Time to Ignore That Call

There was an interesting article in the Times of India recently which covered the methods which some people are using to “digitally detox.”  Recognising that smartphones and other devices can actually drive a wedge between people and harm relationships those quoted were imposing rules on the use of digital devices.

These rules included banning the use of devices after a set time or smartphones placed in a box on returning home.  One group of friends even dined out regularly with the first one to touch their smartphone having to pay for the meal.  Speaking to The Times, writer Lesley MM Blume said “Disconnecting is a luxury that we all need.”

Of course, privacy at home is one thing but when we are at work can we afford to ignore that ringing phone?  When the customer comes first shouldn’t we leap to answer the customer’s call?  Well actually there are times when ignoring the phone is the right thing to do.  There are even times when to answer one customer’s call can be extremely discourteous to another customer, either because it means interrupting a current conversation or because it could lead to a delay or mistakes in the preparation of important documents.

But failing to answer a phone call doesn’t mean that you have to simply ignore the call.  There is a general acceptance that sometimes calls won’t connect but whether this harms the business or not depends on how the lack of connection is handled.  And the rules are simple.  Most importantly don’t just ignore a ringing phone; set up a call divert to another colleague or virtual assistant or switch the call to answerphone. 

If the call is switched to answerphone make sure that your message is up to date and tells the caller exactly when you will phone them back.  Similarly if the call is diverted to someone else, provide them with the basic training to handle routine calls and in the event that you still need to contact the customer ensure that you set a time when you would be able to return the call.    

The ringing of a telephone is an intrusion into life and it can take up to half an hour to resume complex tasks after interruption.  Taking a few basic steps to manage your time and calls can benefit everyone.  If that means phone divert or answerphone then so be it, in the long run you will benefit and so will your customers.  Just make sure that you do phone them back within a reasonable space of time though or it could be a very different story.

Written by Alison