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I don’t Want to Talk to You Right Now! (Welcome to 2018)
Years ago there were very few ways to contact a business. The phone, fax, or a letter were the most popular options.
Then of course along came email, transforming the way we send and receive business messages.
More recently there’s been a huge rise in instant messaging being used for business purposes too. Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter have opened up the contacting game.
But there’s a problem with the way some businesses use messages.
I don’t Want to Talk to You Right Now! (Welcome to 2018)
Sarah is in her office. She’s trying to book a table for the weekend at a local restaurant. She doesn’t want to call because she’s at work.
She probably shouldn’t really be spending work time doing this, but she wants to organise herself so she chooses to send a Facebook message to book the table. She saw the restaurant post a tasty looking photo of a meal on her timeline so she decides that’s a good place to try.
Sarah doesn’t want to call them.
Paul needs to arrange a hair cut with a barber in town. He’s currently holding conversations with friends on a WhatsApp group chat, a Twitter DM conversation with a new connection, and over on Facebook messenger he’s chatting with his team.
He drops the barbers a message on Instagram as he sees they’re active on there. They often share new cuts and fashion styles on their Instagram.
Paul doesn’t want to call them, and he doesn’t want them to call him.
Instant messages are part of the 21st century way of life
We live in an on-demand world with Netflix, Amazon, Uber and Spotify helping us have what we want when we want it. That’s not to mention Just Eat or Deliveroo.
We manage our lives how we want, when we want, and the key thing here is the time we do it.
Both Sarah and Paul decide when they speak to people. They’re not beholden to when they can talk to them and neither are the people they speak to.
Messenger and WhatsApp are popular because you control when you reply and when you start them. Ideally the people you message will come back pretty quickly, but in essence it doesn’t matter if it’s an hour later or a day later. If it was that important or urgent the phone is always available.
Instant messaging helps people organise their lives and have multiple conversations at once on one device wherever they are.
They can call from that device, they just choose not to.
If you’re a business then you need to understand that.
Answer your PMs with PMs. It’s not ‘cool’ or edgy, it’s just the way people are! It’s basic customer service to reply to a customer in the way they want to speak to you.
Three are three times as many social media messages sent than there are text messages. It’s just how we communicate now.
The takeaway is this:
You get a PM. Don’t call them back. If they wanted to talk, they’d have called you!
Yes, calling is far deeper and more powerful but it’s not on their terms and it’s not what they want.
They want to control when then reply to you. They want to respond in their own time. They want ‘on-demand communication’, just like their TV.
They could be doing a hundred other things at once. Their baby might be sleeping. They might be planning something quietly, like a gift or day out.
The other day I was at home over lunch time. Jo’s phone rang…
It was a company she’d messaged on social media about a service she wanted.
She messaged, they called.
Now you might think that was good service, but Jo didn’t want to talk. Jo needed a couple of simple questions answered. That was it. A reply to the message is all she needed; she could pick up the reply when she wanted.
Yes, she was grateful they got back to her, but she hates being interrupted by unscheduled phone calls. Two of her favourite memes are here:
When the company called her, they took over deciding when it was time for Jo to have her answer. They changed the rules. They, the supplier, decided not to talk to Jo on her terms.
When you think about it, that’s a mistake.
If I called a business right now and they refused to answer me on the phone, opting for sending me a letter, I’d be quite annoyed.
Your customers choose how they want to be contacted by the medium they contact you on. (Unless they specifically ask you to use another method.)
In 2018 they are multiple ways to be contacted and your customers are all different
It’s not that they being awkward or trendy – they’re just managing all their conversations and interactions in one place, when they want. On demand and on their timescale.
Who are you to change that?
If you have Facebook messages turned on then you might want to consider replying and having the conversation on there when someone uses it, rather than opting to call each time.
If you’re spending time posting on Instagram and someone drops you a PM then reply to them there! Don’t head for the phone unless they’re happy to.
Offering instant messaging as a serious communication tool for your business is a great move – especially given that so many people make buying decisions in the evening and even at night, when shops and offices are closed.
It’s a fast-paced digital world and we are now, more than ever, deciding when we want to be contacted and managing many conversations at once.
It’s not rude, it’s just good customer service, and many will opt for on-demand conversations like this.
It’s not up to you to decide how your customers contact you or when that communication line changes.
We live in an on-demand world, and it’s your customers and potential who demand it.
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