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Author Topic: S/O Phone Calls  (Read 4747 times)

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S/O Phone Calls
« on: December 02, 2012, 12:47:31 PM »
The previous thread about phone calls in the workplace got me thinking about an issue I am having where I work now. I worked in offices for a number of years before going back to school to start on a new career and I am very familiar with phone etiquette in those workplaces. I took on a p/t job at a pharmacy where I am currently working until my new career gets off the ground. I have noticed that there does not seem to be any protocol or experience with handling customer calls in my current workplace and I am wondering if I should say something to the manager as it would be a fairly easy fix and potentially cause less confusion or frustration on the caller's end.

Examples: When calling the store, the person who picks up the phone (usually a supervisor) does not identify themselves. For me, as am employee, I find this irritating because I tell them who is calling and then find myself wanting to say "who is this?" which just doesn't sound polite to me. I don't always know who the supervisor is on duty so I don't know who to ask for specifically. I really want to say "please identify yourself when you answer the phone so I don't have to play 20 questions to talk to who I need to" but clearly that would be very rude.

The second example is even more frustrating from a customer's point of view. I help out in the pharmacy and often customers will call in with an issue they are having with their prescription, insurance, etc. I will get the whole spiel before determining that I cannot help them but will gladly transfer them to the person who can. I put them on hold and let the person who will be getting the call know the story and then I transfer the call. The person who I transfer it to answers the phone with "Hi this is so-and-so...what can I do for you?"  causing the customer to repeat the entire story from the beginning unnecessarily. I know I would be frustrated having to do that when I already went through it once.  Do you think it is my place to say anything to the manager being that I am considered a "junior" at this job?


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Re: S/O Phone Calls
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2012, 01:03:11 PM »
For the second example, I don't think there's really a solution. That's just a hazard of the job, IMHO.

As far as the first example goes, I think you should say something. It's just common phone etiquette to introduce yourself when you answer the phone. I think you should first lead by example. After a few weeks of that, if no one has picked up your behavior, I think you should say something.
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Re: S/O Phone Calls
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2012, 05:01:16 AM »
In the second example, I would think that the second person who takes the call would want to hear the story first-hand rather than try and decipher what you told them based on YOUR understanding of what the customer said. If some important detail were missed, it could waste a lot of time, or lead to a mix-up, which in a pharmacy could be a serious problem.

It's kind of like that whispering game, where details get changed each time a sentence gets passed on. I'm imagining a scenario like this:

Customer: "Hi, I've got a problem here. I bought Cold Medicine which the pharmacist said was OK to take with Heart Medicine, but when I got home I remembered that my doctor had warned me about taking it with Allergy Medicine. I'm just wondering if that's OK, and also whether the Cold Medicine is safe for my child?

Charliebug: "Oh, I will have to get the pharmacist to answer that for you." (Puts customer on hold)..."Pharmacist, it's Mrs. Smith on the phone. She wants to know if it's OK for her child to take Allergy Medicine when he has a cold if he's already on heart medicine?"

Pharmacist (getting on phone): "Hi, Mrs. Smith, no, I'd recommend a different product." (interpreting the question as "Child is allergic to cold medicine.")

Maybe nothing as extreme or dumb as that, but you get the idea.


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Re: S/O Phone Calls
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2012, 05:14:10 AM »
I want to add something here: The pharmacist (or whoever you are transferring the call to) may find it more efficient not to have to listen to the story twice: once from you, details of which still may need to  be clarified, and then again from the customer. It's faster just to get the customer to explain it.

It reminds me of a discussion I had with a receptionist in a small 5-person office I worked in. She was just learning the job and English wasn't her strong suit. So she would listen to voice messages that were directly for her boss, Tom, and sounded to be of a personal nature, as in "Hi, this message is for Tom, I got your message and I'm calling to let you know that (insert detailed explanation of things of a social nature) and if you can get back to me and let me know if you can make it to my daughter's recital on the 25th, let me know."

(Her job was to take calls from clients, as in, "Hi, I'd like to book an appointment with Tom" and she would not relay that to Tom, but book the appointment on his behalf)

She would agonize over getting the details of these personal calls right and ask me to listen to it so I could decipher what was said (thus, taking time away from my work) and I would tell her, "Look, just save the message and tell Tom to listen to his saved messages." But there was some cultural thing with her, as in she felt she had to take every message down and relay it to Tom herself.  It's woefully inefficient when Tom can just listen to it himself.


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Re: S/O Phone Calls
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2012, 10:56:24 AM »
As far as identifying someone, I think the burden of being the first to give their identity depends on who is receiving the call:

If the recipient of the call is a business (including a company-owned cell phone): The employee of the business should identify the business and give at least their first name in their initial greeting.

If the recipient of the call is an individual's private phone: The caller should give their identity first.


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Re: S/O Phone Calls
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2012, 11:10:54 AM »
Does anyone remember the name when someone identifies themselves when they answer? I don't. If I want to know their name, I ask and write it down. I can't even say if a business has their phones answered that way, I pay so little attention.  :-\

Given your position as "junior", I think you are better off just modeling the behavior you believe to be correct and keeping your advice to yourself.

And for the second example, I agree with those saying that the pharmacist probably wants to hear the story first hand. Why not ask them how they prefer phone calls be passed on to them? Do they want a story? Or do they just want it transferred straight thru?
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
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Re: S/O Phone Calls
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2012, 04:43:25 PM »
If you yourself are calling the store, then you should say "This is OP, may I speak to SupervisorX? " If it is not SupX then they will get them. If it is, then then say "Sorry, I didn't know who it was. Anyway, do you...."