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The Death of Phone Conversation?


Allow me to move away from green lodging this week—although it does impact green lodging—and write a bit about communication. Phone communication. You remember, the kind that Alexander Graham Bell invented? (“Mr. Watson–come here–I want to see you.”) Perhaps this rant will not solve a thing but if one person is affected positively by it, I will consider it a success. My main rant: What is it about talking on the phone that scares so many people today? And I mean run for the hills level of scared. Are people just so busy that they cannot take even a moment to pick up the phone and make a call? Yet, they have all the time they need to send a text, Tweet, Facebook message or e-mail? I am so frustrated.

I have an important client who flubbed an important relationship last year because she never took the time to pick up the phone to call me about an important change that had taken place in our agreement. Months went by and then when I realized my client had failed to follow through on the agreement I tried repeatedly to call. There was no reply. I ended up e-mailing her superior and learned that she had totally forgotten about the most important part of our agreement. Of course it was by e-mail, not phone, that her superior replied. At this point I believed the matter deserved a phone conversation.

A couple of months went by. Still no call from anyone. Still no phone apology. I guess they believe our working relationship is at a level not worthy of a phone conversation. I did learn there was a new contact to approach for 2017 advertising. I called and left a message to introduce myself. Naturally, weeks went by without a return call. Finally I received an e-mail asking about advertising—at a much lower level than had been done in the past. I called the person again to see if she would be willing to chat over the phone about it. Again, no return call. Finally, I e-mailed her superior to ask about their decision to advertise less. He responded quickly and we ended up agreeing on an ad placement.

In sales, I deal with unreturned phone calls all the time. Maybe you experience the same. This was just one example, however, that really bothered me—a client I have known for years never bothering to call to apologize for a flubbed agreement, and continuing to not return calls as we moved into a new year. Your thoughts?