In the past few months I’ve noticed a disturbing trend with regard to phone calls. And today I reached a point where I made a decision about the phone. It’s going to be off more often.
Due to the unique nature of a lot of my business I spend a good bit of time going through proofs and soft proofs with my clients. We sit, we look at color matches, we dial in. Usually I’m 90 – 100% of the way there. But when it comes to painter who are oh so wedded to their work, often times we need to get to 100%. That means time. And attention. That’s part of the service I offer. And it’s offered to all of my clients, not just the painters.
While I work with clients I’ll often get other client calls. Normally I let them go to voicemail, and I call back after I wrapped up with the person I’m working with. But sometimes people just don’t catch a hint. They call over and over again. And this morning that’s exactly what happened. Interrupting the person I was with over and over again. I finally put the phone on silent, and still it vibrated away like you wouldn’t believe.
Now, in the old network engineering days I understood emergencies. I can’t recount how many times I was called out of bed to deal with a disaster at 2:00 a.m. But in this new role, photographer and printer, I’m surprised at the number of multiple “emergency” calls I get. While I’m glad to be in demand lately, I’m a little surprised by the emergency calls.
Today I received 10 calls in the span of 1.5 hours. The calls were from 3 people. 4 from one person, 3 from the other two people. Back to back calls from each. I was in the middle of assisting in duplicating a lightroom setup between a desktop and new laptop, and showing the client how to sync the two. The client was paying me by the hour, so my attention should have been with them. But the phone was blowing up.
One person who called 3 times in a row, leaving one message, was calling about getting a 5×7 printed. A single 5×7. Just to make a note, I make nothing on 5×7′s after the time I spend with a client, the cost of the roll paper, inks, etc. The others were calling for various reasons, but nothing that couldn’t wait.
So, going forward I make this promise to all clients. The phone is going off into Airplane mode while we’re together. No ringing. No vibrating. It will be unable to accept calls. Period.
And I do have to wonder in our on demand society……. How long should you wait before you call a vendor again? 15 minutes. A half hour. One hour? What’s the threshold?
Driving into the office after meeting with my client who was interrupted too many times before I turned the phone off, I changed my voicemail message. I specified that I will call back, and there is no need to call more than once or leave more than one voicemail message.
Tonight I received three messages after hours from the same person. They were calling for some free advice. Guess people don’t listen to your voicemail greeting.
I will address this as I adjust my own business model.