Author Topic: If You Call After Business Hours - You Do Not Have a Scheduled Appointment  (Read 9023 times)

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BeagleMommy

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Bear with me, this may be long.

My office hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 am until 4:30 pm.  This is stated on my incoming voice mail message and I put it in all emails when I need people to contact me.  First thing in the morning Jim (my direct supervisor) and I have a short meeting to go over what we need to accomplish for the day.  After that I check my voice mails and emails.

Tuesday I called a prospective grad student to schedule an interview for her with Lisa, the head of the enrollment committee.  I called the number listed on the student's application and told her Lisa could meet with her at either 8:30 am or 9:00 am Wednesday and if that was not convenient to let me know a better date/time.  I listed my office hours on the message.  I also sent her an email to the address on her application restating the message.

I actually worked half an hour later on Tuesday to assist with a major project and received no call from the student.  Lisa said since we hadn't heard from the student, she would be in the office the next day around 11:00.  Here's the timeline:

8:05 am - Jim and I wrap up our morning meeting.  As I walk to my desk I see a woman standing at my window and ask if I can help her.  She says "I'm Barb, the annoying woman you called yesterday.  I'm here for my 8:30 meeting with Lisa."

8:10 am - Um.  I tell her I hadn't scheduled a meeting and she says "Well, I called you late last night and told you I was coming at 8:30.".  Okay?  I take her to the lounge then go to my desk and answer my voice mails.  She called......at 9:30 pm!

8:15 am - I call Lisa at home and get her voice mail.  I explain the student is here and would she be able to come in to do the interview.

8:20 am - Lisa calls and says she's leaving in five minutes and says "I didn't know you had scheduled it".  She sounds frazzled and I don't blame her.  I explain that I had not scheduled the interview and that the student called at 9:30 pm and just showed up.

Lisa arrived at about 8:40 and conducted the interview.  Seriously, how entitled do you have to be to call five hours after closing and just assume you have an appointment?!  Does anyone else find this as rude as I do?

lowspark

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I wouldn't have called Lisa in. I would have told the student that I hadn't received her message as of 4:30 the previous evening, therefore she didn't actually have an appointment. I would then offer to make an appointment for her, at a time convenient for both the student and Lisa.

Goosey

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Tuesday I called a prospective grad student to schedule an interview for her with Lisa, the head of the enrollment committee.  I called the number listed on the student's application and told her Lisa could meet with her at either 8:30 am or 9:00 am Wednesday and if that was not convenient to let me know a better date/time.  I listed my office hours on the message.  I also sent her an email to the address on her application restating the message.

I agree that the student needed to call earlier, however, I think your message also needed to be reworded.

The first bolded statement sounds like those slots are reserved for her, so I personally would assume that Lisa would be available and free at that time.

The second part sounds like she only needs to call if those times don't work for her, implying the appointment is set.

Instead, you could have said that Lisa was available at 0830 or 0900 and to please give you a call to set the appointment. The student wasn't calling to set the appointment, she was calling to confirm she would be there.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2014, 09:26:07 AM by Goosey »

Hillia

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Tuesday I called a prospective grad student to schedule an interview for her with Lisa, the head of the enrollment committee.  I called the number listed on the student's application and told her Lisa could meet with her at either 8:30 am or 9:00 am Wednesday and if that was not convenient to let me know a better date/time.  I listed my office hours on the message.  I also sent her an email to the address on her application restating the message.

I agree that the student needed to call earlier, however, I think your message also needed to be reworded.

The first bolded statement sounds like those slots are reserved for her, so I personally would assume that Lisa would be available and free at that time.

The second part sounds like she only needs to call if those times don't work for her, implying the appointment is set.

Instead, you could have said that Lisa was available at 0830 or 0900 and to please give you a call to set the appointment. The student wasn't calling to set the appointment, she was calling to confirm she would be there.

Yes, I would have interpreted your message the same way.

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menley

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Tuesday I called a prospective grad student to schedule an interview for her with Lisa, the head of the enrollment committee.  I called the number listed on the student's application and told her Lisa could meet with her at either 8:30 am or 9:00 am Wednesday and if that was not convenient to let me know a better date/time.  I listed my office hours on the message.  I also sent her an email to the address on her application restating the message.

I agree that the student needed to call earlier, however, I think your message also needed to be reworded.

The first bolded statement sounds like those slots are reserved for her, so I personally would assume that Lisa would be available and free at that time.

