A straw poll around Moneypenny suggests we would no sooner leave home without our mobile phone than our cash or car keys.
With the phone now an extension of our very being, have we reached a point where anything goes? Or are there unwritten rules governing phone etiquette that we either abide by or blatantly choose to ignore?
Certainly, the working lives of so many of us has changed beyond recognition even from ten years ago. Gone are the days of 9 to 5. We live in a 24/7 world where customers and business contacts expect to be able to get in touch around the clock. How many of us respond to emails late at night or take calls standing in the supermarket queue, on the way to the vets or while waiting to pick up the kids?
Particularly for small business owners, the pressure to respond is magnified as they juggle being Director, Sales, Customer Service and Accounts all rolled into one. Maintaining this illusion, of being a larger outfit than you really are, works well in so many ways, but often means dealing with calls in the most inopportune places and at strange times. For example, Moneypenny’s own research has shown some people are quite prepared to take calls at weddings and funerals; should there be a call for a new social charter outlining what is and really isn’t acceptable?
Celebrity culture moulding the way we live
It’s true that in everyday life most of us seem to be taking multi-tasking to a whole new level. OK, maybe we‘re not in the Peaches Geldof league. Many will remember her being snapped on a London street phone to ear while taking her little five month old baby Astala for a walk when his pram hit an uneven stretch of pavement.
The celebrity mum, who appeared to be engrossed in conversation, barely flinched even as his pram tipped and he tumbled half out with his little feet dangling on the concrete. The phone was still there in hand as she chatted away heaving him back into his seat.
When, if ever, is it acceptable to carry on talking?
Think back to the days before we all had mobile phones. We actually concentrated on talking to each other rather than continually writing or checking emails, tweets, texts or taking calls. In social situations mobile rudeness is all around us: the classic example being people talking loudly in the ‘quiet zone’ on a train.
So, was the cashier in Sainsbury’s right to refuse service to the ‘rude’ customer who continued talking on her phone at the checkout? We live in a world of brain overload doing a bit of everything but often doing nothing well. There is no doubt the mobile phone has changed our lives, mostly for the good but it’s all about timing and we should all take a quick reality check to make sure we aren’t abusing the privilege.
Whenever you need us, we’re here to help you with your calls.
The phone etiquette debate is an important one for us here at Moneypenny as we assist business owners in taking control of the way they answer their calls. We give businesses their own dedicated PA, someone you know and trust, to look after calls as if based in your office.
For microbusinesses and start-ups, our sister product, Penelope, offers a cost-effective alternative by enabling you to manage your calls via a digital receptionist app: transforming your mobile phone into a fully-functioning phone system.
Get on with what you do best with Moneypenny