The results from the three question survey about telephone etiquette policy earlier this week produced some fascinating data…
Although I fully expected that most organizations approached the matter lightly, I wasn’t expecting to see such lopsided results. For instance, out of more than 35 respondents the chart to your left (click to enlarge) illustrates that only 27 percent indicated their organization had an official telephone etiquette policy they were aware of. This indicates that quite a few organizations have no official greeting and employees who may not realize that you shouldn’t chew gum while on the phone (you laugh, but I encountered one this week who was doing exactly that).
To make things worse, the vast majority of respondents indicated that no one in the organization has ever taken the time to review a telephone etiquette policy with them, as illustrated in the chart to your left (click to enlarge). If anything, the data indicates that there is sufficient evidence to investigate what measures constitute “other” with regard to review procedures. I would presume that this may likely include a written policy that is available in an employee handbook which the incoming employee is left on their own to review.
Fortunately, the survey results improved a bit with regard to quality control measures although the majority of respondents still indicated that their organization conducts no telephone etiquette quality control measures, as illustrated in the chart to your left (click to enlarge). Although it is good to see some sort of quality control going on, it is curious that the first step -initial training – is being skipped by so many ensembles.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve called more than three dozen orchestras, all of which has been related to some work I’m conducting for a client. The variety of telephone etiquette has been remarkable; it has ranged from superlative to downright abysmal. Some organizations tossed aside an automated call answer system in favor of having a live human being answer the phone. In every one of those cases, I was able to reach the person I needed to speak to in less than 30 seconds from the time I dialed the institution. However, some of the automated systems were so frustrating to work with that I simply hung up after a few minutes and called someone at the organization I already knew on their cell phone or direct line and asked them to transfer me to the person I needed.
Curiously enough, budget size had little impact on how well an organization performed. The most helpful, charming, and pleasant employees I spoke with were from organizations which covered the gamut in budget size. Nevertheless, in the end orchestras need to consider the image they project when developing a telephone policy. Do they want to seem inviting to potential donors, advertisers, and patrons or do they want to come across as a virtual fortress with a convoluted call system that all but screams go away and never call here again? Worse yet, do they want to reinforce the stereotype that nonprofit management is populated by a bunch of hacks who couldn’t cut it in the for profit world?