Monday, December 15, 2008

Grumbling over Telephone Ettiquette

I received few calls on my handphone last Saturday and the repeated poor telephone ettiquete really had me pissed.

One caller believed to be from one company open the conversation by seeking to verifying my identity. Instead of a professional introduction to identify themselves, the first line uttered was are you so-and-so. Isn't it rather stupid to call on a personal handphone and impress on personal verification as the first line of conversation?

My usual response in the face of such improper telephone ettiquette was to request, "Identify yourself first, please?" Sometimes I would say, "Could you be quite professional to properly introduce yourself?". If they are still degil, I pull one on them to say, I left my handphone and will inform when I come to pick up my phone.

This particularly lady caller ignored my request and stick with their company's prepared script to adamantly insist to know who they are calling without identifying themselves.

I've had other such calls earlier and wasn't in the mood to be diplomatic. It was not her lucky day.

"If you don't know telephone ettiquette, don't use the phone. Call me back when you have learned.!" I hanged up on her. By the way, hanging up on calls is an equally improper telephone ettiquete.

She must be an equal stubborn person and refused to call back. Perhaps she could be some Datin or Secretary of a Dato, thus for the refusal to call back. The heck whoever it was. There is no multimillion dollar contract or job to look forward these days anyway.

I was in an offensive mood.

In an earlier call, a claimed representative of my credit card company called and request my NRIC number for their verification before revealing the intention of their call.

I refused. How do I know the caller was a true representative of my credit card company? My NRIC number is confidential.

Secondly, shouldn't it be onus on the caller to know who they are calling, express the reason for their call, and it is only proper manner not impose on the person one is calling such inconvenience.

Then, there are old friends whose numbers are removed from my handphone to allow for other more regular in communication. They would call after years being outside your radar and at one time refused to return your call, to assume I know who they are.

When you asked who is calling, they would grumble over why I didn't keep their number?

I used to be diplomatic but now I would tell em, I have only two space left in my handphone and the choices between saving the handphone numbers of Dr Mahathir or my regularly calling neighbour or yours.

Geez ... These days Malaysians are in sure need to understand telephone ettiquette. As someone who used to professionally spent many many long hours on the telephone daily, I should know.

Read on for few pointers.

Calling Out

The following is from

Making telephone calls:

Think about what time it is, when placing a call. You would not want to call when there is the possibility that person may be asleep. For example on a work morning before 7:00 a.m. would not be a good time. After 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. in the evening is not a good time, and remember to avoid calls around the usual period most people will be eating. Courtesy is expected when using the telephone just as if you are talking in person.

Give your name when the telephone is answered, before asking for the person you are requesting.

Dialing too quickly, or in inadequate lighting may be the cause of dialing a "wrong number," never just hang-up. Express your apology, letting them know you have dialed a wrong number. To avoid disturbing another person unnecessarily dial carefully and make sure you can see the dial pad.

When speaking, think of the way you sound. Make sure you enunciate you words clearly and precisely. It is embarrassing to be asked to repeat what you are saying. Your voice reflects your courtesy, since that person on the other end of the line cannot see your facial expressions your "tone of voice" will need to express this.

Basic Good Manners, Telephone Tips:

* Let the telephone ring a reasonable length of time. It is frustrating to just get to the telephone and hear a dial tone.
* If you dial a number that is wrong, apologize, promptly and hang-up.
* Calling a business at or very near closing time is to say the least un-thoughtful. When it is time to go home, after a long day, do not delay them.
* State your name when placing a call. The game of "guess who this is" may not play very well to a busy friend.
* When speaking to anyone who is working and time is of the essence, make your call informative and short.
*Dial carefully and in proper lighting to avoid calling a wrong number and in-conveniencing others.

Receiving Calls

The Malaysian website gave "Eight Essential Telephone Etiquette Tips" below:

Even in these days where we communication mainly by e-mail or SMS, the first contact a customer has with your company is often through the good old telephone.

Make sure it's not the last with these eight simple etiquette tips.

1. Answer the phone within 3 rings.
Answer on the first ring if possible. If you don't answer fast enough, your caller may hang up in disgust and call your competitor.

2. Calm down before you answer the phone.
This is particularly important if you're having a heated discussion with a colleague or dealing with looming deadlines. Take a deep breath to regain your composure before you pick up the phone.

3. When you answer the phone, begin with a greeting.
(Hello/Good morning/Good afternoon) followed by your company name and then identify yourself. E.g. "Good morning, Widgets Inc. Mary Lee speaking."

Starting with "Good morning" or "Hello" starts your conversation on a cordial note, and allows the caller to hear your company name and your name clearly.

4. Smile when you speak on the phone.
This may seem odd when the caller can't see you, but it really does make a difference in your tone of voice and your attitude.

5. If you need to transfer a call, tell the caller who you are transferring them to before putting them on hold.
Tell the caller the name of the person to whom he or she will be transferred, or at least the name of the department. E.g. "I'll transfer you to Zahara / Sales." If possible, give them that other party's direct number before putting them on hold. Don't just say "Hold on please" and leave them to wonder what's going to happen. Also, accidents do happen and you might get cut off. When they call back they will be able to dial or ask for that other person directly.

6. Use the mute button wisely.
Most modern telephone systems have a mute button. Make sure you know how to use it. When you need to transfer a call or if you need to put the caller on hold to look up something, make sure to push that mute button; don't just put your hand over the mouthpiece. You never know what might happen that you won't want a caller to overhear.

7. Don't keep them on hold forever.
Never keep a caller on hold for longer than 20 seconds. Even if you haven't found the answer for them, check every 15 seconds or so to make sure they're still on the line – and to let them know that you're still on the line. Nothing turns off a potential customer faster than thinking that they've been forgotten.

8. Hang up last.
When winding up a call, make sure the caller hangs up before you hang up. He or she may think of something to ask at the last moment, and you don't want to risk leaving them talking to a dial tone!

... so people, please begin any conversation with self-introduction, whether you are the caller or receiver.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well my 10year old is quite good with her phone. Should someone call and ask "HELLO, SIAPA SANA" her innocent answer would always be, "KURANG PASTI PULA, SAYA SENDIRI TAK KENAL, ENCIK/PUAN NAK CARI SIAPA?"!!!

If the caller insist on her name, her answer will be "TAK TAHU PULA". This will give the caller a clear hint to introduce themselves first.

I have a prepared answer script for all my children.. for all occasion.


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