Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kiss Me Through the Phone- Phone Etiquette

New news. Today's post is a guest entry by my friend Blake Vanderbilt. Blake currently attends a large non-descript University in the middle of Illinois, where he attempts to maintain moderate levels of decorum daily. His hobbies include being polite, sending friendly yet strongly worded emails, not leaving voicemails, maintaining impeccable taste with the budget of a homeless man, and magnets.

Hopefully he'll be a reoccurring contributor, so read up and enjoy:

"I want to take a few minutes today to talk about phone etiquette. Listening to my friends make phone calls recently has left me absolutely appalled at the way they interact with people. Before the silicon age made human interaction almost completely unnecessary, phone calls were the way to get things done. Business moved at the speed of your voice, and personal relationships were make or break on the phone.
Let’s get to it.
Think the conversation over before you have it.
Who What When Where Why
First off, who are you calling?
This is less important if you’re calling a shop or a business, but if someone gave you a business card or a direct phone number, make sure you know who’s (likely) going to answer.
Second, why are you calling?
Are you making an appointment? Are you inquiring about a service or a product? Is it time sensitive?
Third, is this the right time to call?
Unless you’re calling your bookie or a drug dealer, calls after about 10 PM aren’t usually acceptable, and most businesses won’t be open.
Be clear and concise.
Have a firm hold on what you need out of this call so you can accomplish it. People answering a phone are there to help you out, not to listen to you think out loud about why you called. So don’t waste their time. If you get tripped up, or are given a choice you’re not ready to make yet, don’t feel bad about saying you’ll call back, It’s substantially better than wasting someone’s time.

Be polite. You can win more friends with honey than vinegar. Being an asshole only motivates people if you’re R. Lee Ermey.
Listen for them to introduce themselves (if they do) and use it
“Hey this is Christa, thanks for calling Barney’s, how can I help you?”
I can’t stress the polite card enough. Saying,
“Hey Christa, I really hope you can help me.” 
Gets you substantially further than,
“Hey, I need to return a sweater.”
People are very receptive if they think that they can help you out/they are in the advantageous position. Asking for help shows that you recognize that they have something you need.

Always end with a thank you, even if the person was less than helpful or didn't give you the response you had hoped for. There is no reason for rudeness, and if this is a situation where you may have to interact again, they'll remember you. Don't be that guy.

I can’t overstate the importance of good phone etiquette. People have good memories, and at some point you will very likely have to deal with them face to face. You only get to make a first impression once, and sometimes, that first impression is a phone call.
Some specialty notes for business calls-
Even though caller ID is almost guaranteed these days, introduce yourself,
You may know you’re awesome but not everyone does.
Before you get fully into your spiel, make sure this is the right person to talk to and not their secretary
Ask if they have a minute to talk. You may have caught them at a bad time, give them an opportunity to get out of the conversation early to avoid getting shut up later."

Thanks for reading,
Blake Vanderbilt

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