Sometimes, in the course of daily business, we learn important lessons. Recently the Kearley team learned a valuable lesson about our corporate culture through a poor decision we collectively made.
For years the phone would ring at EVERY desk when someone would call, and any one of us would answer the phone. The clients might get the part-time intern, or they might get the agency president, depending on who was available to answer the phone when it rang.
After the first of the year, we decided that we should change our phone system to a phone tree with an automated message that would answer and the caller would then enter an extension to reach one of the team members directly. We thought this new process would be a welcome change to many as it would save time for the caller - they could go directly to the desk of the person they are trying to reach.
We were clearly not seeing the forest through the trees.
I was sensing some negative response from the switch, and I did an informal pole of all my twitter and Facebook contacts, and 99.9% said they want to speak to a real person when then make a phone call. I was kinda surprised, but I still left the automated system in place.
Finally. A long-term client gently complained, and we switched the phones back immediately. We're back to the phone ringing at everyone's desk, and whoever is available will answer the phone. It's what we've done forever, and it's really not a problem for us, but it seems to make callers to Kearley much happier.
I recently attended a conference and one of the sessions discussed the need to have robust, interactive online tools for your consumers. But the point was also made in that session that you also can't neglect your high touch areas.
Direct contact is really a great opportunity to grow your relationships. (DUH!)
People expect a robust online experience - particularly your younger clients and potential clients. But you also have to be there - face-to-face or via phone - when they need you.
I think we've learned from our mistake, and hopefully you will too. Don't invest all your resources in electronic and online communications and neglect your high touch opportunities.