According to recent findings, U.S. construction and architecture firms have room for improvement when it comes to phone manners. Conducted by PH Media Group, the study surveyed 2,234 American consumers and found only 21 percent are satisfied with the way construction businesses handle phone calls. Only 20 percent of architecture firms’ customers report satisfaction.
Perhaps the survey results can be explained by the widespread use of mobile devices, particularly in the design and construction world. Designers and contractors stay on the move, running from job site to job site, in and out of the office. A smart phone is an indispensable tool in such a work environment. No contractor or design professional could work without one.
While the use of mobile devices is common in the workplace, not everyone remembers to maintain the same professional manner that they would in an office setting. Just as an email abiding by the rules of business etiquette provides the opportunity to market your contracting business as a professional service, so does the well-mannered use of the mobile device. By remembering just a few common courtesies when using a mobile phone, contractors can maintain the professional image they’ve worked so hard to create.
Times to turn it off
There are occasions when a mobile phone should be turned off so voicemail can answer. In personal life, these areas would include movie theaters, museums, libraries, houses of worship and any public performance. But during the workday, are there times when a mobile phone should go straight to voicemail?
Meetings can be tricky. People in the design and construction professions are in meetings daily. Ideally, all meeting participants would turn off phones so everyone could concentrate fully on the information and tasks at hand.
But if the phone call pertains to information needed for the meeting, then it’s OK to take a call — especially when a caller ID function lets you know if the call is the one you were expecting. But whatever the situation, always remember the person you are with is the most important person, and that person in your presence takes precedence over any incoming call.
A phone should be turned off when you’re making a transaction with someone, even if the transaction doesn’t require conversation. An example would be depositing a check with a bank teller. You may not have to speak to the person, but refraining from phone conversations is the considerate action. Remember, the person present is the most important person.
With concrete mixers turning, earthmovers rumbling and hammers pounding, a job site can get loud. So, it’s probably necessary to speak in a loud voice if you want to take a call on a job site. But when you leave the job site, don’t forget to speak in a normal voice. Loud talkers disturb everyone who’s in earshot of the conversation and invade the space of others.
Likewise, make sure your ring tone volume matches your environment. On the job site, there’s no question you’ll need to turn up the volume on your ring tone. But when you leave, turn down the volume so a loud ring won’t disturb others.
When speaking on a mobile device, the whole world can be your audience. Even if you’re not speaking loudly, it’s usually possible for others to hear your conversation if you’re in a public place.
Keep that in mind and remember to be discreet about professional and personal matters. Quite simply, you may not want workers to overhear certain financial data or other sensitive information.
Sometimes things can get pretty intense in the contracting world. Deliveries may arrive later than expected, unexpected site conditions can delay progress or your pump operator may get the flu on the day of the big pour. Many times, the unfortunate news is delivered via mobile phone. Although controlling emotions is good advice for anyone — whether on the phone or face-to-face with a prickly person or situation — it’s especially important for mobile users who are in a public setting.
If in an outburst of anger occurs in a private office, the offending person may have only one person who witnesses the embarrassment. But what if a client sees the unfortunate behavior? With so many eyes and ears around, controlling emotions on a mobile device is critical to maintaining a professional appearance.
The gracious and well-mannered use of a phone provides an opportunity to present your business as a brand to be remembered. If people observe you handling a phone call in a way that shows respect to others, they’ll remember you as a true professional and someone with whom they want to do business. And that’s the kind of lasting impression you want to make.
For more than 20 years, Ashley Kizzire has written for commercial markets, specializing in the concrete and construction industry since 2000. Based in Birmingham, Alabama, Kizzire is the senior editorial manager at Constructive Communication Inc. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.