Sun | Dec 3, 2023

Combat Mobile Phone Tyranny!

Published:Monday | September 28, 2015 | 12:00 AMTrevor Smith

Does your mobile phone have dominion over you? Years ago, my friend, David, conscientiously answered all incoming calls rather than having them go to voicemail. He felt that having to return calls often led to time-consuming phone-tag.

Today, David's approach is a new form of enslavement. I once fought a futile battle to stay clear of mobile-phone tyranny. "Trevor, you still haven't got a cellphone?" still resounds. I reasoned that if I am not directly available on my land line, I am otherwise engaged. That is unthinkable in today's always-reachable environment. Make no mistake, we are living under the tyrannical rule of the mobile phone. I am no longer trying to overthrow the regime. However, I have some suggestions that would make living under the dictatorship less onerous.


1. Timing

No need to ask "Am I calling too early?" ... you are. Even if I am awake, I am up early to complete my agenda - not yours. The same thing applies to late-night calling.


2. Call the correct number

Check to see that you have the correct number, and take care when dialing. And please do not add insult to injury by spending time repeating the number you thought you dialed or asking for the person you wanted to reach. Hang up!

From the other end, don't engage me in a conversation as to what number I was trying to reach and who I was seeking. If you are not Paul, tell me I have the wrong number and let me move on with my quick apology.


3. Put your phone on a charger away from you while you sleep.

This will produce two benefits - you might actually get some restful sleep and not be disturbed by the sound of incoming mail.

The second benefit is to me. I might now be able to reach you with important information without learning the next day that your battery died. Worse yet, you get cut off in mid-sentence before you shared some critical bits of information and have now gone into radio silence!


4. Gather your thoughts and get prepared before you call

Please have at least some idea of what you want to communicate. We are now three minutes into the call and I am still trying to figure out what it is about. Happy to learn that you are experiencing nice weather, but is there something else you want to share?

Also, if you are calling about a part for your car or fridge, noting the make and model will save time. Let's stop wasting my time and yours - be prepared. Have reference material at hand.


5. Stop equating more talk with better service

In the battle to show that they provide better customer experiences (CX), organisations are requiring more of their front-line staff.

Take this case: I need to get an item from this store. I am rushing and need to know what time they close. I pull out my always-at-hand mobile phone and call the store. After listening to the recording that my call may be monitored for quality-assurance purposes, I blurt out "What time do you close?" to the first voice that sounds human.

"May I have your name, please?" Suzie identifies herself and asks. Then, "May I call you Trevor?" By the time I get through the CX inquisition I learn that they will close three minutes before I can now get there. By that time, their CX-resistant security guard would have been barring all entry. Enhanced CX?

But wait ... I still can't hang up because the CX race requires Suzie to ask more questions and recite a scripted closing statement.

Let's use mobile devices as a means of need-directed communication. Join the mission to reduce mobile-phone time drain!

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• Trevor E. S. Smith is a Behaviour Modification Coach with the Success with People Academy, Extended DISC/FinxS.