Your phone is the closest thing to your mouth other than a kiss. Be sure you take the time to clean it often with a wipe during this stressful time.
Since its first dramatic moment on March 10, 1876 with the now famous words: “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you,” the telephone has had a remarkable and sometimes quirky history. Some might feel customer service started with those words.
“We’ve forgotten some of the incidents in the development of the telephone,” said Nancy Friedman, founder and chairman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, headquartered in St. Louis, MO. “For a device that has shaped our lives for over a century, its significant evolution is often taken for granted. In anticipation of celebrating its 144th anniversary, here are some of the more notable events.” And some helpful tips.
- AHOY, HOY. Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, originally wanted to have the phone answered by saying, “Ahoy, Hoy!” Thanks to Thomas Edison and his insistence, today we normally answer a home phone with a simple, “Hello.” The business call is a full disclosure of a warm greeting, company name and your name.
- At the first demonstration of the telephone, the public was intrigued, but doubted its practical use. Acceptance of the phone was slow, with doctors and pharmacists as its primary customers. Now the doctors don’t even come to the phone! Let alone answer it.
- Increased phone usage led to the switchboard. Initially names were used for identification, which was later followed by the publication of the phone book. Numbers followed later.
- More women than men were operators because women were found to be more friendly, docile and accommodating than men. (I’m just the ‘messenger’ here.) In New York alone, in 1910, there were 6,000 women switchboard operators.
- Then, the telephone was only operable 12 hours a day. Imagine not being able to make a phone call at night!
- In 1915, the first long distance call took place covering 14,000 miles of wires from Bell in New York to Watson in San Francisco.
“The genius of an educator of the deaf who had no background in mechanics or invention, Bell saw his device become perhaps the most indispensable tool of technology. It brought the country, and later the world, together. Imagine what the future holds!” states Friedman.
The telephone is one of the most used, overused, and abused instruments around. Complaints of poor customer service ranks high on this everyday tool. Wonder when that started?
BEING PUT ON HOLD. Did Bell even have a hold button? Here’s a GREAT BIG FIB: “Hang on a sec, I’ll be right back.” Being put on hold is one of the most frustrating complaints of all. “Hold happens, but the phone wasn’t invented for silence!” says David Green, aka the On-Hold Doctor. “Callers prefer to hear useful information when placed on hold, rather than crickets, beeps or bad music. Customize your hold time to provide for a better caller experience. Alexander would be proud!” (linkedin.com/in/davidgreenandassociates; http://www.soundmarketingresources.com/)
FAKE NEWS: “Oh, you can’t “hear” a smile” – OH BUT YES YOU CAN. One of the best benefits of the telephone, over all the other options of communication: Email, snail mail, fax, text, is the ability to hear TONE OF VOICE. Hearing a smile in your voice, is a critical component in today’s world. And Gary Goerke, President of Clarity Voice Phone system says: “Bell’s development of the telephone brought emotion and nuance into person-to-person distant communication that the telegraph lacked. Today we call this the ‘first impression’ or ‘customer experience.’ I saw a recent report that said 80% of customers contact a business by phone and 20% of them choose a different competitor because the customer experience didn’t meet their expectations.” (https://www.linkedin.com/in/gary-goerke-cfe-4611424/; https://clarityvoice.com/about/)
“Being friendly and offering a smile helps make the ‘customer experience’ top notch,” adds Friedman.
And as Nancy Friedman reminds us, it’s dang hard when you’re angry or upset to really hang up ‘hard’ on a caller now. She says: “We used to be able to BANG the receiver down and the other person knew we were mad. Now you can barely hear the ‘click’.”
Nancy Friedman, founder and chairman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, helps companies communicate better with their customers and coworkers. She is a popular, sought-after speaker on sales, customer service and communication skills for meetings and conferences.