At the Sound of the Beep

Turns out, there was something I forgot to mention about phone etiquette in yesterday’s post.

If a caller asks for someone who’s not there or unavailable, the first thing you do is offer alternatives– “Can I help you with something?” or “The coordinator’s not here, but the APOC is.” I worked on one show where it took the head of make-up about six months to figure out I could issue drive-ons, and she didn’t have to talk to my boss each time.

But if the caller really does need to talk to that one specific person, you take a message. Sometimes the caller will just say, “Have him call me back.” Always ask what the call is regarding. There’s a world of difference between, “That bitch in wardrobe parked in my space again” and “The set’s on fire.”

I still miss the old courthouse set.
I’ll call you right back.

But the most important thing is this: always, always, always get a phone number. Even if the caller says, “Oh, he has my number.” In fact, especially if the caller says that. Because if your boss doesn’t have the number, guess who looks like the asshole.

In these cases, I’ll usually rephrase: “Could I get that number, just in case?”

Now, you might think this doesn’t apply if the caller is on the crew list, but you’d be wrong. Most contact lists include cell phone numbers as well as office numbers, and you should ask which one they’ll reachable at.

In any case, write this number down on the message you leave. Your boss doesn’t have all day to be flipping through the crew list.

This may all sound very simple. That’s because it is. Which is why everybody notices when you screw it up.

So, you know, don’t.

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2 Responses

  1. Before I knew better a secretary once set me up like that. She took a message for our UPM and didn’t get a number, knew she was gonna get it, and had me walk it in to him. I guess she forgot that she signed the phone message with her own name, because it made her look incredibly stupid.

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