Is there a “best” time to call?”
Yes. The best time to call your members is when they are most likely to be at home (and awake!) But within that obvious parameter, Union Calling has some useful guidelines, based on our experience and ongoing analysis of call data.
On a workday, most workers are at home between one to one-and-a-half hours after the day shift ends. It will obviously vary by city and sometimes by season but in this range you will likely reach the most members at home before they have settled into nightly routines.
Accommodating shift workers
If you can sort your membership phone list for shift workers, Union Calling provides a Shift Call service. Afternoon shift workers and late night shift workers (e.g. hospitality, health care, transit) can be called at a different time than day shift workers. You specify the callout time “windows” and Union Calling will program your callout accordingly.
There may, however, be reasons or circumstances why you may wish to call every member at the same time, knowing that some will be at work and will, as a result, miss the live call. A family member may take the call or it may go to answering machine or voice mail.
Aiming for answering machine or voice mail delivery
Some unions have asked Union Calling to phone their members when they are least likely to be at home, so that the message goes to answering machine or voice mail. The usual reason is that they believe this is less intrusive.
Although there are exceptions to the rule, we normally advise against targeting voice mail rather than live answers. The most obvious reason is that there may be people in the household (partner, children, other relatives) who will answer the phone anyway, preventing it from going to machine. The question is whether or not they will listen to the message and relay it when the member comes home. Union Calling statistics indicate the following:
- Machine pickup of messages sent when members are scheduled to be at work is higher than average but seldom exceeds 40%.
- Of the calls that are answered live (presumably by others in the household at the time), a high proportion – over 50% in most cases – are disconnected before the entire message plays. This is to be expected. Those to whom the call is not directed will be unlikely to be interested enough to listen to the entire message.
Giving advance notice for meetings and events
How far in advance should you call to inform members of a meeting or event? Assuming it is not an emergency meeting, 3-4 days’ notice is best. This puts the event in the very near future and induces members to think right then and there about making plans to attend. It also leaves a few days to generate some reminder talk in the workplace. “Are you going to the meeting we got called about?”
In emergency situations, such as strike or ratification vote meetings, it is common to call members the day before. Union Calling has even called members in the morning to announce a meeting scheduled for a few hours later.
Should we call members on the weekend?
No problem. In fact, statistically speaking, union members seem to prefer weekend calls, particularly mid-afternoon on Sunday. Although results vary by union, Union Calling stats show the highest number of live answers and the highest percentage of complete message delivery for calls placed between 2 and 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Saturday and Sunday afternoons are also the best time to conduct surveys, both for members and the general public.