Author Topic: Talking to someone, then the phone rings...  (Read 2261 times)

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strawbabies

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Talking to someone, then the phone rings...
« on: January 13, 2014, 04:36:40 PM »
If you are at work speaking with a client face to face, what's the polite way to handle an incoming phone call?  Is it rude to ask the person you're speaking with in person to hold on a moment while you answer the call?  My employer wants as few calls as possible going to voicemail, but I think it's inconsiderate to the person standing in front of me.

Seven Ate Nine

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Re: Talking to someone, then the phone rings...
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2014, 04:42:57 PM »
I think if it's a client in front of you that the call should go to voicemail.  If it's a coworker then you're good to answer the phone.

Lynnv

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Re: Talking to someone, then the phone rings...
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2014, 04:46:25 PM »
If you are at work speaking with a client face to face, what's the polite way to handle an incoming phone call?  Is it rude to ask the person you're speaking with in person to hold on a moment while you answer the call?  My employer wants as few calls as possible going to voicemail, but I think it's inconsiderate to the person standing in front of me.

As a customer and when it is me, I think it is much better to let the call go to voicemail.  However, your boss has nixed that idea, at least for most calls.  I think it is okay, although not ideal, for a CSR say "Excuse me a moment, I just need to take a message."  At least that makes it clear that you are not going to engage the caller and are just going to take a message and then be right back to the person in front of you. 

However, your boss is the one who needs to tell you what s/he prefers.  I feel that the person in front of you should be your priority and voicemail is the better option.  However, it is up to the boss at any given business to make decisions about which customers take priority and which ones take a temporary back seat.

Lynn

"Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat."  Robert A. Heinlein

Mikayla

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Re: Talking to someone, then the phone rings...
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2014, 04:47:49 PM »
If you are at work speaking with a client face to face, what's the polite way to handle an incoming phone call?  Is it rude to ask the person you're speaking with in person to hold on a moment while you answer the call?  My employer wants as few calls as possible going to voicemail, but I think it's inconsiderate to the person standing in front of me.

Has your boss specifically addressed this situation?  I ask because I understand why he/she would want to avoid calls going to voicemail, but it makes no sense to answer a phone while in a face to face meeting, especially with a client!  Clients pay the bills.

What if you interrupt the client only to take a marketing call?  That doesn't work too well.

AstiTheWestie

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Re: Talking to someone, then the phone rings...
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2014, 05:00:23 PM »
In my office, if I am with a client face-to-face, all calls go to voice mail. IMHO, I think it is rude to put a "hold" on my meeting to answer a phone call. I do understand that there are exceptions to that rule, but that is what I prefer.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Talking to someone, then the phone rings...
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2014, 05:32:40 PM »
For me as a client it depends on the length of our conversation and type of conversation.

I'm ordering takeout at the deli. Yep, I understand if she has to grab the phone and say "Deli, can you hold please?"  But even with this, if my order is interrupted more than 3 times without them trying to get someone else to manage the cash register or the phone, I'm probably going to leave.

If I'm meeting with my banker and I've set up an appointment, I expect their full attention during our time together. So unless and emergency, I'd be irritated if they answered another call and dealt with that client while I'm sitting there.

veronaz

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Re: Talking to someone, then the phone rings...
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2014, 05:38:08 PM »
In my office, if I am with a client face-to-face, all calls go to voice mail. IMHO, I think it is rude to put a "hold" on my meeting to answer a phone call. I do understand that there are exceptions to that rule, but that is what I prefer.

This.

Or......answer and say "I'm with someone, can I call you back?"

I don't like it when the person helping me conduct business takes a call that gets complicated or a personal call.

(edited for clarity)
« Last Edit: January 13, 2014, 08:42:42 PM by veronaz »

PastryGoddess

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Re: Talking to someone, then the phone rings...
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2014, 07:56:38 PM »
I don't like calls going to voicemail either, but I understand that if my employees are working with a client, then that client takes priority over the one calling in. 

