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Mama Deb
mamadeb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
Letters to people who have called my office today

Dear Person Selling Webspace:

You have a very distinctive voice - warm, deep and clear. In fact, it is so beautiful that I'm surprised you're not doing radio or commercial voice overs. You should look into that.

So when your automatic dialing device called this same number and you asked for my other boss, the one whose first name starts later in the alphabet, I recognized it right away.

The secretary

Dear Person calling Other Boss:

When I say he's not available, that means he isn't and no amount of telling me that you need to talk to him will change that. And if voice mail is acceptable at the end, why is it not acceptable at the beginning?

The secretary

Comments

When I say he's not available, that means he isn't and no amount of telling me that you need to talk to him will change that. And if voice mail is acceptable at the end, why is it not acceptable at the beginning?

Oh, man, you've just described a phone conversation I seem to have at least once a month...but I'm the person on the other end of the phone. I work in the press, so sometimes I need to get hold of people for articles I'm working on, and depending on how close I am to deadline and how many unreturned voice mail messages I've left for whomever, sometimes I try my darnedest to get the person's secretary on my side. ("An assistant can be your best ally," my boss is fond of saying, and OMG so true.) Sometimes being polite and friendly and candidly explaining the situation works wonders to earn an assistant's sympathy, and they might be more willing to mention me to the boss, where voice mail might not cut it. Sometimes secretaries are hard to engage, though, either just personality-wise or because their bosses have them trained, so that's when I end up going through the whole, "I've left him eight voice mails...He's not in the office?...Do you know when he'll be available?...I'm on a really tight deadline and--*sigh*...OK, yeah, voice mail will be fine" thing.

Of course, your caller sounds like a badgerer. I try not to let the conversation get to that point. ;)

Here's the problem. My bosses run two different offices and take turns being there - and since it's real estate, they also spend a lot of time viewing and showing houses and closing and so on, which means they're out of both offices.

One is fairly easy to reach - she answers her cell phone and I can give out the number to the other office when she's there. She never answers voice mail, though, so I have to deal with that.

The other - his cellphone is never on. When he's at the other office, I'm not permitted to give that number to people who call him - I have to send them to his voice mail here. On the other hand, he does listen to his voice mail.

As for the agents - they're easy. I hand out their cellphone numbers (with their permission.)

Juggle, juggle, juggle. :)

Yes, but, see, your callers aren't to know that. And their experience is likely to be more with people like H who never answers voice mail, than with people like J who does. So while voice mail may be better than nothing, it's a last resort after all possible effort has been made to get through to the person.

Only problem is that the secretaries aren't really responsible for the policies that the bosses set (been there, for an entire university chemistry department, no less).
I suspect that you are polite about it, but I have had so many people who abuse me for the fact that Boss J doesn't answer his voice mail, or simply has no desire to talk to them, like it is some power trip on my part. I can't force them to answer their messages, and being nasty to me or wasting my time by explaining why I should make an exception for them isn't going to change that.
Ooo, bad work flashbacks! <*shudder*>

sounds too familiar

At least one person at work has decided to use me as a gatekeeper and told me to (almost) always say he's not available and take a message. Unfortunately for me he doesn't have his own line so I can't send callers to his voicemail and instead I have to write notes... and if he chooses to ignore the notes then I get snarked at, presumably because I must not have done a good job of passing the message to him. *headdesk*

Oh the memories...

"What do you mean he's not there, he just called me?"

"I don't believe she said she's busy, I think you just don't want me to talk to her."

"No I don't want his voice mail, I want someone to go over there and tap him on the shoulder and tell him I'm on the phone!"

And "Yeah, I know he told you that, but he'd really want to talk to me."