If you’ve ever wanted to buy glass, doors or windows online while also reducing your human interactions as much as possible, you’re not alone. A growing number of Americans simply don’t want to talk to salespeople of any kind on the phone or in person.
A new survey shows that many potential customers will refuse to answer the phone or door when called upon by people in the home improvement or construction trades — even when appointments have already been scheduled.
The study by ContactEngine found that 74 percent of U.S. consumers engage in this seemingly contradictory behavior. But is it really that unusual? And stick around — we think we’ve got the perfect solution if you’re shopping for glass, doors or windows online.
Why Won’t They Answer?
The survey results show that the three main reasons people miss a home appointment are “I didn’t know they were coming” (27 percent); “I simply forgot about the appointment” (27 percent); and “I didn’t hear the doorbell” (20 percent).
Beyond your possible fear of a ringing phone, you also might not want companies contacting you on social media. Only 6 percent of survey respondents said they were happy using Facebook Messenger to communicate with customer service or to arrange home appointments, and nearly half of respondents (49 percent) said they would never use Facebook Messenger to arrange a time for an installation or repair.
All About the Cellphone
The reason for this is simple and visible all around us every day: More people use smartphones as their lone communications tool for everyday life, says Mark K. Smith, CEO of ContactEngine. Because of that, fewer people have landlines.
According to a U.S. government report that came out in May 2017, 50.8 percent of households in the U.S. had only cellphone service in the second half of 2016. That’s the first time that number surpassed 50 percent. About 45.9 percent of households have kept their landline phones. The remaining households have no phone service at all. More than 39 percent of U.S. households have both landlines and cellphones.
Not Only For the Young
This shift to mobile and digital communication isn’t just something for millennials. Research shows it’s surging in popularity among all age groups in society. That’s because people have adjusted to the stresses of a shifting work-life balance in our fast-paced society. Because people are working longer hours and spending more time commuting to work, they’re time-poor. That means businesses must engage their customers in much more targeted conversations.
Interestingly, despite the fact that most people can read e-mails on their phones, that form of digital connection has always been a fairly hopeless way to reach people.
In addition to being stretched for time, you probably reject phone calls from strangers for logical reasons. A survey of more than 1,000 Americans from telecom service company First Orion shows that about 95 percent of respondents said they’ve received a phone call from a telemarketer in the past six months. That’s an 84-percent increase since 2015.
Some home-improvement companies have paid hefty fines for abusing their telephone privileges. For example, in October 2016, Power Home Remodeling Group, a firm based in the Philadelphia area, agreed to pay $5.2 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over unsolicited automated phone calls to potential customers.
The case began when Teofilo Vasco, a Home Depot customer in New Jersey, gave his cell number to a salesperson. Vasco said Power Home Remodeling Group then phoned him 21 times with automated recorded messages. Vasco sued the company under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
After Power Home Remodeling provided samples of call records, Vasco and his legal team discovered that there could be more than 1.1 million potential litigants.
A Wake-Up Call
Chip Gentry of the Call & Gentry law firm in Jefferson City, Mo., who specializes in legal issues facing glass, door and window companies, says that case should have been a wake-up call for companies that use those phone practices. He says that regardless of how competitive the market is, they have to avoid using fax machines, auto-dialing systems, artificial voice messages and text messages in ways that could get them in legal trouble.
“Remodelers and other home improvement companies must learn from the lessons provided by the recent $5.2 million settlement,” he told Door and Window Market magazine. “While margins are tight and the competition for customers is fierce, companies need to be wary and make certain they are not using auto-dialing systems, artificial voice messages, SMS text messages and fax machines inappropriately. The best practice is to seek competent legal advice to avoid the numerous landmines under the TCPA. Investing a bit up front may just save you $5.2 million or more in the future.”
There’s also been a 13-percent surge in phone scams, and 69 percent of respondents said they’d gotten at least one shady call during the past six months. And here’s a surprising and shocking statistic: One in eight people said they had received more than 20 different scam calls in that same period. That’s more than four times the number who reported that level of scam calling in 2015.
Is Anybody Home?
Additionally, the ContactEngine research shows that there can be a huge variation in the times of the day when people are in their homes – another example of that big change in work-life balance. For example, more than 44 percent said there is no best time for businesses to contact them, and more than a third (35 percent) said their work life is so unpredictable that there is no particular time or day for a business to make a home appointment.
Other fascinating findings include:
- 19 percent of appointments were missed because people were using the bathroom;
- 11 percent of missed appointments happen when picking up or dropping off kids at school;
- 4 percent of consumers have been forced to schedule a single appointment more than 20 times (that’s surprising); and
- 69 percent of the U.S. population said they have gotten extremely angry because of poor customer service (that’s not surprising).
Can You Relate?
Do you fit in with one (or many) of the categories above? We’d love to hear about it. Have you found you’re more receptive to sales when communication is in person, over the phone or digital? Let us know in the comments below.
What Can You Do?
If you’re in the market for glass, windows or doors and you’re among the phone-phobic Americans out there, a simple solution does exist: Glass.com. Our website will put you in touch with a professional glass, window or door company in your area that can supply products from top-level manufacturers and install them quickly and efficiently. Visit the site today and start shopping – silently.