I often have meetings in front of my computer.  So if I recognize the number, I will send a short email to the person calling letting them know I'm busy and will get back to them ASAP. 

it's literally
Subject: Saw you called, with a client
Hi [phone person], I'm currently in a meeting.  I'll call you back as soon as we're done.  Give me about x minutes or I'll call you at x-o'clock
Thanks,
PastryGoddess

strawbabies

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Re: Talking to someone, then the phone rings...
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2014, 08:43:23 PM »
OP here with more information.  I work at a vet's office as a receptionist.  We used to excuse ourselves from the face-to-face conversation, and ask the person on the phone if it was an emergency or if they could please hold, then go back to the client we were speaking with.  Apparently, management doesn't want people calling to think we're busy and to ask them how we can direct their call.  If they want to speak with a vet or have a question, I have to take the time to answer the question, find the person they are calling for, or take a message.  That takes time away from the person standing in front of me.  Worse is if they want to make an appointment, because then I definitely need to either find a receptionist who isn't currently busy (highly unlikely, or they would've picked up the phone themselves) or spend a few minutes making the appointment myself because I'm not supposed to put them on hold to finish up the other conversation.

The only way I think it's not completely rude is if the person on the phone actually has an emergency.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2014, 08:46:33 PM by strawbabies »

checkitnice

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Re: Talking to someone, then the phone rings...
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2014, 10:17:26 PM »
That's just bizarre.  Can you present those situations to your manager and ask what they would like you to do?  Having the person at the desk wait is really unprofessional.  I would be irked if I were at the vet or doctor and had to wait for phone calls.

Lynnv

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Re: Talking to someone, then the phone rings...
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2014, 11:26:34 PM »
OP here with more information.  I work at a vet's office as a receptionist.  We used to excuse ourselves from the face-to-face conversation, and ask the person on the phone if it was an emergency or if they could please hold, then go back to the client we were speaking with.  Apparently, management doesn't want people calling to think we're busy and to ask them how we can direct their call.  If they want to speak with a vet or have a question, I have to take the time to answer the question, find the person they are calling for, or take a message.  That takes time away from the person standing in front of me.  Worse is if they want to make an appointment, because then I definitely need to either find a receptionist who isn't currently busy (highly unlikely, or they would've picked up the phone themselves) or spend a few minutes making the appointment myself because I'm not supposed to put them on hold to finish up the other conversation.

The only way I think it's not completely rude is if the person on the phone actually has an emergency.

Given this update, I agree.  I do think that, in your situation, you should not let it roll over to voicemail without answering as it could be an emergency.  However, I also agree with you that non-emergency calls should be either placed on hold or put into voicemail.

However, this is not how your bosses want to handle it.  So the real question for the bosses is how they want you to handle putting the customer in front of you "on hold" while you are dealing with the phone call.  Much as I agree that it is rude, it is also their business and they do get to set the rules no matter how poor a choice they may be making.
Lynn

"Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat."  Robert A. Heinlein

cicero

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Re: Talking to someone, then the phone rings...
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2014, 12:41:14 AM »
That's just bizarre.  Can you present those situations to your manager and ask what they would like you to do?  Having the person at the desk wait is really unprofessional.  I would be irked if I were at the vet or doctor and had to wait for phone calls.
And also, it doesn't really help the other caller if you pout them on hold or have to call them back etc. I hate when people do that at my work - if I call someone's office and they answer only to say "I'm on a Skype conference call"; it would be so much more efficient if they would let the call go to VM or not answer and I can send an email.

For your scenario- can you set up you phone system for: "if this is an emergency please press one, otherwise please hold the line" and the call will either get answered or go to VM. Or get another line strictly for emergency calls.

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YummyMummy66

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Re: Talking to someone, then the phone rings...
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2014, 08:18:41 AM »
If I am speaking to a client, no way am I answering my phone to speak to another client.

If I was that client, I would be looking for new representation after that meeting.  If the phone call proceeded to take a long amount of time. 

What your boss should be looking at is how fast those voice mails are answered.  If they are answered promptly, I see no problem  for a call to go to voice mail.

Read your update.  I don't mind if my vet's office has to answer the phone, but if I am standing there and it is not an emergency, than I expect that call to be put on hold until they are finished with me.  And honestly, what vet's office is not busy?   My vet's office is always busy, and I have no problem with that.  I know it.  I expect a few phone calls while I am standing there, but I don't expect every phone call to take a lot of time either. 

If your boss wants all phone calls answered no matter what, then maybe he should hire someone to specifically just answer the phones in an area away from in coming clients.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 08:23:38 AM by YummyMummy66 »

Arila

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Re: Talking to someone, then the phone rings...
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2014, 01:15:22 PM »
If the face to face client was perturbed by the policy, I would be tempted to smile apologetically when I get back to them and say "Sorry, I hate to do that to you, but it's the policy in place.........there are comment cards right there!" The voice of the customer might be louder than yours.

MrTango

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Re: Talking to someone, then the phone rings...
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2014, 01:18:09 PM »
IMO, in a business situation, a customer in front of you always trumps the phone ringing.