Now please press 6 for phone fury

"HELLO, you're through to Bunhill. If you have a touch-tone keypad please press '1' after the tone ... Thank you for calling Bunhill; please press '2' for a schedule of my engagements today ... Please press '3' for details of the full range of services provided by Bunhill ... Please press '4' if you'd like to know the capital of Peru ... Hello, you're through to Bunhill ..." (repeat ad infinitum).

Annoying, isn't it? Many's the hot exclusive about a chief executive and a sleeping wildebeest that has slipped through the net because my sources have lost patience with my voicemail or answerphone. But it seems I'm not alone. According to a survey of 600 senior managers and directors by Energis, the telecommunications company, around 30 per cent of respondents have raged against the machine when they've been forced to leave a message that may or may not be returned.

The findings get worse. Some 38 per cent said they had dropped suppliers, or potential suppliers, because calls weren't returned or they were left on hold for too long. Meanwhile, 31 per cent reported that they had placed business elsewhere because their supplier's numbers were engaged too often. And 38 per cent again said suppliers had been given the boot for "poor telephone use" or "poor telephone etiquette". I tried to elicit more information from a disgruntled company, but they told me to sod off.

The conclusions are clear. The finest classical symphonies sound like muzak when piped down the phone, and the noise only antagonises people. Don't be rude; it only antagonises people. Don't pull faces or gesticulate at the handset; they might have a video phone. Don't talk on the phone; there may be someone trying to get through. Don't forget to return calls and be ready to answer questions.

Energis was unavailable for comment.

THE TIME is approaching, so City legend suggests, when thousands of traders react to stock market chaos and job insecurity by manning the window ledges of their Square Mile skyscrapers.

"Go on, jump," sadistic onlookers will cry, little knowing that as the victims dive swallow-like to the streets below, they'll be heading for a soft landing - a blanket held out by outplacement consultancies such as Sanders & Sidney.

While "outplacement" is a typically inelegant example of management speak, it shines by comparison with "downsizing" and its new offspring, "rightsizing" - itself a euphemism for a euphemism. Outplacement takes the fight to these diabolical terms as it is a service used by companies to find new jobs for redundant employees.

According to apocryphal tales from the late 1980s, there wasn't much call for the service in the last recession: City workers would mournfully accept their redundancy cheques, spend a day or two picking up the pieces of their shattered lives ... and then walk straight into a new job down the road, their wallets suitably upsized.

Frances Cook, managing director of S&S, says that, like all generalisations, this was only true in part. She warns that this time people will struggle to find a new post. And while she thinks the shake-out in the Square Mile will cost several thousand jobs, not the 50,000 flagged in some quarters, this will still leave a lot of redundant workers having to carve out new careers.

This is where the outplacement service comes in. First, it helps ex-employees to write CVs and conduct a "reality check" of their skills: many a would- be astronaut has been brought down to earth by S&S. Then it uses networking - "we know somebody, who knows somebody, who knows somebody," says Ms Cook - to prepare the ground with prospective employers. S&S has helped financial services staff to make radical career changes - anything from teaching to law - so clearly it helps if your application is expected.

The part of the service I like best, though, is that clients receive feedback from companies rather than the communications blackout that usually follows applications. As many job-seekers will know, some employers don't even have the decency to tell you to bugger off.

What's in a name?

SO YOU think it's easy to come up with a name? Here's what you have to do. A company wants a title for a new product that will make it attractive to a young, sophisticated audience. You go into a "creative naming process" exploring criteria that the writers will have to meet - in this case, "warmth" and "reliability". Then comes the "creative naming workshop", where members of your staff, the client's staff and the ad agency's staff toss around ideas that reflect their own areas of interest; names such as "Lager", "Football" and "Mating Habits of the Marsupial" are rejected.

You take your ideas out on the road. After overcoming their disappointment that you're not market-testing beer, consumers help you to sift out the bad ideas. You go back to the client and enter a "theoretical and practical process" where a range of names is presented and boiled down to a winner. Finally, you do the painstaking legal work - ensuring that you won't be infringing patents in any of your target markets. The whole process has taken eight weeks.

Some cynics will suggest that they could have thought of the name "egg" when lying in bed - though they may have had breakfast in mind rather than the Prudential's new phone banking service. But it will give ammunition to critics who wonder why expensive pony-tailed creatives are hired to come up with something so daft.

The Brand Name and Company is the firm behind "egg", and marketing manager, Jonathan Hall, says: "Experience shows us that people can't think of names like that." There is a discipline to the process, he explains, because you have to choose a name that communicates the right values to customers, informs staff of standards of service expected, and gives ad agencies something to work with. With egg, the most important characteristics are simplicity and reliability.

If you think he's talking rubbish, do try this at home: think of a name for a direct banking service that is neither vulgar, glib, arcane nor suggestive of banking or phones: the word "direct" has been used before.

Mr Hall admits that some people will struggle to stop laughing out loud when they are greeted with the words "hello, egg" - especially if they remember the way Rowan Atkinson said "Bob" in Blackadder.

So imagine being asked who you work for at a dinner party.

"egg", you mumble.

Slowly, the guests drift away.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week