How many times have you finished a successful meeting or telephone conversation, only to find that you don’t have any contact details to follow it up? I know this seems like a silly question as business etiquette often leads to the exchange of business cards at the beginning of meetings, but the exchange can be missed if the meeting is very involved. Also, conversations via telephone can move at quite a pace and it’s so easy to get caught up in the conversation and miss the opportunity to collect details.
On a daily basis, it’s our job (as a telephone answering and messaging taking service) at Message Takers to collect contact details, this is simply our focus above all else. So, as soon as we pick up the telephone to answer a call, we’re ready to collect names, numbers and email addresses. However, for us it’s the purpose of our business, you may have other objectives on your mind.
If I can share any advice with you today, it’s to be as prepared as possible to collect contact details. If you are making or receiving a telephone call, ensure that you have a pen and paper to hand or even a blank Word Document open and then you’ll be ready to write or type out contact details. As you feel that a conversation is drawing to a close ‘THINK Contact Details’ and ask the essential questions….’Can I take your contact telephone number?’ Make sure you check this by reading it back to the caller. Also, if it’s the first call you’ve received, you’ll need to take their name and don’t be afraid to check any difficult spellings…it’s better to get it right than being overly polite ‘Can I check the spelling of your name?’ – Remember, letters can be misheard over the telephone, for example f’s can be heard as S’s etc. It’s therefore more than acceptable to use the phonetic alphabet or your version this to check, i.e. ‘Is that F for Flower or S for Sugar?’
Once you get into the habit of asking for contact details, you’ll use questions to help build the relationship with a caller, as even the misuse of the phonetic alphabet can give you both a chance to share a little humour during your call. Please don’t put yourself into a situation where you are left hoping that someone will call you back. In order to seize each and every opportunity, you need to have an element of control with the ability to follow up by either calling someone back or dropping them an email.