“We are craving [the] human voice.”
Amid a worldwide quarantine, that's a statement most of us can relate to.
It's a quote from FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel that's featured in the New York Times article "The Humble Phone Call Has Made a Comeback" by Cecilia Kang.
Kang's reporting confirms just how much we crave connection with familiar voices. She notes that Verizon now handles 800 million wireless calls each weekday. That's twice as many as the company typically sees on Mother's Day, historically the busiest calling day of the year. And callers are talking with each other 33% longer than they did prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. AT&T's cellular traffic is also way up - by 35% - and their number of Wi-Fi-based calls has almost doubled.
Before social distancing, "wireless calls typically peaked in the morning and evening rush hours," Kang wrote. "Once people got to their offices and schools, the call volumes fell. Now, voice calls are high throughout the day. While Zoom and Google Hangouts are a popular replacement for meetings with multiple colleagues, the phone is easier for one-on-one conversations and doesn’t buffer and break down like video."
Weekend phone calls have also jumped. "Even young adults who grew up with texting and messaging apps as a primary form of communication are embracing voice calls," wrote Kang.
Difficult situations often reveal hidden truths. This surge in telephone calls reminds us of what increasingly impersonal technology has covered up over the last twenty years - we yearn to talk with people, voice to voice. And that inherent desire won't recede once a COVID-19 vaccine is developed. It will always live within us.
So, as a business strategy, answer that call; address that human need. Pick up the phone to reach out to your customers and prospects. Make the effort to connect with them in that more personal and meaningful manner. Start a new conversation in an old, familiar way.