Like millions of our fellow Americans, Renee and I placed ourselves on the Do Not Call list.
We did so reluctantly because of my many years as a life insurance agent. The telephone was crucial to our livelihood so I felt a little guilty about not taking the unsolicited calls.
Unfortunately, however, because marketers had fewer numbers to call, we were inundated with more of them than ever. We received opportunities for trips to Branson, MO; siding and roofing bargains; and more lawn services than I knew existed. Thus, rather than miss important events in the lives of Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan on Inside Edition at 6:30 p.m., we added our names to the list.
Since we subsequently receive fewer calls (the legal exception being politicians, charities and companies with whom we have worked recently), I almost enjoy getting them now. Frankly, I sometimes have to remember that I’m not in a call coaching session.
A recent example:
“Is William there? (A sure sign that it’s a stranger because all my friends call me Bill).
“William, I am calling from Hyundai and want to know what you thought of the service we recently provided?” (I resisted the urge to tell him that he forgot to ask if I had time to speak to him on the phone).
“Okay, what do you want to know specifically?”
“I just (again…forced myself to not tell him never to use the word ‘just’ because it diminishes the importance of his message) have a few questions. Is that okay?” (Coming close to asking if I had time but too late in the conversation. That ship had already sailed).
“Sure, go ahead.”
He asked five questions, seeming to like my positive answers to the first four but somewhat taken back by the fifth, “Will you be bringing your car in for the next oil change?”
“No, I won’t.” (He did not ask me why I answered in the negative so I did not volunteer an answer. They’re too expensive and not open when I’m working, information that might be very valuable to them).
“Okay, that’s all. Just one more question (meaning that it really wasn’t all). Would you mind if we sent you another survey by email? A longer one.”
“I’m curious. Why would you need to do that when you just asked me the questions.”
Uncomfortable silence (it wasn’t in his script).
Finally, “Well, uh, er, (filler words) I don’t really know. I’m just (that word again) supposed to ask.”
“No, I really prefer not to fill out a survey. Thanks for your call. “(Even though I missed what happened in the OJ trial while we were talking and wasn’t excited about answering the phone during our supper/Inside Edition hour).
“No problem,” says he. (Whatever happened to “You’re welcome?”).
In general, the young man was polite, had a nice telephone voice and was doing his job. If grading was called for I would have given him a ‘C+’ or ‘B-.’ However, it served to remind me how little he would have had to do in order to earn an ‘A.’
Maybe I should take us off the Do Not Call list and risk the chance of missing when Brad and Angelina are going to adopt a few more kids. It would give me a chance to practice my craft at home more often.
Or… maybe…just maybe… I should get a life!
Bill Sheridan—SHERIDAN WRITES, LLC
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