It happened to me again today! I received a telephone call from someone I’d “met” online.
“Hi this is Joe. I just got your email. You had some questions?”
While he did in fact say his name, he jumped right into the conversation without reminding me how I know him and what exactly the call was about.
The problem is that last night I spent an hour and a half replying to people from LinkedIn, Facebook and my own email. I must have sent at least 50 emails. Most of them were simple replies – social niceties. However, I did have a number of more in depth emails that I sent out.
Combine this with the fact that I went to bed at 11:30 pm (about two hours later than usual), it’s a wonder I knew where to find my computer this morning, never mind remember who I wrote to.
This is a common problem. People have lost the art of telephone etiquette.
Even if I knew Joe fairly well (which I don’t), the fact is I was in the middle of doing some writing and hadn’t yet finished my first cup of coffee. Also, my memory isn’t what it was in my 20s and 30s. I really needed a quick reminder of who he is, how I know him and what the call is about.
What could Joe have done differently?
“Hello, this is Joe Smith. We “met” on Facebook and I sent you some information about my Widget 2000. You emailed me with some questions so I’m just following up. Is this a good time to talk?”
If Joe had started the call this way, by the time he finished speaking I would probably have remembered who he is, what the Widget 2000 is and I might even remember why I’d emailed him in the first place.
We could have had a nice conversation, I’d get my questions answered and he might have made a sale. Instead, I made an excuse of being in the middle of something – I was – and now we need to find time to talk later.
Simple business telephone etiquette:
Don’t assume they remember who you are. State your full name, s-l-o-w-l-y. Include your company name. If this isn’t a person you know really well (I’m talking best friend or close relative here), remind them where you met. This step is essential if you have never spoken by phone before, even if you email daily.
If you are returning a call or replying to an email message, remind the other person that they contacted you first. Remind them what their message was about – did they ask a question, want more information about a specific product, have a comment? While this call may be your most important priority at the moment, you’re not even on their radar yet.
State the reason for your call. Even if you’re just returning their call, let them know. Don’t assume anything. They might be fending off the cat, reading their email and mopping up the coffee they just spilled on their desk.
Ask if this is a good time to talk or if you should schedule a time to call back.
These simple steps will only take a few seconds – a minute at the most – but they are an essential part of business etiquette.
Taking these few extra seconds will increase the likelihood that the person you are calling will remember you. If they remember you they can focus on what you are saying rather than playing mental catch-up and trying to figure out if they should know you.
Andrea J. Stenberg