Thursday, August 25, 2011

Phone Etiquette: Leave the Requested Information

More on phone etiquette...

When you call a business you usually get a phone greeting before you can press the appropriate option.  When you press the option and have to leave a message, you are usually prompted by a request for certain bits of information.

While it may come as a surprise to many callers, the business operating that phone doesn't request the information because they like to hear themselves talk.  They request it because they would like to streamline their time AND yours by getting you results as quickly as possible.

So if you are asked for the spelling of your name, date of birth, or case number, LEAVE THE INFORMATION on your message.  This will save you and the company lots of time.

Take date of birth for example.  You call and say: "My name is Jack Jones and I need to leave a message for Tom Turner.  My phone # is 555-555-5555. Thanks."  This kind of voice message is extremely unhelpful.  First of all, there are no details.  Second of all, there are probably 50 other Jack Jones in their customer database.

The well-mannered adult is concise and specific in their details, respecting their own time and the time of others.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Listen To Your Voicemail

I seem to be on a roll with phone etiquette so I will continue on with that for a bit.

The Well Mannered Adult...

...Checks their voicemail FIRST before calling someone back.

Does the following scenario describe you?

You remember you have to call your doctor's office because you've got 3-4 questions in follow up to your last visit.  You call their office, which is always busy and it's hard to reach a live person.  You leave a message with a rundown of your questions and hang up.  A little while later you check your phone and realize someone from that office left you a message.  Instead of LISTENING to the message, you call back saying something like:  "Hi, this is Jane Doe.  Someone from your office tried to call me?"

Can I just tell you now how annoying that is?  You remember when you were complaining that you could never reach a live person?  One of the reasons you can never reach a live person is because the staff at the office is busying on the phone repeating the EXACT SAME INFORMATION THEY ALREADY LEFT ON YOUR VOICEMAIL.

We're all busy.  I get it.  But if you're too busy to listen to the response to your inquiry the first time, then you're too busy to make the inquiry to begin with.

Extend courtesy to others and value both their time and your own.  Pay attention the first time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Curb Your OCD--It's Costly

Several of the things I post about on this blog are going to be difficult because I have to walk the fine line of avoiding a rant and conveying information that may seem obvious but is apparently hard to put into action (based on observation of people).  Because yes, after years of interacting with John Q. Public, despite my best efforts, I have become a cynic.

Today's topic is obsessive-compulsive behaviors.  It's a clinical term, but it's also a term we throw around very easily and with good cause--EVERYONE is OCD about something.

But when it comes to being well-mannered, you need to learn to curb your OCD.  It's one thing if at home you obsessively check 10 times to be sure you locked the front door.  That affects only you (and by the way, there are tricks you can use to solidify in your mind that you have, in fact, locked the door on the first try).

But it is a different matter when your OCD affects others in the public sector.  Let's talk about the time and cost impact on business. 

Let's say you remember there is some phone call you need to make to a business--maybe the cable company because you need to ask them about that extra charge that appeared on your bill; or you need to call your doctor's office to see if your routine labs are in.  So you pick up the phone and you call them.  You get voicemail but don't leave a message.  Ten minutes later you call back, their line is busy, you get voicemail, and this time you leave a message.  And when they don't call back an hour later and fast enough to suit you, you leave two more messages at that office.

Sound familiar?

You are part of the reason the cost of doing business is so high.

I totally understand that it is frustrating not getting the info you need "like yesterday", but you need to remember you are one of a billion fish in the barrel, and companies are habitually overstaffed.  And every time they have to take time to listen to one of your obsessive messages, that is time they can't spend productively working through the flow of daily tasks.

Set reasonable expectations for a call back.  Twenty four hours is a perfectly reasonable time to wait for a call back.  And if you are dying, you shouldn't be waiting around for a phone call, but carting yourself to the ER or calling 911 instead.  There is very little that truly cannot wait 24 hours for a return phone call.

Make everyone's life happier and be a more responsible adult.  Let's curb the OCD.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Most Important Characteristic of the Well Mannered Adult a teachable spirit.

As children we are (hopefully) taught manners, and how to interact and share with others.  But over the course of time, and perhaps in given situations, we need a bit of retraining to behave properly toward other people.

For that, we must be teachable.  If a person believes they were through with being taught once they emerged from childhood, they are over-looking the fact that we humans are a work in progress---teaching and correction are part of our lives.  Who hasn't received a speeding ticket or some other traffic violation--a reminder that there is a speed limit or other law for a specific reason?

Be teachable.  Be open to gentle correction.  Be willing to grow into a better human being.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Welcome to The Well-Mannered Adult

It may seem odd, a blog titled the Well-Mannered Adult.

For my day job, I work in an industry that caters to children.  I think most will agree that children need to have rules, boundaries and limitations if they are to grow up to be decent human beings.

However, I have observed in our society that adults either forget that THEY also need rules, boundaries and limitations, or perhaps, in the hectic pace of our lives today, we simply cast manners aside as optional.

So why did I create this blog?  As a coping strategy.  For those of you who interact with the public to a great degree, you know how difficult that can be.  People are not always pleasant or reasonable, nor are we ourselves.  We have stressors and we are all entirely too selfish.

Sometimes we just need reminders to act like decent human beings.

So a couple of times a week, I will post a new tip.  And hopefully, there will be a few more sensitive, well mannered adults as a result and some of the stress levels will go down.

I'd like to conclude this introductory post with a verse from the Bible, using the modern translation of The Message, which says the following:

"Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding; a quick-tempered person stockpiles stupidity." - Proverbs 14:29