Top 7 telephone tips for calling a company’s main line

You’re calling a general line and don’t know who will pick up. Here’s a list of my top 7 telephone tips resulting in better communication and customer service:


  1. Identify yourself. Who are you and what is your affiliation? It’s very hard to field an inquiry without someone knowing who you are. Most people forget this.
  2. Speak clearly. Especially when calling from a mobile phone and/or outside, it can really be hard to understand you unless you speak slowly and enunciate.
  3. Do not speak in a run-on for 2 minutes before pausing. You might have the wrong number, be talking with the wrong person, and/or information might be lost or confused. You are just wasting your breath. Instead, start with the thematic nature of your question, and ask who best for you to speak with.
  4. Do your background research. If the company you’re calling has a website, look there first for your question. If you’re calling to follow up on previous engagement with that company or a staff member there, have that information in front of you. This sets a tone for a more productive conversation.
  5. Listen well. If the person who picks up tells you their name, company information, reference number, or anything else, note it. In the event that you get disconnected and need to call back, you have information to resume; in the event that your question isn’t answered and you speak with someone else, you have reference materials; if they are helpful, you’ve already begun recording information.
  6. Don’t assume the person who picks up is dumb; usually, it’s a person who knows more than you might think whether their primary job is receptionist or they’re a program employee manning the phones that hour. If they ask for information, don’t assume what they do or don’t know; tell them they information they ask for. They will inquire further or redirect if it’s outside their scope.
  7. Always, always be nice. Say thank you. Keep the tone of your voice courteous and not pushy. I promise that you will receive better assistance.

Simple! Now go make phone calls!

Tough. They just need to deal with it and wait for the next one. Whatever; I don’t care.

Mary, the driver of my Peter Pan bus to Hartford, about people who purchased a ticket for the overbooked 3pm bus online. Eticketed passengers were (for no clear reason) forced to wait until others with a ‘real’ boarding pass got a seat even though an eticket is, too, for that specific bus and a guaranteed seat. I was fortunate to have gotten on the bus as one of the last customers, but this was some of the worst customer service I have seen in a long time. Very disheartening. But, the people on the bus are some of the loveliest people. Lesson learned: all people who buy bus tickets at Port Authority get a seat and are nice.

Brands Want Content Curator Jobs

Neat article on a very important emerging type of marketing. I’d like to think of myself as a content curator with this blog, and might like to do more of it in the future. It’s fun to think about the dual goals of giving an audience what they want to read and giving an audience what you (the brand) want them to read. If I can better curate content that will keep you coming back, do pass along your suggestions.

Brands Want Content Curator Jobs

Great customer service makes me smile

A few days a week, I start my day at the Teleon Cafe with a bagel or coffee or both. I don’t think either is that amazing, but I really enjoy the staff who works there. They are courteous and smile, and don’t make me crabby before I’ve even really begun my day.

This morning, one of the ladies (the manager, I think?) asked my name. She said I come in too often for her not to know me, and it’s just a way to start the day more personally. I was so excited. I told her I was Jen and she introduced herself as Diana and asked if I knew [name I already forgot…oops*] at the register. We all had a friendly chat about familiarity and coffee and that was that.

I’m going to make a point to learn everyone’s name there this month, and I’m going to probably keep smiling from this really trivial interaction all day.

*not my normal cashier lady, who I know everything about**, including that her 7-year-old daughter takes belly dancing class

** I don’t know her name

Latest customer service issue: @askcapitalone

I went out to a restaurant last night with 2 people. We all ordered a pizza and a beer (don’t judge, we were hungry). It was expensive pizza but you know what, it was delicious and had egg on it. Anyway, split on three cards, each of our bills came to ~$27. I used my Capital One credit card and clearly wrote $32.00. No problem. Signed it and we were set.

I got an email notification from Capital One that I was charged $55.89 at dinner (I know about every purchase > $50). Not ok. Pat and I called the restaurant, who found the receipt and said they only charged $32. Do I believe them? No. Should my bank be able to help me? Yes.

An hour ago: stopped in at a local Capital One banking center. Lady asks how she can help me. I tell her the story. She takes out an antiquated rolodex to find an 800 number. It’s on the card, of course, but I figured she had a direct number to claims or something. False. Same dumb automated system as always.

I expressed frustration about waiting on hold after 7ish minutes, and asked the lady what the process would be for filing a claim. She said they’d just advise me to go back through the restaurant and have them correct it themselves, because it’s not fraud. It was just an incorrect charge. I clarified, “so there’s nothing you or the person who finally answers my call can do?” “No.” “why didn’t you tell me that before I wasted my time?!”

No answer. End scene. Terribly stupid “customer service” and another big headache for me.