Want to cut your phone time in half without making callers feel you’re cutting their calls short or paying too little attention to their concerns? Here’s 6 simple strategies you can apply right now!
1. Prepare an outline to control the flow of important phone calls. When you know you want to cover three or four main points, write them down ahead of time, and explain the outline to the other person as soon as you reach him/her. Example: “I want to fill you in on the results of yesterday’s staff meeting, hear your ideas and comments, and decide what actions you and I should take before next week’s meeting.” Then, when you have covered the points, say thank you, and explain that you must get back to work.
2. Explain the purpose of your phone call. It’s a fact that people find it a relief to hear immediately,”I need to request a printout of your travel expenses for last year”, or, “I need you to make a decision about how we will resolve this customer complaint.” Stating your goal clearly at the beginning of a call gives focus and direction to your conversation.
3. Use your computer or fax machine to save phone time. Before making a call that will cover a number of details, draft an outline and email or fax a copy ahead of time to the person you will talk to. You both can check off the points as you talk and end the conversation as soon as you have covered them all.
4. Project warmth, but efficiency too. Whether you make the call or take it, start out by clearly stating that your time is limited but do so with a laugh or in a warm tone of voice. For incoming calls, you might simply say, “Great to hear from you, and I’d love to catch up, but I’m really busy at the moment. What can I do for you today?” Or if you are calling, say, “‘I’m under a tight deadline to complete this job, so let me get to the point right away.”
5. Schedule follow-up calls before you hang up. A great way to minimize the chance of phone tag is to schedule a firm time for any needed follow-up calls. Example:”I’ll go through my files, talk to my boss, and call you back at 1 pm tomorrow with what you requested.”
6. Return all phone calls at a set time each day. Setting a time to return phone calls; whether it’s the first half of the day or the second half, greatly minimizes the time you spend on the phone. You can even add a message on your answering machine or voice mail letting callers know the time of day you return phone calls.
About the Author:
Katrina Chesney is Founder & President of Portable Hands , a Virtual Assistance firm that provides leverage for small businesses.