Don’t be a phone zombie

In 2017 London’s Oxford Street saw 291 instances of ‘theft by moped.’ And Oxford Street isn’t alone. According to the Metropolitan Police, drive by thefts across London’s main shopping streets increased sixfold in the two years to 2017.

Whilst the Met say that increased vigilance has been somewhat successful in combating these crimes since October 2017, nevertheless it also has to be said that people make it easy for drive by thefts to occur by acting as phone zombies. As we walk along looking at our phones and often not paying much attention to our surroundings, it is quite a simple matter for a moped passenger to grab hold of our phone and be off into the distance almost before we realise what has occurred.

In February 2018 after one victim chased after phone thieves and received stab wounds in the ensuing tussle, the Met police issued some best practice advice including:

  • don’t text when you’re walking and be aware of your surroundings at all times
  • try going hands-free or stand away from the roadside
  • make sure all security devices on your phone are activated.

But we aren’t just phone zombies when we are out with our mobiles. When it comes to business telephony it can be all too easy for us to simply go through the motions, parroting phrases and dealing with calls in a very mechanical fashion. And this level of indifference filters through to our customers who, perhaps rightly, receive the distinct impression that their call is an unwelcome interruption in the day-to-day business round.

However, businesses which really care about their customers cannot afford to treat attempts at contact in so cavalier a fashion. Not only can this lead to customer alienation, it can also adversely impact on reputation. So what is the secret to banishing phone zombie behaviours? Well, secret number one comes from setting a culture within the business which expects and ensures that every employee puts customer excellence at the heart of their approach. Training in good telephone techniques will help here; but no matter how good the training, it will have little impact unless it is supported by the underlying culture.

It is also worth remembering that even with a great culture and good telephone technique at their fingertips, employees will struggle unless the underlying business telephony system has been designed to support good customer interactions. Starting with a careful choice of business telephone numbers to help attract prospective customers, the telephone system should be designed with customer excellence in mind.

That means choosing a system which can be programmed and reprogrammed in accordance with operational need and which swiftly guides customers to their chosen destination. Admittedly, some customers may not like pushbutton options but if these help to speed up the call transfer process then they can be effective. But don’t neglect other options such as the use of a business information line in order to answer routine questions around opening times or  details of special attractions. Smaller businesses too may find that a virtual assistant service which response to simple questions and takes messages can be a valuable adjunct to a customer service ethos.

If answering calls has become a matter of routine then are you in danger of slipping into a phone zombie scenario? It might just be worth taking a look at whether your business telephony service is really delivering customer excellence as you intended.

Written by Alison