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I work for a value added reseller in the IT field, in a technical, post-sales role.

Lately I've had to do a lot of remote follow-up with various clients via webex. Since it's just the two of us, in the "Conference Call" details, I generally just put "Please call me at (my desk number)".

My concern is that asking the client to call me (instead of me offering to call the client) could be considered as impolite or a mild breach of etiquette.

Should I be concerned about this? Is there any established business etiquette surrounding the question of who should offer to call whom in a business relationship?

The calls don't cost the client money, they have already paid for the project as a whole.

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    Honestly as a client I prefer (if I'm paying by the hour/ect) if I always initiate the call so I always know when I'm accepting billable hours. Are you charging for the calls?
    – Rarity
    May 16, 2012 at 15:02
  • @Rarity, the calls do not cost the client.
    – Jeremy
    May 16, 2012 at 16:41
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    @Jeremy - This is a small detail. If the client has a reason for preference they will advise you of that reason. Generally most companies I have worked with are used to calling in to a conference call anyway so calling your desk is no extra effort. Jun 20, 2012 at 13:08

2 Answers 2

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I have been to both side of the roles. In general, this depends on the context of the client.

  1. When client is initiating a new request or has a question to ask he/she won't mind calling you.

  2. If he/she has called you already, but found answering machine or no answer, if they have to repeatedly call you to get hold of you, it really is very irritating.

  3. If he/she call you but if either you are busy or not comfortable taking call and ask to call later - it is fine once in a while but not good in frequent cases.

  4. If I am a vendor, and I am planning a follow up myself, I would definitely want to initiate the call myself and call the client rather than expecting call back.

I deal with many of our partnering clients who do want that they are serviced very well. It turns out that when we call back - they find that we are very concerned about them and value their association. People rarely get offended if they have to call and such matters don't really count when they make genuine decisions; but you calling them definitely will bring that comfort level. I have experienced that.

On the other hand, when I am procuring stuff, I personally weigh only the technical aspects to evaluate and extend business; the only thing concerns me about vendors if they don't respond to requests or call.

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Since you mention a webex, I assume you are sending them an invitation at a certain point of time, with an included webex conference.

This means it is not a question of "when" the call will take place, only who picks up the phone first to dial the number.

Honestly, I wouldn't worry about it. I usually write "I'll call you" simply because I like to drive these things and don't want to be on the receiving end of laziness on their side or what have you. You have to pick either, since the alternative (both of you dialing into a conference) feels unnatural in any case.

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