Most people think of telephone answering services as doing things for you when you can’t do them or things you don’t want to do. This is true. However, answering services can also do things for you that you can do but shouldn’t.
When working hard on a project or analyzing a deep problem, a ringing phone is a distraction. (Yes, it is also an “opportunity,” but let someone else handle the opportunity.) You lose time to answer the phone, respond to the caller’s request, and do needed follow-up work, but that’s not the biggest concern.
It takes additional time to mentally switch back to the interrupted task, more time than was actually lost due to handling the phone call in the first place. An even bigger concern is the loss of focus. It can take several minutes to return to the mental state of attention that the ringing phone abruptly stopped. Too often a full recovery of thoughts never occurs. You forever lose insight. You cannot regain lost momentum. These intrusive interruptions are also times when errors are most likely to happen.
Lost time and focus, coupled with increased mistakes, all occur because of one phone call at the wrong time. Block out time to devote to important tasks and let your answering service answer your calls.
Group settings are also another time to prohibit phone calls. If a ringing phone takes the leader away from the meeting, everyone else experiences idle time, wasted time. Then there is the same issue of returning to the same level of focus and concerted discussion that the phone call interrupted.
If a team member leaves a meeting to answer a phone call, does the meeting pause (wasting everyone else’s time) or does it continue without one member (thereby excluding that person from the discussion and any decisions). And if it doesn’t matter, than that person didn’t need to be at the meeting in the first place. Your answering service stands as your primary guard at your meetings.
In addition to protecting projects and guarding meetings from unwarranted telephone interruptions, wise managers and executives block out time, perhaps an hour or two each day, to focus on regular yet important work. Without the ringing phone to disrupt them, they crank through these tasks and then safely move on to other things. Some people do this the first thing in the day, the last thing, or just before or after lunch.
Just as in reserving uninterrupted time for other activities, schedule time for the phone. Set aside a time block to make phone calls, return phone calls, and answer phone calls. This increases efficiency and effectiveness.
Controlling your time is the smart way to work, and your answering service is a key resource to make this happen. Start today.
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.