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“blind transfer” and “keyword transfer” February 13, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Definition.

I found this one on Urban Dictionary:

Blind transfer
When someone calls your office phone and you transfer them to a random number from a department you choose because you either can’t find the correct number or you don’t feel like looking it up.

Co-worker: Who just called?
You: I’m not really sure but I totally just blind transferred him to someone in human resources.

There is, of course, only one thing worse than being the recipient of a blind transfer: being the recipient of a keyword transfer.

keyword transfer
(KEE-word TRANS-fur)

CC-licensed photo by VideogameVisionary.com

CC-licensed photo by VideogameVisionary.com

CorporateSpeak’s receptionist retired last month after more than 25 years with the company. She was — to put it politely — not very good at understanding the internet and its place in our business model. We had a good working relationship, except for when I got hit with a keyword transfer.

Before I was hired, a man named Rowan held my position. Apparently, during the years he was with CorporateSpeak, he made it clear to the receptionist that if anyone had a question about one of our websites, she could just transfer the call to him and he’d take care of it. And for the first few months of my tenure, I didn’t mind it so much.

But then my job description changed, and I became more of a coder. I was pretty much removed from day-to-day content creation by the end of my first year with the company. I still go the majority of the keyword transfers, but I couldn’t really answer the questions and just ended up transferring all the calls to my co-worker Denise, who was our chief content creator. Eventually Denise quit and was replaced by the Lost Reporter, but I still got all the keyword transfers. I still do, though I’ve learned to let them roll over to voicemail and answer the questions at a more leisurely pace — it does nothing but make you look stupid to take a long time to answer someone’s question while s/he sits on hold.

The keyword list included, but was not limited to:

  • corporatespeak.com
  • .com
  • web
  • website
  • internet
  • video
  • copy (as in, “can I get a copy of This Thing on your website?”)

The questions were usually “I can’t find This Thing on your website”. Unfortunately, I had nothing to do with the placement of This Thing, so I more often than not transferred the person to the co-worker whose job it was to put This Thing on the site. Our content creators are not very diligent about returning phone calls to our users, but let’s be honest: that’s not my fault. I made an effort to find the person who could answer the question (or, more accurately, the demand).

The really interesting part is that even when my voicemail message says I’m out of the office for an extended period of time, the receptionist still forwarded calls to my extension. She’d associated certain keywords with my extension and just sent people my way without really paying attention to the content of the call. See, if you end up on the phone with me, there’s a lot I can tell you, but there’s even more I can’t, like:

  • …the name of that website for that advertiser on your site.
  • …the e-mail address of a person someone in the company interviewed.
  • …what time our next webinar will be posted.
  • …how to get to our building for a meeting. (Actually, I can do that, but we have directions on our website for a reason.)
  • …contact information for one of our clients for whom we built a website. (I can do that, technically, but we’re not supposed to give that information out.)

Those are the most common. There are other, more esoteric questions, but I can’t remember them all off the top of my head.

Fortunately, our new phone systems all have caller ID, so if I don’t recognize the number of a call coming from outside the building, I let it go to voicemail. Either the person will leave a message (which I can then forward to the appropriate person), send me an e-mail (as I instruct in my outgoing message), hang up and call the receptionist again, or just give up.

A good voicemail message is definitely the way to go when you’ve become the regular target of a keyword transfer. And, in case you haven’t figured it out by now, the definition of a keyword transfer is:

a call that is transferred to your extension when the receptionist hears a specific keyword (or keywords) and stops listening to the caller, thereby making it impossible for the receptionist to properly direct the call instead of just sending it to you

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1. click here, you idiots « corporatespeak - July 13, 2009

[…] Even more so when your co-workers can’t figure it out either, and they’re supposed to be the smart ones! (In their defense, they usually don’t even bother looking at the website; they just transfer the calls to you and forget about them.) […]

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