Controlling personal calls at the officeNancy Friedmanguidelines, in-person customer, eye contact, courteously end conversations
Personal calls ... we all get them at work: family, friends and
even co-workers who just want to chat. If you allow personal calls
at the office, is the privilege being abused? Here are some ideas
and tips to help control personal calls at the office.
First, and this is a must, let your staff know of your
guidelines on personal phone calls. If you're looking around and
thinking, "Gee, we don't have any guidelines," now is a good time
to develop some.
It will help all concerned if there are specific guidelines on
personal calls at work. We've gathered up a few suggestions and
hope they help. Obviously, if you have others to share with us, let
us hear from you.
Never let an in-person customer wait while you are on a personal
call. Even if it is a business call, the customer needs be
acknowledged. The most effective way to do this is to make eye
contact with a gentle smile and nod as to recognize he is standing
What we hear most about employees on personal calls at work is
that they don't even do that much. If possible, the person who is
standing there should be offered something to read about your
company, like a pamphlet or new product brochure.
Sometimes, employees may just not know how to tactfully tell
friends or relatives they're at work and unable to talk. They may
not know how to courteously end conversations. They may be
embarrassed to tell them that they are busy. Here are a couple of
Telephone Doctor tips on how to handle those situations
•"Aunt Mary, I'd like to hear more about your trip, but
I'm at work and need to finish a project I'm working on today. Let
me call you later tonight, when we can talk more in depth. Thanks
for calling. Talk with you later;" or
•"Hi, Sue. Good to hear from you. Can I give you a call
later on today, around lunchtime or near 5:00 p.m.? I'm working on
something now that needs my full attention."
Most importantly, let your employees know that if co-workers or
supervisors approach them at their desks, they are expected to put
their personal calls on hold, perhaps ending the conversations at
that point. Personal calls can wait; other office personnel
shouldn't have to.
If an employee is on a legitimate business call, he should
attempt to use the client's name during the call. It makes it
easier for the person standing there to realize that it is a
business call. There's not an intelligent manager around who would
intentionally interrupt a business call. Besides, using the
customer's name also helps to build rapport.
If an employee is receiving too many personal calls, it's time
for, as they say, an "intervention." Let the employee know that he
certainly may have a few personal calls (if you allow them);
however, lately, it has been over the top. Would he please ask
those individuals to call during lunch, closer to 5:00 p.m. or when
he is at home?
What about emergencies? They're not a problem. Just make sure
employees know to make other office personnel aware when they
Nancy Friedman is president of Telephone Doctor Customer
Service Training in St. Louis. For more information, call (314)
291-1012 or visit www.telephonedoctor.com.