“Please hold:” Telephone courtesy on both ends of the line

To our good friends–

On the way in to get my haircut this morning I was working through the earlier phone call and my reaction to the receptionist who answered “Business Name. Could you please hold? Mumble. Click.” I decided for one thing that my reaction was not just to this call, but to others like it. My reaction was based in part on my previous decision for long-since forgotten reasons, to consider this as rude behavior. Perhaps it was because they put their situation ahead of mine: they are overwhelmed with several calls coming in at once, and so are trying to buy themselves time. Perhaps it is because the first to call in is the last one served in that scenario—and “it ain’t fair!” Perhaps it is many things, all revolving around why are you treating me thus? Am I losing my time or my position in line? All irrelevant.

I reached the point of deciding that I need to be kind and help this person. For instance: “Glad you came back to me. Now, take a breath and let yourself come back into one piece. It’s gotta be tough when all the lines ring at once. But you can do it. You can take them one at a time. And if you miss one or two, so what? They will merely think they dialed wrong and try again. So that gets you a few more seconds to give each call your best individual attention. Have you taken that deep breath yet? Good. Now, this is Doug Germann. Would you kindly connect me to X?”

That is miles ahead of berating the person or concentrating on what is bad treatment about it—those just make us both feel bad and gives no hint of a solution.

So what is the solution to many lines ringing at once? Ignore all but the one in front of you. That seems what I would want as the one calling in. Get more people to answer—have a back up person if it goes to three rings. Or put extra lines on hold if there are not enough to answer them. Have voice mail if it goes to three rings. Many of these are management issues.

I will try the Take a breath and let me help you tack and see what happens.

What ideas do you have?

:- Doug.

Published in: Conversations | on May 31st, 2006 | No Comments »

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