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Foibles of inbound calls and texting

As much as we are influenced to think that texting has overtaken communications between a customer and a business, it simply is not the case. Texting, while sometimes convenient and quickly accomplished, cannot adequately convey humor, trust, confidence, and a myriad of other emotions that are easily and effectively exchanged using voice communication. Consequently, do not abandon the importance of voice and the value it represents to your organization.

Recently, I was given an ear-full from a client during a consulting engagement. He was trying to sell a camera on the internet. He researched the many internet-based selling sites and found a site that was inexpensive. This being his first time, he created proceeded to set up an account to list his camera. During the process of creating the account, the site requested that he provide a credit card to validate his identity and to cover any charges that might accrue to his account in the future.

Hesitantly, he entered his card information and the site promptly rejected the card. He attempted twice more only to be rejected as many times. This was strange since the card had no balance and upon checking with the bank there was no reason for a denial. He decided to give it 24 hours in the off-chance that the newly created account was not available to the credit card system at the site.

The next day he tried his card again and it failed again. Having checked with the bank the day before he knew the card was good and that there must be a problem at the site. Rather than waiting an additional 24 hours in the hope that the systems would get back in sync, he opted to call them and speak with their customer support to rectify the problem. After searching diligently through the site, a phone number was nowhere to be found. The only option was to leave a text message on an internal messaging portal using the poorly constructed “reason for support” selections provided. The promise of a response in 24 hours came and went.

customer serviceAfter the third day, with no response from the organization on his request, he entered another support ticket to remove all his Personally Identifiable Information (PII) to include any residual credit card information, and close his account if it existed. This was promptly met with a message from the organization indicating they had received his request and were working to solve the problem. In the message they asked for feedback on how well they had performed. A few days later another message was received indicating they had removed all his information asking if they could further assist him. I recall his answer was the word “crickets”.


So, why share this story in a coop forum?

The internet company, in this story, did not see the value of voice communication over text-based communication. As a result of not being available to speak with a potential customer, the company lost his business and will continue to suffer reputational harm, as I seriously doubt he will be recommending them to others.

A company that avoids interpersonal vocal communication with their customer base will most certainly save the expense of in-bound telecommunications channels on their T1 circuits, additional personnel to answer phones, and the office space necessary to house personnel. The savings will be on a day-to-day operating basis and on a coop-site preparedness basis. The fail-over site will not require a significant number of voice channels supporting incoming calls and the personnel to answer the calls.

However, and it’s a big however, is this a good business strategy to insulate a company from its customers. The strategy of avoidance may prove to be inconsequential to a particular market segment. Yet the company that accommodates the customer in a more comprehensive fashion (accepting phone calls) will retain a customer base of loyal repeat customers. This will increase their repeat sales while at the same time growing their new customer list and avoiding reputational harm.

For the purposes of discussing and implementing a COOP strategy, it is best that one fully understands the impact of architecting a fail-over site without in-bound voice channels. A thorough examination should be undertaken to understand the long-term business impact of an organization’s customer contact philosophy. It may not be necessary to enter into long-term comprehensive fail-over site contracts if there’s a possibility the business might feel a negative market pressure in a 12 to 36 month period. If a business doesn’t meet it’s initial 36 month revenue goals, the additional expense of a fail-over site may not be warranted.

When considering a COOP strategy it is not only the day-to-day operations that you are looking to maintain. Incumbent in the decision for COOP site resources is the forecasting of the business’ growth and market penetration. A thorough understanding of your organization and its future should affect the size and scope of your planning for a COOP site and resources.



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