It’s a dilemma. You want all of your staff to attend your staff meetings, but that leaves no one left to answer the phone when it rings. After all, the meeting is for all staff and to exclude one person by removing him or her from the discussion doesn’t make sense, and an absence implies that person isn’t a valued part of your staff. Excluding one person says one of two things: either, he or she is not that important or staff meetings are not essential for everyone.
What should you do?
A fair solution would be for each employee to take a turn and answer the phone during staff meetings. Rotate through all your staff so that everyone is equally affected. But when you say everyone, are you including yourself too? If you will exempt yourself, will you excuse other elite staffers as well? Of course some will complain when it is their turn, and others will welcome an excuse to miss the meeting. Plus not everyone has adequate training to do this job well.
An opposite approach is even easier. Just turn the ringer off your phone or take the receiver off the hook. Then have your staff meeting. You may reason that if the call is important, the callers will try again. At one time this may have worked. Nowadays they are more apt to just call your competitor.
You could use an answering machine or voicemail to answer all your calls that come in during a staff meeting. But if voicemail is good enough for a staff meeting, why not use it all of the time?
To include the receptionist in your staff meeting, just meet at his or her desk. Yep, people have tried this. When the phone rings, just pause the meeting to talk to the caller. Aside from being inefficient, it also wastes everyone else’s time as they wait for the receptionist to finish the call. Plus, most people don’t want an audience when they talk on the phone.
For longer staff meetings, you could bring in a temporary worker to answer the ringing telephone. But they will first require training on your phone system and need some background about your company in order to intelligently interact with callers. And what if you need to pay them for a minimum number of hours?
Your answering service already knows your company and is prepared to professionally handle your calls. They know your protocols and understand your preferences. In most cases, just give them a heads up to expect some calls and they’ll be good to go.
Though there are many options to deal with a ringing phone during staff meetings, tapping your answering service is the one clear way that offers the best results.
Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center and telephone answering service industry. Contact Janet at email@example.com or 800-901-7706.
Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.