Over the years I’ve compiled an assortment of suggestions based on observations I’ve made. These include times when I’ve been a customer as well as a business partner. I share these tips in the hope that your business can benefit. In no particular order:
Hit switch hook before hanging up. This applies when transferring a call and making a broadcast. Tapping the disconnect button kills the call (or broadcast) so others don’t hear that “ka chunk” of the hang up. It’s hard on the ears, especially when you hear that over the phone. But it’s also annoying over the PA system.
Minimize use of ‘reply all’. Before responding to that broadcast message, ask yourself, “Does everyone really need to see my reply?” In most cases the answer is no. Do others a favor. Hit standard ‘reply’ instead.
Create unique subject line for each topic. You’ve seen this many times. Someone sends an email on one subject, and pretty soon three or four other topics are being discussed under that subject line. Why? Because it’s easy to hit ‘reply’ and start typing away. Imagine the challenge of digging for a particular comment when all the messages have the same subject line. If you’re going to change the discussion, start a new message with its own unique subject line. This requires a little extra effort, but it can make a big difference in the email conversation — today and tomorrow.
Use the singular ‘you’ in training material. Too often presenters, knowing (hoping?) their videos and audios will be consumed by many, speak as if they’re in front of an audience:
“Guys, I want you to know that….” “Guys, I’m going to make this as short and brief as I can.”
Whenever I hear this, I want to yell back, “Hey, dude, there’s only one person here!” When recording training material (tutorials and such), always speak in the ‘singular you’.
“I want to offer you this opportunity to…” “You will soon see how this works…”
While your material may be heard or viewed by many, it is done so one person at a time. Each person is viewing or listening individually. Speak to them accordingly; make your listeners and viewers feel as if you’re addressing them directly. Use ‘you’ and ‘your’ instead of ‘guys’, ‘folks’ or other collective nouns.
Respond properly to ‘thank you’. ‘You’re welcome’ is still in vogue — really! Unfortunately, too many clerks and other customer service people respond with, “No problem.” That’s too casual. If you want to set your business apart, one good way is to use the tried and true ‘you’re welcome’ (or some variation). It’ll be music to your customers’ ears.
While we’re on this subject, make sure your people are saying ‘thanks’. Rid their vocabulary of the nauseating “Have a nice day!” and “Have a good one!” Saying ‘thanks’, ‘thank you’ and related are very powerful. There are variations, such as ‘thanks for stopping by’, and ‘thanks for dining with us’.
Watch those averages. I spotted this in the newspaper:
“…lists an average of 60 to 90 days for people…”
Um, no. Remember that an average is an absolute number; it cannot be a range. In the above example, one answer is 75. (60 plus 90; divided by 2. Other answers are possible when more values are provided.) It’s OK to use a range; just reword the sentence. It could be something like this:
“… with stays typically ranging from 60 to 90 days….” (Yes, you could also talk about the median value, but we’d need more data for that.)
Turn off/silence phones during a meeting. If you’re chairing the meeting, make an announcement at the beginning. Attendees should know this, but some need to be reminded. A presentation should not be interrupted by the chiming of a phone. If you get a call during a presentation, please wait until you’re outside the room before saying anything. Let’s be courteous to presenters and others in the room.
When using speaker phone, close your office door. That phone conversation can be very distracting to your colleagues — even if the’re not close by. Oftentimes the volume is cranked up on the phone and the person is talking loudly. Please be considerate and close your door.
For related reading, see “Deal with your mistakes properly” and “Important reminders of phone etiquette.”
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