Telephone Etiquette – Common Sense Isn’t So Common, by Adam Scholl
To this day I am still amazed by how often customer service reps, salespeople, and even high-level managers act unprofessionally on the phone. Remember to be professional at all times when on the phone, even if the person on the other end is angering you beyond belief. Although this might seem like common sense, it’s a lesson that we all must work to remember because it happens more often than we realize. We have all been tempted to put a caller on hold to vent our frustrations. While this might seem like a safe way to let off some steam about the other individual, there is a very real possibility that you can fail to actually place them on hold or that someone can hear what you are saying. For example, we were on a conference call with two vendors that be- came very intense. The conversation resulted in all organizations placing the blame on each other for not meeting particular deadlines. I informed all parties on the phone that we were going to place them on hold while we discussed some matters in private. My real intention was for all parties to have a moment to relax and refocus on the matter at hand. However, one vendor believed that when we put him on hold we could not hear him. After listening to a few unpleasant words about me, I abruptly took the phone off hold and explained we had heard what he said. I ended the meeting—to ensure that I did not become unprofessional—and asked the manager of the offending vendor to call me. Subsequently, the relationship between our companies quickly deteriorated to the point that they lost our future business. Be warned, the last thing you want to do is have to explain to your boss how a valued client terminated a longstanding business relationship with your company due to your stupid outburst.