What would you think if you were meeting with a client and she abruptly pulled out a book and started reading in the middle of your listing presentation?
That would seem bizarre if not outright rude, yet many agents do something similar when they take phone calls during a client meeting. Some agents even answer e-mail while their clients sit waiting patiently.
Smartphones make it easy for us to stay in touch, but they also encourage us to behave in ways that many people find offensive. Smartphones draw us in to what’s happening on the handheld device and encourage us to neglect what’s going on around us. They give us a false sense of importance and make us forget that others are in the room.
It’s rude to keep one client waiting while you answer a call or a message from another client. Behavior like that communicates to the client you’re with that the other client is more important and that yourtime is more valuable. Not only it is bad manners, but while you’re texting you could be missing something important your client is trying to tell you. Most of us don’t multi-task nearly as well as we think we do.
Yes, it’s true that some clients will be reading their messages while you’re giving your presentation. It’s also true that some clients will expect to be able to reach you at a moment’s notice and being slow to respond could cost you business. That said, it’s still better to demonstrate good business etiquette regardless of what others around you are doing:
- Put the phone on vibrate. Silence the phone ringer when you’re meeting with a client.
- Don’t even look at it. Put the phone away so you’re not tempted to keep glancing at it to see what you’re missing.
- Alert the client upfront. If you’re expecting an important call during the meeting, tell the client in advance. But only take one call like that; don’t keep jumping up and taking more calls.
- Leave the room. If you must take a call during a meeting or a business luncheon, excuse yourself, step out of the room, and conduct your call out of earshot. When you return, apologize for the interruption.
- Pay attention to what’s going on around you. When you’re hosting an open house, for example, focus on your guests. Pick up your calls and messages afterward.
- Put your clients first. When you’re showing homes, give your clients your undivided attention.
- Talk in a normal voice. When you do take calls, modulate your voice. People around you don’t want to hear your conversation.
- Avoid all distractions. Remember that texting is no different than talking live on the phone. Both are distractions when you’re with a client and both are bad manners.