My full time job as a Switchboard Operator involves a lot of phone work. Well, not on an actual phone per se. Our lines come in through our computers, though we do have “side phones” for emergency calls, and for times when the system goes down – which happened last week, and let me tell you – it was not fun! Being “on the phone” for eight hours a day has left me with thoughts and opinions about people, and about technology. I need to insert here that I really do enjoy my job. This is the truth.
One – when a call comes in, we don’t have to immediately introduce ourselves – we have what they call the “perfect greeting.” It is a pre-recorded introduction. This recording is clear and the volume is perfect. It is very frustrating to begin hearing your caller’s voice and feeling as if they are calling you from a wind tunnel somewhere. I listen to them talking and picture them out in a horrible storm, with wind blowing them all over the place. It can be very bad and hard to hear. These are the calls that I am very happy to get done with.
Two – I really do not like talking to what I refer to as “the mumblers.” It really isn’t all that hard to be understood on a phone call. There have been callers who I have had to ask three or four times who and where they wanted their call directed to. It is also difficult to understand a “mumbler with an accent.” These people seem to think they are not understood because of their accents. That is not the case at all. Accent or no accent, if people open up their mouths and speak clearly their calls would be connected a whole lot quicker.
Three – there are callers who, for some reason, think they need to give you every little detail of what they are calling for. No, I don’t need to know the reason why you want a certain department, and I don’t need to know how you know the patient you’re calling about. All I need to know is the spelling of the patient’s name (if it could be a difficult one) or the department name clearly stated. No further details are necessary.
Four – I thought we had gone past the days of bad cell phones with poor connections. I was wrong. Recently there have been increasing numbers of calls coming in like calls did years ago – with poor connections, calls dropping, calls zoning out. These calls result in frustration for those who answer, and I’m sure also for those making the calls.
Five – I work in a hospital. Hospitals have strict rules about confidentiality. I cannot tell how many callers try to get information that we simply can not give out. It doesn’t matter how sweet they are or how persuasive they try to be. There are only a few bits of information we are allowed to give, and that is it. Ugh!
Six – Volume! How hard is it to really speak at the proper level for a phone call? I have had callers who whisper, who whisper a second time and then all of a sudden will be shouting. Then there callers who start out practically screaming into my ears. There really is no need for either extreme. It is also very annoying when you hear loud sneezing or loud coughing. It is almost like you can feel the germs coming through the wires into your headset.
Seven – I dislike talking to rude people. I fail to see any reason for being nasty to someone who is only answering the phone. Understanding that callers may be stressed because they have a loved on in the facility still to me does not give anyone the reason or excuse to be rude. A caller doesn’t have to be friendly yet I think they should be polite. It’s common human decency.
Eight – Now on the other hand, I enjoy talking to nice people. It is a pleasure to speak with a caller who is treating you with respect. These are the people who you would want all callers to be like. They are talkative and friendly, and I wish we could talk longer to them. The nature of the job is to get the caller to where they are calling quickly and properly. I just wish we could keep them on the line a little longer.
Nine – I dislike talking to callers who are calling in from either a bad cellphone or a computer-generated phone. There is always a delay, and these delays are always annoying. You don’t know when to speak, and inevitably just as you say a word – so does the caller. These delays make for a very annoying call, and I wish they would just end and go away.
Ten – This is silly. I can see incoming phone numbers on the top of my screen. We take messages and forward those messages to different locations. I kind of scrutinize the phone numbers. I either like a number or I don’t. I find certain phone numbers easy to retype and remember, and other ones a bit harder. I don’t like phone numbers with the first three digits after the area code that also seem like an area code – like, for example 215-307-xxxx. Different phone numbers just bug me, that’s all. And I can’t really even explain why.
So there you have it. My thoughts on phone numbers. I had to give up my cell number back in November when I upgraded my phone. To keep my old number, it would cost me $20 a month for the phone. If I changed it, it was free. It was hard giving up a number that I had for almost thirteen years, but…free is my favorite price!