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Don't Call Offices at the End of the Work Day
Put the Phone Down!
So you've been at work all day and you haven't had the chance to make that phone call you need to make. You have to make an appointment for the boss or you need to see if you dentist is available next Friday. You notice the clock says 4:55, but you figure, "Hey, they stay open until 5, right? I can still call." Nope. Put down the phone! You should always try to avoid calling offices at the end of the day.
Technically, you can call. Sure, it is a free country. If the office hours are until 5, you have every right to do so. However, think about your own place of business. Do you really care about helping one more person out at the very end of the day? Aren't you starting to pack up your own things? Just because you lost track of time does not mean everyone has done the same.
Perhaps you do not work in customer service, so you are not aware of how tiring it can be. Sometimes a customer service worker has heard sob stories, angry rants, and problems all day long. When someone calls at the last minute, the customer service associate often does not have the energy for one more problem, especially a last minute problem that prevents them from leaving on time. Most office workers do not use a time clock, so if they work 5 or 10 minutes past 5 o'clock, they usually do not get paid for it.
What you need to consider is, yes, someone will pick up the phone. However, if they seem rushed, don't get angry. In theory, everyone should be patient and eager to help you until the last second they leave work. In reality, most people do not feel that way after working 8 or 9 hours. If you know you have an issue that will take a while to resolve, call back the next morning when everyone is more likely to be patient and have the time to properly handle your call.
Be Prepared for the Call
If you are going to call an office at the last minute (for that matter, if you are calling at all), at least have everything prepared for the phone call. If you know you are making a purchase over the phone, make sure to have your credit card ready. Don't ask for a particular service or product, and then go on a search all over the place to find your wallet. The person taking the call has other calls coming in. While you are searching for your credit card, other sales are being lost.
Even if you are not paying for anything over the phone, be prepared with any other information you may need for the call. Calling to discuss a bill with the phone company? Have the invoice sitting in front of you. Calling to make a doctor's appointment? Have your calendar or date book ready. Just a little preparation can go a long way and save time for everyone. This is especially important if you are calling anyone when it is nearly closing time.
Books for Customer Service & Call Center Folks
Pack and Pee Time
I have a term for the last 5 minutes of any workday. It is called "Pack and Pee Time." Please feel free to incorporate this phrase into your normal everyday life. I believe at most offices, people are packing to leave and scampering off to the restroom before the drive home during the last 5 minutes of the day.
I have been frustrated with co-workers if they want to tell me about a major project when it is time to leave. I explain, "Look, it is pack and pee time; can we talk about this tomorrow?" Usually, they totally understand. Obviously, their hours are different from my hours, and their pack and pee time begins later in the day.
Those Reports are Not Going to Run Themselves
Aside from packing up to leave, most offices run reports at the end of the day. Usually, the customer service workers are the people running those reports. When you call at the last minute, you disrupt this process. Not only are you slowing down the job duties, but you may actually throw off the reports if your call changes the report's statistics. If you are ordering a product or a service, now the reports have to run again. That is never appreciated.
Bonus Inside Info: This Rule Really Applies to Fridays
I will give you, the customer, another helpful hint. When you call in the afternoon on a Friday, especially in the summer, about half the office or more has already bailed out. Sure, if you have a normal call, that is no problem. However, if you feel you have a complex problem, you may want to call earlier in the day or call back on Monday.
Don't get too upset if no one is there that knows the answer to your question after 2 PM on Friday. Once again, in theory, someone should be there to help you. However, on a Friday, people start dropping like flies around noon. By the time late Friday afternoon rolls around, the only poor souls at the office are the people that drew the shortest straws.
Trust me, I understand your frustration because your frustration is my frustration as well. As a customer service representative I want to help you. On certain issues, I can't help you. The people who have to handle the issue are long gone. It upsets me, too, but I can't tell you that on the phone. Do yourself a favor and call back on Monday. It is best for everyone.
Bonus Inside Info 2: This Rule Applies to Stores
As someone that has worked at a number of stores in the past, I have to say the last minute shopper is not what workers want to see either. If a store closes at 10 PM, it is not acceptable to walk through the door at 9:50. No one wants to help you at that point. There are customer service associates that have been on their feet all day. They were just about to lock the door and finally go home. Now you've stopped them.
Another little known fact to those who have never worked retail: stores also run reports at the end of the day just like an office. When a person comes in and makes just one purchase when the reports have started running, the reports have to run all over again. Now, no one is getting home on time. When you move items around, then someone has to fix them before they can go home. So just plan you day wisely and show up earlier, or visit the next day when you have more time.
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