Don’t shoot the messenger – business phone call etiquette

“As the company director I try not to answer the phone due to the possibility of a sales person realising it’s me and wanting to sell me a water cooler or branded pen. When I do, I pretend that I’m not me, until I work out what the call is regarding.”

This is a good idea in theory, but one time he told who he thought was a cold caller that he wasn’t in the office… only to realise it was a call he did need to take.

“Oh yes… er… actually it is me, I just realised that I am free.”

– Rich, Founding Partner (true story)

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If you’re the person who regularly picks up the phone in your office, I feel your pain. The sheer amount of sales calls we get on a daily basis is enough to bore anyone to tears.

You know the word ‘hello’ was invented so that we had something to say when we picked up the phone? It’s baffling that the amount of people who don’t think to use it and just demand the name of the poor sod they want to speak to.

So, we decided it would be fun to expose the most frustrating parts of answering the phone every day, and in turn point out simple phone etiquette which would go a long way. With the help of Michael Scott.

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If you have any other funny phone stories (strictly business speaking please), let us know! We can muse over our unfortunate anecdotes. And just as an obvious reminder – this is written in jest, and we’re not angry at sales people, we know their bosses are breathing down their necks. We’re just a bit fed up with a minority of people who spout unnecessary lies and unjustifiable rudeness.

So without further ado…

“What’s it regarding please?”

“BUSINESS”

BUSINESS? Really.

Are you the type of person to go into a restaurant and, on being asked what your order is, bark FOOD at the waiter? Be a little more specific, please, before I wither away from sheer agitation.

Despite the ridiculousness of this answer (which has happened far more than just once), it always gets the office laughing because one of our directors has this on the wall next to his desk.

Marvellous Digital Agency LeedsWe love a relevant meme, but if you can’t tell me or anyone answering the phone what the call is actually about, it sounds a bit shady, so he probably won’t be excited to talk to you.

“They’ll know what it’s regarding”

They might well do, but do you know the amount of people who pretend to be friends, family, even debt collectors (!) in an attempt to get through to someone?

The answer is a lot.

A recruiter once phoned up pretending to be the flatmate of one of our designers to get me to put the call through. Someone else pretended to be lawyers needing an “urgent chat” with the directors.

Just a quick sentence explaining that it’s about a new lead, recruitment, ink cartridges – or whatever is being sold – will do. It’ll make us a lot more able to get you through to the right person. And if that person doesn’t want to talk to you, that’s out of my control. Which brings me on to my next point…

So. Much. Anger.

If someone doesn’t want to speak to you, I’m not going to shackle them to a chair and glue the phone to their ear. Don’t blame the messenger; I’m not ruining your day on purpose. But you will ruin mine by shouting down the phone. Come on, it’s just common courtesy not to be a dick.

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Immediately hanging up when you don’t get your way

It is time consuming having to listen to 5 minutes of pre-written sales speech regarding our building’s insurance, only for us to say that we don’t own the building, and being immediately hung up on. I mean, if your time is that important, save it by simply asking if we were interested in *insert product or service* in the first place. Christ.

Sounding surprised when I say that I can help you

“Hi can you pass me through to the person who deals with your servers / marketing / recruitment / energy / *insert a large amount of examples here*?”

“Yes I can help you with that! What’s it regarding please?”

“Oh really! Are you sure?”

I answer the phone a lot at work. I also have a fully functioning brain. Who on god’s earth would have thought?

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Just being a bit weird

There is one caller who has attempted to get through to our Directors for over a year now. We admire his tenacity, but he’s rude, and oddly secretive. Here is a list of things he point blank refuses to tell us:

  • His name
  • Where he is calling from
  • What company he works for
  • What his call is regarding
  • If there is anyone else who can help him

And, when we won’t give out our bosses home addresses and phone numbers, he shouts “oh for god sake” and slams the phone down.

If you do this you will not get through to anyone. Ever. You will however turn in to an office joke.

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So there we have it – don’t do these things and we’ll get on well. Even if we can’t help you, or we don’t require your services, it’s much nicer to have a friendly conversation than all of the above. Please.

Jess
A Marvellous blog by Jess

Jess is our Account Executive and Digital Marketing gal. She loves reading, writing, and creating oodles of lists. Outside the studio she is often found getting overly excited when a dog comes into the pub, or when there's a new series to binge watch on Netflix.

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