What happened to phone courtesy?

April 23, 2002 7:06 AM
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People sometimes claim that Vegas casino have lost some of the "personal touch" of the so-called "good old days." That may be true in a few rare cases but only when it comes to in-person contact with casino hotels. However, it may be true that the personal touch on the telephone, in a service-driven industry, has deteriorated slightly!

The main hotel PBX operators are usually great, but once you get past them ”¦ well, things just aren’t what they used to be. With apologies to Andy Rooney ”¦ don’t you just wonder what ever happened to speaking directly to the person you called in the first place, while you still remember why you called?

Perhaps we need some new responses on the calling end.

"Can I tell him who’s calling?" (Sure you can, but how’d you know it was me, I’ve never called before!)

"What’s it about?" (Well, let’s see, I’m calling your hotel advertising office, so it’s probably not about the international market price of pork rinds.)

"Can you spell your name for me?" (Well, I had a little trouble with it in kindergarten, but I think I can get it right now.)

"Who are you with?" (Just my cat, but she’s asleep on the couch.)

"Will he know what this is about?" (He should since I’m returning his call.)

"He’s busy. Can I help you?" (Sure, right after YOU become the vice president of marketing.)

"He’s in a meeting, can I tell him what it’s about?" (If you can interrupt his "meeting" to tell him to what it’s about, why not save him some time and let him hear it only once ”¦ from me!)

(Acceptable alternate response, if you think the person on the other end has a sense of humor ”” Yes, tell him there’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that his wife just drove off a cliff and was killed. The bad news is that she did it in his new Jaguar.)

"He’s on another call and has six waiting, wanna hold?" (Sure, I’d love to hear the theme from "X" files another 27 times.)

"He’s not in, may I tell him what it’s about?" (How can you tell him, if he’s not in?)

"He just stepped out of the office, can I tell him what it’s about?" (Yes, tell him it’s about these pictures hanging outside his office that I’ve been staring at for the past hour and a half.)

"I’ll check and see if he’s in?" (Can’t you just look and see if he’s at his desk, since it’s right behind yours?)

"Hello, executive office. Hold please." (NO, wait! Please! I’m calling from Brazil on my cell pho”¦hello?”¦hello?!)

And there’s”¦

"Hello, our office hours are from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, please call again tomorrow. (It’s 4:55 and I’ve been calling back since 9:05 this morning. Most of the restaurants, lounges, shows and many of the casino areas are just opening at 5, so how come the offices promoting them close at 5?)

"Your call is very important to us, so will you leave your name, company you’re with, time and date you called, a brief message and where and when you can be reached?" (If the tape is that long, would you mind if I also take this opportunity to practice my karaoke on your machine?)

"Hi. We’re at lunch and no one’s available in the office even though we’re responsible for seeing that someone is always available for communicating with the public and media!" (Well, I thought you might want to know that the president of the hotel just committed suicide by jumping off the top floor of your building and it’s already on CNN. And, they’re reporting that he tried to get hold of you just before he jumped to find out exactly what the raise was he promised you so he could sign the requisition form before he ended his misery! Sorry.)

It seems, perhaps, gone are the days when folks picked up the telephone and said, "Hello, Mr. Siegel’s office! He will be right with you."