If you find yourself spending too much time on the phone, these tips can help streamline your phone time.
Avoid Phone Tag
Save time playing phone tag. In your outgoing voice mail message, ask the caller about the topic of the call and for the best time to call them back.
When leaving a voice mail message on someone else’s system, whenever possible, leave enough information so that the person can proceed without needing to call you back.
Prepare before picking up the phone.
Collect any information that you might need ahead of time and have it on hand. Do you need your appointment book? Your account numbers? Do you need to research the topic?
Make sure you know exactly what you need to talk about. Outline what you need to cover. Keep the call from drifting into chat by focusing on its purpose.
Preparation is especially helpful if talking on the phone stresses you. It helps you remember what you need to cover if your mind goes blank. Preparation improves confidence and makes you more comfortable.
Make a Connection
If you don’t know it, get the name of the person that you’re talking to up front, especially when making a customer service call. People pay attention when they know you’re taking notes. It may also cut down on follow-up calls if you can connect to the same person.
If you have a referral, use that name as part of your introduction to immediately establish context and a connection.
Be Aware of Body Language
Smile. Research shows your emotions can follow your physiology. So smiling helps your attitude as well as being audible in your tone of voice.
If it helps you, stand up occasionally, especially during long calls. Some people think better on their feet, and your voice can sound more alert.
Keep a Phone Log
Keep notes as a phone log, recording all non-trivial incoming and outgoing calls for future reference.
This can be as simple as recording the date, time, and parties involved in the call. Or you can record detailed notes about the subjects covered in the conversation.
Personal Knowbase can be useful for keeping phone logs and notes, allowing you to index your calls with keywords, for example by subject, whether initiated by you or not, or whether or not follow-up is required.