|Posted on July 18, 2011 at 4:25 PM|
We already know that I mostly, pretty-much hate the phone here. It rings and rings and rings. And when it isn’t ringing, I sense that it is just saving up its battery powers, biding its time and waiting for the next ringing onslaught. Kind of like the way that alien hordes fall back and regroup before another swarm attack.
Since the two other shop stewards have been out lately doing a big programming job, that has left me in the less-than-desirable position of being principal phone answerer of late. A role that I don’t cherish I might add. And I have received so many unwanted calls lately that I feel I need to make some changes to the phone answering procedure here. So, on top of the pre-call checklist that I prepared (and that I’m hoping everyone has memorized and that perhaps some other companies have put to good use amongst their own tech support phone department) I am instituting these seven new phone call-in rules:
1) When you've got to talk, talk. If you call, and I pick up the phone, and there is a 2-3 second dead air silence from when I make my standard little greeting – “Good afternoon, thank you for calling Custom Theater and Audio, this is John” – then I am going to just straight, hang-up the phone. I’m not even going to wait for you to say, “Hello.” I’m gonna cut straight to me saying, “Good bye.” If this dead air silence is really your iPhone trying to sync with the network, then I apologize. Call back and try again. Better yet, wait until you get to a landline. You are an unfortunate victim in my new war on telemarketing. There were bound to be a few collateral damage casualties along the way, and, well, we already know that your iPhone makes a way better pocket computer than pocket phone, so I fear that a few of you might get some inadvertent hang-ups. Sorry. But, well, here we are.
1a) I definitely, positively said, "John." While not a hang-up-able offense, per se, this is something that you call all file under a general bit of "ways to improve your odds of a successful Sciacca phone encounter." When I say, "This is John" please do NOT have this interaction.
"Well, it sounded like you said Shawn."
"Well, I assure you that I said 'John.'"
"OK, Shawn. So here's how you can help me..."
2) Dead air means dead end. If you call and I hear that weird kind of dead air space and hanging in the background that is suddenly filled with what sounds like you in the midst of a room filled with a bunch of other people talking in the background? Hang up. I’m not going to wait for you to finish whatever greeting it is that you’ve practiced. If what you have is so important to me, believe me, I’ll find a way to track you down. Ba-bye.
3) Don't ask the magic bullet hang-up question. If you start your call with, “Is the owner, manager or principal decision maker available?” Guess what? He’s not. Straight to the hang-up. Statistically, you have a better chance of winning the lottery – and I’m talking about the Super Ball Lotto one where you have to match ALL the balls INCLUDING that extra, colored bonus one – than you would in cold-calling here to get us to randomly buy something. Guess what? I'm making a principal decision. And that includes hanging up on you. (Like a boss...)
3a) Don't blow your second chance. Life may be full of second chances, but when it comes to me and the phone, it often isn't. But, If for some insane, miraculous reason after you asked for the owner/manager/decision maker I actually hang in there say, “I can help you?” and you respond with, “You are able to make purchasing decisions for your company?” YOU BLEW IT! At that point you can guaran-FRICKIN-tee that I will be hanging up on you. I really blame myself for the first mistake; I had a rule (#3) and I didn't follow it. That isn't your fault. That is your GIFT! But you were given a brief reprieve for some reason and, well, you blew it. You were Jordan at the buzzer and you threw up a brick. Your team hates you now. There will be no champagne shower, no "I'm going to Disneyland!" none of it. And I really can’t be blamed for your mistake. Good news, though! I just hung-up so you are now free to practice again on someone else! Isn’t that the greatest?!
4) My copier/printer needs are totally handled. If you start your greeting with, “I’m looking for the person in charge of purchasing your copy, printer and toner supplies…” oh, that’s a hang-up. See, we are a company of 6 people. There is no one here that is tasked to handling these supplies. (As one of my employees likes to say, “My business card don’t say copy supply specialist!") When we run out for our HP all-in-one printer-faxer-copier, one of us just stops by Office Depot on the way home.
5) Bullies get the hang-up with a quickness. If you call and start trying to “bully” your way to getting an employee’s cell phone number? Hang up with prejudice. You see, when I say, “I’m sorry, I don’t give out employees cell phone numbers, but I’ll be happy to take a message and make sure they call you,” that is your cue to politely leave a message. If I actually KNOW you, then you might get the number. (It’s tough to be the gatekeeper. Really. So many little decisions to constantly make.) Saying, things like, “Yeah, buddy, I’m his friend, he wants me to have the number,” what THAT tells me is that you’re NOT really a friend; otherwise you’d already HAVE the number! See how simple that logic is? When you start saying, “Look, I need to talk to him; just give me his number,” or “He wants to talk to me, give me the number” or just straight off the clip with, “Yeah, this is so-and-so, give me Al’s cell phone number,” or any of the other hardball phone tactics that may have worked on other people? Yeah. You just got deported to Hang-ups-ville. Hope you packed some clean drawers.
6) Putting me on hold. Since you called me, I'm going to assume that you are ready, willing and imminently able to talk to me the second I answer the phone. If I answer and you say, "Oh, uh, yeah, uh, hey, I've got to put you on hold for just a second..." there is an awful high percentage chance that we are going to be somehow, strangely and inexplicably cut-off during that delicate and treacherous hold process. This chance goes up exponentially for each second I'm on hold. If, on the other hand, I tell you I need to put YOU on hold, please take it with grace and dignity and aplomb and assume that I am doing something fantastically important in that moment -- like finishing an especial poignant train of thought or going to get some water or pondering the airspeed of an unladen swallow or something -- and just hold tight like a good little camper. And there's a good chance I'll be guilted into better spirits when I pick your call back up.
7) I...ca...eeer....eww... Even under the best of circumstances, I don't much care for phone chit-chat. (Ask anyone in my family. Even with them the best I can hope to manage is cool interest and barely-concealed, "Well, I guess that's everything...") So you can't expect me to want to hang-in there while your cell phone sputters in and out of reception. Seriously. Your phone is already hovering on the brink of disconnecting itself. Who will ever know if I give it that last, little, nudge? No one. But me. That's who. And when you call back with better reception, "We must have gotten disconnected" will just be my little secret.
Consider yourselves all warned...