Let’s just start out by saying we have all been there. From botching the CEO’s last name during that pressing conference call to missing the call altogether, we have all had those moments in which our heart starts to pound, our voice cracks and we wish we were home catching up on an episode of “Breaking Bad.”
But it’s OK. And here’s how you can recover when the following mishaps take place:
You Forget the Call
With so many meetings flooding your Outlook calendar, not to mention a web of double bookings, it’s a miracle that you make any call at all. But when you miss that incredibly important meeting—that one with the high-profile prospect you are so desperately trying to reel in—it can feel like the credibility of your company (and your reputation) is slipping away. Before spiraling into a mess of panic, take a deep breath and strategize. Keep in mind that an unplanned, frenetic call to this big fish to apologize will probably sink you even deeper. Conversely, you need to be calm, well-rehearsed and transparent.
Once you have collected yourself, call and discuss the situation. Give the reason for the missed meeting, apologize and move on. Then, get right to the solution and reschedule the call; do not expect the client to give you the “make-up” call on the spot. Alternatively, give the client ample time to prepare for the next meeting and schedule the call around his or her tasks. When you are done, leave yourself a reminder in an obvious location and solicit the help of at least one coworker to remind you when the next call is. After all, one missed call is a mistake. Two missed calls are just simply unprofessional.
You Prepared for the Wrong Call
This time, you remember that important call but the call winds up not being what you planned on. For instance, you prep for a conference call about implementing your company’s new product within your customer’s organization. The problem is this client only wants to talk about the questions that came up on their last invoice.
In this situation, instead of trying to shift gears on the spot, apologize that you had planned for a different agenda and ask for a time to reschedule so you can get the right subject matter experts on the call. Also ask to continue with what you had planned or if there is another time to go over the new offering.
You Forget to Push the Mute Button
The “mute” button is perhaps one of the most dangerous features of the conference call experience. Since it exists, callers are tempted to push it so they can vent to coworkers about the party on the other end, laugh when a call goes unexpectedly or multi-task with others in the room. But the “mute” button is something that should be avoided at all costs because forgetting you are live can spell disaster.
In the event you say something inappropriate when you thought you were muted—and are met with contention or aggravation on the other side—there is nothing to do except own up to your slip. A simple, “To be honest, we are a bit shocked the conversation has headed in this direction” or “Do you mind if we have a moment to regroup?” assures the receiver that you know they heard you. But, it also brings a degree of honesty to the conversation. The worst thing you can do is let your slip up escalate the call. Instead, ask for a brief recess and reschedule the call for when things have calmed down.
While there are many missteps that can make an otherwise productive conference call go awry, the right tools can preclude these mistakes. For example, robust conference call technology can aptly tell you when you are muted, grant you visibility into who is in the call and send calendar reminders to your cell phone to remind you of when a call is about to take place. Tell us… do you have the right conference call tools in place?
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