The second part sounds like she only needs to call if those times don't work for her, implying the appointment is set.

Instead, you could have said that Lisa was available at 0830 or 0900 and to please give you a call to set the appointment. The student wasn't calling to set the appointment, she was calling to confirm she would be there.

I agree, the wording does make it sound like she only needed to call if the times were not convenient. I would have thought that meant that the times were reserved for me - although I think I would have called to double-check as you mentioned two times rather than just one.

lowspark

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I would agree with you, Goosey, if the student had said something like to the affect that she understood the appointment to be at 8:30 based on BeagleMommy's message. But in point of fact, the message, exactly as worded, still required some kind of response before being definite. "either 8:30 am or 9:00 am Wednesday" means, you need to call me back and tell me which one of those works for you, or if neither works.


Hmmmmm

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Tuesday I called a prospective grad student to schedule an interview for her with Lisa, the head of the enrollment committee.  I called the number listed on the student's application and told her Lisa could meet with her at either 8:30 am or 9:00 am Wednesday and if that was not convenient to let me know a better date/time.  I listed my office hours on the message.  I also sent her an email to the address on her application restating the message.

I agree that the student needed to call earlier, however, I think your message also needed to be reworded.

The first bolded statement sounds like those slots are reserved for her, so I personally would assume that Lisa would be available and free at that time.

The second part sounds like she only needs to call if those times don't work for her, implying the appointment is set.

Instead, you could have said that Lisa was available at 0830 or 0900 and to please give you a call to set the appointment. The student wasn't calling to set the appointment, she was calling to confirm she would be there.

Yes, I would have interpreted your message the same way.

Was thinking the same. I think you need to clarify that the student needs to call back by  time to confirm the appointment. She had no idea Lisa wouldn't be in the office unless she had confirmed appointments.

daen

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I don't know how often this is likely to happen again,  but if it's more than a one-off, you may want to include a deadline in your message. It wouldn't need to be elaborate, just something along the lines of "Note that all appointments must be confirmed by 4:15 pm the day before."

SadieBaby

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Had I been the grad student, I can see me doing exactly what she did.  Your message would have told me that I didn't need to call if 8:30 or 9 AM was okay.  But knowing me, after chewing it over, if I really wanted the position, I might have called late in the day to confirm, just to make sure.  I'd show up on the early end, at 8:30, prepared to wait until 9 if necessary.  If I found out the person who was going to interview me wasn't coming in until 11 AM, with no notice to me, I'd be surprised and not in a good way.

PastryGoddess

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I read your message as needing to call to confirm, not to call to actually set the appointment.  I would have assumed that those were times that were still open and the person I needed to talk to would be there for either appointment.  After all, why would you offer 8:30 or 9:00 if the person won't be there (rhetorical question)

It sounds like you do this a lot (calling to schedule appointments) but even though it's never happened before, as you can see your wording leaves it open for interpretation.  I would give more general information and not actual appointment slots.  I think stating at that they must call you back to schedule their appointment is key.  Then there is no ambiguity and if someone turns up, you can remind them that they were to call you first to actually schedule the appointment. 

fidelejavert

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I agree that the message was confusing, leaving her to think that she only needed to call to reschedule. Also, frankly, in the student's place I would assume that the person I was meeting with would be in the office during regular business hours i.e. 9-5; how could she be expected to know that, in the absence of a confirmed appointment, your coworker would not be in the office until 11 am? Finally, given that you called her on Tuesday for a Wednesday morning appointment, it isn't clear to me that she could have contacted you in a more timely fashion since we have no idea what her Tuesday schedule was like. For all we know, she couldn't/didn't get a chance to listen to the message until 9:30pm.

It sounds like a situation in which wires got crossed, rather than one in which someone was blatantly rude.

cicero

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Tuesday I called a prospective grad student to schedule an interview for her with Lisa, the head of the enrollment committee.  I called the number listed on the student's application and told her Lisa could meet with her at either 8:30 am or 9:00 am Wednesday and if that was not convenient to let me know a better date/time.  I listed my office hours on the message.  I also sent her an email to the address on her application restating the message.

I agree that the student needed to call earlier, however, I think your message also needed to be reworded.

The first bolded statement sounds like those slots are reserved for her, so I personally would assume that Lisa would be available and free at that time.

The second part sounds like she only needs to call if those times don't work for her, implying the appointment is set.

