Is It A Bad Time To Call?

The rise in popularity of the smart phone has claimed yet another casualty in the ongoing debate between privacy and practicality.  Golfer Phil Mickelson became so frustrated with the number of fans taking photos with their smart phones at a recent event that he apparently stopped on the sixth fairway to send a text to PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem requesting better policing of spectators using smart phones.

Mickelson wasn’t the only one to complain about having to reframe shots following smart phone distractions.   However, his frustration was perhaps more apparent thanks partly to the text message and partly to his subsequent withdrawal from the tournament due to mental fatigue.

Tour rules allow spectators to bring phones to tournaments but they should only be used in designated areas and should not be used for taking photos of players.  The rules are designed to avoid distractions which could cause players to miss vital shots.  It is perhaps surprising that golf fans flout the rules as followers of golf are generally thought of as being knowledgeable about the game and how easily a good shot can be turned into a poor one.

In fact, anyone who works with the telephone at hand can probably understand how frustrating it can be to have vital processes interrupted by a call.  Whether working on a report or a spreadsheet or a new idea; a simple telephone call can easily set you back half an hour or more.  No matter how customer friendly you are, sometimes it pays to switch off the phone and concentrate. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean that clients need be left in the lurch.  Switching calls to a colleague or virtual assistant means that client queries will still be answered.  Virtual Assistant services have come a long way in the last few years.  From simple message takers, thanks to digital phone technology they can now answer calls in the name of your business, deal with simple queries, send out literature and even manage your diary.

Alternatively, using a good answerphone system lets you call clients back as soon as you become free.  The golden rule here is to update your message whenever you switch the answerphone on, telling callers when you expect to be free to return their calls.  Adding in an alert service so that you are advised by text or e-mail whenever an answerphone message is left puts you in control allowing you to work on improving the business whilst retaining good contact with clients and others at times which are right for you.

Whether we look at smart phones, office telephones or emails the key to success is to manage communications rather than let communications manage you. Whilst it can be said that communication in various forms is the lifeblood of business, successive studies have shown that interruptions can not only create time delays, they can also lead to error. Yet this is an area which is often overlooked when designing business processes. It’s all too easy to concentrate on ensuring that employees have robust communication links but overlook the challenges which over-communication can bring.

Simply by installing a virtual switchboard which can be reprogrammed quickly and simply as required and ensuring that employees are coached in the importance of having off-line time when concentrating on important projects, businesses can make a measurable difference to outcomes.

Written by nilfg