With thanks to Halifax visual artist Jacqueline Steudler for this instructive phone story.
Recently Jacqueline read about a workshop that interested her, but had some questions she needed answered before registering. She phoned the facilitator. After the initial introductions, Jacqueline sensed the facilitator’s unease and asked if it was a good time to answer a few questions. The facilitator said no, but asked Jacqueline if she was okay with calling back in two hours. “Yes”, Jacqueline said, and that was the end of the call.
Approximately 30 minutes later the facilitator called Jacqueline back and asked very pointedly “What are the questions you had?” Jacqueline was now involved in her own projects so needed a moment to gather her thoughts and formulate her questions.
“I could feel the facilitator getting really nervous and tense that I couldn’t respond right away, ” Jacqueline shared.
When the questions were asked, the answers were fast and felt unfocused. When Jacqueline asked a question twice, because it hadn’t been answered, the facilitator’s dismay was palpable. Suddenly, about two minutes into the call, the facilitator said “I have to go now. I’m in the middle of a meeting and people are waiting for me,” and added that it was a really bad time to talk because of other commitments.
That was the end of the call. Oh my! While Jacqueline didn’t take the experience personally (and it wasn’t – everything that happened was about the facilitator) she did made a decision not to register for the workshop. And even though the facilitator followed up in a professional manner – calling about two hours later with an apology, Jacqueline did not change her mind.
What happened here and how could it have been avoided?
1. Every phone call interrupts us. None of us are sitting around waiting for potential customers to call. And sometimes we are too busy – rushing to a meeting, finishing a report, driving our car – to speak on the phone. This is why we should allow callers to leave us a message (given that we’ve created a very professional voice mail) so we can get back to them when we can fully focus on the conversation. I know that Jacqueline would have been pleased to leave a message and to have heard back from the facilitator at another time.
2. Before returning calls, we need to consider if we have the necessary time for a potential discussion. When we call people back with only a few minutes to speak, “rush” will be evident in our voice. We won’t be able to engage because we’ll be distracted by our need to end the conversation and get back to our meeting or deadline.
3. Don’t panic about money-making opportunities. The facilitator had asked Jacqueline to call back in two hours and she should have stuck to that agreement. Instead – I think – she started worrying about getting the registration. Worry and panic rarely – if ever – create revenue.
Enjoy your PhoneWork everyone!