Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tacky Telephone Technique

During the afternoons, I am generally on the phone—a lot—drumming up business and guests. If I make 50-calls a day, it’s average. I talk to a lot of receptionists, gate keepers, and in too many cases, pure dolts.
May I share some pet peeves for a moment?

Those of you who run businesses which require personnel to interface with the public…please take note: People who answer your business phone should speak English.
Fluently and plainly.
Ebonics doesn’t count.

And don’t “aks” me for my phone number if you’re not ready to write it down. I got on the phone with some Mensa yesterday who prompted me to give my name, phone number, what I was calling about…went through the entire preamble, and then she said, “An’ what wuz your furst nayme, honey? An’ what wuz your phown numbah, honey…?”

Another pet peeve of mine is people who answer the phone in any language that is spoken too fast to be even remotely intelligible. I am going to pick on one place by name because it’s just too bad—or good—an example to pass up, and frankly, the girl that answered the phone copped an attitude with me, so I really don’t care.

There’s a place in town called “This is It.”
I have no idea what kind of business they run, because when the girl answers the phone, it comes out “Thizzit.”
Is that part of the new rap vernacular, perhaps a conjugation of the interjection, “fo’ shizzle?”

So the phone rings, and she speed-speaks, “Thizzit, how can I hep yew?”
Since I’ve called several times over the past few days, I can now accurately translate her English idioms, but am still peeved that she never offers to take a message.

“He’z not available,” she lies, “ but you’re welcome to try calling back.” Thanks, Jezzebel, I’d rather swallow crushed glass.

That’s the other thing that torques me off about those who have been tasked with answering the main lines of your business phone system
…and lie.
Don’t lie.
Don’t tell me the dude’s “not available” if I can hear his screechy voice in the background.

Don’t tell me she’s in a meeting if she just ducked out of the office when she saw my caller-ID ring up on the display.
That’s chicken shizzizzle.

If you don’t want me to call you, man-up and tell me. Don’t have some minimum-wage robot tell me tales. Because I will be persistent and hunt you down like the coward you are.

Tell me you’re not interested, tell me you can’t afford it.
Tell me you’re in a bad mood and you just don’t want to deal with it. But don’t have some jive-talking flunky try to spread a smoke screen for you.

A final point about tacky telephone techniques: Don’t put a minimum wage novice on your phone board. The person answering your business line creates the very first impression people get about your company.
Don’t blow it.

She or he should be poised, knowledgeable, friendly and efficient. Think of this person as being in a key position in your organization, who can make or break a deal…because they can.

There are some businesses I will never ever call again because I was treated shabbily by the dork on the phone. I don’t care to be treated that way, and I don’t want my customers infected with that kind of venom, either.
True dat?

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