I called a good friend of mine the other evening at his office at 5PM. He just took a very important job at a big investment firm. Since he has moved over there he’s called me several times and I have called him back several times but we’ve not been able to connect and are engaged in an old-fashioned game of phone tag.
When I called an assistant (nice sounding) answered his phone. I asked if he was in and she said ‘Yes may I ask who is calling’. OK so that would mean that he was in the office I thought. I told her who I was and she put me on hold and then got back on and said he was in a meeting and could she take a message. Huh? Didn’t she know he was in a meeting before that? Or maybe my call was not important enough to interrupt his meeting but apparently other calls might have been? It did not make me feel all warm and fuzzy that’s for sure.
I am counting on the fact that my longtime friend had no intention of disrespecting me, but if I did not know better that’s exactly how I would feel. This led me to thinking that there needs to be more training of people on your team on how to better handle people that call.
Before there were emails and faxes the telephone was the primary way to reach people. Yes I know – so old school. And years ago I made a lot of phone calls – cold calls too. It got to the point that I began to write down and number the excuses the administrative assistants (read secretaries in those days) would give me as to why so and so could not take my call. One of my favorites was (#47) ‘He’s in his office but he’s out of his office’. It actually left me speechless whether it was intentional or not.
I (like everyone) still get cold calls as well and don’t have caller ID in my office so occasionally people get through to me. I appreciate good professional approach and will give time to those that take the time to ask if this is a good time for me and what they want to discuss. But if someone else in my office picks up my phone extension I only expect that whoever it is be treated as if they are an important person from the start. Until we know that is not the case we have to assume it is.
Here are three tips on what to say when screening a phone call if you are not sure if that person can be disturbed or not:
1) Let me check to find out if he has a moment
2) She has someone in her office but let me check
3) He’s on a call – would you like to be put into his voice mail?
You would not want to disrespect your friends or your possible next big customer would you?