Last month there was this interesting article in the New York Times about how we are using the telephone differently now. For those of us in the business to business marketing industry there are several choice one liners in the article including "The telephone has a very rude propensity to interrupt people." and “I remember when I was growing up, the rule was, ‘Don’t call anyone after 10 p.m.,’ ” Mr. Adler said. “Now the rule is, ‘Don’t call anyone. Ever.’ ”
This is particularly interesting to us at CSG because a very big part of what we do is talk to our client's channel partners: on the phone. As the article points out, people are more sensitive to the interrupting nature of the phone call, so we do this with ever increasing number of our calls scheduled in advance through other means.
Now in our 14th year of doing a majority of our business over the telephone, we have seen the predictions of the end of the telephone before. Here are a few of them:
- The email killed the phone
- The web killed the phone
- Cell Phones killed the phone (AT&T’s service is so bad that people just stopped calling)
- Skype killed the phone (Skype is pretty cool and will continue to take over)
- Social Media killed the phone (Really? I don't buy it)
The way we use the phone is indeed changing. However, I spend more time on the phone now than ever before. Just about all of the calls are scheduled on my calendar as meetings for a specific time and duration. In many cases the phone calls include more than one other party, and often are aided by shared online workspaces or presentations. These calls are much more productive than the old calls, and even when all of the participants live in my city they consume much less time than in person meetings.
There are many reasons this is happening. Here are a few examples:
- People are more sensitive to interruptions
- People seem less likely to meet face to face
- The conference bridge brings in multiple people
- Desktop sharing creates a rich experience
In the middle of all of this is the phone. I guess the reports of the phone's death have been somewhat exaggerated.