The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

Commentary: Use ‘Smart’ Phones in Smart Ways

What’s the best way for a distribution salesperson or anyone who has customer contact to really tick off a customer or prospect? My bet goes on the stupid phone. Whether it has email capability or not, what better way to tell a customer they are second best by answering your phone or checking your email in the middle of a conversation? Or better yet, in the middle of an order!

We’ve all gone into a retail store, waited in line, and then got bumped off by the person who happened to call in just as we were getting served. Do you have a customer service policy that has been updated to include whatever type of mobile technology you are using today? At one level, it is a basic training issue that many people simply don’t think about as these devices increasingly become second nature.

This is not a diatribe against technology. In fact, as the lead article in this issue outlines, mobile technologies are offering some critical advantages. The costs to connect have come down. Companies that aren’t putting the tools in place to increase the visibility, access and knowledge about customers and suppliers across the entire organization are going to drop more balls and lose more opportunities than those who do.

But consider training on how to use these tools responsibly. And it goes beyond courtesy and manners. One salesperson related how his mobile device is great, but it has taken away some of his time between customers when he would consider thoughtfully how best to approach the next call. He missed that downtime to compose thoughts and create strategy. Instead, he’s on the phone juggling ten other projects. Somewhere there’s a balance; managers need to create the right target to shoot for.

“Smart” phones are great, but only if they aren’t used in stupid ways.

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