Should you give out your phone number?

When I first incorporated my business, I decided that I should really put my business phone number on my website, because people need to get in touch with me if I’m going to get any business, right?

I had secured a Google Voice number solely for business a while before, but hadn’t really put it to much use until this point. It still rings through to my personal cell phone, but gives me the option to disable it at any time (like when I’m on vacation, or sleeping) and to screen calls, record conversations etc.

My decision to put my phone number on my website wasn’t very well thought out though. I prefer to communicate via email for a few reasons:

  1. I think that phone calls are fairly inefficient. I believe that far more can be achieved by email (or other alternatives), minute for minute.
  2. Phone calls are disruptive. They demand your attention 15 seconds within receiving them, regardless of what you may be doing at the time.
  3. People put you on the spot for answers/quotes without allowing you to step back to fully consider and review their request.
  4. I just don’t much care for talking on the phone.

On top of all the reasons that I generally don’t like taking phone calls, especially cold calls, there’s of course the spam. Once your number is out there, there are countless industries that consider it normal and acceptable to call on you regularly to try and sell you what they’re selling, vote for their political campaign and use their new services. It’s abhorrent how persistent it can be.

The thing about publicising your phone number is that potential clients are free to choose between calling me and emailing me, so I am inviting communication on a method that I didn’t prefer.

As such, I was rejecting a lot of calls, while I was in a groove on something, or if I just generally didn’t want to talk to anyone that day. Even for clients whom I did speak to and start working for, it was hard to keep up using the phone as the primary method of communication for the reasons mentioned earlier, resulting in them getting frustrated and me avoiding getting in touch with them.

It makes no sense offering up a method of communication if you’re not wholly behind using it. It leads to attracting clients that you avoid communicating with and receiving requests for information in a manner or time schedule that you’re not comfortable with.

Several months ago I decided that I really don’t benefit from handing out my phone number and I’d much rather that people email me, so I don’t give it out any more.

That isn’t to say that I won’t call my clients, but there needs to be a good reason, we need to schedule it and we still need to communicate principally by email or Slack.

Unfortunately, now that my number has been in the wild, it is, and will forever be, on many lists, but at least to the casual prospective client, they’re getting in touch in a manner that I like and that I’m willing to sustain throughout a project.

So I encourage you to consider what communication methods you want to make publicly available and make sure that you’re happy to use them at all times to communicate with your clients, who in turn will also be content to use the same methods as you. That way, you’ll both be communicating well and have a recipe for a good relationship.

Author: Dave

Dave is many things. Most importantly, he's a and a father to Ellie and Jack. Almost as important, he's British (though he lives in Florida). Following on from there, he's a WordPress developer and civil engineer, has an unhealthy love of hummus, is vegan, likes cider, wants to travel to Iceland and Japan, loves solving puzzles and is a realist. View all posts by Dave

3 thoughts on “Should you give out your phone number?”

  1. Another top reason for using email is that it provides a record. I don’t know about you, but my memory is never as good as I think it is, and I always find myself forgetting something that was discussed. As I get busier, that increases, it’s a whole lot easier knowing I can search my inbox than doing a mind scramble after the fact, or even worse, having to have the same conversation again. Yay inefficiencies.

    1. Absolutely, excellent point! One of my initial reasons for going with Google Voice was its ability to record phone calls, but even that has a few pitfalls: you can only record outgoing calls (so not when someone calls you up) and you can’t perform a text search on that call, so even though it’s better than a blind phone call, it’s nowhere near as good as getting it all down on “paper”.

  2. I hate the telephone for small business matters. It is inefficient. As you mentioned, it does take a lot of time to take a call. But most of that time can’t be used for actually thinking through a problem. With email, you can actually take a few moments to think about your response without saying something. On the phone that would just be called ‘awkward silence’.

    Good read. I’ll keep my tele # to myself. :)

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