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When something must be done, people still pick up the phone

I love technology and how it’s opened up ways I can quickly gather information that I used to have to call a business and ask for.

“How late are you open?”

“Do you have x item in stock?”

“Where are you located?”

Thanks to Google, Yelp, and a variety of other sources, I can get answers to all of those questions and more – often in the same amount of time it would take me to just look up the phone number. As a businessperson, I love not having to pay someone to answer the same questions over and over–day in and day out.

Call Me, Maybe.

But, the truth is, sometimes the Internet is wrong. Sometimes, you’re driving and don’t want to be typing on a smartphone. Sometimes. you don’t know the question yet. Sometimes, you are trying to decide whether this company are the sort of people you want to give your business to. And sometimes? Well, sometimes it’s just easier to call.

I think we all can agree that ordering pizza in minutes via an app that saves your preferences and remembers your delivery address and payment method is far superior to hearing “Thank you for calling Pizza Express, can you hold, please?” Perhaps I’m a victim of my generation, but – as much as I love the Internet – when something needs to be done, I often still pick up the phone.

We’re Still Talking.

There’s a headline grabber that goes around the telecom industry every so often. It usually consists of a doom-and-gloom scenario. Something like “half of Americans cutting the cord” or a similar sentiment comparing the plight of the phone industry with life in the Cretaceous Period. Certainly, a significant change has been brewing for decades and telecom providers that haven’t adapted to this are struggling. For those of us that are keeping our phones and expect them to ring, it helps to remember something. Americans haven’t ventured into caves. Despite the shift towards texting and online information, voice calls are still being made at an astonishing rate. As recently as 2013, the U.S. National Security Agency estimated that Americans placed roughly 3 billion calls per day. 3 Billion.

What’s more, unlike residential, very few businesses have completely foregone business phone service. Whether traditional landline or VoIP services, nearly all businesses with more than one employee have some sort of “office phone” service.

Would it surprise you to know that, in the U.S., nearly 70,000,000 people use the yellow pages, either in print or online? Although roughly half of American homes have eschewed landline phones, it could also be pointed out that half the homes in America have chosen to keep phone service? And, although there aren’t a lot of statistics to back up such a claim, it goes without saying of the nearly 100 million households and the roughly 90% of businesses in North America that still have phones, a good percentage of those are using them to conduct their businesses and their lives.

If you’re a business, oftentimes you don’t want all of your company info on the Internet for anyone to look at… unless you sell a good or service that has a fixed price, regardless of customer type or quantity, you want your customers calling in.

Use the Right Tool for the Right Job.

When assessing a problem, I find it helps to not assume that any one tool is going to complete my task, and to allow for the idea that different people might choose different tools to do business with. The Internet is a tool, just like phone service. It’s great for the types of transactions that are known, defined, and simple. I love being able to log on to my child’s doctor’s website and make an appointment for his yearly wellness exam. But when he wakes me up in the middle of the night with vague symptoms that seem to have come out of nowhere, the Internet is no longer the right tool for the job.

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