Can the way you use the phone actually improve your productivity? In a guest post, our own Robby Slaughter explains how to increase productivity in the way you answer and speak.
The full post appeared on the The Switchboard, the blog for Fathom Voice. It was also published on Inside Indiana Business. It opened with a productivity tip about what to say when the phone rings:
Here’s a simple example. How many times have you called someone, and they’ve answered with just one word: “Hello?”
This is just about the worst possible thing you can do when answering the phone. It shows no interest in the conversation and forces the caller to take charge.
Instead, you can actually increase productivity by considering three distinct factors when answering:
- The type of line are you answering — direct line, company line, or cellphone
- The relationship you have with the caller — personal, professional or none
- Whether or not the call was scheduled
Slaughter’s piece also explained how to ensure that the phone doesn’t interrupt you while still providing good service. He continued:
There are other ways to increase productivity on the phone as well. One of the most powerful is the “quick answer.”
If someone calls in and you’re focused on an urgent task or talking to someone else in person, it can be tempting to let the message go to voicemail. But then, you have to listen to the voicemail and try to return the call later. That’s no way to increase productivity!
Instead, try this: “Jack, Emily here. Hey, I’m in the middle of something. Can I call you back in ten minutes?”
More than likely, the caller will accept this suggestion. They save the time of leaving a voicemail and you save the time of listening to the voicemail.
Plus, the caller can increase productivity by planning to be available in ten minutes. Everyone wins!
The “quick answer” strategy works for any time frame, not just ten minutes. The person answering the phone could have suggested a time to call back, such as 11:00AM.
Plus, they don’t actually have to be “in the middle of something.” The telephone is a source of interruption every time it rings. But if you decide to answer quickly, you can control the phone—instead of it controlling you.
While you may feel like it’s a white lie to say you’re right in the middle of something, if you really think about it, you likely are in the middle of something when you’re phone rings. With your busy schedule, there’s probably not a ton of time sitting around and staring at the phone while waiting for it to ring. And if you are, that’s a whole other problem within itself.
Almost every phone conversation can be accomplished very quickly. By letting people know that you’re in the middle of something, more than likely they’re going to give you a quick response about what they were calling about. And if the call is something that can’t be handled in less than a minute, well then it probably makes sense to schedule a time where you can fully devote your attention to that call anyway. While the phone can be a great source of convenience, if you don’t manage it well, it can serve as a major productivity blocker. The task for you is to find the right balance between productive and distracting phone use.
For more information about business telephone systems, check out Sharpen, (which used to be known as Fathom Voice). And for more techniques to improve employee productivity, contact our organizational productivity consultants here at AccelaWork!