Call center workers are drilled over and over in how to get information and get off the phone as rapidly as possible. They either make money or lose money according to the time spent on each call.
Actually, you do to, but perhaps you never saw it that way. Even though email and instant messaging are increasing popular communication methods, if you are like most workers, you will have a ringing phone.
In fact, you probably have at least two phones; desk phone and cell phone. Unless you know how to manage phone calls, more phones just lead to more interruptions and more disruption of your time management plan.
Do you start each day vowing to keep those phone calls under control then get sidetracked without realizing how much time goes by? Here are some simple strategies to avoid wasting so much time on the phone:
- When you make the call, have a purpose in mind before dialing. You aren’t just calling to see if your client likes the product. That’s too vague. You are calling to ask how the client is using the product today and is there any question for you that was not covered in the start-up guide. Then quickly move into the next stage, which may be to tell the client about a companion product or ask permission to include on a newsletter about product updates. Then get off the phone! These are the 4 most important words in telephone time management.
- If the caller starts storytelling or rambling about non-business matters, politely redirect the call; “That’s great, however my boss has an important project for me so I need to go now.” Or you can give the caller one more chance to get back on track: “Is there anything else that I need to do (look up, work on) before we wrap up this conversation?” For most people, this is sufficient hint to regain control of the call and complete it.
- For the client or coworker who wants to chat after handling business, you need to get off that call promptly. The longer you try to listen and be nice, the more you let them know that they can run over your time management schedule. “That’s all the time I have for now, I must get back to business.” “My desk is piling with work and I must get back to it now.” Or you can bring in the third party motivator: “I have someone in my office who needs my immediate attention.” That last one isn’t lying. You are in your office and your work needs your immediate attention!
- With long winded people, offer to summarize the key points of the call in an email and get off the phone.
- Set an egg timer at your phone and work toward completing most routine business calls in 3-5 minutes. The timer will help you see how much time you are wasting that isn’t necessary to do the job. Get it done then Get off the phone!