Thursday, June 19, 2008

Probably It's Just A Quirk

After years of doing this one particular thing on the phone I have recently begun to take a whole lot of guff over it. Seems like every day someone is asking me why I do it and assuming it's a financial thing.

It's not.

OK, here's what I do:

Scene: Me, at my desk, with my silly headset on and the phone rings.

Me: Big Fancy Dude's Office!

Whoever: Is this Kizz?/Who is this?

Me: Who's calling?

Whoever: (tentatively) It's [fill in the blank]

Me: Hi, this is Kizz, how can I help?

Whoever: Are you screening? Are you hiding from collection agencies?

My theory here is that if you are the incoming caller then you are, in essence, entering the space of the call receiver therefore it's your responsibility to identify yourself. I know that in some offices it's customary for the person who answers to identify both the office and the speaker but I work in an office where I'm a gatekeeper. I'm not in the business of customer service, I'm in the business of making my bosses' lives more comfortable and simple. My last job was with a guy who was pretty famous, made the Fortune 400 in the top 50, was accused of fixing elections and the like. He had three assistants and I was the low one on the totem pole so a big part of my job was fielding unsolicited calls and mail. Giving people my name was actually a dangerous proposition and I had to call in security on a few occasions so the fewer pieces of personal information the masses had about me the better.

That job certainly strengthened my theory but I had it before I showed up there. I think that's what I was taught when I was taught phone manners as a kid originally. I was being trained as an incoming caller and told it was a requirement of etiquette that I identify myself and I agree. I follow those rules most of the time even now, over 30 years later. Unless I'm calling a big company switchboard who doesn't give a damn who I am I identify myself first and when people call me I require them to identify themselves first. When someone dials a wrong number I don't answer "What number did I call?" either. In the words of a lovely character played by a phenomenal lady, "Consult your directory!"

What do you think? Am I too picky? Too demanding in an age of lowered standards? Quirkalicious? Or am I just your type of gal?


  1. I worked switchboard at a large law office for a while. It was essential that I vet the callers before passing them on to the lawyer's assistants.

    I hate when people do not identify themselves upfront. What are they hiding? - usually my first thought.

  2. When they call, they have to go first.
    I often used an alias too.
    What difference did it make whether I used my real name which no one ever say right anyway.
    I still protest when they give out my first and last name for my current job.
    May be I am just full of paranoia... but I don't like it at all.

  3. Anonymous3:00 PM

    You are so right on. It is tiresomely rude to demand that the person you called identify him/herself before you do. It's your space and they need permission from you to come aboard, not vice versa. This seems too simple to even be a question of debate. People should know that you're going to ask "who's calling" and just pre-empt it by getting with the ID up front. It's pretty basic. Keep doing what you're doing.

  4. Anonymous6:04 PM

    I don't feel the need to necessarily identify myself so much as the person I'm intending to speak to. If you've already said big dude's office than I know i have dialed correctly and my next question would not be "who are you" but "is big dude available?" at ehich point I would expect to have you inquire as to who I am. So I got no problem with it. If however you haven't told me it's big duded's office, I might be trying to make sure I got routed to the right place when i ask whom you are.

  5. Anonymous6:05 PM

    oh wait, I forgot. I have one friend for whom I always used to make up fake names when I called her just so her secretary would get on the intercom and say "Jeff Largebottom on line 2"

  6. You are 100% in the right on this - though you didn't need me to tell you that. If YOU call ME, then it's YOUR job to tell me who you are. I also do not answer the "what number DID I call" question - my response is "what number were you going for?" When they give me a number that is not mine, I say, "Nope! Try again!"

    Now, if I were to call you and I had a question, I would want to know your name (I'm all about the personal connection). I'd be polite about asking for it, though, and I'd ALWAYS tell you who I am FIRST.

  7. Anonymous10:00 PM

    I completely concur; people should use the same etiquette they (hopefully) use when they meet someone in person. You wouldn't walk up to someone and say, "Who are you?" and then introduce yourself afterward, so why do some people feel it is ok to do that on the phone?

    I've done my fair share of telephone customer service work and it's clear that sometimes people feel freer to let it all hang out on the phone because there's a certain amount of anonymity.

  8. Anonymous1:16 PM

    You are SOOOOO right. I HATE it when people call me and then say, "Who's this?" It's incredibly rude. I never answer that question.

    I don't always give my name when I call someone, unless I know I have already reached that person, because if I have reached a switchboard, the operator doesn't always want to know who I am, and I don't want to slow them down with extraneous info - I always hated that when I was in jobs where I had to route calls. But I will gladly give my name when asked (if I am placing the call), and if I know I have already been routed to the person I am trying to reach, I will start out by giving my name.

    As for wrong numbers, I try to ask what number someone called, and then I'll tell them if they mis-dialed or if they have the wrong number for the person they are trying to reach. If they ask my my number, I won't give it.

    So keep doing what you're doing - whomever questions you obviously doesn't have any manners!

  9. Thank you for proving that I'm not crazy. Next up is whether or not I'm overly optimistic to expect the rude world we live in to comply.

  10. As long as we're getting picky about phone manners -

    I get calls routed to me because I sell a service my company provides. A very complicated and expensive service. You wouldn't believe the number of cold-callers I get who 1) want the service next weekend, and are just making the first inquiry today 2) cold-call me from their car and 3) call me and then ask ME to hold.

    then there are the ones who cold-call me, request a service for a particular date, and argue with me after I tell them that it's not available because its already contracted by another client on that date. Like I'm going to cancel another person's contract for them?