I haven't ranted in a long time. I don't like to be negative so I've decided I'll call this post educational although I'll be clear that I am writing about one of my biggest pet peeves ~ unpreparedness.
I work at a front desk in a public service job and have been doing this work my entire working career of 30+ years. I feel qualified to speak out on this matter. So listen up!
I'll go out on a limb and give the general public a slight pass for being unprepared when they call or walk into an office of any kind where they are unfamiliar but I am left wondering every single work day where polite office manners were dropped from high school and college teaching for professionals. I'm guessing it has a lot to do with various business practices and the fact that I am old school.
Identify who you are and what you are calling about, whether you are on the phone or at a front desk. Seriously. If you are an attorney, doctor, accountant, detective, having spent at least 6 years of your life in college or in a profession, be proud! If you are uncomfortable knowing what to say, here is a template to start with: "Hello, this is attorney/doctor/detective/accountant John Smith, calling for Mr. Jones, regarding the Johnson case". Don't make me drag all that information out of you. You are wasting your time and mine. Please. How hard can this be? I know it is a generational thing because older professionals are not who I'm writing about here. This template is also good for when you just show up, unannounced with no appointment. Don't make me say, "are you an attorney/doctor/detective/accountant"? It's embarrassing for me. Perhaps I should know you but often times I've only met you once or twice. I do my best to remember people but when I am answering 100's of calls and greeting 100's of people, I hate to break this to you, but you are not the center of my universe. Additionally, it shows poor etiquette on your part when you make me drag it out of you.
Have your information and pen ready so I can direct you as quickly as possible. On a daily basis, I talk to no less than 100 people whether on the phone and/or in-person. I can't tell you how many times people call for information and don't have a pen and paper ready to write it down. This is a bigger pet peeve for me than the identification peeve. When you call a business office, think about what it is you are trying to accomplish and keep a pen and paper handy. Receptionists everywhere will love you for it.
Don't talk and drive, we can't hear you on the phone and it's against the law in Washington.
Breaking it down:
- Identify yourself and your reason for calling (be brief)
- Have a pen and paper ready to document information
- Speak clearly and slowly into the phone
- Say please and thank you
- Tell us if you simply don't have any information. We're trained to ask you the right questions to get you where you want to be. Let us help you.
- Don't assume the office you are calling knows who you are. It's okay to identify yourself each and every time you call. We love that!
- Don't make us drag every single bit of information out of you, be prepared.
- Don't call from the road. We can't hear you and it's dangerous for you and the public.