“Who Am I Speaking With?”

I make a lot of phone calls.

And I listen to a lot of phone conversation recordings.

And one of the dumbest things I hear said on the phone is when one of the people in the conversation has to ask the other person their name, despite the fact that:

  • The phone conversation has been going for some time…
  • And/or the other person has already introduced themselves by name at a point earlier in the phone call.

Yes, really!!

And yet it wouldn’t happen in real life, would it?

Would you start up a conversation with someone in a face-to-face situation and not find out their name or not introduce yourself to them?

That would be totally creepy.

Yet on the phone, in a work environment, where people are being paid money to schedule appointments, I hear phone conversations that go on for several minutes where the person answering the phone has no clue and no idea who they are actually talking to.

No clue at all.

They don’t know:

  • The caller’s name.
  • Whether the caller is a customer of their business, or not.
  • Whether the caller has been recommended to their business by an already happy and very loyal customer.
  • Whether the caller has spoken to other competitors of the business about a solution to the problem that they have that they are calling about.
  • How much knowledge the caller has about the problem they are looking to solve.
  • How urgently does the caller need to solve their problem, and what priority that is for them.
  • How the caller found out about their business and why they chose to call their business.

More often than not…

The person answering the phone gets onto their own agenda rather than the caller’s agenda.

And the agenda of the person answering the phone may not be in the best interests of the caller.

And may not be in the best interests of the business.

One of the worst questions I hear asked on the phone is:

“What did you say your name was again?”

When it is so important to make a good first impression, especially on the phone to someone who is a first time caller to your business, the first three things you need to do are:

  • Find out the name of the person calling that you are talking to.
  • Write their name down.
  • Use their name frequently and deliberately during the conversation.

It is AN ABSOLUTE INSULT to the caller to have to ask them for their name again after they have already told you their name and you have failed to commit it to memory.

It just shows the caller that you, as the receptionist, HAVE NOT been listening.

If the caller introduces themselves and you do not quite catch what they said, then you must IMMEDIATELY at that moment apologise for yourself and ask them to please repeat their name, so that you can commit it to paper, and hopefully to memory, so that you can immediately begin to use their name regularly throughout the conversation.

Because, if you do not, and the conversation proceeds, and then at some point you have to concede and ask the caller:

“What did you say your name was again?”

What you are really saying to them is:

“Excuse me, but I wasn’t paying attention to you…”

It’s not a good look for you or for your business to be asking for the caller to repeat their name.

[And by the way, grammatically, asking the caller in the past tense what their name “was” is incorrect, as their name hasn’t changed from the past to the present. What the caller’s name “is” is more correct grammatically.  But situationally the whole question is wrong, and should not be asked.]

Dale Carnegie wrote that:

“A man’s name is to him the sweetest sound in the language.”

It pays to be attentive, and to remember people’s names and to use their name regularly when in conversations with those people.

It’s just common courtesy.


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