Don’t MAKE Me Hang Up On You!

Ah, the sound of a phone ringing early in the morning. What, besides a strong cup of coffee, is such an eye opener? For most of my working life I have had a phone up to my ear, in offices where the phone rings every 30 seconds and where once an hour is a busy day. I have developed bad posture and a permanent neck-ache from the balancing act of holding the phone with my shoulder while I look up something on the computer or flip through a file.

I’ve also discovered that phone rings are usually irritating and designed to be heard in the break room down the hall. As for the phones themselves, I’ve used simple one-line touch tone phones—remember the squatty little beige boxes with dirty grey push buttons? —and phones that look like they belong on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. I have used phones that answer, transfer, record, summon and play really bad music and phones that work only on the third Tuesday of a 31-day month. I’ve laid a cordless phone down and told the caller I would be right back. I have stayed on hold for 2-1/2 hours waiting for a technician to make my computer virus go away. And I’ve hung up on my share of people, sometimes accidentally.

Sales calls drive me nuts. Especially computer calls. No satisfaction in dropping the receiver from 18”. Human sales people will (sometimes) get a polite, “Sorry, we don’t accept telephone solicitations, but thank you for the call.” Many of them are left trying to figure out what a telephone solicitation is.

When I’m not answering obnoxious, unsolicited sales calls, I try to be phone savvy with our clients and vendors. I can recognize the voices of some of our clients—but not all. And while I appreciate that our clients and vendors are comfortable enough to give me just their first names, we often have more than one client with the same name. I don’t always attach a name to a vendor, but if I’m told who they represent it smoothes the way. If I don’t recognize a name, I will ask what the call is regarding before putting it through. I’m sorry if the caller has been best friends with the person for the last 28 years. I didn’t know that at the time.

Every phone system has its own degree of clarity, and sometimes it’s difficult to hear when someone calls. Background music, speaker phones and cell phones can obliterate a name. Static and not speaking into the phone will almost guarantee me asking you to spell your name. Twice. Mumbling or speaking too fast (hey, age is catching up, takes awhile for synapses to fire) can make me give a name a pretty creative interpretation.

So if you will heed my suggestions, I will make this commitment to those who call Imagine Marketing. I’ll try to answer the phone by the second ring. I won’t still be thinking about the idiot who cut me off in traffic. I won’t be chewing anything. I will not finish a conversation with someone in my office before I say hello. If the person you are calling is not available, I will give you the best information I have as to when they will be back, without making something up. I will not purposefully hang up on you or transfer you to the wrong extension. And I will always do my best to let you hear me smile.

Sue Burkholder is the Company Mom at Imagine Marketing.
Contact Sue at

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