Don’t pick up the phone

Few would deny that the rise in smartphones has opened up a world of connectivity. However, some might also say that that ability to connect freely has come at a price; an assumption that in a 24/7 always on world we should always be available.

That can pose a problem for individuals who because of the nature or size of their business may simply not be available at the end of a line at all times. Whether travelling or in meetings, or simply having some down time, calls may go unanswered. And that can negatively impact the business.

Luckily there are a range of solutions available. On the simplest level, answerphone messages which invite callers to leave details and receive a call-back might be sufficient. Leaving an answerphone message can be quick and convenient. Unfortunately, if the individual leaving the message is also time pressured the message might just lead to an extended bout of telephone tennis when messages are left in response to messages and so on.

One way around this might be to switch unanswered calls to a virtual assistant service. From taking messages, to arranging appointments and providing answers to frequently asked questions, virtual assistants can help to take the strain. Moreover, by being aware of an individual’s diary, virtual assistants can also manage expectations, arranging call-backs at a time which suits both parties.

Of course, larger organisations may not need to resort to a virtual assistant service. A company switchboard which directs calls around a team or department means that callers may not be able to reach one individual but they should still receive a reasonable response.

Another solution might be to transfer calls away from the office to another landline number or mobile. However, that might not be the solution if driving. Current regulations forbid the taking or making of phone calls when driving unless a hands free kit is used. Those rules have now been strengthened so that the definition of ‘using a phone’ now includes:

  • illuminating the screen
  • checking the time
  • checking notifications
  • unlocking the device
  • making, receiving, or rejecting a telephone or internet based call
  • sending, receiving or uploading oral or written content
  • sending, receiving or uploading a photo or video
  • utilising camera, video, or sound recording
  • drafting any text
  • accessing any stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, films, playlists, notes or messages
  • accessing an app
  • accessing the internet

The new law comes into effect on 25 March 2022 with breaches carrying a minimum penalty of a £300 fine and six penalty points. The only exemptions are when the phone is being used in an emergency and it is not safe to stop driving in order to do so and when making a contactless payment at a terminal and the vehicle is stationary.

 

Commenting on the new law AA president Edmund King, said: “The AA has long campaigned to toughen up these rules, and we welcome this announcement. This is a much needed upgrade of the law to help make our roads safer. Mobile phones offer many distractions and this sends a clear message that picking them up to use them will not be tolerated.”

Written by Alison