Search for Speakers
Trainers and Consultants
Send this article to others
year ago last May, I phoned an editor of a previous book of mine to discuss
a complex permissions issue regarding the use of a section of the book in a
software product. Instead of a live editor, I reached a recording of Editor
Beth in Boston.
2: Editor Beth's voice mail informs me she is on vacation and will
return in two weeks. I leave her a message asking for a return call.
17: I phone again. The same voice mail message greets me. I leave a
22: Still no word from Editor Beth. I phone again, bypassing her
recording and opting to speak to a live receptionist, Nancy. Nancy informs
me that Beth is no longer working out of that office. Nancy gives me another
phone number for Beth's back-up, Tony, "who now handles
permissions." I phone Beth's back-up, Tony, who also has a recorded
message. I leave another complete message.
29: No word from Tony. I phone again and receive Tony's recording that
it's May 17 and that he's out traveling. That recording gives me a number
for Tony's back-up, Don. I phone Don's number, where I get a recorded menu,
telling me to direct all calls about permissions to Lorenzo at the New York
office. I dial Lorenzo in New York and reach a recorded voice that says he's
traveling for the next two weeks.
19: No return call. I phone Lorenzo again. A recorded message tells me
to call Donna as his back-up. I phone Donna. She states that she has no idea
how to handle anything with regard to permissions. She gives me another
number in Boston for Harriet. I phone Harriet and reach a recording that
tells me all matters relating to their books should be referred to Lorenzo,
Philip, or to Ruth in New York, depending on the pertinent issue. I phone
Philip and Ruth just for good measure, reaching the voice mail of both. Both
of those people call me back to say they don't know why someone gave me
their number, that they have nothing at all to do with that line of books.
7: No return call from Lorenzo. I phone Editor Beth's back-up, Nancy,
just for the heck of it. Nancy tells me that indeed Beth is once again
handling permissions since the company has been right-sized, but that Beth
is now on vacation. I leave a complete message on Beth's recorder, asking
for a call-back-from her, Tony, Lorenzo, Donna, Harriet, just someone live
who knows what's going on.
21: No return call. I redial everyone's phone number that I've collected
in the previous three months (now numbering nine). At each number I receive
a recorded message.
7: No return call. I write to the General Counsel at headquarters,
stating that I intend to reclaim rights to the material in question within
ten days if someone-recorded or live-doesn't make contact.
14: I receive an overnight letter from the General Counsel, telling me
to cool my heels, that someone will be in touch with me shortly to discuss
21: A letter granting the permission I had requested three months
earlier in May arrives-signed by Editor Beth.
become admittedly disconcerted over this and similar voice mail traumas. But
am I the only one? I think not. Recently, while attending one of our
customer training programs, an employee of a Fortune 10 company brought to
class a complaint letter addressed to the company's president. The writer of
the letter detailed an incident, similar to mine, after having dialed an 800
number published in The Wall Street Journal. He suggested that his inability
to reach a live salesperson could account for the fall in the company's
stock prices over the past two years.
sanity's sake, consider these tips before locking others into an endless
the caller, before you dial, assume that you will reach a recording and be
prepared with a succinct summary and request for action. Edit the details.
Leave rambling for the tumbleweeds. Give your name and number at the
beginning of the call and again at the end of your succinct message.
Articulate the number so that it doesn't all run together in rapid-fire
addition to the voice mail madness that seems to be sweeping the nation,
email messaging can also become an abysmal pit of pressure to respond-from
the trivial to the urgent. The typical participants in our business and
technical writing classes tell me that they receive from five to 60 emails
each day. Choices? Delete, file, or print out. We're back to the desktop
stack trays piled high with printed email.
email habits victimize more human beings, please consider passing along
these tips to the guilty:
you get caught in email or voice mail jail, bang on the bars until someone
hears you. Technology is here to stay. What's disappearing fast is personal
All articles & website © Expert Magazine