• Returning Phone Calls…Lost Piece of Etiquette?

    Posted on July 19, 2010 by admin in Business Development, Time Management.

    Why it is important to return phone calls.

    These days, I am often out of the office more than I am in it. That means I receive a massive amount of missed calls and voicemails throughout the day. While it is a challenge to get them returned, I always keep in mind how it makes me feel when someone doesn’t return one of my calls.

    Am I the only one that notices that returning phone calls has become a lost piece of etiquette, left behind with dial phones and secretaries who took messages? It is my (not-so-humble) opinion that if you do not return a person’s call, you are directly telling them that they are unimportant and that you don’t care much their business, our your own business for that matter. Often I am calling you to share something that I think you will find valuable, a lead or a new contact. Also, I am still happily surprised sometimes when I return a sales call (that I have been dreading) and the person offers me something of true value – something I would have missed had I not returned the call.

    So why don’t people call back? I know we are all really busy, and I sympathize at how hard it can be to fit calls in during our day, but it is about how we are perceived, and I don’t want to be perceived as someone that doesn’t care about you, your business, or my own. Do you?

    In a recent article by Patricia Pollack there is a great reflection on some typical excuses people find to not return calls follows: Returning phone calls used to be a courtesy that was heavily ingrained in proper business etiquette. Sometime during the exponential growth of information to which we have all been exposed, returning phone calls has become the exception rather than the rule.  She states….

    “I have talked with dozens of business owners recently about the subject of returning phone calls. They were unanimous in their annoyance with people who fail to call back. But when quizzed about their own call response habits, these same business owners said: “

    • “I’m too busy to return all my calls.”

    Wrong answer. Every time you fail to return a call, you have missed an opportunity. It may be an opportunity to strengthen a business contact or to reinforce your marketing image or even to close a sale. Manage your time more efficiently, and make the time to return calls.

    • “If it’s really important, they’ll call back.”

    Wrong again. If a reporter calls you to get information about your new product, and you fail to promptly return that call, that reporter is not going to call again. If a potential client calls you to discuss retaining your services and you fail to promptly return that call, that person is not going to call again.

    • “I would never blow off a really important call.”

    That’s good, but how do you choose which ones are important? If I leave a message saying, “This is Patricia Pollack with My Team of Experts. Please call me at 704-516-0157,” and you don’t know me, you may not realize that I was referred by one of your existing clients. I have already done the research on you, and I am ready to write you a check.

    Not only have you offended me; I’m going to tell your existing client about my experience, which may affect your relationship with that client.

    • “Returning calls just turns into phone tag, taking up even more of my time.”

    Fine. When you return the call and have to leave a message, give the caller a day and time when you know you will be in the office and available to answer the phone. Give them the option of communicating by e-mail if you know that it will be difficult to connect via telephone.

2 Responsesso far.

  1. Great reminders about personal and professional etiquette! I get about half of my ‘non-sales’ calls returned, and although I will generally keep calling until I get the person I’m after, the people who do call me back definitely move up a few notches in my opinion.

  2. Lex Lyon says:

    I was going to blow out an account today because I can…because the apparent rudeness of the person I was trying to reach had reached a proportion that I didn’t care.

    It isn’t just the lack of response from phone calls but also from e-mail. I always call a person first and let them know an e-mail is coming. I explain who I am…not some random sales person but a person and product with credibility.

    It amazes me that there are so many people, beginning their careers, who haven’t learned the maxim “it isn’t what you know but who you know”

    Ah, I feel better now.Please advise if I may reproduce this blog and put it under Rants on my web site. Thank you.

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