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Simple etiquette and common sense in telephone use is critical

POSTED: November 10, 2007 5:05 a.m.

One of the greatest inventions in the history of civilization is the telephone. Since the first hand-crank telephone, we have seen the telephone evolve in both design and function.

A few of the innovations we have witnessed are phone calls placed through a central operator, black and colored rotary dial sets, party lines, the Princess phone, touch tone phones and today’s cellular phones and Bluetooth.

I predict that one day babies will be born with this technology attached to their ears. Pink for girls, blue for boys.

Today through telephones, satellites and fiber optics we have the ability to communicate with any person on the globe in a matter of seconds.

Anyone that is in business understands the critical importance of a telephone. With such a powerful communications tool, it seems that all too many businesses and people are slowly forgetting a simple concept.

Please allow me to share one man’s thoughts about common sense, courtesy and the telephone.

When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone I do not believe he wanted business people to void their minds of basic manners or insult the intelligence of customers.

With respect to David Letterman, I would like to offer you the "Top 10 Most Irritating Problems" with telephones and business today.

I realize the importance of convenience and instant gratification in our world today. The concept of cutting down on overhead costs and time sensitive decisions is not lost on me either.

10. Telemarketing in general. Telemarketers have a job to do, but frankly the majority of them do not understand the phrase, "no thank you." A computer generated telemarketing call has all the charm of a baby in need of a diaper change.

9. Returning telephone calls. We all get busy with our projects and deadlines. And there are those people who we don’t wish to talk with. But simple courtesy demands that we at least return their phone calls.

8. Business advertisements while on hold. There is no bigger proponent of advertising than me. But hearing the same sales pitch four times while on hold can be tiresome.

7. Cell phones dinging, binging and ringing in public places. Yes, doctors are needed for emergencies. How important is a problem that someone must reach a cell phone user during a church service, a high school class or in a nice restaurant?

6. Using a cell phone while driving. Enough said.

5. Voice mail. How many people have their intelligence insulted when listening to a voice mail message. Keep the message simple and use common sense.

4. Exercising basic telephone manners. Speaking clearly, uttering thank you, correctness of a message received, listening and answering a phone by the second or third ring are good points to remember.

3. The company telephone directory maze. How many times do we listen to countless options, hear the mysterious woman’s voice saying "if you have reached this recording by error…" and finally reach the person’s extension that was originally called, and it turns out to be a recording saying "I am away from my phone. Please listen to your options."

2. The line is busy. Gee whiz, is that what the beeping sound means? For an additional few cents the phone company will keep redialing the number for you. Why then was the redial button put on telephones in the first place?

1. Thank you directory assistance. The operator has found the telephone number for you. Again, for a small fee, the phone company will dial the number for you.

I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of a few of these irritations. In the future I will work to improve my poor phone habits. What about your business?


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