I think everyone has experienced being on one end of a phone call and getting frustrated at the other parties’ lack of enthusiasm.
I have experienced times where I have called up a company, and before even mentioning what the call was about, hearing the monotonous or dismissive tone, which, reading between the lines, sounded like ‘oh, its you’.
I will admit that I can be a little hands on. I like to know that everything is in order, and all of my requests have been taken on board. If I don’t feel confident that this is the case, well, I will chase. I will double check – in short, if you have understood, and everything is in place, let me know!
For example, trying to book a hotel conference room recently, initially explaining the layout I required and what timings I needed the catering sorted and replenished, I then received a booking form completely different from my original request.
What does that tell me? You didn’t listen and to some extent, you don’t really care. Now I have to call you again, I have to make the same requests but this time, my faith in the companies’ ability to fulfil my request has decreased. The result? I am going to check in more often.
Which may lead to the lethargic and often upsetting tone on the phone.
As a client, or as someone who is requesting a service, I don’t need you to be my best friend, but I do need you to give me confidence. If I request a certain room layout etc. for a hotel in Manchester, I can’t just nip up the road and help with the set up, I need to believe that you care as much about my booking as I do. In qualitative research, there is only one chance to get it right, and I need to believe that you can do that with me.
This is not unusual, I hear you say, and you are right. I don’t mind having to re-request things, but I don’t want to have to hear disdain or annoyance from the other side of the phone. If I receive a call from my clients, I don’t want them to think I find them annoying because they are checking up, or because they have an additional request. Things change, some people are also hands on or sometimes you need a little more re-assurance that things are going to go right.
And if you can give that reassurance a few times, you can gain trust. I don’t think its unreasonable to want things to ‘go right on the night’, and I don’t think its unreasonable to expect the other party to be polite when speaking to me.
The learning? When you pick up the phone, have a little lightness. Be inquisitive but don’t be apprehensive.