decisions? I look forward to reading your thoughts along with the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas readers.

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*Bio: After graduating from East Carolina University with a Marketing degree in 2005, Crystal DeGoede moved to New Jersey. In her four years as a member of the BurrellesLuce marketing team and through her interaction with peers and clients she has learned what is important or what it takes to develop a career when you are just starting out. She is passionate about continuing to learn about the industry in which we serve and about her career path. By engaging readers on Fresh Ideas Crystal hopes to further develop her social media skills and inspire other “millennials” who are just out of college and/or working in the field of marketing and public relations. Twitter: @cldegoede LinkedIn: Crystal DeGoede Facebook: BurrellesLuce

Taming The Call Reluctance Blues

Monday, July 26th, 2010

by Emily Mouyeos*

Sales forces across the country are always fighting off cold-call reluctance. But what about just call reluctance in general? I’m starting to lose count of the conversations I’ve heard between different generations complaining about the other generations’ call behavior. The younger Taming the Call Reluctance Bluesgenerations seem to rely too much on email where the older generations seem to always call for things when an email would sometimes suffice. Here is an interesting article comparing 20-somethings to baby boomers in the workplace. 

My goal isn’t to fight for either camp because I believe there is truth on both sides of the debate. However, I think it is more important to examine why we don’t call when we should. First, let’s take a look at when we should call.

We should call when…

  1. It’s a conversation. Have you ever sent what you thought you would be one email, but then it turned out to be what felt like the longest email chain according to Guinness World Records? Most of the time one phone call will stop an unnecessary email chain. People often email because they want to save time, but if it turns into a conversation then you may be taking up more time. I like to operate by my own rule of thumb, email when I’m sharing information to be reviewed and call when it’s something to discuss. It’s not a law to live by, more a rule of thumb.
  2. When you don’t know the acquaintance that well. No matter your industry, no matter your business, building relationships is always important. It’s hard to feel connected to a person when you’ve never heard their voice. We can’t always put a face to a name. However,  we can put a voice to name. Have you ever been under the impression that you’re emailing “a demon” only to find that the person was pleasant to speak with over the phone? How does that happen? It may have something to do with the classic idea that, words contribute seven percent, tonality 38 percent and body language 55 percent to communication. If the last two percentages are combined then 93 percent of communication is non-verbal. It’s extremely hard to read non-verbal queues over email. (Is your email sending the wrong message? Find out by reading this post from my BurrellesLuce colleague and Fresh Ideas blogger Lauren Shapiro?)  
  3. When the person is of the “I call” generation. Another rule of thumb I like to live by is to mirror my client. If they call, I call. If they email, I email. However, I do stop this trend if I can tell that my client is experiencing “call reluctance” themselves and our conversation warrants a phone conversation.

What do you do when you know you should call but you just don’t feel like it? Or when that send button is just too easy for you not to push? Sales consultant, Ted Barrows, provides ways for sales executives to overcome cold-call reluctance and I think the advice can be applied to any type of call reluctance.

Do you find yourself in the “I email” or “I call” generation? How do you determine whether a call or email is the best way to communicate? How do you cure the call reluctance blues?

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*Bio: Emily Mouyeos joined the BurrellesLuce account management team with a background in nonprofit communication and development. Her background and current experience with BurrellesLuce allows her to effectively address client needs and consolidate feedback for senior management. To Emily, nothing feels better than helping others achieve their goal, whether it’s professionally or personally.  By focusing on client management through the Fresh Ideas blog, she hopes to evaluate new client management trends, as well as provide insight to the pros and cons of current practices. She looks forward to connecting with the readers of Fresh Ideas for new perspectives and dialogue on issues that affect overall success. LinkedIn: Emily Mouyeos Twitter: @BurrellesLuce Facebook: BurrellesLuce

Facebook: Expanding Your Reach Beyond Six Degrees

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

by Lauren Shapiro*

The game of “Telephone,” along with “Duck Duck Goose” and “Red Rover”, bring back fond memories of elementary school antics. As we got older, during middle school and perhaps even into high school, “Telephone” was used as an example of the power of word-of-mouth and how a message can become skewed as it is passed along the chain. Now, “Telephone” has been revolutionized by Facebook – igniting the flames of word-of-mouth from a burning bush to a wildfire.

Facebook, once exclusively available to college students on participating campuses (I can still remember petitioning for my own University to become a member), gave individuals the ability to connect and reconnect over the Internet. Throughout the years, Facebook has increased its scope by allowing anyone with a valid email address to join (before it was just limited to .edu addresses) and giving users the ability to share and tag each other in pictures, videos, links and status updates. Facebook has even given marketing and public relations professionals the opportunity to reach constituents based on specific audience segments and demographics.  

