Mr Entrepreneur, How Approachable are You? [Lessons from Calls I received after I shared my mobile number]

I started sharing my mobile number on around November of 2009 and here are quite a few weird calls I received in the last few weeks/months. Why am I sharing this? Read on for details.

I started sharing my mobile number on around November of 2009 and here are quite a few weird calls I received in the last few weeks/months. Why am I sharing this?

Read on for details.

Ghana / NComputing

Person by the name Ebenezer Osei (he event left a comment) called up regarding NComputing PCs. He owns Internet cafe in Ghana and wanted to get discounted rates for his cafe expansion plans.

He called up atleast four times and unfortunately, all my attempts to reach out to NComputing team bore no result.

Companies spend so much time (and money) in reaching out to consumers, but hardly have any channel for users/customers to reach out to them.

Nice Door, But it is Closed
Nice Door, But it is Closed

An Entrepreneur from Ludhiana

This guy (he is setting up a bottling plant) called up and asked if he can get a collateral free loan from banks (he shared his experience with SBI and several other sources that were supposed to provide collateral free loan, but didn’t) . He did try his luck with SBI, and after a few calls I connected him to an investor in Delhi.

Mrs. Singh

Here is the call script.

The Lady: Hello, this is Mrs Singh.

Me: Aww…Mrs. Singh?

lady: Yes. Just call me Mrs. Singh.

Me: Alright. How can I help you?

Mrs. Singh: We are looking for franchise of the service apartment company you own?

Me: Who? Me? My service apartments? Where? When?

— well, she probably landed on this post (Helion Invests $4mn in HummingBird, Service Apartment Operator) and thought we own HummingBird.

The Mosquito Guy

11’o clock in the night, this man calls up and inquires about the mosquito repellant.

Why now? Why me? Well, it seems the dude actually was bitten by a mosquito and logged onto Internet to figure out the solution– and landed on the Mozziquit post.

Internet addict or Badly bitten?

The Sardarji

So you have this Sardarji who called up and without any intro asks ‘Paaji, iPhone kitte ka hai? Idea pe chalta hai kya?’… Hello?

Later he told me went to Internet and searched for iPhone price and came across this article – iPhone Price in India (He thought that I sell iPhones)

There have been numerous calls – right from inquiries about Savita Bhabhi (“bhaiya, iska video hai kya?”) to Uninor Franchisee (from places like Patna, Mangalore etc) to a few flirtatious smses/calls :), to entrepreneurs calling for advice.

And the reason why I am sharing all this here is very simple.

These are the ‘real’ users of the system. They do not understand what a blog/website/news site is. They hit a search engine (whatever default that comes with the browser) and probably click on the first result and if they spot a phone number, bingo!

They are the ones who click on an ad thinking it’s the content. They are the ones who do not have a lot of time to explore. They want info right now and whatever comes their way, they pick it up.

When you are building a consumer product, think of these users – who do not have the time to understand all your great UI, but just have a specific intent in mind.

Most importantly, approachability is the key to understanding your customers (otherwise, go back to corporate life, where you will spend money on false market research to understand  users).

So, open the door and let them in (and be prepared for a surprise). Whatever product hypothesis that you have, needs to be validated/shattered, and approachability is the key to get your users reach out to you.

As far as I am concerned, I have again started sharing my mobile number on the site (fyi, it’s +91 98452 06443) and will share such interesting calls details on my personal twitter account (@cnha).

Till then, you figure out your approachability strategy.

Do it before they call your competition.

Recommended Read: Cost-Effective Ways to Conduct Usability Testing.

[image credit : Aunt Owwee]

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