Instead, you could have said that Lisa was available at 0830 or 0900 and to please give you a call to set the appointment. The student wasn't calling to set the appointment, she was calling to confirm she would be there.

I agree that your message may have been a bit ambiguous, and i can see understanding that the appointment was for 8.30 or 9.00 and to call back only if that didn't work for me.

I can understand that what you *meant* to say was "call back in any event" but that isn't what it sounds like.

I think that in order to avoid misunderstandings, in the future, you can say "(a) we have slots available Wednesday morning - please call to confirm the time (b) by 4 PM on Tuesday. Your meeting is not scheduled unless you receive final confirmation from me."


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Lynn2000

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I get why you're frustrated. In my experience, 90% of the time wording like yours works fine. But, there are always a few people who interpret it differently--not because they're rude or anything, just because their brain works differently/experience has taught them differently. When setting appointments I've learned to explicitly state, "Let me know by 5pm today if this time works for you, otherwise the slot may be given to someone else." In other words, set a deadline for the response.

I've also learned to try avoiding the mention of specific times, because some people will just assume they can show up at one of them without confirming with me. Also, when there's a tight turnaround--talking on Tuesday for a Wednesday appointment--I try to be a little more flexible. At 5pm when I haven't heard from someone, I think, "Okay, which is more likely: That the person is completely blowing off an interview with us, or that they've been busy with class/work and haven't seen my email yet?" So sometimes I glance through my work email at home in the evening, and usually I check it first thing in the morning when I come to work. I realize that's not your current setup, but if you often have tight turnaround times when scheduling appointments, you might want to consider checking your email/voicemail outside of work hours, or first thing when you come in, etc..

With Lisa knowing she potentially had a student coming in at either 8:30 or 9 the next morning, I would have expected her to be at work then. Of course I can't control what Lisa does, but in my experience, it wouldn't be unusual for the student to get back to me later in the evening and accept one of those times, or just show up at one of those times, so in talking to her I would encourage her to be at work by then (to the extent it was appropriate for me to share my opinion, of course!).
~Lynn2000

BeagleMommy

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Thanks, guys.  I can see how my OP wording might have been confusing to the student so I went back to my outgoing messages to check the wording I used and discovered I said this:

Lisa has appointments available at either 8:30 am or 9:00 am on Wednesday.  I know this is short notice, but since the semester starts next week (student had only completed her paperwork on Monday) we'd like to schedule an interview.  Please call me at ### to let me know which time is best for you.  If you can't make either time, please let me know if there is a better time to arrange the interview.  My office hours are M-F, 8:00 am-4:30 pm

Dindrane

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I schedule a lot of interviews as part of my job, and while I agree that the student shouldn't have just shown up after calling late the night before, I also agree with the other posters who have said your wording is a little bit ambiguous, and there's a very good possibility that the student really thought they were doing what you wanted.

In general, if you are trying to confirm an interview for the next morning and haven't heard from the candidate, I think it's actually on you to call them one more time before you leave for the day and either confirm the appointment (if you reach them), or let them know that since you haven't heard from them to confirm a time you will need to reschedule and to call/email you back. But also in general, you need to be giving people more notice, because everyone has days where they just aren't reachable by phone or email even if they are expecting a call about an interview. It sounds like the short notice in this case was because of the student's late paperwork, but I always go into quick turn situations like that expecting that it isn't going to work, and adjust my schedule so that I can babysit it more than I usually would in the hopes that I can make it work.

I also think that the best way to word your messages in this type of situation is to say, "We have two available time slots tomorrow morning, so please call me back at your first opportunity so that I can confirm your interview time. My usual work hours are 8:00 to 4:30." If you don't tell them the actual time slot, no reasonable person would assume they can just show up (and no unreasonable person would know when to show up) without calling first. It also makes it clear that you need to actually speak to the person before any interview time can be confirmed, which your original message was a little bit more vague about.

I don't know what sort of schedule Lisa normally has, but I also agree that if there's a chance an interview could take place at 8:30 or 9:00 in the morning, it's not good planning for her to decide to come in at 11 because the interview hasn't been confirmed yet. If you had called the student back at 5 and let them know that the two times were no longer available, and to call so that you could identify a different one, then Lisa would have been fine coming in at 11 even if the student still showed up at 8:30. Since you didn't, I think Lisa bears some responsibility for the situation.