Our business development team uses a variety of cunning techniques to attract new business. One such method is good old-fashioned ‘smiling and dialling’.

But there is a but… for many months our team has reported that there is no one answering the main published telephone numbers of most of the EMEA HQ’s that they are calling. The calls just ring and ring, no redirect, no voicemail. And even when there is an auto attendant, the ‘press x for…’ choices entice them in to a circular route or into a dead end. Click brrrrr.

We appreciate that life is not normal at the moment and that many are working from home. And anyway, who wants to answer the telephone to be confronted by a cold call?

So for kicks and giggles we played with this scenario a bit further and we called a large quantity of the published sales, product enquiry, support and aftercare main phone numbers for these large EMEA B2B companies. And yet again there is no one answering many of these phones. The calls just ring and ring, no redirect, no voicemail and many dead ends.

The lights are on but nobody is home

Now, we also appreciate in these days that most employees have their own DDI number, that this may not be as big of a problem as it seems. And after all, the telephone is so last century. But many of these DDI numbers only appear on the lesser spotted business card or on an email footer if you are lucky – they are so often a very well-kept secret.

So this lead us to think about the commercial implications of all this; custom, customised, customer…

It seems through this scarceness of contactability as though the individual customer or prospect’s buying, enquiring or support experience is now reduced to online and social media interactions more than ever. Yes, online and social media communication can be endlessly customised to meet the anticipated target. But it is still essentially, when done badly, a ‘one size fits all’ approach and it must be having an impact on sales and profits…you would think. I appreciate that one pays for what one gets, and that everything is made to a price, but it would be nice to feel wanted, especially if one has $ to spend.

It reminded me of a comment by Andy Street, a previous MD of a UK department store, John Lewis, who said: nothing works and nobody cares. Although he was talking specifically about business in France, I guess this indifference applies everywhere.

Clearly everyone has gone home and taken the phone off the hook.

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