Irritating and frustrating are the two most common words I hear when people talk about “phone tag”. Think about that for a moment … is this how you want to make your clients or prospects feel – irritated and/or frustrated? And take it one step further – do you want to sound irritated or frustrated when you finally reach them?
No, of course not.
So … make it your practice to avoid phone tag. And the best way to do this is: take responsibility for reaching them.
Here’s how this sounds:
“Hi David, it’s Mary Jane Copps from The Phone Lady. It’s Friday, March 7 at 9 am. I have a couple of quick questions for you and I’m in my office today until 3 pm. You can reach me at 404-3290. That’s 404-3290. If we don’t connect today, rather than play phone tag, know I’ll call again next week.”
This message accomplishes several things:
1. It eliminates all irritation and frustration. For them, if they are travelling or too busy to return your call, they “hear” you taking responsibility for the communication and what they feel is respected. For you, you release the expectation of a return call simply by saying “I’ll call again”, so you have no reason to be irritated/frustrated.
2. It lets your client/prospect know that communicating with them is important to you and that you are willing and able to take responsibility for tasks.
3. We work with people we trust and we trust people who keep their word. By saying you will call again – and then actually doing it – you are subtly building trust.
4. And perhaps there’s some “reverse psychology” at work with this message, because when I let people know that I’m going to keep calling … they tend to return my call. My efforts to avoid phone tag move me up their priority list.
What about you? What are your thoughts on phone tag? What do you do to avoid it?
The “B” stands for Be Brief or Be Precise and you can read more here:
2 thoughts on “The AABC’s of Leaving Messages – Part II”
I agree that phone tag is annoying. I often have to ignore the phone for periods of time in order to do technical work. I try to take this into account when leaving messages – your advice works well in those situations when my time to receive a call back is limited. Thanks!
Thanks, Linda, for your feedback that this works for you. Time is so valuable not only for us, but for our clients and customers. Showing them we respect their time builds loyalty as well as improves communication.