Many moons ago now we had a relatively local customer who was in equal parts charming and demanding. They were up front from the start that they wanted us to hand hold the whole way through setting up their website and be quick to answer queries if they arose. We see this as standard and so were more than happy to say that this was not a problem. Fast forward to the site having been launched, the emails set up, the SEO in place and all working beautifully. Turns out when they said they wanted hand holding what they actually meant was technical support for all things computer and phone related.
It was a Friday evening, we were out with friends, I may have had one or two babychams and my mobile phone started ringing. I didn’t answer it, it’s not professional to speak to a customer when I’m not completely sober. I did however, check that the website was live and there were no issues… there were none. My phone kept ringing, then my answerphone service kicked in saying I had messages, lots of messages. Bear in mind this was 9pm in the evening and the messages started to get increasingly tetchy leading up to the final one which was abuse being screamed at me. Turns out the customer was trying to set up a new mobile phone and add website email account on it because ‘they were going on holiday the next day and how were they supposed to run their business if they couldn’t access their emails’.
I decided it would be prudent to give the customer a call. Sweetness and light oozed from the phone as they calmed down and admitted that actually the holiday was in a couple of weeks time. They had got frustrated trying to add the email account even though they could still access it via webmail on their browser. The app they had added was not the official app of the mail provider but they didn’t want to pay for that. As I said, this was a long time ago, thanks to iPhones and Gmail on Android devices these issues don’t tend to occur now, but the moral of the story for me was not to be giving out my mobile phone number to customers.
On the Monday morning I emailed them saying we were not the company for them and here were three alternative local companies they could speak to and we would of course handle the transfer of their website files and any other pertinent information required – they were absolutely dumbstruck that we took this decision and couldn’t understand that ringing repeatedly on a Friday night and hurling abuse at us wasn’t acceptable. We have never fired a customer since as we are now much more careful in stating what we can and can’t do and what are and are not reasonable forms of communication.
So, that was a long long time ago, however, I still don’t as a rule give out my mobile number. There are a variety of reasons for this that include the following:
We live and work in the Highlands of Scotland, it is a beautiful place, it’s a life style choice to be self employed and whilst we don’t always manage the perfect work/life balance we do strive to have a quality of life and get out and enjoy the beautiful area we live in.
Again, living in the Highlands the phone signal is not all it could be all of the time so actually remembering to take my phone with me when I go out is a rarity.
If I am out and about the phone is invariably in the bottom of my handbag and on silent or I don’t recognise the ring tone so think it is someone else’s phone.
Why should we feel the need to be constantly connected? I grant you, if a website has gone offline we should, and do, everything in our power to get the site back up and running in as short a space of time as possible. However, we are beholden to the host server and us manically emailing them or phoning them doesn’t help the process along at all. It’s a waiting game and more often than not it is a 5 minute outage at the most.
I fear I am a bit of a dinosaur. I don’t like speaking to people on my mobile, I don’t like how everyone around me has to be involved in my conversation, I don’t like not being able to hear people properly if the signal is poor out in the wilds of Scotland but most importantly of all I work hard during the day, I should be able to switch off from screens and code and customers and social media in the evenings.
I totally appreciate that I am not ‘the norm’ here and many friends don’t even have a landline these days as their mobile contract includes calls as part of the package, but I think it is a sad state of affairs if you are constantly contactable and never get the chance to recharge and unwind away from the pressures of work of an evening or a weekend. Am I alone?