Facebook has also enhanced the notion of six degrees of separation (think Will Smith’s movie circa 1993). Thus, creating a huge reach beyond traditional mediums (i.e., seeing the person, speaking with them on the phone, or communicating via email). Whereas before your audience iStock_000008002627XSmallmay have told a few others about your company or brand via these channels, now individuals can essentially, with a few clicks of the mouse or strokes on the keyboard, influence each other on a much broader spectrum. As Facebook gains in popularity with currently 400 million active users (about 70 percent outside of the United States) companies are paying even closer attention to see what is being said about them and responding accordingly.

Companies are starting to implement an integrated marketing communication strategy on social media fronts, combining the power of the organization as a whole (marketing working with sales working with customer service) to best utilize Facebook as an outlet to track, react and respond to consumer issues. 

According to an article written by Janine Milne, “The information flow is two-way. Customers get to understand more about the vendor and how other customers view the vendor. Organizations get to hear exactly what their customers think.”

I am a Facebook (and real life) ‘fan’ of Sally Hershberger Professional Hair Care. While browsing their fan page, I realized the importance of social media in relating to clients and potential clients. One Facebooker wrote on the Sally Hershberger page that she wished there was a coupon to entice her to try one of their new products. The Sally team responded quickly and advised that not only do they have a $2 coupon on their website but they also have a contest running where you can win a Sally makeover. The potential client immediately went onto the sallyhershberger.com and attempted to enter the contest only to find that the website was not working properly for her. She wrote about her issue on the Facebook fan page and received a response minutes later letting her know that they were working on correcting the issue and would get the coupon to her right away.

Not only did the Facebook page create a space where the company could interact with potential consumers but it helped the company to find a glitch in their system that may have never caught on their own.

How is your organization using social media to engage stakeholders and remedy potential client concerns?

*Bio: Soon after graduating from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, in 2006 with a B.A. in communication and a B.S. in business/marketing, I joined the BurrellesLuce client services team. In 2008, I completed my master’s degree in corporate and organizational communications and now work as the supervisor of BurrellesLuce Express client services. I am passionate about researching and understanding the role of email in shaping relationships from a client relation/service standpoint as well as how miscommunication occurs within email, which was the topic of my thesis. Through my posts on Fresh Ideas, I hope to educate and stimulate thoughtful discussions about corporate communications and client relations, further my own knowledge on this subject area, as well as continue to hone my skills as a communicator. Twitter: @_LaurenShapiro_ LinkedIn: laurenrshapiro Facebook: BurrellesLuce

Do Modern Businesses Still Appreciate a Phone Call?

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Today there are so many ways for an individual to avoid human contact. Why bother calling information when you can look up an address on your iPhone? There’s really no need to call Domino’s when you can go online, click on your favorite toppings and pay with your credit card. And let’s face it, it’s so much easier to shoot off a text than to risk getting stuck in a 20 minute conversation with somebody you’re kind of “meh” about anyway.

If the modern world is all about immediacy and accessibility, then why bother using the phone at all?

Well, there’s an integral part of human contact and interaction that’s lost when you BadDay@Workcircumvent the conversation. It may be “easier” to send an email, but you’re leaving the recipient’s interpretation up to chance. Heinz Tschabitscher discusses email communication in his blog post, What Can Be Misunderstood Will Be Misunderstood.

“The lack of nonverbal clues makes it easy to misinterpret something,” says Heinz, “but we’re not careful enough to avoid these misinterpretations because email feels so instant, easy and accessible…”

In client services, not only can you best gauge the client’s mood on the phone, but you can help ensure that they will correctly interpret your own.

The ideal choice is to make the call. In the India PR Blog, Palin Ningthoujam writes that

“You can explain issues and things in proper and in length over the phone than on email.”

On the phone you can explain yourself fully and deal immediately with your client’s needs.

Best of all, you’re in complete control of how you express yourself and by proxy, how you represent your company. Don’t risk the relationships you’ve built with your valued customers just because you choose the “easy” email over the personal phone call. They are your clients; this is your business; and they deserve it.

Do you prefer to send an email or place a call when interacting with your clients? As a client, how do you feel when you receive a call from an account manager or client services representative? Depending on which side of the conversation you’re on, how do think these interactions affect the business relationship? Please share your ideas with the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.