- Required equipment: a pad and pen/pencil near every phone.
- A planned phone call takes less time than an unplanned call. You can literally save up
to an hour by planning return calls. Make sure you take notes on each call as
necessary. Avoid relying on memory.
- Schedule a specific time of day to do all of your return phone calls. Statistically the
best time of day for this is 20 minutes before lunch, and 20 minutes before quitting
time. People tend to be less verbose, and more succinct at this time of day, which
greatly reduces the amount of time spent on each call.
- If you have voice mail or an answering machine, let it take your messages during
specific times of the day. A lot of return calls are informational. This is an ideal use
for voice mail or an answering machine because it cuts down many informational
interruptions through out your working day and allows you time necessary time to
continue your train of thought.
- Make sure your recorded message is professional. Identify who you are, your
company name and when you anticipate being in the office. Ask callers for a day and
evening phone number, as well as the best time to call them back in order to avoid
- When required to return calls that are informational only, call at a time when you
specifically know that you can leave a voice mail message. This will considerably
reduce the time spent on the phone.
- Return all calls on a regular basis and people will begin to trust leaving messages.
Punctuality in response is of the utmost importance for this system to truly work
- If you must return a call to someone who always manages to keep you on the phone
longer than necessary, precede your conversation with: "Sorry John, I only have 5
minutes, here is the information you requested ", or "I have to be in a meeting in 10
minutes..." etc. This lets the person know upfront that you do not have time to waste
and it will them in giving you the bottom line quicker.
- When returning phone calls always see if you can get the information you are seeking
from an assistant if your party is unavailable rather than having to call back again.
- If you need to speak directly to a specific person, always let them know the best time
to call back so you can avoid telephone tag and an interruption at a inopportune time
- Set a precedent in all return calls. Speak clearly, enunciate appropriately and by all
means slow down when it is time to leave your phone number. Have you ever noticed
how the message can be so clear and yet you may have to play it back 3 times to get
the phone number correct? This is a common habit for many people because their
phone number is so familiar to them.
- If you need to speak directly to the person, always let them know the best time to call
back so you can avoid telephone tag.
- Make sure there is a set time of day that your visitors and phone calls will be handled
by someone else, so that you can steal that quiet time for working uninterruptedly.
- Consolidate desk space for the answering machine and telephone. Invest in a phone
caddy. various acrylic stands can contain phone books, note pads and pens. (See our
resource section for product recommendations.)
Voice Mail Etiquette
Most people are familiar with the standard form used to record voice mail messages.
Most voice-mail message pads have a standardized order in which to record information.
Hmmmm...have you ever noticed that when you retrieve a message, in most cases, the information
is completely out of order in reference to the pad?
So now you find yourself jumping from section to section in order to capture the pertinent
information. Inevitably, it never fails -- you have to rewind the tape several times to capture what
was said. Argh!!!
Using a standard telephone message pad from Adams Business Forms, follow the these tips when
leaving a message:
always speak clearly and at a pace that is slow enough to give the end receiver of the
message time to record the information that is being given.
state who the message is for
leave the date and time of your call
continue with who you are
what company you are from
provide your complete telephone number with area code, number, and extension
leave a message pertaining to the reason for your call
state whether you are returning a call
want the person to return the call
or you will call again
if you are initiating or returning a call, always provide the necessary information that will
expedite the process
it is always helpful if you can leave a time when you are available to speak again, giving the
recipient a window of opportunity to reach you
Source: Nancy Freeze: Hewlett-Packard Executive VP Administrative Assistant
- Information overload is caused by widespread distribution of
information through easy to use distribution channels. Primary
- Voice Mail
- Electronic Mail
- According to recent findings published in USA Today (January 1996), 26
million voice mails were recorded in 1996.
- The average office has 19 copies of each document.
Fax Frenzy Leading To Mountains Of Paperwork:
Source: San Jose Mercury News - July, 1996
- Fax machines are doing what regular mail used to; creating an
overwhelming trail of important documents, junk mail and unsolicited
advertisements. The average Fortune 500 company spends 41% of its $37
million annual phone bill on fax costs according to a 1996
Gallup/Pitney Bowes survey.
- For most business of any size, fax is second only to the telephone as
the communication method of choice.
E-Mail Solutions - A Quick Fix?
Source: San Jose Mercury News - July, 1996
Some companies like Intel Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. Have taken matters
into their own hands, looking to e-mail as a quick-fix alternative to excessive
Many say that for forwarding and editing purposes, e-mail is the better
alternative for in-company use. But employees still print out a good number of
e-mail messages and continue to rely on the fax machine for sending documents.
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