Contact Etiquette for Large Organizations



I work at a fairly large organization, the kind that gets lots and lots of phone calls every day. I also used to work at a doctor's office where I also dealt with lots and lots of phone calls.

I have learned that most people do not understand the optimal route for actually getting returned contact.

Here's a few tips. Use them, or don't. But it would probably be beneficial to use them. And if it seems like most of them are common sense, it's because they are. Doesn't mean the world (and possibly you) doesn't need a reminder.

  1. Prepare. 
      • If you have a student ID, account number, error message code, etc- HAVE IT WRITTEN DOWN BEFORE YOU DIAL ANYTHING. You WILL be asked for this information. It is likely how they will identify your account and see what is really going on.  
      • Make sure you understand exactly what the problem is. Don't just see there is a problem and freak out and call the first number you can find/Google. This sets you up for disappointment and frustration.
      1.  Call the correct department.
          • Those main numbers with lots of options? They can feel like a waste. So does taking the time to actually read the email or statement to find what department you need. But you know what happens when you don't spend that little bit of time? You talk to a lot of people who don't know how to help you. You get mad, they get mad, and you are still going to get transferred. If you don't get transferred, you will be put on hold numerous times while they try to find someone who does know how to help you. At this point you are taking up valuable time from two different people. Meanwhile, the people who actually need the incorrect person you contacted are getting a busy signal or having to leave a voicemail. You're clogging the system, basically.
          1. Leave a voicemail. 
            • This may be one of the single most important things I can tell you. SO MANY PEOPLE call and complain "I've been calling all morning and no one has called me back." And then we look at the call log and yes, they have called 6 times in two hours. But they never left a message. No one is going to call you back without a detailed message saying who you are and WHY you are calling. 
          2. Shot-gunning clogs up the system.
            •  You call one office, don't get an answer, so you call another office. And another, and another. While you are doing this, 5 other people are doing it also. You know what that means? NO ONE IS AVAILABLE TO TALK TO YOU because they are talking to other people, who they probably aren't equipped to assist anyway (see previous point #2). 
            • Email seems harmless, but again it does the same thing. PersonWhoCanNotAssistYou must go find PersonWhoActuallyCanAssistYou, which wastes their time. SecondPersonWhoCanNotAssistYou also eventually goes to talk to PersonWhoActuallyCanAssistYou, so PersonWhoActuallyCanAssistYou can't assist the additional people who need them. Or, more likely, they have to go find PersonWhoCanActuallyAssistSomeoneElse to take care of the messages incorrectly left for them because other people did not follow points #1 & #2.
            • Call, and/or email, ONE person.
          3. YOU call for YOUR business.
            • Getting a parent or spouse or whoever to call for you almost certainly guarantees that you will either need multiple calls, either because they don't know all the needed information OR they don't have permission to actually do whatever you want done.

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