Phones are a necessary part of doing business. Every call might be a new client ready to give us their money, someone whose life we can change for the better, or a new contact who could prove invaluable. But it could also be a telemarketer, that person who thinks because you work from home you have lots of free time, or your Mom – who might think the same!
So how do we make sure that we use this important business tool to best effect without it sucking our time?
Here are my 10 tips to tame the phone monster.
- Be clear with your friends and relatives about your time and let them know that would love to hear from them when you have time for a really good chat.
- Have caller id. This will not pick up all the nuisance calls but you can screen out the chatty neighbor and most of the telemarketers.
- Turn off call waiting during business hours. Make a point of dealing with each call as effectively as possible. Call waiting will distract you and send the wrong message to your caller (someone else is more important).
- Create blocks of time that you will be unavailable by phone. No one expects you to be available all the time unless your business can support an answering service or receptionist. Plan these blocks into your schedule. Make them fairly regular. Use this time for concentrated work. Work with clients, creating new programs etc.
- Record a message on your phone that lets callers know when you will be able to get back to them. Keep this up to date. (Ideally record a new one each day with the date on it so your callers know it is accurate) If you know you are going to be at a workshop for two day then say that and let them know when you will be picking up and returning messages.
- Give an alternative means of contacting you. In your message you can leave you e mail address, an alternative number, let them know if they can text you or contact you via Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter etc
- Live up to your bargains. Return calls within the timeframes you promised
- Turn off the ringer. When you have your blocks of phone free time (this includes texts by the way) either turn your phone off or set to silent so you won’t be distracted by the ringer and curious about who is calling.
- Batch your outgoing calls. It is much more effective to batch all your outgoing calls as well. Prepare for them all together, have a message ready for those who don’t pick up, letting them know when they can contact you without playing answer phone tag.
- Have open call time. Have some time each day when you will pick up the phone. This can be useful to let existing clients know they can get in touch, times for people to return your calls etc. Kind of like an open house on the phone.
In this age of seemingly complete accessibility you need to be more careful than ever to protect your time. Try these tips and see how it works for you.
What tips would you add?