There’s a popular myth that there’s a red telephone on the US President’s desk that connects him directly to the Russian President in Moscow.
While that’s a nice idea for the movies, that’s not literally true – but since 1963 the Washington-Moscow Direct Communications Link between the Pentagon and the Kremlin has existed to allow for easy and direct communications between the leaders of these two super powers.
This communications link isn’t actually a phone but was for many years a fax machine (heaven help us), and today it’s basically secure email.
Cuban Missile Communications Crisis
Astute readers may have noticed that this communications link was first set up the year after the Cuban Missile Crisis, and that is no coincidence.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, as the world stood on the brink of nuclear war, it was surprisingly difficult for President Kennedy and President Khrushchev to communicate.
- If often took 6 hours for official diplomatic messages to be delivered.
- One key message was delivered by the Kremlin to John Scali, and ABC news correspondent in Moscow, who was then asked to pass it on to the US government.
- The first offer by President Khrushchev to resolve the situation was 3000 words long and it took the US State Department over 12 hours to receive and decode his message – by which time the offer had been withdrawn.
To quote Wikipedia, “White House advisers thought faster communications could have averted the crisis, and resolved it quicker.” No kidding.
Communicating should be easy
While we might not have such weighty concerns on our minds, I think we can all learn from the principle that easier and faster communications will improve relations between ourselves and our customers.
In our consulting business, we really focus on building relationships with our clients – we want to be part of the team – which means that we regularly talk to people on the phone, or via video conference – and it also means that all our clients have direct phone numbers for our team.
If someone has a quick question, I want them to be able to make a quick phone call, get an answer, and continue with their project. It’s incredibly frustrating to raise a ticket and wait days or weeks for a useful response, so we focus on making communications easy.
In your business this might look different. Award Consulting provides high touch service to a relatively small number of clients, whereas you likely have thousands of subscribers, but you can still think about how to make it easy for them to communicate with you.
- Some Business VoIP providers pre-configure a key on everyone’s SIP phone that calls directly into their tech support.
- In general you want to eliminate all possible hurdles in the communication process – to make it simple and easy for everyone.
- You could allow your customers to choose the method of communication – whether that’s SMS, web chat, phone, email or in person.
You can make it easy, you can respond quickly, and you can make it personal. This level of care for your community is a key differentiator for your business compared to over-the-top VoIP providers.
A couple of weeks ago I reached out to a few of our clients to ask for feedback – to see whether we are living up to our goals regarding easy communication. I was really pleased and flattered by the responses:
“very responsive”… “very easy to talk to”… “ease of communications”… quick responses”… “very good communications”… “very timely”… “quick response”… “personal touch”… “ease of access”… “a call or email gets a quick response”… “an extension to our team”.
I’d encourage you to seek regular feedback from your subscribers about the service and support they receive from you – that’s the only way to stay accountable to your goals, and the only way to improve.
And if you’re wishing that you had direct red phone access to the experts at Award Consulting, then send me a message and we can discuss your needs.