Tuesday, August 12, 2008

And Your Name Would Be...?

Since I'm the office manager/ secretary/ receptionist/ accounts receivable/ accounts payable/ go-fer/ light-duty janitor/ anything else they can come up with type of employee, one of the little things I get to do at work is answer the phone. This can be amusing when a sales person calls, particularly the copier supply sales folks. They call expecting to get some high school child who will just get them the model number from the front of the copier which will then enable them to be even more sneaky when they call back acting as if we have some sort of account with them for supplies, maintenance, etc.

Instead they get me.

"Good morning -- InsertRandomInitialsHere Architects!" Yes, I do sound this chipper. Without adequate caffeination it's a strain, but I manage.

"Yes, honey, could you please just get us the number from the front of your copier? That's called the model number, dear. We're just updating our files and need your current equipment listing," is the general cheerful response.

"What company are you calling from?"

"We're your toner supplier," as the tone markedly cools.

"I need the name of your company, please," as my uber-chipper voice slips into a lower register with shades of teacher-voice creeping in.


Well, it's either they slam down the phone (yes, they really DO slam it, without fail... it's ridiculous really), or I tell them "We have a local contract," and THEN they slam it down.

I'm not rude. I'm not even toying with them... although I could if the urge grabbed me. I don't know what goes on at their companies that makes them behave like preschoolers or drunken monkeys. Perhaps they have a quota of model numbers they have to collect, perhaps they're just told to make us regret refusing to give them the model number, but every single "copy supply" sales call, bar NONE, does this.

On another phone note, for those of you who call offices on a regular basis hoping to speak with someone beyond the reception desk, please identify yourself and state the nature of your business when you call. This avoids us playing the twenty-questions game as I try to determine if you're some sort of sales representative (no, you may not speak to him as he's on about twelve deadlines now), a client (he's on your deadline, of course you may speak to him), or a consultant (he needs to speak to you so he can make this deadline, we've been waiting to hear from you for ten days now).

If you speak to me daily or even weekly, this usually mitigates the need for you to state your business but for the love of Pete, folks, identify yourself. No, I don't care if I've known you for twenty years. Just. State. Your. Damn. Name.

It can even be quite casual:
"Hey Amanda, this is Mike, may I speak to [insert usual suspect's name here]?"
"Heya hon, this is Joe, is [yet another usual suspect's name] in?"
or one of my personal favorites,
"Good morning. This is Mr. Client Name. Is he awake yet?"

This just isn't that difficult. I speak to countless people in a week, and although I might know your voice on the phone from time to time, chances are the pitch and timbre of your voice are just similar enough to someone else's (father-son contractor companies, this especially means you) that the likelihood of me misidentifying you is still rather high.

My own mother identifies herself when she calls. And I'd say of all people calling, she has the voice I'm most likely to recognize.

So please use some simple phone ettiquette. It's either that or I'm going to rename all of you "Bob."

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