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Don’t hide your phone number

The other day we had a problem with one of our domestic suppliers. It was the sort of problem where we thought it would be helpful to speak to someone and so we looked up the telephone number on their website. It wasn't there. There was an invitation to be helped by a chat box or to send an email but no telephone number.

Even companies with telephone numbers seem to have devised a circulatory message that sends you to their website. What a pain we customers must be! It is so much easy to ignore us if we are required to write in. Some people have estimated that it is 10 times more expensive to have someone sitting and taking the call rather than receiving a message by email. Maybe some companies hope that the faff of contacting them digitally will remove some of the customer service enquiries. Less enquiries means lower costs.

Or does it? How do you feel about a company that doesn't offer a personal contact? I guess you would feel that they don't want to engage with you, or at least not in a personal way. And what does this say about them? It surely says that they are not so concerned about delivering great customer service.

It tends to be the larger businesses that hide their telephone numbers. A tradesperson would find it very difficult to exist if they didn't share a telephone number with prospective customers. 24 years ago we established B2B International and as a fledgling business we needed to make it very easy for people to contact us. Everyone in the company had to sign off emails with our address, the office telephone number and their mobile number. It is the same today. It is a mark of a company that says we want to stay in touch and this is how you can do so.

A great exemplar of customer service is the late Tony Hsieh who established Zappos, the online shoe and clothing company. He was of the view that repeat customers and word-of-mouth were crucial to building sales. He built a company with sales revenue of $1 billion in just 10 years and sold it to Amazon in 2009 for $1.2 billion. We doubt that he could have achieved this by hiding the phone number.


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